Refugee Week 2019 is a time to reflect deeply on the plight of those around the world, including in Australia, who are seeking asylum and to offer support, says the Catholic Church’s official mission agency.
Father Brian Lucas, National Director of Catholic Mission, says the week is a reminder of our duty to reach out to those on the margins of society. ‘Refugee Week shines a light on the reality of women, men and children in situations we cannot imagine,’ he said.
‘It reminds us of our call to love one another and to do what we can to bring fullness of life to all.’
Catholic Mission, the Australian agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, supports a range of programs around the world benefiting children, communities and church leaders, including programs supporting refugees.
‘In troubled parts of the world, Catholic missionaries are running programs from emergency relief to resettlement and livelihood support,’ Fr Lucas said. ‘Fundamentally, these programs ensure the protection and restoration of human rights for some of the world’s most persecuted individuals.’
During Refugee Week, Catholic Mission calls on Australians to offer prayerful and financial assistance where possible to support projects from Asia to Africa that provide for those most at risk, especially refugee children. Among the projects supported internationally by Catholic Mission/Pontifical Mission Societies:
- In India, the Ranabondo Catholic Church in the diocese of Krishnagar cares for 350 refugee children who have fled violence and persecution in Bangladesh.
- The St Stephen’s Parish in Sudan’s Archdiocese of Khartoum has established six refugee camps and offers support to many families escaping war zones in South Sudan, Nubba Mountain and Darfur.
- The Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Buhunguro Parish of the Archdiocese of Mbarara, Uganda is composed of 15 outstations housing refugees from the neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.
“These projects are just some examples of the hundreds of projects throughout Africa and parts of Asia where the local Catholic Church is providing support and rehabilitation for families that have fled situations of violence and extreme poverty” said Fr Lucas.
In addition to projects overseas, Catholic Mission is involved in domestic support for refugees and asylum seekers.
The organisation is a founding member of the End Child Detention Coalition (ECDC) which began in 2012 and, with its 26 member organisations, seeks protection and support for children in the Australian detention system. Through its member organisations, ECDC reaches 220,000 people, drawing them into the work of protecting children, along with their families who are seeking asylum.
Jenny Collins-White, Advocacy Manager for Catholic Mission, observed, ‘It is critical that the Australian Church and its organisations engage in the work of safeguarding the most vulnerable and creating a culture where we welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees into our communities. Pope Francis is constantly urging us to take on this work and the need is practically roaring at us!’
In response to this need, Catholic Mission has also joined an alliance of individuals, organisations, schools and parishes from across the Catholic community who advocate for fair and humane treatment for people seeking asylum in Australia. The Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) is led by Jesuit Social Services and JRS (Australia), and Catholic Mission is one of its National Advisory Group.
For more information on Catholic Mission’s work with and advocacy for refugees and asylum seekers, or to learn more about our work, phone 1800 257 256 or visit www.catholicmission.org.au.
With thanks to Catholic Mission.