Immigration – Refugees

107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees – Sunday September 26, 2021
Toward an Ever Wider “WE”


September 26, 2021

God created us male and female, different yet complementary, in order to form a “we” destined to become ever more numerous in the succession of generations.

The truth however is that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single “we”, encompassing all of humanity. 

I also make this appeal to journey together towards an ever wider “we” to all men and women, for the sake of renewing the human family, building together a future of justice and peace, and ensuring that no one is left behind.

Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development. A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.

Please read the entire message from Pope Francis at this link: Toward an Ever Wider WE

You can watch Pope Francis video message at this link: WE as Wide as Humanity



On August 25, the Catholic Register published an article by Michael Swan dealing with Afghan refugees and the role of sponsors in Canada who will receive them. The process for sponsoring the more than 20,000 refugees is very unclear, according to Deacon Rudy Ovcjak from the Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT). The issue is the details related to the process of resettlement, according to Erin Pease the Director of the Hamilton Diocese Office for Refugees. Furthermore, the announcement that many refugees would be processed was made without consultation with the Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs). Erin Pease also mentions that on average it takes more than three years to bring an Afghan family to Canada. There are many who are waiting and have been waiting for years.

Deacon Rudy is confident that when the process is clearly outlined the sponsors will be ready.

Erin Pease also hopes that Canada will have a plan to resettle refugees from all countries not just Afghanistan.

You can read the full article here: Sponsors Ready



Fr. Robert Stark is the Regional Coordinator of Migrants and Refugees Section Dicastery Integral Human Development. Pope Francis formed this section after his experience of migrants and refugees around the world. This is a conversation between Fr. Stark and Brian Dwyer of the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice.

Please watch this video at this link: Fr. Stark

Immigration Levels – Tough to Meet

On November 7, 2020 Michael Swan from the Catholic Register published an article regarding the Government’s plan to take in a record 1.2 million immigrants between now and 2023. Churches and other organizations have expressed serious doubts about the effectiveness of this approach.

Deacon Rudy Ovcjak from the Archdiocese of Toronto Office for Refugees agrees with the closure of the border during COVID-19 but is also worried about the prospect of future backlogs gumming up the works of Canada’s refugee system.

The SAH Association says that if the government is serious about hitting its refugee targets, it’s going to have to lift the travel restrictions for more people who have already been approved for permanent residence in Canada.

“I know that is something Canadians take great pride in,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino. In percentage terms, the new levels plan for refugees will hold steady at between 14.5 and 14.8 per cent of all new immigrants.

In announcing the new plan, Mendicino leaned heavily on the economic realities of immigration and Canada’s aging population. He pointed out that 25 per cent of health-care workers are immigrants. About 60 per cent of all new arrivals are economic class immigrants.

“In 1971 there were seven workers for every retiree. Now it’s three,” Mendicino said. “Put simply, we need more workers.”

Please read the entire article here: Immigration Levels



The following are celebrations and remarks related to the World Day of Migrants & Refugees (WDMR) 2020. Pope Francis has declared that the theme for this year is “Forced like Jesus Christ to Flee“.

Toronto – Mass with Cardinal Collins of Toronto, Sept. 27, 2020: Mass

Homily – Cardinal Collins – WDMR Mass

Vancouver – Mass with Archbishop J. Michael Miller, Sept. 27, 2020: Mass

His Grace, Archbishop Bashar Warda C.SS.R. (Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq)

Archbishop Saldanha, retired Archbishop from Pakistan

Minister Marco Mendicino – Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Raquel Dancho, Conservative Party of Canada


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:

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


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 and on ORAT’s Facebook page

Pope Francis message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee”

Date Posted: August 14, 2020

The 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) will be celebrated on Sunday 27th September 2020.

Today, we invite you to watch the third, newly released video, in which the Holy Father explores the sub-theme “To listen in order to be reconciled”. It offers the real-life testimony of an internally displaced person that explains how teamwork and mutual acceptance can create a brighter future and peaceful coexistence between people of different religions.

Pope Francis message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee”

Date Posted: August 06, 2020

Pope Francis remind us on this 106thWorld day of Migrants and Refugees, that we should not look at refugees as numbers around the world, rather as suffering people, if we meet and get to know some families, their stories and the suffering they went through, we will understand , just “Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee”. Please click on the following link to view the video: Refugees – Suffering People

Pope Francis message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee”

 Date Posted: July 27, 2020

Pope Francis, in his message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, focuses on the pastoral care of internally displaced persons who currently number over 41 million worldwide, and whose suffering has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Please click on the following link to view the video:  Pope Francis Message

World Day of Migrants & Refugees Sunday September 27, 2020

In preparation for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which takes place on September 27, 2020, we will be sharing a number of items that explore this year’s theme, dedicated to the pastoral care of Internally Displaced People.

Please click on the following link to read Pope Francis’s message for the 106th World Day of Migrant and Refugees: Pope Francis, WDMR

From Jordan to Morden: Iraqi family thrilled to be in Manitoba under new program to resettle skilled refugees

On August 9, 2020 Nicholas Keung wrote an article in the Toronto Star regarding a program which brings skilled workers and their families to Canada.

The program is Economic Mobility Pathways. Through the initiative, candidates with skills and knowledge can apply for permanent residence as economic migrants, instead of as resettled refugees sponsored by the federal government and private community groups — a process that can take years.

In April 2019, Abdulghani, 35, was selected by Morden, a city of less than 10,000 people, which recommended him for the Manitoba provincial immigration nomination program. The city is committed to offering wraparound supports to the families, including job-matching support.

Abdulghani, who has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Technology-Baghdad, said he and his wife Hajir Saad Ghareeb, 27, left Kurdistan in 2015 for Jordan after racism against them and other Sunnis, in particular in Northern Iraq, intensified. Abdulghani applied for scholarships to continue his studies and finally got the financial support of a German Catholic charity to enroll in a master’s program in mechatronics engineering at Philadelphia University in Jordan. He graduated in February.

According to Talent Beyond Boundaries, there are now 20,000 refugees registered in its talent database — most of them now living in Jordan and Lebanon. Fifty-seven have been shortlisted for Canada’s new project. Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Yukon have also signed on to participate in the program.

You can read the entire story here: Abdulghani & Hajir

Refuge Advocates Declare Victory

On August 2 the Catholic Register published an article by Michael Swan dealing with the Safe Third Country Agreement between the USA and Canada. The position of Canada is that this agreement violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it sends refugees back to detention in the USA.

Norbert Piche from the Jesuit Refugee Service supported the decision from Canada. Loli Rico, co-director of the FCJ Refugee Centre also supported the decision. On the other hand Peter Nobleton of the Canadian Council of Churches indicated that the decision would be appealed, but urges the government not to appeal.

Harvard Law professor Deborah Anker says that conditions in the US detention centres has worsened and are more dangerous. Don Kerwin of the Scalabrini Father’s Centre for Migrant Studies said that the US is trying its best to eviscerate the asylum system. He indicated that the Canadian approach to treatment of refugees is understandable but deplorable.

You can read the entire article here: Safe Third Country Agreement


Carving Out New Land of Dreams

Catholic Register – June 7, 2020. Quinton Amundson.

The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) launched the Land of Dreams garden in 2019. This 30 acre urban farm has provided many newcomers with an opportunity to connect with the land produce fresh food like beets, carrots, kale and spinach and feel empowered to do something good for others.

The article mentions Kamo Zandimen who came to Canada in 2017 along with 287 other Yazidis from Iraq. She says she feels better emotionally, physically and mentally now that she is working on the land. She recalls the devastation on her people in 2014 when ISIL invaded her homeland. One report states that between 2,000 and 5,000 Yazidis were killed. Many Yazidis fled to a nearby mountain. Kamo and her family were among those captured. She was eventually freed after two years. She and her family came to Canada in 2017 welcomed by the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS).

The CCIS offers many services to new comers such as accommodations, counselling, employment workshops and help for children entering school. It has been reported that about 100m people have been farming on this land. Rod Olsen oversees the Land of Dreams and he says he hopes newcomer families could become ecological leaders. Those who farm are from 16 different countries.

Rod sums it up when he says, “They become leaders to teach the rest of us Canadians that this is what the land needs right now.”

Please read the entire article here: New Land of dreams



SEPTEMBER 29, 2019

Pope Francis unveils sculpture commemorating migrants and refugees

Angels Unaware Rome Sept. 2019

Following the celebration of Mass and the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis unveils a sculpture entitled “Angels Unawares” by Canadian artist, Timothy Schmaltz, in St Peter’s Square.

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) will be on 29 September 2019. On this occasion, Pope Francis will celebrate a Holy Mass in Rome, in the Vatican, and asks us to join him with the slogan: “It is not just about migrants”.

With this theme, Pope Francis wants to highlight that his frequent appeals for migrants, refugees, displaced and trafficked people should be understood as integral to his deep concern for all the inhabitants of today’s existential peripheries.

1.Subtopic - It's about putting the last and least in first place

Please watch the video of Pope Francis as he elaborates on this message. Putting the least in first place

1.Subtopic _It's also about our fears_

Pope Francis says, “The ugly cruelty of our time tempts us to abandon any dream of freedom. And so we close in on ourselves, within our fragile certainty and security, inside the circle of people we like, in our safe routine. Withdrawing into ourselves is a sign of defeat, and it increases our fear of “others”. Please watch what Pope Francis says: It’s about our fears

2.Gospel - It's about the whole person and about all people

Migration and refugees have been in our world from the beginning of time. Here is Pope Francis speaking about this human phenomenon. Migrants & Refugees

Fr. Michael Czerny SJ offers some comments on the WDMR2019: The Holy Father’s Message

Here is a link to the Popes message for the 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees: WDMR 2019

For more information, please visit the  website: WDMR2019

Canadians Respond to Refugees’ Plight

In the September 25th edition of the Catholic Register, Michael Swan reported that the people of Canada have responded well to the plight of the world’s refugee situation. The Office for Refugees for the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT conducted a mission trip to Bangkok Thailand in August. They identified 65 families to be resettled to Canada. Toronto agreed to accept 8 families, and Calgary has agreed to accept 3. Other dioceses in Canada are being asked to accept some families as well. In Toronto, up to $500,000 has been set aside to assist parishes that may not have the fund-raising capacity to sponsor a family and cover the rent and upkeep through its first year in Canada.

Pope Francis: “Catholics – Dialogue with Government”

Liberating the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted is an integral part of what God wants his church to do, Pope Francis said. This is the message from Pope Francis as reported by Cindy Wooden in the March 8 edition of the Catholic Register.

Catholics must promote dialogue with government leaders, “a dialogue that takes into account people’s actual experiences, sufferings and aspirations, in order to remind everyone once more of his or her responsibilities” said Pope Francis. He was addressing  participants in the plenary council of the International Catholic Migration Commission, which was meeting in Rome.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis’ top collaborator, said the Catholic Church and Catholic agencies that work with migrants and refugees around the world are called to educate, advocate and seek alternative host countries in the face of a growing “refusal to welcome” newcomers. He decried how “the most economically advanced” nations, especially those who “undeniably owe a great deal of their development to migrants,” are now trying to close their borders.

Michele Klein Solomon, director of the Global Compact for Migration of the U.N. International Organization for Migration, said the “single greatest challenge” facing those who assist migrants is “the demonization of migrants and refugees, and this discourse that is so damaging: blaming individuals, labeling individuals as criminals, as threats, as terrorists, as coming to society to try to take social services, to take jobs.”

“It is not enough to complain; we have to appeal to other states to do more” said Walter Brill, International Catholic Migration Commission organization’s director of operations.

You can read the entire article here: Dialogue with Gov’t March 2018

The full article is also available from the Catholic Register: Pope Urges Dialogue

Counteract ‘refusal to welcome‘ Migrants

Catholic News Service published an article by Cindy Wooden in the March 6, 2018 edition of the Catholic Register. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis’ top collaborator, decried how “the most economically advanced” nations, especially those who “undeniably owe a great deal of their development to migrants,” are now trying to close their borders. The cardinal urged Catholic agencies and bishops’ conferences to provide fact-based information that will help “dispel many unfounded prejudices and fears regarding the reception of foreigners. These remarks took place at the annual International Catholic Migration Commission meeting in March in Rome.

Carol Batchelor, director of the Division of International Protection for the U.N. refugee agency, told the conference there are 66 million refugees or forcibly displaced persons in the world today – “the highest number ever” – and that a refugee child’s average wait for resettlement is now 17 years, “their entire childhood.”

Michele Klein Solomon, director of the Global Compact for Migration of the U.N. International Organization for Migration, said the “single greatest challenge” facing those who assist migrants is “the demonization of migrants and refugees, and this discourse that is so damaging.

From October through the end of February, the commission managed to resettle only about 100 people. It is not enough to complain; we have to appeal to other states to do more.

You can read the article in its entirety here: Catholics Must Counteract March 6, 2018

This is also available from the Catholic Register: Catholics Must Counteract


JPIC Newsbrief October 2017

The Refugees and Migrants Working Group (RMWG) hosted the JPIC English Promoters Meeting last October 18. Twenty-eight congregations are currently hosting refugees in 30 of their houses. Since the beginning of the project (2014), 111 persons are on their own.

With Fr. Jude Nnorom, CSSP as facilitator, the session began with the prayer on the reality of migration. This was followed by the experiences shared by four resource persons who spoke of their community’s blessings, challenges, best practices and questions. They include Sr. Maria Josè Rosa of the Ursulines of the Roman Union, Fr. Nico Espinosa of the Society of the Divine Word, Fr. David Reid of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, and Sr. Carmen Elissa Bandeo of the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit.


  1.  Assisting families and persons to be independent and to recover the dimension of intimacy and family.
  2. Refugees/migrants are helped to create new links of networks, contacts, acquaintances and opportunities.
  3. Responding to the call of the Church and to participate in her mission, refugee/migrants have helped us to develop sensitivity to their cultural and religious plurality.


  1.  The language becomes a barrier for communication. Caution is necessary regarding boundary issues, while offering advice, feedback, providing accompaniment, and caring for their health.
  2. There is fear of suffering due to xenophobia and prejudices. Complex issues are related to money.
  3. Faced with new people and culture, there is an unconscious drive to save their identity, while integrating into their new local reality.

Best practices

  1. Treating them like neighbors, friends and long term guests; celebrating their important days; keeping the balance between respect for their privacy and making our presence with them; assigning a member of the community as reference point for refugees; stating the boundaries clearly with due care for their employment and religious perspectives; informing them of expectations; respecting the desire to give back in small ways like sharing their meal.
  2. The project has to be regularly evaluated and updated.


  1. How to help the refugees take responsibility for their own life and to create a network amongst themselves to promote better conditions for their lives.
  2. How can we develop and make known the right of all to emigrate and immigrate, as stated in Catholic Social teaching (cf. Compendium of the Social doctrine of the church, no. 100, 289, 297, 298, 308, and 505).
  3. How do we balance the needs of the refugees/migrants and the local community? Sr. Maria Jose Rey Merodio, Coordinator of the Centro Astaili Program for Congregations in Rome, explained the Semi-Autonomy Project: Community of Hospitality, which facilitates the exit of refugees from the reception circuit, creating a bridge to accompany the passage from assisted reception to autonomy. The project allows the gradual involvement of the beneficiaries in the direct participation in their own sustenance and in the re-appropriation of the administration of everyday life. They help to create new links in the territory and insertion in the fabric of society. The project makes possible new forms of widespread reception.

Challenges for the Centro Astali Program include: finding a stable and regular working insertion, finding

places to rent on a regular basis after the period of semi-autonomous reception, adhering to a straight-

line path of integration, logistic and bureaucratic difficulties linked to being transferred—residence, school insertion of minors, being taken charge by the relevant social services, etc., accepting the conclusion of the reception period, cultural difficulties (saving money, maintenance of the spaces, etc.).

We are grateful that the RMWG will be developing a handbook to share their experiences with other persons interested in working with refugees and migrants.

Following are references to more information regarding refugees/migrants:

ƒƒ Migrants and refugees

ƒƒ Sendai framework for disaster reduction

Global Movement of People

ƒƒ New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

Contributed by S.Vincent Anesthasiar, CMF


On August 2nd 2017, the Prairie Messenger posted an article written by Joe Gunn, Director of Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). In the article he discusses various activities of the Churches in Canada. He mentions the history of the involvement of faith-based groups in settling refugees in Canada. Catholics mobilized to welcome refugees who arrived in special movements from Hungary in the 1950s, Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, and even Uganda in the 1970s. He also writes about the Canadian Council of Churches joining Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees in a court challenge to the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), a deal which endangers the lives of asylum-seekers.

Another interesting historic note is that in March 1979, the Mennonites signed the first Master Agreement with Ottawa to facilitate the private sponsorship of refugees.

He finally calls on the faith groups to go beyond the hard work of receiving and settling newcomers, our faith communities must continue to advocate for improved governmental policies related to refugees. Wait times are still too long, stretching over six years for sponsorship applications from some parts of Africa.

You can read the full article here: Journey to justice Aug. 2017

You can also find the article on the website of the Prairie Messenger




Pope & Refugees

Every minute 24 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. The UNHCR has proclaimed June 20 as “World Refugee Day”. UN Secretary-General, António Guterre says “On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.”

Please visit this link for further information: World Refugee Day

A Prayer for Refugees

Almighty and merciful God, whose Son became a refugee and had no place to call his own; look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger, homeless and hungry.

Bless those who work to bring them relief; inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts; and guide the nations of the world towards that day when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Immigration Minister vows faster processing times for refugees

In the April 27 edition of the Catholic Register, Michael Swan reports on some information from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRC). Minister Hussen says his department is working closely with the Canadian Sponsorship Agreement Holders’ Association to speed up the bureaucratic application process for sponsors, but the problem is a backlog of refugees left in limbo over previous years.

A report published by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) indicated that Canada can accept and process more refugees. Joe Gunn, the Executive Director said that the sponsoring groups are ready to take more people and there’s no reason to wait six years, six-and-a-half years for people from Ethiopia. There’s no reason for that to continue.

The article also quotes Bishop Crosby, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) who said in a letter to the Minister: “In the spirit of fairness and non-discrimination, your department must expedite processing for Syrians in parallel to all refugee groups. It is neither reasonable nor fair for an Afghan family in Pakistan to wait 75 months, or for an Eritrean refugee in Egypt to wait 55 months, to have their sponsorship applications processed to completion.”

The Minister said, he promises Canada will take a big bite out of the mounting inventory of refugees who have been promised resettlement in Canada this year.

“Our levels plan this year is historic,” he said.

You can read the entire article here: Faster Processing Times

You can also find it here: Immigration minister vows faster processing times for refugees Register April 2017

General Assembly High-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants

This important conference will be held in New York at the UN Headquarters on Monday September 19, 2016. This is a high-level plenary meeting in order to respond to large movements of refugees and migrants. The aim of the Summit is to develop a global approach to situations of mass population flows that is more comprehensive, predictable, systematic, and equitable.

Participants will include Government officials, members of civil society and refugees themselves. The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice in conjunction with the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC) will also send a representative.

The meeting is expected to secure firm, action-oriented commitments to enhance responsibility-sharing and to strengthen international cooperation. The Secretary-General has recommended that Member States adopt a global compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees and agree on a road map to guide the development of a global compact for safe, regular and orderly migration.

Please read more information about the Summit: Summit

You can see the schedule for the day at this link: Schedule


Getting Syrians here was easy. Now comes the hard part.

Maclean’s Magazine, on August 9, 2016 published an article written by Michael Friscolanti in which he details and describes the process of refugees from Syrian hearing the news that they will be brought to Canada and how happy they are to be here. In the article he reports on an interview he had with Rabea Allos from the CRSC. Mr. Friscolanti poses the inevitable questions about this whole process. These include: “Now that they’re here, will all of them thrive? Are we doing enough to ensure their long-term integration? And if not, what are the consequences years down the road”?

He reports that many Canadians do not feel there are enough resources in place to ensure a smooth transition to Canada – these include; food banks, language classes, housing, job training and mental health services etc. The Senate Standing Committee recommended that the Government boost funding for language classes and mental health services.

The article mentions the fact that refugee stakeholders are bracing for one event: “month 13.” Whether privately sponsored or government-assisted, Syrian refugees receive one year of financial support; after that, they are expected to support themselves—or apply for welfare. No one knows for sure how many will end up on welfare. Canada boasts a well-respected suite of settlement agencies and service providers that assist tens of thousands of newcomers every year. But never have so many refugees arrived so quickly, creating inevitable clogs.

“If you look at language as a unifier and one of the chief roadblocks to obtaining employment—which is a big integration factor — this is a big concern,” says Michelle Rempel, the Conservative immigration critic who sits on the House committee. “Some will do better than others,” says Carolyn Davis, executive director of Catholic Crosscultural Services, a settlement agency that also provides training courses for private sponsors.

“One refugee that fails resettlement is not acceptable, because it means we as a society failed to make sure those people integrated,”says Rabea Allos, director of the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC), an umbrella organization for private sponsorship groups. “You don’t want, a year or two down the road, for Canadians to become upset with the refugee program and believe that some people are abusing the system. They will say: ‘You know what? Let’s stop getting refugees in.’ This is the concern. We want the program to work so Canadians will continue this compassion toward bringing more refugees.”

You can read the entire article here: Syrians



UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency has developed a petition to be delivered to UN headquarters in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly high-level summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants, on September 19. Add your name to the #WithRefugees petition to send a clear message to governments that they must act with solidarity and shared responsibility.

Here is the link: #WithRefugees


I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me”
Pastoral Letter on Welcoming Refugees

The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) published their Pastoral Letter on October 26, 2015. In their four section letter they begin by explaining in the first section (Why We Are Writing) the rationale for the letter. They are direct in saying, “We believe that discussion is not enough; this is a time for urgent action”. The CCCB is indicating that the traditional definition of a “refugee” is no longer adequate. They declare, “We can now add a new category of climate or environmental refugees”.

In the second section entitled “Biblical Teaching” the Bishops remind us that Jesus himself was a refugee, “Even the child Jesus himself was a refugee when his family fled the persecution of King Herod (Matthew 2.13-14)”. The key phrase is from the Gospel of St. Mathew – “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25.35).

The next section, “Welcoming and Protecting Refugees” reminds us clearly that what we as Church can do is not only limited to simply assisting and supporting the refugee as they progress through the process of selection, but must look to full inclusion that clearly respects differences. This section goes on to note the many issues in need of clarification. These include: accelerating procedures, emphasis on family reunification, asylum, appeal procedures and others.

The final section (The Church: Speaking and Acting on Behalf of Refugees) the challenge is clear, “Our faith calls us to let ourselves be moved – even disturbed – by our sisters and brothers who are refugees”. The Bishops note and congratulate the many parishes and other groups who have sponsored refugees over the years. In terms of the Government, the Bishops say, “It is imperative that this Catholic voice be heard by the Canadian government”. There are several practical ideas that are meant for all of us to undertake. These include: call on the federal government, praying for refugees in camps around the world, support Development and Peace and CNEWA, create local diocesan services, mark World Day of Migrants and Refugees, provide formation for pastors and pastoral workers and establish a pastoral ministry for migrants.

You can read the entire letter here:  Welcome the Stranger


On September 8, 2015 the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) responded to the refugee crisis with an open letter from Archbishop Paul-André Durocher President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He reminded us of the haunting images we have all seen in the press and the constant message of Pope Francis “to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway.”

The Archbishop provides some suggestions for action which we can undertake. These include:

  • Sponsoring a refugee family – he provides contact information for the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC), the Office for Refugees for the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) and the Office des communautés culturelles et rituelles in Montreal.
  • Donate funds – he provides some contacts to which one can send funds, such as The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), Aid to the Church in Need, Canada, CNEWA Canada, and Canadian Jesuits International.
  • Get involved politically – he refers to the various election guides by the CCODP, CCCB and others
  • Be informed – he refers the reader to Caritas International, and the United Nations Refugee Agency
  • Combat prejudices and fears – Major obstacles facing refugees as they seek protection and shelter involve apathy, indifference, apprehensions and prejudices in those countries where they seek refuge. When our hearts are fearful, our doors remain closed to others in need. One way to address this negative attitude is is through inter-religious dialogue.
  • Stay focused – There are some 13 million refugees now throughout the world, of whom four million are from Syria. The problems they face are immense. We can receive electronic news about the upcoming CCCB resource on refugees, and he provides the link to subscribe.
  • Meditate on Scripture and pray – Check with your diocese and parish on plans for special days of reflection, prayer, fasting and community action for the displaced people of our world.

This letter contains many excellent resources and lots of food for thought. Share it with your networks.

You can read the full text of the message here: Responding as Catholics