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Archdiocese announces plans to sponsor 100 refugee families from Syria and Iraq

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/09/15

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From The Toronto Star: 

The Archdiocese of Toronto plans to sponsor 100 refugee families from Syria and Iraq with the launch of its Project Hope campaign.


The archdiocese is asking its parishioners and 225 Catholic churches to step forward to help raise $3 million over the next 100 days as well as form 100 refugee sponsorship committees to help with the 
settlement of the refugees once they land here.




The campaign to bring in 100 refugee families to the GTA within the next year is in addition to the other resettlement efforts the archdiocese’s Office for Refugees, which was formed in 2009, has already been working on, including refugee resettlement for people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan.




To date, the Office for Refugees — which has a sponsorship leaseholder agreement with Ottawa to bring in refugees — has resettled 2,519 refugees.




According to archdiocese statistics, in 2013 the Office for Refugees submitted resettlement requests for 72 Syrians. In 2014, another 72 submissions were made for Syrian refugees. So far, 120 Syrian refugees have arrived in Toronto through the Office for Refugees. As of September 2015, the refugee office has made resettlement requests for another 65 Syrian refugees.




“When a family feels their only hope is to 
flee their homeland to join hundreds on small, drifting boats; sliding a child beneath razor wire or packing into cargo trucks, we should not only be disturbed but also ashamed,” said Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto at a news conference Tuesday morning.




…He said the fundraising campaign is not limited only to those of the Catholic faith and the archdiocese will work with and accept help from other faith groups in resettling refugees.


“I am inviting the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Toronto and all people of goodwill to financially support those who are fleeing war, violence and persecution.”

Read more. 

The Catholic Register adds:

While money to help a family start a new life in Canada is important, the most important thing parishes can offer refugees is “love and friendship,” the cardinal said. Collins highlighted the volunteers who drive refugees to doctors’ appointments, help them register their children for school and make social calls on their new neighbours. Project Hope comes just as the Church worldwide embarks on a Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis, Collins remarked. “May this initiative on the eve of the Year of Mercy spark a particular culture of care, love and mercy in our community,” Collins said. “Let us put our faith into action.” While processing times have fallen dramatically for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to as little as nine months, the Office for Refugees still sees wait times of three to five years for refugees from Africa, Afghanistan and other parts of the world, said Mark. Mark hopes the example of best practices from the Middle East will eventually spread throughout the Canadian visa and refugee system.

Meanwhile, there are discussions underway about raising the limit of Syrian refugees coming to the United States, but fears of terrorism and lack of political will may be impeding any serious action.

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