Catholic Charities provides assistance to individuals from Afghanista
September 17, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper
Catholic Charities provide assistance to individuals from Afghanistan
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of San Antonio, Inc. (CCAOSA) will assist in providing safe shelter, basic needs, and wrap around services to as many as 342 Afghan individuals fleeing Afghanistan due to the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding. This is an increase in the number of individuals expected as Catholic Charities was already on track to settle 500 Special Immigrant Visa holders between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021. With the influx of Afghan Nationals fleeing the country, Catholic Charities expects a rise in the number of people resettled from Afghanistan to San Antonio over the next few months.
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio President/CEO J. Antonio Fernández and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, spoke at an event regarding these efforts on August 31at Catholic Charities headquarters at West French Place.
On August 20, Afghan Nationals began arriving in the United States. The Office of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has requested the assistance of Catholic Charities to help resettle families and individuals who find they are no longer safe. Over the coming months, hundreds of Afghan allies will arrive in San Antonio to start a new life away from threats of violence and persecution.
There are many opportunities for those who would like to assist either as a volunteer or to donate. Volunteers may be called upon to welcome refugees at their housing location, pack hygiene kits, assist with material assistance distribution, facilitate meals, coordinate transportation arrangements, and more. Additional information and volunteer application can be found at www.ccaosa.org.
The community is asked to support those in need by donating H-E-B, Walmart and Target gift cards to help establish safe homes and meet basic needs. Donations can be delivered to Catholic Charities headquarters at 202 W. French Place, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monetary donations are also accepted online at https://ccaosa.ejoinme.org/AHS.
Fernández, Catholic Charities of San Antonio president/CEO, said, “Every day we are called to welcome the stranger, provide food for the hungry and shelter to those without. Some days that means we are providing for our neighbor who lives down the street. Some days that means we are providing for our neighbor who lives around the world. Either way, we are called to serve our neighbor in need and we do so recognizing that they are just like us in their desire to have a home where they are safe from harm and can care for their families.”
Catholic Charities was asked two weeks ago to resettle more people than the organization usually welcomes from Afghanistan. “For us, the question was how many more can we care for?” Fernandez explained. “It was a struggle because we wanted to say 1,000, we would like to have said all of them, but we want to do a great job welcoming them and we felt that we could successfully welcome about 340 people. This means that we will welcome in total almost 800 people from Afghanistan this year.”
“Welcoming people means a lot to us” he said. “As Catholics, we are called to welcome the stranger. In this project we are given the opportunity and responsibility to live our faith.”
The Catholic Charities president/CEO described the wraparound services that will be provided to the Afghan refugees, including housing, basic human needs, transportation, counseling, legal help, acculturation, ESL classes, work force development, assisting them in enrolling their children in school, and anything else that they may need.
“These people gave a lot to help the United States while we were in their country, it is time for us to give back to them,” he stressed. This is a humanitarian crisis and as Catholic Charities, we serve everybody.”
Archbishop Gustavo followed and said, “I join with Pope Francis and U.S. bishops in saying that the nations around the globe need to step up and assist the thousands of Afghan refugees suffering from this significant humanitarian crisis. Catholic agencies not only here at home but internationally will be supporting these refugees with spiritual, psychological and social assistance; and we ask the faithful to be generous in helping with these efforts. God is presenting to us an opportunity to be a home for those in need. As the Holy Father has reminded the world, ‘In historical moments like this we cannot remain indifferent, the history of the Church teaches us this.’”
The archbishop emphasized that America has consistently stepped up in response to significant humanitarian crises, and that he is astounded by the generosity of people, especially with Catholic aid agencies.
“We do this because the Catholic Church teaches that each person is created in the image and likeness of God, and we must uphold the inherent dignity of each person,” he said. “May the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Peace – come to our world in new and powerful ways.”