Refugee sponsorship – Office of Migration

” I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” Matthew 25:35

Is the spirit calling you to become involved in refugee sponsorship?

For more information about private refugee sponsorship by parishes and groups  in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, or how you can help, please contact Sofia Berumen in the Office of Migration, (306) 659-5842 (leave a message) or e-mail: sberumen@rcdos.ca

As a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon helps parishes and other groups to privately sponsor refugees, offering training and coordination. For more information about getting involved in refugee sponsorship, please contact (306) 659-5842.

“Refugees are not a unique product of our times … Joseph took Jesus and his mother and fled by night to Egypt because King Herod was searching for the child to destroy him.”

– Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (1992) – Refugees: A Challenge to Solidarity, no. 1

Refugees

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recognizes 11.4 million refugees worldwide under its mandate, and an additional 4.6 million Palestinian refugees are under the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Worldwide, 51 million people are internally displaced by conflict or natural disaster and an estimated 12 million people are stateless.

Click here for more information on Who is a refugee?

Click here for more information about Share the Journey, an international movement to increase awareness about the realities of forced migration, launched in 2017 by Pope Francis: Share the Journey – Caritas Canada

For refugees, there are three durable solutions: (1) voluntary repatriation, (2) local integration in the country of asylum, or (3) resettlement abroad.

Individuals abroad do not apply directly to Canada for resettlement. Government assisted refugees for resettlement are referred to Canada by the UNHCR and other organizations. An additional, unique program to Canada permits private groups (which have signed an agreement with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) to sponsor eligible refugees from abroad. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has such an agreement with CIC.

How Private Sponsorship Works

The diocese of Saskatoon’s Office of Migration works with parish communities and other constituent groups to offer training and coordination related to private sponsorship of families living in refugee situations overseas.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH), one of about 95 across Canada. SAHs handle the extensive paperwork on behalf of private groups, in our case, mostly Parish Refugee Committees (known as Constituent Groups).

As a SAH, the diocese must ensure that the numbers of applications do not exceed the allocations permitted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.  SAHs must also ensure that the Constituent Group has the means to fully support the refugee for a period of 12 months, since Privately Sponsored Refugees do not have access to government support, other than a provincial health card.

Sponsorship application forms, once they are completed and signed here in the diocese, are vetted by the government. If approved, the application must be processed at an overseas office. This can take months or even years.

Sponsoring refugees is not something to be done lightly. It requires a financial, pastoral and community commitment to walk with newcomers who are fleeing desperate situations and sometimes horrific trauma. However, the Gospel call to welcome the stranger and care for those in need is powerful, and also brings many blessings to those who reach out.

Refugees & the Church

“Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved. They are an occasion that Providence gives us to help build a more just society, a more perfect democracy, a more united country, a more fraternal world and a more open and evangelical Christian community.”

 Pope Francis, from the Vatican, 5 August 2013

“I was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me…”  – Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Oct. 2015 pastoral letter about refugees: Click HERE for CCCB resource

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs (2006) – We are Aliens and Transients Before the Lord our God: Pastoral Letter on Immigration and the Protection of Refugees: Click HERE for letter by Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (1992) Refugees: A Challenge to SolidarityClick HERE to read the Vatican document

History of refugee sponsorship in Saskatoon

In the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, welcoming newcomers, refugees and other migrants has always been part of living Christian faith, and a feature of parish life in many communities. Under the leadership of Fr. Paul Donlevy and other concerned leaders, parishes in our diocese became actively involved in private sponsorship starting in 1979, with the arrival of desperate refugees from Southeast Asia on Canada’s shores. Over the years, many parishes and volunteers have reached out to hundreds of refugee families and individuals, welcoming newcomers through the private sponsorship process.

After decades of work by volunteers, the Migration Office was established in the diocese of Saskatoon in 2011, in order to offer dedicated paid staff support for management of the diocesan role as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder and to provide coordination and training to volunteers and sponsoring groups in the diocese.

The Migration Office was originally funded by a bequest from the late Fr. Paul Donlevy and the Donlevy family, then through support of Holy Spirit Parish in Saskatoon, and is now funded through donations to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Do you wish to make a donation to support the Refugee Sponsorship or resettlement program?  Click HERE to give online to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

Please pray that we may continue to support God’s marginalized people.

“The Gospel calls us to be ‘neighbours’ to the smallest and abandoned, (and) to give them a concrete hope… with the tenacity of those who go toward a safe destination.” – Pope Francis

More about Immigrating to & Visiting Canada

Citizenship & Immigration Canada LINK
Newcomer Information Centre, Saskatoon LINK
Saskatoon Open Door Society LINK
International Women of Saskatoon LINK
Global Gathering Place | Many Cultures, One Community LINK
Saskatchewan Intercultural Association LINK