Catholic Charities hosts panel on refugee experience

https://goo.gl/t87Cou

BOSTON -- Experts on immigration and refugees spoke on whether welcoming refugees is still an American value during a panel discussion held at Boston College High School, June 17, and hosted by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The panel, as well as an interactive simulation that gave participants a taste of what it's like for a refugee to apply to enter the country, were held in celebration of the internationally recognized World Refugee Day, June 20.

Panelists for the event included Dr. Westy Egmont, director of the Immigrant Integration Lab at Boston College; Msgr. Robert Vitillo, secretary general of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC); and Mary Truong, executive director of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI). Marjean Perhot, director of Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services, spoke as well, and introduced each of the panelists.

Father Bryan Hehir offered an opening prayer, and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston president Debbie Rambo and Perhot gave words of welcome.

"Globally, we are in a refugee crisis that parallels that after World War II. Nationally, we're in danger of turning our back on the world's most vulnerable and reducing the refugee program to rubble," said Perhot.

"We hope that today's event will help you understand the challenges facing refugees, and how fortunate we are to be in a position to make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters across the globe," she said.

Egmont spoke first, and offered a litany of facts and figures on the refugee crisis around the world. He spoke of the ongoing crises in South Sudan, Syria, and Afghanistan -- how in each case, people by the millions have fled and continue to flee their home country due to untenable living conditions.

There are 65.3 million displaced people from around the world, he said, with only 21 million of them classified as refugees. The United States takes in only a very small percentage of those people, and its efforts pale in comparison to those made by other countries.

So, he said, "It depends on people like you and me to be involved."

"Do we not owe people enough humanity to stand with them when they plead for their lives? We do, we do. And we will," said Egmont.

In his talk, Msgr. Vitillo detailed the work of ICMC to assist relocated refugees from around the globe.

Partnered with organizations around the world, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), ICMC is an international, non-profit organization that strives to protect and serve uprooted people around the world through a myriad of ways, from providing them with basic goods, healthcare, and education, to offering legal assistance and a safe place to live.

ICMC works with the U.S. government to process applications of refugees in "more vulnerable" situations. The process can take anywhere from two to 10 years, Msgr. Vitillo said, and "in the meantime people need to really struggle for survival."

Some are still living in their home countries, and others work under the table to be able to provide for their families, as they don't have permission to work legally, he said.

He recalled an ICMC resettlement center in Turkey, where children were going through a cultural orientation process. He saw that they were coloring maps of the U.S., giving a special color to the state that they would be travelling to.

"Now, behind their eyes, I could see a lot of pain. These are children who witnessed the murder of their relatives," said Msgr. Vitillo.

"They had to run away, sometimes during the night without anything with them, to be able to flee for safety. They were now living in another country that had received them but also didn't have a whole lot of resources or maybe even the will to receive them with great welcome."

"And yet, in their eyes too, I could see the signs of hope, and that was such a beautiful experience, because I think that they, just like Jesus, are still able to imagine the day that we could have the lion lying down with the lamb, the day that we could have the weapons being made into plowshares," he said.

Speaking last, Truong, a refugee herself, recounted fleeing her home country of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975 -- the day the country surrendered to North Vietnam.

On that day, she, her eight siblings, her father, and her grandmother all climbed into the family station wagon and started to drive down to the ocean, where they thought they would find a way to escape the country.

The roads were filled with other cars, she remembered, and the drive soon devolved in chaos.

"We saw a helicopter crash on top of a school bus. No one stopped to help," she said, recalling that she also saw people shooting and trying to clear a path through the cars.

"It was very scary for us to see people getting killed and blood everywhere like that."

Still, her family did make it out of the country that day, and were brought to a U.S. base in the Philippines before being transferred to a refugee camp in Pennsylvania.

Eventually, at the insistence of a family friend in the area, the family moved to Boston, and Truong and her siblings attended school and worked to support the family.

Through their hard work, she and her siblings all attained higher education degrees.

"So, we achieved the American dream," she said.

Serving on a number of non-profit boards in addition to acting as executive director of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants, which resettles 2,400 refugees a year, Truong said she is "very grateful" to those who have helped her achieve so much, and feels that she is able to contribute something back through her work.

"Many of us (refugees) are trying our best to help out the community," she said.

Nation
Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

World
Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Nation
Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

World
Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

World
God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

World
Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

World
Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Nation
Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

Nation
N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Nation
Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Nation
Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Nation
Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

Nation
#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Nation
Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Nation
Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...