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1.    How can we help Christians in the Middle East?

Christian minorities in the Middle East are being persecuted for their faith and many are living lives of misery because of their belief in Jesus Christ. The US Congress and the European Parliament have referred to the ISIS campaign against Christians and other religious minorities in the region as a “genocide.”  Clearly Christians living in the Middle East deserve our prayers, support, and efforts to safeguard them. The Knights of Columbus (a Catholic fraternity with 1.9 million members worldwide) have been particularly active in raising awareness of their plight and organizing support. The Knights have raised millions of dollars for Christians suffering from war or persecution, especially in Iraq and Syria. The Knights’ relief fund for Middle East Christians and other minorities is accepting donations through its webpage at www.kofc.org/Iraq

We should pray for and support these persecuted minorities in the Middle East and wherever there is oppression of Christians. In addition, we should be grateful our Nation protects freedom of religion and the religious liberty of all faiths; we benefit from these blessings every day.

2.    How can I help the five families of Syrian refugees who were originally identified to be resettled in Hudson?

The five families will be resettled by Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS).  St. Patrick Parish will accept monetary donations on their behalf and forward the funds to LSS as a specific gift from local donors for these five families.  If you wish to make a donation, write a check or provide cash to the parish office (or Sunday collection) and designate the gift: LSS/ Syrian Families.  Thank you for your generosity.

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3.    What does the Catholic Church say about relations with Islam? Should we be afraid of Muslims?

 

During our process of investigating Syrian refugee resettlement, some in our community expressed deep suspicions of persons coming from the Middle East as well as stereotypes of Muslims and the goals of their Islamic faith.  Our Christian faith teaches us that every human being has inherent dignity and we should seek the face of Christ in every person we encounter.  Our Catholic Church has been clear that Christians should strive to work with Muslims for the common good, grounded in mutual respect for the other’s faith in God:

  “It is natural that believers in God should meet in friendship and sharing. Christians and Muslims, together with the followers of the Jewish religion, belong to what can be called ‘the tradition of Abraham.’ In our respective traditions Abraham is called ‘the intimate friend of God’ (in Arabic, Al-Khalil). He receives this title because of his flawless faith in God. . . . As two religious communities who strive to submit ourselves without reserve to the will of God, we Christians and Muslims should live together in peace, friendship and cooperation.” (Saint John Paul II address to Islamic Leaders, February 22, 1992). 

Further, the Catholic Church has stated its willingness to work with Muslims on the common goal of alleviating the tragic impacts of war.  In the words of Saint John Paul II:

  “To all Muslims throughout the world, I wish to express the readiness of the Catholic Church to work together with you and all the people of good will to aid the victims of the war and to build structures of a lasting peace not only in the Middle East, but everywhere. This cooperation in solidarity towards the most afflicted can form the concrete basis for a sincere, profound and constant dialogue between believing Catholics and believing Muslims, from which there can arise a strengthened mutual knowledge and trust, and the assurance that each one everywhere will be able to profess freely and authentically his or her own faith.”  (Saint John Paul II, Message to the faithful of Islam, April 3, 1991).

More information on the position of the Roman Catholic Church in regards to advancing interfaith relations with the people of Islam can be found here:

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/interreligious/islam/vatican-council-and-papal-statements-on-islam.cfm



Frequently Asked Questions (Updated December 22, 2016)

1. What has changed for Saint Patrick Parish and the Hudson community regarding the resettlement of 5 refugee families from Syria?

On December 21, we were notified that the State Department had transferred the resettlement case from the authority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS).  LIRS had asked its Wisconsin affiliate, Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) to evaluate the most appropriate location for the placement of these 5 families.  On Monday and Tuesday (Dec 19 and 20), representatives of LSS visited Hudson as part of their assessment. LSS has determined that these families should be resettled to another area, based on significant medical needs of three of the five families. USCCB formally withdrew their request of Saint Patrick Parish to assist them.

 

2. Why did LSS decide not to place the refugees in Hudson?

Saint Patrick Parish representatives had been working on evaluating community resources (housing, employment, transportation, ESL, education, health care and other social and support services) as a part of the decision-making process for the parish.  As part of the LSS site visit, it was learned that several members of theses families have significant medical needs requiring surgeries, psychological care, management of long term disabilities and other specialty services.  These refugees will be best served by placement in an area where these services are co-located with their residence and where they can access these services using Badgercare, public transportation, and special handicapped accessible low income housing.  The best interest of the refugees was used as the basis for this placement by LSS.

 

3. What else has St. Patrick Parish learned in recent days?

We have recently learned that the State Department has placed special urgency on allowing these refugees to travel ASAP.  The refugees had been cleared for travel several months ago (all steps in the clearance process had been completed). We communicated to USCCB that our parish had established certain timelines for the decision-making process and for fulfilling our pledge of transparency. Those timelines included a parish-wide listening session on January 3.  Leadership of St. Patrick Parish was not willing to force the decision prior to that timeline, especially in light of the new information that these refugees will require significant specialized services.  For Saint Patrick Parish, the best interests of the refugees remained the focus of our due diligence activities.

 

In addition, once more detailed information was made available, we were informed that the total number of refugees is 26, not 21. They are all members of an extended family related to a resident of Hudson. The group consists of 11 adults (five husband/wife with children units, plus one single adult female who is wheelchair bound and dependent on her brother) and 15 children.  They fled Syria 4-5 years ago and are currently living in Jordan where they have been cleared by the US Government for resettlement as refugees.

 

4.  Will there still be a meeting on January 3?

Yes, there will still be a meeting on January 3 at 6:30pm at Saint Patrick Parish.  The focus of this meeting will shift, however, because the question of whether Saint Patrick Parish will assist with the resettlement of this specific group of Syrian refugees is no longer in discussion due to the involvement of LIRS.  The new agenda for this meeting will have the following three goals:

-    We will provide a status report of where Saint Patrick Parish is right now in regard to the resettlement of Syrian refugees, with an opportunity to present questions and receive answers.

-     We will share what we have learned through the experience of giving consideration to the question of whether or not Saint Patrick Parish should be directly involved in the resettlement of Syrian Refugees.

-     From a faith-based perspective, we will start to envision the type of community we would like Hudson, WI, to be.  How do we get there?

-     What community issues should Hudson address in a very direct way?

-     What do we expect of our faith communities and pastors?

-     What does it really mean for us in Hudson, WI, to live the Christian life?

 

5. What will happen to these five families? How can I help?

We have been assured by LIRS and the LSS office in Wisconsin that this group of refugees will be resettled to the United States in the very near future.  Each refugee family will receive the services that they need, especially medical cares.  If you would like to help, there are two things you can do.  First, visit the Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) website.  There is a donation tab if you would like to contribute financially.  Designate your contribution to aid in the resettlement of Syrian Refugees.  https://www.lsswis.org/LSS.htm  Second, continue to pray for this group of Syrian Refugee families and all victims of war.

 

6. What have we accomplished?

The leadership of Saint Patrick Parish is proud of our handling of this question for several reasons. 

-     We set a very specific process for discerning the question of resettlement and Saint Patrick Parish involvement.  We respected this process to the end.

-     We remained transparent with our parish and community.

-     We held appropriate meetings and made every effort to inform and educate our community by speaking to several groups, including our mayor, law enforcement, school district, school groups, civic organizations and the local relative.  We accepted and answered questions on all occasions.

-     We connected and formed solid relationships with other faith congregations in Hudson, WI. 

-     We responded to nearly all of the phone calls, e-mails and letters we received, regardless of whether they were positive or negative in nature.  We were willing to listen.

-     We respected discourse.

-     We are humbled by our many youth who have been willing to take a stand, based on their faith and trust in God.  They have been open-minded about accepting the stranger into our community.

-     We modeled good behavior in every single interaction in our community. 

-     We prayed, fasted and spoke with civility and charity as originally suggested by Father John.

-     We are reassured, that due to our diligent process, this group of Syrian refugees will be resettled in a way that they will not only be safe, but will have their needs met in the best way possible.

-     We kept our focus on the best interests of the refugees throughout.


 

 







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