Refugee office launches Jan. 1

  • December 5, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - In response to increasing numbers of refugees seeking a home and to centralize the efforts of agencies working to help them, the archdiocese of Toronto will launch the Office for Refugees Jan. 1.

This new pastoral ministry office will be located at Catholic Crosscultural Services (CCS), an agency funded by Catholic Charities. CCS has more than 50 years of experience serving immigrants and refugees belonging to a diverse range of religious and cultural backgrounds.

“The archdiocese hopes the increase in sponsorship by our parishes that will result from this initiative will encourage the Canadian government to process these cases more expeditiously than in the past,” said John McGrath, chancellor for the office of temporal affairs at the archdiocese.

In the past year, the Archdiocesan Refugee Sponsorship Program tripled the amount of sponsorships made by parishes and religious orders. Although no data for 2008 is available, in 2007, Canada received 28,473 refugee claims — 4,708 of which came looking to stay in Toronto. Only 5,885 were accepted nationwide, with the majority coming from China, Colombia and Sri Lanka, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

“One of the greatest gifts of our archdiocese is the unique blend of cultures and diversity of those who call our community home,” Archbishop Thomas Collins said in a news release. “We are called to extend the hand of friendship and care to those who need our assistance in their early days as our neighbours. This tangible sign of outreach will help our parish communities to mobilize and assist those who look to Canada for peace and prosperity.”

Dr. Martin Mark, a refugee sponsorship co-ordinator at CCS, was chosen to lead this new initiative assisted by Yosief Araya and Nicole Desmarais, who have also worked with CCS.

“This will create a network that all the services can be made accessible,” Mark said. “I’m very proud to see this development because I believe that Toronto should be on the fronts of this kind of work.”

The new office will help to better link parishes in the archdiocese with refugee sponsorship through the Canadian Private Sponsorship Program, while increasing the capacity and resources for responding to refugee crises like the one recently faced by Iraqi Christians. The office will also focus efforts of all agencies committed to serving refugees while advocating on global social justice issues at home and on an international level.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.