Chair, Year of Mercy Committee
World refugee day is celebrated every year on 20th of June to support millions of families all over the world who have lost their homes and dear ones as a result of violence or war. The day was established by the General Assembly of United Nations for the Refugees to honor them for their courage in facing immense challenges after losing homes and often, family members due to conflict or violence, and their subsequent contributions to the communities where they eventually settle.
They are survivors and should get proper help and timely support. It is very important to draw people’s attention towards the refugees’ conditions, to honor their courage and to try and address their problems.
It takes courage to be a refugee: As people who have faced persecution because of ‘who’ they are (their race, nationality or membership of a persecuted group) or ‘what’ they believe (their religion or political opinion), refugees need courage:
- The courage not to deny identity or beliefs in the face of persecution.
- The courage to leave all that is familiar and step into the unknown in search of peace.
- The courage to keep going in the face of devastating loss, difficulty and despair.
- The courage to begin again, to work hard and to maintain hope in an unfamiliar land.
The Diocese of Calgary has a long and honored history of working to welcome, support and to settle refugees and migrants in close collaboration with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.
The RC Diocese of Calgary became a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) in 1979 in response to the Vietnamese Boat Crisis when thousands of Vietnamese refugees were resettled by Citizenship & Immigration Canada and churches working together. Since becoming a SAH in 1979, our Diocese has sponsored 6000 refugees from thirty-three countries. The ten largest countries include Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Vietnam, Sudan, Tibet, Hungary, Poland and Afghanistan.
The most recent flow of thousands of refugees from Syria has once again demonstrated the need to be sensitive to the issue of refugees, and to be open to welcome them in a spirit of true charity and genuine hospitality.
Our parishes, religious institutions and private citizens have proven once again that we are capable of meeting the challenges in this endeavor.
Our Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis showed us a great example when he brought 12 highly vulnerable refugees who were facing deportation from the Greek island of Lesbos, to Rome and gave them refuge.
A spokesman for the Holy See said: “The pope has desired to make a gesture of welcome regarding refugees, accompanying on his plane to Rome three families of refugees from Syria, 12 people in all, including six children. Two families come from Damascus, and one from Deir Azzor (in the area occupied by Isis). Their homes had been bombed. The Vatican will take responsibility for bringing in and maintaining the three families.”
The plight of the refugees fits so well with the theme of the year of Mercy “Merciful like a Father”. In the true spirit of the year of mercy and to encourage parishes to adopt refugee families, the Diocese of Calgary with the direction from Bishop Henry, has donated up to $10 000 to parishes sponsoring refugee families.
Following are the parishes and institutions who have sponsored refugee families:
St Mary’s Cathedral
Holy Family, Medicine Hat
Our Lady of Peace Maronite Catholic Parish
St. Agnes, Carstairs
St Anthony's, Calgary
St Basil's Melkite Greek Catholic Parish
St Francis de Sales, High River
St Mary's, Cochrane
St Michael the Archangel
St Patrick's, Calgary
St Patrick's, Medicine Hat
St Pius X
St Thomas Moore
Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus
FCJ Christian Life Center
Franciscan Friars, Mount St Francis Retreat Center and CSRSG (Cochrane Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Group)
On behalf of all sponsored refugees, we would like to express our profound appreciation to Catholic Charities, the above Calgary RC Diocese parishes and Organizations, and to all volunteers for their support of refugees.
Luke 4:16-21 – “...Bring good news to the poor...release to the captives...sight to the blind...let the oppressed go free.”