Following the government's decision to suspend the sponsorship program as of January 27, the Archdiocese successfully presented, prior to the deadline, 125 sponsorship applications, for families from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Burundi.

Now begins the waiting period that is not always easy to endure, especially when we know the families of the refugees and we know that refugees are now forced to live in hostile countries and in situations where their lives are constantly in danger.

For several parishes throughout the Archdiocese, however, and for many families that sponsored the families of refugees last year, the moment has arrived to concretely welcome and accompany the families that are beginning to arrive.

As the person overseeing the sponsorship program, I wish to thank all those who in 2016 chose to welcome people who are fleeing the war and persecution and who are overcoming the difficulties and the fear.

On this collective journey, we have the opportunity to meet people from various cultures and to be confronted with the prejudices in our societies, which are becoming increasingly pluralistic and complex.

This leads us to discover that our diversities are not only challenges and difficulties, but that they can become a fortunate blessing. Welcoming diversity helps us to overcome discrimination, barriers, racism, and xenophobia; welcoming diversity restores dignity to every individual.

This is why we are urged to promote and create a culture of encounter and dialogue.

I would like to thank everyone who patiently maintained their hope, as well as their interest in and concern for the weakest and most vulnerable. Thank you for the witness and engagement you have demonstrated.  

Alessandra Santopadre
Assistant to the Director of the Office of Cultural and Ritual Communities
Co-ordinator of the Refugee Sponsorship Program