The following is the text of the presentation given by parishioner Sandro Bresba last weekend, for the ShareLife bake sale.
ShareLife represents a group of Catholic charities run under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Their mission is to provide help and support to the marginalized within our immediate community, as well as those who are suffering around the world.
Among the many organizations that Share Life Supports is ORAT - The Office for Refugees for the Archdiocese of Toronto. ORAT’s goal is to bring to Canada, and in particular the Toronto area, as many refugees as our communities can accommodate. ORAT has reached out to many communities – both Catholic and Non-Catholic – to help them sponsor people who have been displaced because of war and famine. They help these men, women, and children who have been recognized by the United Nations as refugees, to come to our shores and integrate into Canadian society.
ORAT helps us navigate the legal, financial, and social challenges faced by international refugees upon their arrival.
Through ORAT, the Newman Center has partnered with a Chaldean Catholic family from Badhdad. An urban couple from the Iraqi capital, the husband worked for years in publishing while the wife was a hair dresser at a local salon. When war broke out their lives were turned upside down. After the invasion of Iraq, this urban, middle class family, suddenly saw their local security systems collapse. In the ensuing chaos, sectarian violence arose and lifelong neighbours came into conflict: Sunni against Shia, Arab against Kurd, Muslim against Christian. This ethnically Chaldaen family found their businesses shuttered, their lives threatened, their neighbours murdered, and soon had no choice but to flee. They left Iraq to what was then the safest country in the Middle East for Christian Refugees: Syria.
With the help of ORAT our parish was able to help them file their claim to Canada and create a social network that will support them upon their arrival. Unfortunately, the safety they sought in Syria is now precarious: a Civil war has broken out in the county that they had hoped to find respite. The Canadian Embassy where they had been seeking refuge is now closed for the foreseeable future, and they can now do nothing but wait, and hope, and pray that they will make it safely through yet another war in which neighbour is fighting neighbour.
I tell you this story in-part because I ask for your prayers for this family. They are in regular contact with us at the Newman Centre and are currently safe, but this safety is precarious.