Very Rev. Jack Pereira, V.G.
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 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.”
By Bishop Henry
Headline in the Windsor Star - September 27, 2013 - “Removal of Cross Triggers Sadness”
A large steel cross which loomed high above the Ouellette Avenue entrance of Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital since the building’s 1962 grand opening came down Friday, while a group of about 50 protesters expressed their sadness by reciting prayers, psalms and the rosary.... The religious artifacts were removed because starting Tuesday the downtown medical site will become Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette Campus and will no longer be connected to its roots of the past 125 years with the Catholic religious community.
Many today cannot bear to look at the cross and the crucified one. They regard displays of the cross in public to be no longer appropriate and they want to remove them.
But such attitudes of advanced secularization in a pluralistic society must be questioned -it is not only a denial of the importance of history but it raises a series of questions:
Has suffering no longer a place in a world of wellness?
Do we push suffering away and suppress it?
What would our world be missing, especially what would the many who suffer be missing if this sign of love and mercy were no longer permitted to be publicly visible?
Should we no longer be reminded that: “By his wounds we are healed?”
To believe in the crucified son is to believe that love is present in the world that it is more powerful than hate and violence, more powerful than all the evil in which human beings are entangled.
“Believing in this love means believing in mercy”
Calvary sets in consoling relief the experience of all who suffer, whether the nightmare of physical pain or the emotional trauma of significant loss or the prospect of imminent death.
The human Jesus, struggling to come to terms with the reality of his predicament, echoes every human experience of suffering and of loss and reflects the complexity and confusion of emotions that attend all those caught in the slipstream of pain and loss and death.
Today, in homes and in hospitals all over Canada, those who experience pain and desolation in whatever form, all those who like Mary stand at the foot of the cross, will sense something of the complexity of emotions that were present on Calvary: the same confusion, the same disillusionment, the same desolation, the same anger, the same reproach.
How many indeed this Friday will, in whatever shape or form, echo the great lamentation of Jesus as he died on the cross: My God, what have you done to me, answer me?
All who are suffering in whatever form this Good Friday, all who struggle to make sense of what, by any human estimate, seems to be senseless will find an echo of their pain in the sufferings of Jesus because the contradiction of the cross is that what it represents, the sufferings of Christ, continues to save and to heal and to comfort.
Contemplating Jesus on the cross brings comfort and resilience and strength to those who need it. And it reminds us that it is through his suffering that everyone and everything is redeemed, that the power and the presence and promise of God are now accessible to us in our suffering and in our need.
In the pierced heart of his son, God shows us that he went to extremes in order to bear, through his son's voluntary suffering unto death, the immeasurable suffering of the world, our coldheartedness, and our lack of love, and sought to redeem them.
By means of the water and blood streaming from Jesus' pierced heart, we are washed clean in Baptism of all the dirt and muck that has accumulated in us and in the world; and in the Eucharist, we may always quench our thirst for more than the banalities that surround us and, in a figurative sense, satisfy our thirst for more than the "soft drinks" that are offered to us there.
Thus with Ignatius of Loyola's prayer Anima Christi (the Soul of Christ) , we can say:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
Good Jesus, hear me
Within the wounds, shelter me
from turning away, keep me
From the evil one, protect me
At the hour of my death, call me
Into your presence lead me
to praise you with all your saints
Forever and ever
Kiss the cross on this Good Friday, not for God’s sake but for your own.
God doesn't tire of us, Pope Francis has said, but we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Join him in exploring the infinite love and unfailing compassion of the God who is always there first, ready to receive and embrace us. Pope Francis wrote: I am convinced that the whole church ... will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God.
In proclaiming an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis is drawing us into God's unfailing mercy. Be Merciful, just like your Father is merciful.