This year marks 40 years since Jesuit Social Services helped its first young people in 1977. Since then, we have grown to support over 5,000 people through more than 20 different programs nationally, including in Melbourne, Western Sydney, central Australia and Darwin.

Jesuit Social Services’ 40th anniversary is an exciting milestone in our history and development. It gives us an opportunity to reflect on our work with people who are most marginalised in our community, and look forward with hope and courage, as we strive to build a just society.

In 2017, we’ll celebrate all that’s led to where Jesuit Social Services is now. Like any story, ours is about people: people who’ve been inspired to start, and start again, on a pathway to reach their full potential. Over 40 years we’ve shared people’s achievements and joy as they’ve moved from despair to hope. We’ve also shared people’s struggles, feeling loss when a participant has died and sadness as people are put down by community debate. Our history is a blessing, and we celebrate all our stories with gratitude.

Our anniversary program will feature a wide variety of exciting events, including program showcases, a policy symposium, fundraising activities and a celebration to thank volunteers. The first major event will be an anniversary Mass on Friday 3 February 2017. The Mass will give thanks for 40 years of Jesuit Social Services. Our two celebrants are Brian McCoy SJ, current Jesuit Provincial, and Pat O’Sullivan, who was Jesuit Provincial when Jesuit Social Services was founded. Mass will be held in Richmond, where we’ve worked for four decades, at St Ignatius Church. If you are interested in attending, please visit our 40 years page for information and RSVP details.

Our 40th anniversary is also a chance to pause in reflection – to look back and look forward, and to recall memories of the people we’ve supported along the way. It’s an ideal time for us to share our own stories, and I encourage you to share with us the experiences of Jesuit Social Services that have stayed with you. Maybe you’ve attended one of our programs, worked with us, or volunteered your time and skills? Perhaps you’ve supported us financially, or partnered with us? Your story might be small, but it’s certainly significant.

Get in touch with our 40 year project team to share your experiences and memories of Jesuit Social Services – including what’s changed and what’s still the same, and why it’s important to you. We’ll share your stories on our 40 years page, so everyone in our community can discover Jesuit Social Services’ lived history.