A sampling of how Canadian and U.S. parishes are reaching out to refugees and immigrants:
- St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha, Nebraska, hosted a party for the about 160 Syrian refugees in the Omaha area, including a family the parish sponsors: Ahmed and Sahar Al Kango and their three sons.
- Two dozen parishes in the Montreal Archdiocese are involved in sponsoring and supporting refugee families. Sponsored by Montreal's St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, the Beirouty family of four from Syria is about to mark the one-year anniversary of their North American arrival. Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish in Mount Royal, Quebec, provides additional resources for the family.
- The current refugee crisis brings back memories of Vietnam in the 1970s. A young woman reflects on her mother's nearly fatal flight from there and how a parish in Northern California displayed "living, radical mercy" and "literally carried my family until they got on their feet."
- St. Michael Parish in London, Ontario, works with both the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada and the Canadian government to sponsor and support Lebanese refugees Mahmoud and Amani and their three children.
- St. Raphael Parish in South Los Angeles, staffed by Carmelites, acts as a site for Catholic Charities of Los Angeles' services for immigrants, including citizenship application, visa renewals, green card replacement and status adjustment requests.
St. Vincent de Paul Society councils at individual parishes are being invited to consider broadening their focus from home visitations to linking business, governmental, social service and faith community resources to struggling neighborhoods. The Neighborhoods of Hope initiative was discussed at the St. Vincent de Paul national gathering March 22-25 in St. Louis. The program emphasizes seeking the voice of those in need.
All Catholics, practicing or not, have been invited to take part in an April 20 "town hall meeting" at 9 a.m. on the Facebook page of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The diocese has developed a wide-ranging social media presence.
"Brothers and sisters in Christ," "very good people," "friends" and "lovely human beings" are among volunteers' descriptions of the homeless people who enjoy the longstanding Monday breakfast ministry served at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. The up to 70 guests are also provided bagged lunches, toiletries, new underwear, and socks.
Leo Hopkins, 92, says he still prays every day for the comrades he lost on March 19, 1945, when Japanese planes bombed the USS Franklin off the coast of Japan, killing some 800 on board. The severely damaged aircraft carrier did not sink, however, and eventually returned to Brooklyn, New York, on April 28, 1945. A member of St. Joseph Parish in Stuart, Florida, the former Navy radioman second class remembers the tragic day in detail.
Converts to Catholicism and married 58 years, James and Katherine "Kitty" Pulley embody "simplified, Gospel-led lives serving others, especially the poor and marginalized," states a story on their recently being honored with Franciscan Sacred Heart Providence Medals. Longtime members of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Nashville, Tennessee, the couple was lauded for their "compassion, humility, and willingness to get involved," including holding parish offices and sharing countless hours visiting the sick, elderly and homebound.
[Dan Morris-Young is NCR's West Coast correspondent. His email is email@example.com.]
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