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Catholic refugee advocate killed when car plows into DC restaurant



John Burger - published on 03/14/22 - updated on 04/07/22

Jane Bloom headed the US office of the International Catholic Migration Commission for 12 years.

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Jane Bloom once related that her 98-year-old mother had repeatedly asked her when she was going to retire. Bloom began working for the International Catholic Migration Commission at age 60.

“I said, ‘Mom, when every day I wake up with joy and can’t wait to get to work, why in the world would I stop?” she said, when she finally did retire at age 72, in 2018. “It’s just been wonderful to feel that we make such a difference and I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work for ICMC.”

Bloom, who headed the US office of the migration commission, was one of two women killed in a freak accident Friday outside a restaurant in Washington, DC. Bloom was getting together with people that she had only met through Zoom meetings during the pandemic. 

DC police said that an elderly driver apparently lost control of his Subaru Forester and plowed into the sidewalk dining area in front of the Parthenon Restaurant at lunchtime. Eleven people, ranging in age from 30 to 80, were injured. Bloom, 76, who was also an artist, and Terese Dudnick Taffer, 73, succumbed to their injuries in hospital. Three other people had life-threatening injuries.

“She was a lover of people and new experiences,” Josh Bloom, her son, told NBC 4 Washington. “What happened yesterday was she was spending time with her new friends that she had met over Zoom during the pandemic as my mom started exploring new artistic avenues for herself.”

According to the ICMC website, Bloom spent a total of 35 years advocating for the rights of refugees and migrants in the U.S. and worldwide. She was born in New York City, the daughter of two first-generation American-born citizens who met at a settlement house.

A social worker by training, she began her career working in the field of gerontology. In 1983, she took on an evaluation centered on elderly refugees who had resettled in New York state and, she says, “never looked back; I was ‘hooked’ on refugees immediately.” In 1997, she founded and for seven years headed Refugee Works, the training and technical assistance arm for refugee self-sufficiency of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In 2006, after completing a masters’ degree in international public policy at age 60, Bloom joined the International Catholic Migration Commission as its U.S. Liaison Officer in Washington, D.C.

The International Catholic Migration Commission protects and serves uprooted people, including refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced people, victims of human trafficking, and migrants.

Driven by Catholic social teaching

In an interview in 2018, Bloom said ICMC has brought thousands of religious minorities to the US, including Iraqi Chaldeans. She said that she’s learned from some refugees “how central their family and religion were for them.”

She said that looking back over her 12-year tenure, she was “gratified by the building of the strong partnership we have” with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

“I was proud and honored to be selected to serve as delegate on their eye-opening and heart-wrenching Bishops missions,” she said. “And we conducted some joint programs in several countries on different areas that have benefited refugees.”

She also said that those working for the ICMC are “steeped in Catholic social teaching, of which we should all be proud.” 

Said Bloom, “It’s the foundation upon which ICMC works.”

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