Cardinal Ouellet: the Pope’s message on migrants, refugees

On July 30 the Canadian Catholic News published a summary of the homily delivered by Cardinal Ouelette of Quebec at the Basilica of Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre in Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre, Quebec, on the feast of St. Anne.

He said that the Holy Father keeps drawing attention to these populations drifting from one continent to another and from one country to another, which are exposed to all the dangers and all the abuses.

Cardinal Ouellet noted Pope Francis’ visit in 2013 to the Island of Lampedusa to mourn the deaths of Africans who had drowned in the Mediterranean in the hands of ruthless traffickers.

The Cardinal stated, “I invite the people of Canada to have an attitude of welcome and to help integrate migrants and refugees who arrive under circumstances of great difficulty.”

You can read the entire article here: Cardinal Ouelette – Pope Francis


Catholic Refugee Council wants Government to Change Sponsorship Agreement


On June 7, 2018 The Catholic Register published an article written by Michael Swan regarding the meeting of Catholic agencies that hold sponsorship agreements with the federal government in June 2018. They presented seven recommendations demanding changes and clarification of the new agreement between the Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association (SAHs) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In the view of many of the SAHs the new rules and associated costs will also apply to refugees whose applications were made under the former agreement. The new agreement between the government and sponsors has the potential to be a huge burden on the budget of some SAHs, according to the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC).

In addition many of the Catholic SAHs complain that terms of a new agreement imposed on sponsoring agencies last year are constantly fluctuating and that lengthy processing times have “resulted in unjust, unplanned and significant burden to sponsors.”

“There is no methodology in place to quantify the value of the substantially greater non-financial support provided to newcomers under the PSR (Private Sponsorship of Refugees) program,” said the Catholic agencies.

The IRCC’s media relations department said it was unable to answer questions from The Catholic Register about how or why the new agreement has increased costs to sponsors.

Please read the full article in the Catholic Register: CRSC – Sponsorship Agreement

Please send us your response: crsponsorscouncil@gmail.com


Youth open closet doors to Winnipeg’s new migrants and refugees

Janelle Lafantaisie wrote an interesting article with good news from Winnipeg. She recognizes the great work of Benedicte LeMaître who realized that Winnipeg is home to a large immigration and refugee population. Many of them do not have relatives who they could go to for hand-me-down clothes and other items. There is a large immigration and refugee population, many of whom have found a home parish at St. Mary’s Cathedral where there is the St. Elizabeth Closet which made its debut on Thanksgiving weekend of 2017. The Closet has been open during church office hours and visitors are welcome to take whatever they need at absolutely no cost.

All kinds of people benefit from St. Elizabeth’s Closet. One example is a gentleman who had some physical disabilities who came into the parish hall to browse through the piles of clothing. Another example is about a group from a very hot climate. They don’t own sweaters or mitts. That’s a lot to invest in all at once, but the Closet helped them.

The next steps for the Closet will take it beyond the walls of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Please read the entire article here: Youth open closet doors to Winnipeg Feb. 2018

Refugee brings life experience to her new job leading the Canadian Council of Refugees

The Catholic Register, on Dec. 19, 2017 published an article by Michael Swan. The Canadian Council of Refugees (CCR) has just appointed a new President – Claire Roque from the Philippines. The position is a term of two years as President. Claire is herself a refugee and believes that her experience will be of great value in her new position. As president of the CCR, Roque hopes to push Ottawa into clearing the backlog of cases caught in the system.

She is employed by the Diocese of London as a “ministry specialist for inland protection of refugees.” Claire credits Bishop Fabbro of London for his great support. She started there as a volunteer in 2011 and a year later was employed full time.
“For the members of the CCR it’s a long-standing priority to make sure we have people with refugee experience among the leadership of the organization,” said Canadian Council for Refugees executive director Janet Dench.
Please read the entire article here: CCR New Leader Dec. 2017


Sisters are a driving force for fund to aid new refugees to Canada

Sisters Driving Force


On Oct. 30, 2017 the Catholic Register published an article by Ron Stang. In this piece he profiles Sr. Helen Petrimoulx and the great work she has done for refugees over the past several years in Windsor. She is called the “refugee specialist” and spearheads the fundraising for the Community Refugee Fund.

From their 10th annual fundraising dinner the proceeds go to support the Angela Rose transition house for refugees requiring short-term stays.

Marion Overholt, executive director of Legal Assistance of Windsor, a non-profit legal aid clinic, says “Sr. Helen has played a pivotal role and I know that, as a person of faith, she has offered that love and caring and financial assistance to refugees when other people just were oblivious and didn’t care.” Petrimoulx’s work with refugees has been recognized with several awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Windsor and the Order of Ontario.

Petrimoulx said many of the refugees who end up in Windsor are from countries in Africa like Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, Windsor has also been attracting refugees who originally landed in Toronto and Montreal, but are looking for a smaller city with a less intimidating atmosphere.

Please read the full article at the Catholic Register: Sisters – Driving Force


Issues for Refugee Sponsorship – backlog, wait times, lack of spots, travel loans

There are many issues and questions related to the Canadian approach to refugee settlement and sponsorship. Recently, there have been some groups who are talking about the issues and publicizing their concerns. One is Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). This is a national organization of members inspired by faith to act for justice in Canadian public policy. The other is a local Toronto group headed by former mayor of Toronto John Sewell.

CPJ conducted a study of the issues as seen by various Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH’s) in Canada. The study entitled “A Half Welcome, delays, limits and inequities in Canadian Refugee Sponsorship”, focused these areas of concern. These include: long wait times for applications from Syrian and other countries to be processed by Canada, allocation limits from Syria and other parts of the world such as Africa and travel loans which need to be repaid beginning after 6 months for private sponsorships and not at all for Government Assisted refugees.

You can read the entire article here: Half Welcome

The group informally known as “Clearing the Backlog” is a community advocacy group consisting of many faith-based groups and other local community advocates. They are also concerned about the backlog indicating that it has climbed to about 45,000, and with the 9000 in Quebec’s frozen pipeline. Another concern is the limits on the number of applicants from various parts of the world, especially Africa.

This Backlog group can be reached via email at: john@johnsewell.ca

Canada renews commitment – ICMC

Canada renews commitment to global refugee agency with additional $1.6 million

The Catholic Register reports, in an article published on March 21, 2017 by Michael Swan that the Canadian Government has committed 1.6 million to the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). Refugee and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen made the announcement in Geneva March 15 when he renewed an agreement between the Canadian government and the International Catholic Migration Commission. Under an agreement signed in 2013, Canadian funding has allowed the Catholic agency to interview and process 41,300 refugees.

The ICMC works closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, sending specialized staff into refugee emergencies to conduct interviews and assess refugees for resettlement programs around the world. “The money we’ve been getting from the Canadian government allows us to send more people,” ICMC general secretary Msgr. Bob Vitillo told The Catholic Register by phone from Geneva. “It’s been a big help to us.”

You may read the notice on the ICMC website at this link: ICMC

Please read the article in the Catholic Register at this link: Canada Renews Commitment



The annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees was celebrated on Sunday January 15, 2017 across Canada and the entire Catholic Church. Pope Francis had issued his statement entitled CHILD MIGRANTS THE VULNERABLE AND THE VOICELESS. Celebrations of Mass, receptions and speeches took place in many dioceses across Canada such as Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Halifax.

In Toronto, Auxiliary Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick celebrated Mass at St. Luke’s Parish in Thornhill. In his message the Bishop encouraged all of us to act even in small ways to promote and build up the kingdom of God. He referred to the pope’s message of care for children who are dislocated from their homes and have to endure terrible suffering. He thanked the parish of St. Luke for their sponsorship of so many refugee families. He also thanked the Office for Refugees in the Archdiocese of Toronto for their great help to parishes and groups to sponsor refugees.

Following Mass the Iraqi community hosted a reception with great food and fellowship. Several speakers provided greater insight, welcome and thanks for this wonderful day. Rabea Allos, from the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council was the emcee. The speakers included Fr. Damien McPherson from the Archdiocese, Francesco Sorbara the MP from Vaughan, Itrath Qizilbash McGrath from the Organization for Islamic Learning, Dr. Martin Mark from the Office for Refugees in the Archdiocese of Toronto, and Maurice Malone from the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council. Brian Dwyer, Chair of the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council was also in attendance.

Several families of refugees also spoke and told their story of coming to Canada and how their lives had dramatically changed for the better since arriving. The families were from Iraq, Ghana, Vietnam and Syria. The audience was very thankful to hear these great positive messages.

Please read Pope Francis’ full statement here: Child Migrants


Iraqi refugee family finds success in hard work and each others support

In January, 2017, Michael Swan of the Catholic Register published a great “Good News” story of the Khalil family from Iraq who came to Canada and seem to be thriving here. The family consists of two parents and two children – boy and a girl. Parents are working and children are in school. Ayad  Khalil (father) is a hard-working warehouse manager and driver at Ararat International Foods in Toronto. Both Sahr and Ayad (parents) have worked day and evening jobs for most of their time in Canada. Sahr worked in a restaurant during the day and cleaned offices at night. Saher and his nine-year-old sister Naden are students at St. Aidan’s, just a short walk from their new townhouse.


There wasn’t much question about the necessity of moving the family out of Iraq. Ayad had been kidnapped for three days — an episode that cost Ayad and Sahrs families $20,000 (U.S.). The Khalil family’s slim hope had rested on a meeting with Office of Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto director Martin Mark at the Syriac Orthodox church in Damascus in 2010. ORAT teamed up with Ayads cousin, Talal Allo, in Richmond Hill, Ont., to sponsor the family, with help from St. Barsaumos Syriac Orthodox Church in Markham.

The Khalils say there is nothing they would rather be than Canadians.

Please read the entire article here: Kahlil Family