Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice

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

Fear becomes sin when it leads to hostility toward migrants (Pope Francis)

Pope & Refugees

The Catholic Register has published an article in their January 2018 edition which summarizes a homily celebrating Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on January 14. “”The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbour, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord,” said the Pope.

Pope Francis announced that “for pastoral reasons” the date of the annual celebration was being moved to the second Sunday of September. The next World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he said, would be marked Sept. 8, 2019.

“His invitation ‘Come and see!’ is addressed today to all of us, to local communities and to new arrivals,” the Pope said. “It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her.”

People in host countries may be afraid that newcomers “will disturb the established order (or) will ‘steal’ something they have long labored to build up,” he said. And the newcomers have their own fears “of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure.”

You may read the entire article at the Catholic Register site: Fear Becomes Sin

You can also read an article on this at the Crux site: Fear of Immigrants


Manger Scene


This is the greeting we hear so often at Mass and many other liturgical celebrations.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; John 14, 27.

Pope Francis, in his message this Christmas 2017 prayed of peace: peace to those suffering in wars and conflict, those suffering especially children. He prayed for real peace.

CRSC echoes this sentiment. May God who became a child inspire all of us to work for peace, unity and accord.

We wish you and all your loved ones that the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds” Philippians 4:6-7.

Mary & Jesus



Collins SpeakingOn September 11, 2017 the Catholic Register published an article written by Michael Swan that dealt with the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

The occasion was an ecumenical prayer service for peace in the Middle East. Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, appealed directly to the Canadian government to pay special attention to Christian refugees as it distributes aid in the region and accepts refugees for resettlement.

In attendance at St. Michael’s Cathedral on Sept. 10th, were both clergy and lay people representing about a dozen Christian churches — Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant.

The Cardinal spoke frankly and said, “Justice and human decency requires … that all of us, and especially our Canadian government, by word and deed, offer practical assistance to those who are persecuted and who seek refuge here — and obviously, especially, to those who are the most persecuted and the most vulnerable.”

In his remarks, Collins spoke of remembering the victims of violence, terror and persecution around the world, and especially our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.

What are we to do? the Cardinal asks. He offers several suggestions. These include:

  1. That every human effort be made by governments and all of us to do whatever can be done on a human level to protect those who are being persecuted. Support the Catholic Near Eastern Welfare Association (CNEWA).
  2. Our Canadian government, by word and deed, offer practical assistance to those who are persecuted and who seek refuge here, to those who are the most persecuted and the most vulnerable.
  3. Do what we can to raise awareness in our secular society,

In his conclusion the Cardinal reminds us of the prayer at Mass – “we pray, that to your faithful who suffer for your name’s sake a spirit of patience and charity, they may be found true and faithful witnesses to the promises you have made.”

Please read the entire article at the Catholic Register website: Cardinal Collins Pleads for Aid

Your comments are welcome. Please send us an email and react to this posting: Augustiniancentre@rogers.com

Refugee sponsors put on hold by quota

Syrian Refugees in Toronto Hotel

The Catholic Register published an article on May 4, 2017 by Michael Swan reporting that the Office for Refugees for the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) has been forced to suspend all new applications to sponsor refugees for the rest of this year due to persistent backlogs in government processing.

Director Dr. Martin Mark is quoted as saying, “People are very frustrated, we are very disappointed. This is not a good situation.”

This situation has affected all of Canada. For example, the refugee office in the Diocese of London received a 2017 quota of 157, but has 401 applications in process. London will have to decide which 244 applications can wait until 2018.

The Mennonite Central Committee of Canada national migration and resettlement program co-ordinator Brian Dyck said, “These limits have certainly built up a shadow backlog of cases that are not on any government database but are in our minds and hearts. It is difficult to know how to unburden our hearts of this backlog.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen plans to bring the applications and landings back into balance and cut the time between an application submitted and a refugee arriving down below 12 months in 2019.

You can read the entire article from the Catholic Register here: Sponsors Put On Hold

The article is also to be found here: Refugee sponsors put on hold by quota May 2017

You can read what others are saying about this issues here: Backlog, Wait Times



alejandroDear Brothers and Sisters:

I do not want to let pass this Easter Triduum without expressing to you my thoughts and feelings and a brief reflection. At the same time, I would like to know your thoughts about our crucified and risen Lord and perhaps at some time we will be able to do so.

We have just celebrated the passion of the Lord and I can say that it filled me with a serene joy, perhaps a sign of a profound freedom and a greater sense of harmony with all people and with the Lord.

I would like to make my own the words spoken by a theologian: “In what comes, death has ceased to be for me a problem, but it continues to be a mystery. I am not able to penetrate into the mystery, but in the midst of darkness, it illumines my being.”

Good Friday is a special day to experience the pain of the world, the pain of history and the “pain of God”, if we are able to speak in this way.

We remember our Augustinians who suffer violence in some of our circumscriptions, the floods suffered by so many people who have been left without homes in various places in Latin America where we are present.

We remember the children who have been the victims in various wars, or who have died because of lack of food, or because they have been abandoned by their parents.

We remember the faces of so many immigrants who have been abandoned.

We also remember our sisters and brothers who suffer in our own communities.

All of these images weigh on my heart as before the cross we seek God’s blessing and mercy for all.

We are all called to combat against this suffering. The question is how. It happens through humility and communion with all of our brothers and sisters and with all those who, each in their own way, rise up and rebel against suffering and who struggle for all those of the world who are pushed aside.

Humility, “have in yourself the same sentiments of Christ”, to set aside our pride and sinfulness, the basis for all evil, and to open ourselves to the mercy of God, to life, which is born out of the encounter of a sincere and humble heart with the Love of Christ, once dead but now risen to life. Humility always opens our very being to an encounter with God.

Communion with our brothers and sisters, that is, the unity of charity. This is the gift that the Christ, once dead but now risen, has left us in order to find joy in the Augustinian experience. We can never forget that fraternal love is the privileged place for the authentic experience of God. Only in this way can our communities, living the experience of fraternity, make sense.

It is from this experience of encounter with the other that we proclaim the meaning of Easter against pain and suffering, and we are changed so that those who see and encounter us in the place of peace and of love, which God has given to us in Jesus, the risen one.

The value of community, as the place of fraternal love, is that place where, even more than bringing me Easter joy, gives life to my desire to work for the world and urges me to open myself toward others and to work against evil and suffering, imitating the prophet of the mercy of God, Jesus, so that his love rules here below.

Today, perhaps more intensely, I believe in the love of God, that love which one day was demonstrated to be stronger than death by the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the first fruits of our own resurrection. I believe in the risen One, Jesus, in whom the love of God breaks the bonds of sin and death.

A Blessed Easter to all!

Alejandro Moral Antón

Prior General



The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice wishes you and yours all the blessings of Easter. The message of Pope Francis is relevant to all of us:

The Church throughout the world echoes the angel’s message to the women: “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised… Come, see the place where he lay” ( Mt 28:5-6).

We especially pray for the newcomers to Canada, who have been sponsored by Churches, faith groups and other community groups. Pope Francis invites us in a specific way to take on this mission:

Comfort those who have left their own lands to migrate to places offering hope for a better future and the possibility of living their lives in dignity and, not infrequently, of freely professing their faith.

He has Risen


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.

Bishop Kirkpatrick   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. st-luke-parish

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”.



img_0284On 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”.

img_2687Following 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 contextsimage1

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

Rosary Path

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

Rosary Path poster