“I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me”: Pastoral Letter on Welcoming Refugees

November 23, 2015

“I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me”:
Pastoral Letter on Welcoming Refugees

“I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me,” the Pastoral Letter now being released by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), comes at a critical time for the staggering and unprecedented number of refugees and displaced persons now present in our world. It aims at making Canadian Catholics more aware of the current situation, while also challenging them to make a difference in the lives of refugees through prayer, support, and the sponsorship of families. The Pastoral Letter is in continuity with recent statements of the CCCB, including:

Welcoming the stranger, as Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25.35, is not an option for Christians but a Gospel requirement. When we do this, “we open our doors to God,” as Pope Francis indicates in his 2016 Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Syrian refugees at Budapest Keleti railway station, 4 September 2015

                          Syrian refugees at Budapest Keleti railway station, 4 September 2015

The present Pastoral Letter echoes the call adopted by the Bishops of Canada at their recent Plenary Assembly, and issued to all parishes and religious communities in Canada, to give serious consideration to sponsoring a refugee family. More information on Catholic refugee sponsors in Canada is given below to assist those Catholic organizations that may want further information.

We also invite all our Catholic brothers and sisters in our country to pray, as the Pastoral Letter states, “that our hands and our hearts may unite with our voices in actions that will give a loving welcome to refugees in our country and in our Christian communities.”

The document is available on the CCCB Website and from CCCB Publications. Copies can be ordered by phone at 1-800-769-1147, by email at publi@cccb.ca or online at www.cccbpublications.ca.

Link to the Pastoral Letter (PDF)
Commission for Justice and Peace
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
October 2015

Contact Information for Canadian Catholic Organizations Sponsoring Refugees
The refugee sponsorship process is usually facilitated by means of a “Sponsorship Agreement” concluded between a diocese, eparchy or other religious or community organization, and the federal government (or, in Quebec, the provincial government). Since most dioceses and eparchies in Canada do not currently have sponsorship agreements, a list follows of those Catholic organizations that already do have such agreements. Dioceses, religious communities, or other Catholic organizations interested in sponsoring refugees may wish to contact these for information about becoming a Sponsorship Agreement Holder themselves, or perhaps to coordinate sponsorships with them (for example, the Archdiocese of Vancouver recently agreed to facilitate sponsorships for several other dioceses in British Columbia which do not have a sponsorship agreement).

BRITISH COLUMBIA
Archdiocese of Vancouver
Service and Justice Office
Phone: (604) 683 0281 x50237
Email: osj@rcav.org

Diocese of Nelson
Refugee Sponsorship Committee
kgermaine@okanagan.bc.ca

ALBERTA
Diocese of Calgary
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society
Phone: (403) 290-5750

Archdiocese of Edmonton
Catholic Social Services, Refugee Sponsorship Program
Phone: (780) 424-3545

Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan   
Phone: (780) 532-9766
exec.agm@live.ca

SASKATCHEWAN
Archdiocese of Regina
Refugee Sponsorship
Phone: (306) 352-1651

Diocese of Saskatoon 
Office for Migration
migration@saskatoonrcdiocese.com
Phone: (306) 242-1500

MANITOBA
Archdiocese of Saint-Boniface
Refugee Sponsorship
refugee@archsaintboniface.ca

Archdiocese of Winnipeg
Phone: (204) 452-2227

ONTARIO
Archdiocese of Toronto
Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT)
Phone: (416) 645-0827
orateducator@gmail.com

Diocese of Hamilton
Office for Refugees
Phone: (905) 528-7988 x2233

Archdiocese of Ottawa                                   
Julie Salache-Simard
Phone: (613) 232-9634 x330

Diocese of Thunder Bay         
Diocesan Office of Refugee Services
Phone: (807) 343-9313
sponsorship@dotb.ca

Diocese of London
Overseas Protection of Refugees Refugee Ministry
Phone: (519) 256-0506  x1

Diocese of St. Catharine’s
Diocesan Refugee Ministry
Phone: (905) 684-0154

Diocese of Peterborough
Fr. Peter Seabrooke, Chancellor of Temporal Affairs
Phone: (705) 745-5123

Spiritans (Congregation of the Holy Ghost), Scarborough, ON
Brottier Refugee Services
Phone: (416) 691-9319 x28
brottierrefugeeservices@gmail.com

Jesus the King Melkite Catholic Church, Thornhill, ON
Phone: (905) 886-0566
church@jesustheking.com

QUEBEC
Archdiocese of Montreal
Office des communautés culturelles et rituelles
Phone: (514) 778-8950
asantopadre@diocesemontreal.org

Missions Office of the Jesuit Fathers (Province of French Canada and Haiti) – Montreal
missionsjesuites@jesuites.org
Phone: (514) 387-2541

Comité de Saint-Yves et Saint- Louis-de-France, Québec
Lucie Trudel
Phone: (418) 835-6904    luciemaison@videotron.ca
OR, Pierre Sarault
Phone: (418) 653-9439 pierresarault@yahoo.ca

ATLANTIC REGION
Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth                               
Refugee Sponsorship Coordinator
Phone: (902) 406-8651
ejones@isisns.ca

Diocese of Charlottetown
Susan Nye-Brothers
Phone: 902-368-8005 x 228
snye_brothers@hotmail.com

In addition to the various Sponsorship Agreement Holders listed above, the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council was founded several years ago “to be a centre for coordination, advocacy and information for Catholic refugee sponsoring organizations.” It can be contacted at
Phone: (204) 800-0559    crsponsorscouncil@gmail.com