Blog


CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE AT UN’s 75th ANNIVERSARY

This is a webinar sponsored by Lumen Christi on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. There are four members of the panel: Archbishop Gabriele Caccia – permanent observer mission to the UN from the Holy See; Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard Law School; Paolo Carozza, University of Notre Dame; Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Caritas Internationalis.

You can watch the webinar here: Catholic Perspective – UN

This panel discussion explores the history of the Holy See’s relations with the United Nations, the role of lay Catholics and Church leaders in developing the human rights tradition, and the growing role of Catholic NGOs as they work alongside the UN for justice, peace, religious freedom, and integral human development around the world.

__________________________________________________________________________________

WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES (WDMR) 2020

The WDMR will be celebrated on Sunday September 27. Pope Francis has chosen the theme “Forced Like Jesus to Flee” focusing on internally displaced people (IDP). The Archdiocese of Toronto has prepared an event leading up to the WDMR. Attached is a flyer for the event.

Archdiocese of Toronto – Webinar – Christian Persecution

Date: THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 24Time: 7:00pm Eastern

Speakers: Deacon Rudy Ovcjak (Office for Refugees ORAT); Carl Hetu (Catholic Near East Welfare Association CNEWA); Marie-Claude Lalonde (Aid to the Church in Need ACN)Moderator: Neil MacCarthy (Archdiocese of Toronto)
Please register at: http://bit.ly/ChristianPersecutionWebinar

Please see the article in the Catholic Register on the topic of Christian persecution:  Christian Presence Shrinking

WDMR MASS

Date: Sunday September 27 @ 10:00am Eastern

Celebrant and homilist His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins,

Live stream link: www.stmichaelscathedralcom/live

Following the live-stream, the Mass along with pre-recorded videos from several guest speakers will be made available on ORAT’s website at www.orat.ca and on ORAT’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/ORAT-Office-for-Refugees-Archdiocese-of-Toronto-324051570821.


Canada Appoints Bob Rae as Ambassador to the United Nations

Former Ontario premier Bob Rae has been appointed Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations on July 6, 2020

Rae said “job No. 1” is to convince Canadians of the continued importance of the UN. At the press conference, he was asked about the past presence of countries with poor human rights records — such as China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia — on the UN’s Human Rights Council, Rae said the flaws in the UN’s structure should simply inspire Canada to engage more.

“It would only get worse if we left. You don’t get a better place by leaving,” Rae said. “The answer isn’t to pull out. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

“The United Nations is not some intergalactic organization. It represents all of the human frailties that are known to mankind.”


May 1, 2020 – Canada is Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Dedication of Canada to Mary

On Friday, May 1, the bishops of Canada and the United States united in prayer as they consecrated their respective countries to Our Mother. This date has been chosen for its significance as the first day of a month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

All the lay faithful are invited to participate in this act of faith and trust, uniting in prayer with our bishops and with one another.

The full, text of the consecration liturgy can be found at this link: Consecrating Canada to Mary

  Augustinian Centre – HONOURABLE PETER KENT – Advocacy

On March 3, 2020 Brian Dwyer, director of the Augustinian Centre and some members of the board of the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council CRSC (Rabea Allos and Luciano Moro) along with Deacon Rudy Ovcjak from the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office for Refugees (ORAT), met with the Honourable Peter Kent, Conservative Member of Parliament from Thornhill and Immigration Shadow Minister. The meeting was very productive as an initial step in forming a relationship with a Member of Parliament and advocating for refugees coming to Canada.

Peter Kent March 2020

Topics discussed were wide ranging – from the role of Catholic SAHs, to issues with Government Assisted Refugees and Privately Sponsored Refugees. Mr. Kent was pleased to be able to discuss these and other items as he was preparing for his role in the House of Commons. He had met with various other groups and indicated he would be meeting with more.

It was agreed that further discussions would be needed as time goes on.

A few days after the meeting, Mr. Kent was at a Parliamentary committee meeting with the IRCC Deputy Minister. You can read a transcript of the exchange between Mr. Kent and the committee here.Peter Kent Committee Questions IRCC Deputy Minister


New Minister of Immigration for Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced his new cabinet on November 20, 2019. The new minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship is the Honourable Marco Mendicino. He is the MP from Eglinton-Lawrence in Toronto. Mr. Mendicino will now be responsible for making the case for immigration policies promised by the Trudeau-led Liberal Party of Canada during the recent federal election.

The Augustinian Centre congratulates the new Minister and looks forward to collaborating with him and his Ministry.


Minister Ahmed Hussen – Discussion

On Friday April 12, 2019 Brian Dwyer from the Augustinian Centre and some of the board members of the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC), and the Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) met with the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. These included Diane Dicks, Rabea Allos and Deacon Rudy Ovcjak.

April 2019

The meeting was very productive and cordial. The Minister was introduced to the board and welcomed the group.

Several points were presented to the Minister and some discussion took place. Some of the issues presented included: significant increases in sponsorship costs, retroactive application of sponsorship costs, entitlement focus, and quality assurance – proactive monitoring. The Minister and his chief of staff were attentive to the issues, appreciated the challenges and indicated they would check into specific items and look for ways to resolve them.

The Minister was open to a follow-up meeting in the next few months. Appropriate follow-ups will occur.


Round Table with Michelle Rempel

DSC04020

Michelle Rempel is the MP for Calgary Centre-North and is in the “Shadow Cabinet” focusing on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Brian Dwyer and some members of the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC) board along with representation from the Canadian Middle Eastern Christian Congress and the Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto were invited to a discussion with the Honourable Michelle Remple on Friday Aug. 25, 2017. The discussion was wide-ranging and very informative for all parties concerned. It is our hope that some follow-up sessions will be held.


Toronto Celebrates 105th World Day of Migrants & Refugees – September, 2019

St. Philip Neri Parish in Toronto was the scene of the Mass and reception to mark the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The day began with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, the homily by Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick and many concelebrants. In his homily Bishop Kirkpatrick spoke about the gospel passage describing the story of the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus. The rich man did not enter the kingdom of God but the poor man did – he gave service to another. We are like the poor man when we help settle refugees and immigrants to Canada. He also mentioned the Mission Trip to Bangkok Thailand from the Office for Refugee in the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT).

Brian & BishopLawrence Saldanha

Archbishop Saldanha with Brian Dwyer

Deacon Rudy Ovcjak was the leader of the trip. They managed to interview several families for sponsorship and coming to Canada. The Archdiocese of Toronto will sponsor some of these families, and the Christian Churches in Canada are being asked to sponsor some as well.

Archbishop Saldanha gave a presentation on the situation in Pakistan at this time. He described the political strife, the economic difficulties, and the deterioration of family life. He is very thankful to Canada for being a country to step up in support of Christians from Pakistan.

The video “Stressful Reality” showing the conditions in Pakistan was screened.

Following the presentations some refreshments were served.


AUGUSTINIAN CENTRE MEETS WITH CHRIS ALEXANDER

On Thursday December 1, 2016 Brian Dwyer from the Augustinian Centre and some members of the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC) met with Chris Alexander. He is one of the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. The Augustinian Centre and the CRSC are taking the opportunities as they arise to meet with various politicians with the following goals: let each of them know about the mandates and vision and activities, listen to the platform of each person in terms of their overall vision and specifically with respect to refugees, provide them with contacts on the ground for responding to questions or concerns, and express our thoughts on various approaches from the Canadian Government and suggestions for future action.

img_20161201_140806In this light, the group and Chris Alexander spoke about his vision and ideas for Canada and the refugee situation in particular. The group provided some ideas about the Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) program, the role of the UNHCR, the New York Declaration from the UN Summit, and other ways to speed up the process of refugee settlement in Canada.


Youth open closet doors to Winnipeg’s new migrants and refugees

Janelle Lafantaisie wrote an interesting article with good news from Winnipeg. She recognizes the great work of Benedicte LeMaître who realized that Winnipeg is home to a large immigration and refugee population. Many of them do not have relatives who they could go to for hand-me-down clothes and other items. There is a large immigration and refugee population, many of whom have found a home parish at St. Mary’s Cathedral where there is the St. Elizabeth Closet which made its debut on Thanksgiving weekend of 2017. The Closet has been open during church office hours and visitors are welcome to take whatever they need at absolutely no cost.

All kinds of people benefit from St. Elizabeth’s Closet. One example is a gentleman who had some physical disabilities who came into the parish hall to browse through the piles of clothing. Another example is about a group from a very hot climate. They don’t own sweaters or mitts. That’s a lot to invest in all at once, but the Closet helped them.

The next steps for the Closet will take it beyond the walls of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Please read the entire article here: Youth open closet doors to Winnipeg Feb. 2018


Sisters are a driving force for fund to aid new refugees to Canada

Sisters Driving Force

On Oct. 30, 2017 the Catholic Register published an article by Ron Stang. In this piece he profiles Sr. Helen Petrimoulx and the great work she has done for refugees over the past several years in Windsor. She is called the “refugee specialist” and spearheads the fundraising for the Community Refugee Fund.

From their 10th annual fundraising dinner the proceeds go to support the Angela Rose transition house for refugees requiring short-term stays.

Marion Overholt, executive director of Legal Assistance of Windsor, a non-profit legal aid clinic, says “Sr. Helen has played a pivotal role and I know that, as a person of faith, she has offered that love and caring and financial assistance to refugees when other people just were oblivious and didn’t care.” Petrimoulx’s work with refugees has been recognized with several awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Windsor and the Order of Ontario.

Petrimoulx said many of the refugees who end up in Windsor are from countries in Africa like Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, Windsor has also been attracting refugees who originally landed in Toronto and Montreal, but are looking for a smaller city with a less intimidating atmosphere.

Please read the full article at the Catholic Register: Sisters – Driving Force


Clearing the Backlog

The group which has been focusing on the backlog has sent their brief to Minister Hussen, the members of the Parliamentary committee on Migration, the Senate Committee on Migration and Refugees and others. You can read the entire brief here at the link: Clearing the Backlog June, 2017


Issues for Refugee Sponsorships – backlog, wait times, lack of spots, travel loans

There are many issues and questions related to the Canadian approach to refugee settlement and sponsorship. Recently, there have been some groups who are talking about the issues and publicizing their concerns. One is Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). This is a national organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy. The other is a local Toronto group headed by former mayor of Toronto John Sewell.

CPJ conducted a study of the issues as seen by various Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH’s) in Canada. The study entitled “A Half Welcome, delays, limits and inequities in Canadian Refugee Sponsorship”, focused these areas of concern. These include: long wait times for applications from Syrian and other countries to be processed by Canada, allocation limits from Syria and other parts of the world such as Africa and travel loans which need to be repaid beginning after 6 months for private sponsorships and not at all for Government Assisted Refugees (GAR).

You can read the entire article here: Half Welcome

The group informally known as “Clearing the Backlog” is a community advocacy group consisting of many faith-based groups and other local community advocates. They are also concerned about the backlog indicating that it has climbed to about 45,000, and with the 9000 in Quebec’s frozen pipeline. Another concern is the limits on the number of applicants from various parts of the world, especially Africa.

This Backlog group can be reached via email at: john@johnsewell.ca


WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES 2017

holy-family

Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless – Pope Francis

January 15, 2017 is World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The theme as established by Pope Francis is, “Child migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless”. Across Canada in many dioceses there are liturgies in commemoration and honouring this special day.

In his message pope Francis 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.

Suggested Actions:

world-day-logo