In a letter addressed to the faithful, Archbishop Lépine invites us to take action in the name of compassion and solidarity in this Year of Mercy.
I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt 25:35)
The Catholic Church of Montreal, like other Church and civil groups, is deeply concerned about the abominable living conditions that tens of thousands of refugees are being subjected to in the Middle East. Two courses of action have become apparent: to help as many people as possible in the Middle East, preventing their uprooting; and to welcome refugees.
We are called to help in these two ways at the same time. We turn our attention for a moment from helping people already here to the need to take action today in bringing in refugees. In fact, over the past few weeks, the Archdiocese has been receiving a high volume of calls from people residing within diocesan territory who would like to bring over members of their family who have had to escape the deadly conflict in Syria.
Our diocesan Church has many years of experience in welcoming and sponsoring refugees. As early as the late seventies and early eighties, the governments approached us, asking us to welcome and help settle the "boat people" who had fled Southeast Asia.
For several years, the Archdiocese has been a signatory to a framework agreement with the Government of Quebec to facilitate refugee sponsorship. The Archdiocese acts as a guarantor for people, groups, and parishes that wish to bring over a refugee family and provides support with the procedure and paperwork involved in sponsorship. As these families, groups, and parishes commit to providing for the essential needs of the sponsored family for one year (housing, furniture, food, and clothing), the Archdiocese requires them to pay a deposit of $7000 per adult that is welcomed onto the diocesan territory. Monthly payments from this sum are then made to the sponsored person or family during the first year following their arrival.
Some groups and people would like to sponsor a refugee family, but do not have the means to gather the necessary funds. We can put them in touch with a parish that would accept to participate in the sponsorship. Furthermore, I propose to create a supplemental refugee aid fund. The funds raised will be devoted entirely to sponsorship under the coordination of the Office of Cultural and Ritual Communities, which is responsible for the sponsorship program¹, in collaboration with the diocesan administrative and financial services².
I invite you to contribute to the supplemental fund in the name of compassion and solidarity in this Year of Mercy. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph sought refuge in Egypt, and Jesus himself identified with refugees and declared, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..." (Mt 25:35). Jesus had faith.
+ Christian Lépine
Archbishop of Montreal
Assistant to the Director of the Office of Cultural and Ritual Communities
514-925-4300 poste 295
²To make a donation: CACRM - Supplemental Fund - Refugees
2000 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC, H3H 1G4
› Sponsoring an Individual Refugee or a Family? Contributing Financially to Sponsorship? Find Out How!