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​Catholic Charities assisting refugees fleeing from crisis in the Middle East

February 08, 2016 | posted by J. Antonio Fernandez

Topics: Catholic Charities


Catholic Charities assisting refugees fleeing from crisis in the Middle East

“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude we have not seen since the Second World War.”-- Pope Francis


Recently, I have received a number of questions regarding our role in the solution to the crisis in the Middle East. My answer is simple. We will treat Syrian refugees as we treat anyone seeking refuge in our community. Catholic Charities will receive refugees at the airport. We will assist the families secure housing. We will facilitate medical and social service appointments. We will support refugees with cultural orientation for adults and school-aged children, employment services and counseling services. We will treat our newest guests with love and kindness, providing shelter from the storm.

I have just returned from Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis. His message regarding immigrants could not have been clearer. He spoke often of the fact he is the son of immigrants and suggested, ultimately, that we all are immigrants to this continent. He acknowledges the acrimonious social and political climate of our world and laments the disturbing violence, conflict and hatred committed towards people, often in the name of religion and God. He suggests our response be one of hope, peace, justice, and healing. He asks world leaders to use their intelligence and influence, blended with courage and strength to address geopolitical crises through a spirit of cooperation. Though he acknowledges the great obstacles ahead of any nation facing an influx of refugees, he implores us not to be frightened by the large numbers. Instead, he asks us to see the face of Christ in each of them, to understand their uniqueness, honor their stories and respond with dignity and respect to their dire needs. It is here he reminds us of The Golden Rule, a concept so simple in nature, yet, a concept so difficult to rely upon when it is often so easy to turn our backs on what troubles us.

“We the people of this continent are not fearful of foreigners because most of us were once foreigners.” -- Pope Francis

Only by confronting the reality of persecution can we hope to build peace and allow any, and all, refugees to return home and rebuild their lives. Until then, Catholic Charities will do its part to serve Syrian refugees affected by unjust aggression. Catholic Charities stands ready, willing, and able to assist up to 500 Syrian refugees in the upcoming months. We have worked diligently to arrive at this number because we feel we have appropriate resources in place for 500 individuals.Committing to this number allows us to deliver quality services while treating their drastic change of life with dignity and compassion.

I humbly ask you keep everyone involved in this crisis in your prayers, from the individuals seeking refuge to the policy makers who have to make very difficult decisions. I also ask you keep our staff and our mission in prayerful consideration. Our aim is always to help those most in need through selfless service under the sign of love. However, we cannot carry out our mission alone. We must always rely on the kindness of our donors, the trust of our grantors, the selflessness of our volunteers, and the support of our community. My request is that you hold this intention most sacred.

J. Antonio Fernandez is president/CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio