All our patience and preparation have paid off. Sometime in the coming months, a Syrian family will be arriving via Amman, Jordan , to begin a new life here in Canada. Together with St. Paul’s Anglican Church and the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, we are their sponsors and we will become their support while they settle in.
The family comprises a mom and dad and four children—two boys, 14 and 12, and two girls, 9 and 5. The dad and the older three children speak some English, there are no known medical issues, and the dad has transferable skills for employment here. It sounds like they are well positioned to succeed in their new life.
Our NeST team (Newcomer Support Team) will be submitting a formal application to the Central Processing Office for the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program, the federal program to place UN-approved refugees with private Canadian sponsors. Once approved, the application will be forwarded to the Visa Office in Amman and we are told the family could arrive between three to six weeks after that.
So there are still some bureaucratic steps to follow, but barring any unforeseen stumbling blocks we could be meeting our family a few months from now—lots of time to raise both money and awareness and create room for them in our hearts. More information will follow as it becomes available. In the meantime you can direct any questions to Carol Rose Skelly, NeST Co-Chair.
Think about how you found St. Stephen’s. Was it a friend? An event? A family connection? Regardless of how you found St. Stephen’s, someone took the first step to make you aware. We’re continuing to grow in togetherness and in numbers.
How have you helped St. Stephen’s become more intentional as a community in the last week? In the last month? Have you spoken to someone new at coffee hour? Have you attended an event or gathering that’s not a Sunday service? Have you written an article for the newsletter? Sent us a photograph for Facebook? Have you forwarded our newsletter to a friend to invite them to an event? Shared an event or post on your Facebook wall? Have y
ou had coffee with a fellow parishioner?
OK, so those are all things that you can do and require some time and action and effort. What about things that don’t require effort? How do you talk about your experiences at St. Stephen’s around the lunchroom table? When people discuss controversial social issues, how do you respond, and how does your faith inform that response? Does the national church’s response to issues inform your own?
Evangelism comes from the Greek and literally means to share the good news. As this article suggests, sharing comes in many forms, and looks different depending on our relationship with the person we’re sharing with. Don’t feel like you have to “beat people over the head” with your faith—just live it and watch for opportunities to tell people about the place where you can Be Real. Belong. Believe It.
What’s the most frustrating aspect in waiting to find a refugee family to take under our wings in Calgary?
Waiting.On three occasions NeST, the committee made up of members from the Calgary parishes of St. Stephen’s, St. Paul’s and the Cathedral, have bid for families on Ottawa’s approved list of Syrian refugees and on most occasions we missed the opportunity by minutes.
Sometimes seconds.The good thing is, the competition among refugee sponsor groups across the country is stiff.
The bad thing is, Ottawa met its target and the lists of pre-screened Syrian families under the first federal government/United Nations program we were working under has grown very thin.
NeST team leaders met on April 3rd to consider their options and because our financial situation is healthy, the target shifted from a family of four to a family of six. That will give us a better chance of finally securing a family.NeST is also exploring another government program where private sponsors like us are matched with Syrian families in Canada who are trying to rescue their own relatives from the ravages of war.If by June we find we’re still waiting for a family, NeST will reassess the situation.
The plight of Syrians opened our hearts to this ministry but there are other refugee families outside Syria we could consider and we’d appreciate your thoughts on this.Meanwhile the silent auction in support of NeST that was held at St.
Paul’s on April 9th raised a whopping $5,686.In other news, the Cathedral and St. Stephen’s are working to ease the transition of refugees already here by offering English conversation support to people on waitlists for more formal English Language Learning (ELL) classes.
a) In June, St. Stephen’s will be running Beginning English
classes for three families on Tues and Thurs mornings, including free childcare and children’s lessons/activities. Contact is Dave Driftmier (firstname.lastname@example.org).
b) The Cathedral hopes to offer ELL Café Conversations on
Wednesday and Saturday mornings from April 20th through to the end of June, possibly beyond. Contact is Joy Newman (email@example.com).There are also ongoing volunteer opportunities available through the Centre for Newcomers (www.centrefornewcomers.ca) in N.E. Calgary.
In the meantime, please remember that old but never-tired line that patience is a virtue and the best things in life are worth waiting for.
Congratulations to Dennis Anderson for receiving the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award for Volunteer Civic Achievement. Dennis and Pat flew down to Vancouver Mar 4 for the ceremony and reception. Dennis received the award for over 50 years of volunteering in the community, his work with charitable organizations, The military and for his volunteering here at
St. Stephen’s as Treasure & peoples warden. More info will be in the #282 Legion’s newsletter, and will be up on the bulletin board when it comes out in the next month. Congratulations Dennis!