Refugee Week: Five ways your parish can help

Writing messages of hope
Some parishes have responded by writing messages of hope for refugees

By Daniel Hale, CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns

This week we heard that there are a record 65 million people displaced around the world. The European crisis is mirrored across the planet: in Colombia, in Central America, in the Middle East and many more places, including many of the countries where CAFOD works.

Fleeing war, poverty and persecution, people are moving in search of peace and prosperity – a better life for their families. A few find their way to the UK. There are likely to be refugees living in your parish.

It can seem like these global issues are far beyond what we as individuals and families can do to help. But in this Year of Mercy, we are reminded that we should welcome the stranger. We’ve already been moved and encouraged by the number of schools, parishes and individuals who are showing solidarity with refugees.

There are countless ways to help. These are five ideas to get you started. What could you do, starting this week, to welcome the stranger?

  1. Share. Write a message of hope for refugees online. We’ll make sure they are passed on to refugees in the UK and around the world.
  2. Give. Consider giving to CAFOD’s Refugee Crisis Appeal. And think about sponsoring a Syrian refugee family in your area. This a means of providing support, friendship and practical help to a family moving to your area as a congregation. Email our friends at Citizens UK to find out what this involves.
  3. Keep up-to-date. Get to know the groups in your area already providing support to refugees and those seeking sanctuary from across the world. Find out who they are, what they need, and how you can help. Needs can change week by week so, by coordinating support from your parish, you can make sure you’re helping in the most useful way. Visit this page to find your diocesan contact.
  4. Learn about the causes of the refugee crisis in Europe by reading our frequently asked questions.
  5. Pray. Ask your congregation to pray about the conflicts and injustices that force refugees to leave their countries. Our Year of Mercy reflection, a guided prayer with seven stages, gives your parish the opportunity to pray for and to share messages of hope with refugees.

I’m grateful for help from Citizens UK in contributing some of the ideas here. By joining with others we can challenge a climate of fear and hate, and show mercy.

I urge you to take this Refugee Week as an opportunity to do something spiritual, political or practical in support of our sisters and brothers.

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