RESPONDING TO THE REFUGEE CRISIS

September 20, 2017

Urged by the Holy Father and given pastoral direction by the Bishops of Canada who insisted, “that every Catholic parish and religious community in Canada that has the resources to sponsor a refugee family ought to seriously consider doing so,” the Diocese of Victoria moved into action.

The Sisters of St. Ann of St. Joseph’s Province responded by working in collaboration with the parishes. Contributions were given to the special collections made in the parishes. Sisters Marina Smith and Sheila Moss became active members in the refugee committees in their respective parishes.

The Diocese was blessed by the presence of a priest who had himself escaped from the war and persecution in Iraq. At the request of Bishop Gary Gordon, Father Karam Alraban gave us a list of Christian families in Iraq who were seeking asylum in safe countries. From this list parishes began the lengthy process of sponsoring specific families. Marina and Sheila’s parishes sponsored 2 adult brothers and their families who have, for over a year, taken refuge in Turkey, making a total of 5 adults and 3 children.

To begin the preparation for the move to a new country of different culture and language, the committee set up a communication system with our sponsored family in Turkey using the computer program “Skype”. Through Skype Sheila and another volunteer began regular courses in English with the family members and the committee kept in constant contact through monthly meetings. The Skype program enables us to have visual and audio connection with our families. A strong bond of friendship has been created.

To our great disappointment there has been a lengthy delay in the Canadian Embassy in Turkey’s staff facilitation of the acceptance and required action on the refugee applications. The two refugee families live under very difficult circumstances with minimal financial resources and great insecurity. The frustration and disappointment experienced by sponsoring groups and even greater heartbreak for the refugees creates increasing doubt and uncertainty. Sponsors continue to put pressure on the Canadian Government to reform the sponsorship application system and to allocate additional financial and personnel resources to the processing centres to speed up processing times.

With the support of your prayers we trust that the refugee families we are sponsoring will arrive very soon to the homes and friends who await them here.

Sister Sheila Moss ssa, September 2017

Photo Priscilla Du Preez unsplash.com

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