How can we help Christians in the Middle East?
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
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.
How can I help the five families of Syrian refugees who were
originally identified to be resettled in Hudson?
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.
What does the Catholic Church say about relations with Islam?
Should we be afraid of Muslims?
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).
information on the position of the Roman Catholic Church in regards to
advancing interfaith relations with the people of Islam can be found here:
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
Will there still be a meeting on January 3?
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
- 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.
Second, continue to pray for this group of Syrian Refugee families and
all victims of war.
6. What have we accomplished?
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
- We kept our focus on the best
interests of the refugees throughout.