Welcome to the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice
The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice will work to break the silence surrounding the poor. Our goal is to help people recognize the social, political and economic conditions surrounding them and take action against these oppressive elements.
This is accomplished by offering educational workshops/seminars for service providers.
We will work to form linkages, networks and partnerships among service providers so they can be effective in building a foundation of community support.
“It would be better no one be hungry, and this necessity did not exist” – St. Augustine
WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES 2017
The annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees was celebrated on Sunday January 15, 2017 across Canada and the entire Catholic Church. Pope Francis had issued his statement entitled CHILD MIGRANTS THE VULNERABLE AND THE VOICELESS to commemorate this important day. Celebrations of Mass, receptions and speeches took place in many dioceses across Canada such as Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Halifax.
In Toronto, Auxiliary Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick celebrated Mass at St. Luke’s Parish in Thornhill. In his message the Bishop encouraged all of us to act even in small ways to promote and build up the kingdom of God. He referred to the pope’s message of care for children who are dislocated from their homes and have to endure terrible suffering. He thanked the parish of St. Luke for their sponsorship of so many refugee families. He also thanked the Office for Refugees in the Archdiocese of Toronto for their great help to parishes and groups to sponsor refugees.
Following Mass the Iraqi community hosted a reception with great food and fellowship.
Several speakers provided greater insight, welcome and thanks for this wonderful day. Rabea Allos, from the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC) was the emcee. The speakers included Fr. Damien McPherson from the Archdiocese, Francesco Sorbara the MP from Vaughan, Itrath Qizilbash McGrath from the Organization for Islamic Learning, Dr. Martin Mark from the Office for Refugees in the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT), and Maurice Malone from the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council. Brian Dwyer from the Augustinian Centre for Social Justice was also in attendance.
Several families of refugees also spoke and told their story of coming to Canada and how their lives had dramatically changed for the better since arriving. The families were from Iraq, Ghana, Vietnam and Syria. The audience was very thankful to hear these great positive messages.
Please read Pope Francis’ full statement here: Child Migrants
“Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless” Pope Francis
January 15, 2017 is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and pope Francis has proclaimed that the theme for this year is “Child Migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless”. In his statement he reminds us that the sure path which leads to God begins with the smallest and, through the grace of our Saviour it grows into the practice of welcoming others. The Pope focuses our attention on the reality of child migrants, especially the ones who are alone. They are defenseless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves.
The Pope asks “How can we respond?” First, he says we need to become aware that the phenomenon of migration is not unrelated to salvation history, but rather a part of that history. In addition, we need to work towards protection, integration and long-term solutions. Furthermore, the most powerful force driving the exploitation and abuse of children is demand.
Secondly, we need to work for the integration of children and youngsters who are migrants. They depend totally on the adult community.
Thirdly, to all the Pope addresses a heartfelt appeal that long-term solutions be sought and adopted.
Lastly, Pope Francis addresses a word to us, who walk alongside migrant children and young people: they need our precious help. The Church too needs us and supports us in the generous service we offer.
Please read the entire document here: “Child Migrants“
The story of Christ’s birth as described in St. Luke’s gospel Chapter 2 is filled with thoughts for our reflection at this most important time of the year. “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn”. The angels announce to the shepherds, “I bring you news of great joy to be shared by the whole people”. After the shepherds came to visit Jesus St. Luke says “They went back glorifying and praising God”. The shepherds are the first evangelists.
These three short passages inspire us – we all come to this earth vulnerable and yet very precious to God. The joy of this birth is to be shared, and we are called to be the new shepherds, the new evangelists. We respond to Gods love by praising and glorifying Him.
As Pope Francis has said, “Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!”
In the words of St. Augustine, “He found no place in the inn, but makes for Himself a temple in the hearts of all believers.”
From all of us here at the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice, we hope and pray for God blessing and peace to you and your families at this time.
“Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will”.
REFUGEE WORKSHOP A GREAT SUCCESS
On Saturday November 26, 2016 at Marylake Shrine in King City Ontario a very enthusiastic and committed group of people sat down to discuss the refugee situation in Canada and the world. The workshop was organized by the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC).
The meeting was chaired by Brian Dwyer the Director of the Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and the chair of the CRSC. The special guest presenters included Fr. Emeka Obiezu, former representative of the Augustinians to the United Nations and Rev. Bob Dueweke, the present Augustinian rep to the United Nations.
Fr. Dueweke provided the group with an overview of the role and work of the Augustinians at the UN. He pointed to the constitution of the Augustinian Order declaring that there is a social commitment to “clearly identify and resolve issues such as: defense of life, human rights, the situation of migrants and the dignity of women; to protect justice and peace at the United Nations”.
Following this discussion, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was presented by Fr. Obiezu and Fr. Dueweke. The SDG’s were promulgated by the UN in September 2015. There are 17 goals with specific targets for each goal. Examples of some of these goals are: no poverty, quality education, clean water, decent work, reduced inequalities, climate action, peace and justice and partnerships.
Please read more about the SDG’s here: SDG
In what way do the SDG goals refer to migrants and refugees? Here are some examples.
- Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
- The target is: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
- Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
- The target is: Protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment
- Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.
- The Target is: Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies
- The Target is: By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent
- Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
- The Target is: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children
- Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
- By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts
What followed next was a discussion of the “United Nations Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” held in New York on September 19, 2016. Canada was represented by the Prime Minister, some Cabinet members and other officials. Many people from local NGO’s and civil society were also invited. The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice was invited but was unable to attend. The summit included “round tables” attended by many members of civil society, governments and businesses.
The result of this summit is “The New York Declaration”. This document was distributed to the participants for discussion. Each country participating at the summit committed to following these declarations. A summary of the declaration is available here: New York Declaration
The declaration includes the following commitments: protection of human rights of migrants and refugees, education of children, protection against violence, recognizing the positive contributions of refugees and migrants, implementing a comprehensive refugee response program and many more.
The summit agreed that there be an international conference on the adoption of a global compact for safe migration in 2018. The CRSC and the Augustinian Centre will follow this process closely.
The next speaker was Rabea Allos from the CRSC. He spoke about the Canadian “Government Assisted Refugees” Program (GAR). He made the point that settlement of refugees in Canada is handled most efficiently and productively by private sponsors and not the GAR. The CRSC will be advocating to the Government to slowly decrease their GAR program and offer more support to private sponsorships.
At the conclusion of this informative and inspiring workshop, the participants were grateful for the new information and were motivated to help and support the Augustinian Centre and the CRSC. There will be follow-ups from the summit in New York, and from the Marylake Shrine Monastery.
UN High-Level Meeting on Large Movements of People
The Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC) has teamed up with the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice (CACSJ) to focus on the situation of refugees and migrants and the United Nations. On September 19, 2016 the UN hosted the High-Level Plenary Meeting to Address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants at the UN headquarters in New York. The CRSC followed this one day conference very closely along with the CACSJ. The Augustinians (Augustinians International) have been represented at the United Nations for several years. They began as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and now have Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) status.
You can read the entire report from the CRSC and the CACSJ here: UN Summit
The following are some highlights from the summit in New York.
Participants at this meeting came from most member states of the United Nations. There were opening remarks, round table discussions, and other side events during the day. Canada was represented by Stephane Dion Minister of Foreign Affairs and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. The United States was represented by John Kerry, Secretary of State and Barach Obama, President.
The New York Declaration
The discussion at the summit resulted in all members agreeing to the “New York Declaration”. Some of the main commitments include:
- Protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status. This includes the rights of women and girls and promoting their full, equal and meaningful participation in finding solutions.
- Ensure that all refugee and migrant children are receiving education within a few months of arrival.
- Work towards ending the practice of detaining children for the purposes of determining their migration status.
- Implement a comprehensive refugee response, based on a new framework that sets out the responsibility of Member States, civil society partners and the UN system, whenever there is a large movement of refugees or a protracted refugee situation.
- Start negotiations leading to an international conference and the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018.
- Achieve a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees by adopting a global compact on refugees in 2018.
You can read the entire New York Declaration here: New York Declaration
United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon opened the session. He spoke of migrants and refugees not to be seen as a burden but a great potential. He pledged that with cooperation no refugee or migrant will be left behind. He outlined some of the initiatives and agreements in the declaration.
There were six round tables which focused on various topics. Some of the presenters included the Holy See, Prime Minister Trudeau and others.
Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Jan Eliasson from Sweden offered some closing remarks to the high level meeting. He indicated that this issue is one of the most challenging of our time.
For further information please choose this link: UN Summit Report
New Rosary Path at Marylake Shrine
To commemorate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary on August 15, 2016, a new Rosary path was opened at the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace and Marylake Monastery in Toronto. Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto was the celebrant for the Mass and blessing. Marylake Monastery is located in King City, just north of Toronto. Over a hundred people attended the Mass and blessing. This outdoor rosary covers over 15 acres of land on the grounds of Marylake. For many years Marylake has been a destination for pilgrimages from all over North America, and especially in this Holy Year of Mercy. The project was conceived two years ago and is now a reality.
It is hoped that Marylake will become the centre of Marian devotion in the Archdiocese. Ted Harasti is the Chair for the Rosary Path Project and he recalls the inspiration he felt to build the path. Cardinal Collins remarked that the Marylake property is at the geographical centre of the Archdiocese of Toronto and will become the spiritual centre as well.
The Rosary Path is a complete rosary with 59 beads beginning with a crucifix. Each bead is able to accommodate a person kneeling to pray.
You can see the story of the Rosary Path produced by Salt and Light TV. Choose this link: Rosary path