Office for Refugees,

Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT)

ORAT, the Office for Refugees’ staff members and volunteers have numerous years of experience helping refugees. The Office’s main focus is the Civic (Private) Refugee Sponsorship Program of the Archdiocese of Toronto, which has been in operation for over 30 years. Just in the last year ORAT submitted applications to bring over 250 refugees to Canada, thanks to the help of parishes and institutions within the Archdiocese participating in the program.

ORAT works to bring refugees from overseas to Canada all the while fostering a sense of community within the Archdiocese, as parishes and religious orders are asked to work together to help newcomers integrate into Canadian society.



  • The Office assists the faithful and enables them to provide assistance for uprooted people by helping parishes, religious orders and Catholic institutions within the Archdiocese of Toronto to find durable solutions for refugees in need. Additionally ORAT provides similar services to Christian communities in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Toronto.
  • The Office is a venue of communication, cooperation and collaboration for refugee serving organizations in the Archdiocese to improve the level of services provided by Catholic Organizations.
  • The Office works with partners nationally and internationally to ameliorate the situation of uprooted people.
  • The Office operates in accordance with the Ten Building Blocks of Catholic Social Teachings and with the generally respected values, philosophy and principles of the Catholic Church.


  • To bring to Canada through the Resettlement Program, in proportion to the resources available within the Archdiocese of Toronto, as many refugees as is possible.

  • Ensure the successful settlement and integration of sponsored refugees into the Canadian society.

  • Engage and enable as many communities, parishes, religious orders, chaplaincies, Catholic institutions and related groups to become involved in refugee work, and to guarantee a high level of involvement from the faithful within the Archdiocese. 

  • Establish an effective network of collaboration, information sharing, and training among refugee workers within the Archdiocese.

  • Provide valuable information, training, and assistance to the numerous volunteers involved in sponsorship work and refugee issues in general.




Your parish, chaplaincy, chapel, or group can initiate the process to bring a refugee to Canada under one of the following options:

1. Your parish/ group can take full responsibility of a sponsorship. This means you will be there for a refugee (individual or family) for one year from the date of arrival: it includes housing, clothing, food, helping in integration, enrolling them in language classes, the children in schools, teaching them how to do the shopping, helping them to find a family doctor and so on. Basically you may want to consider them as your ‘guests’. Our efforts are successful if in a year they ‘become Canadians’. Beyond upgrading their skills, the main aim is to help them to become financially independent in less than a year by getting them different work opportunities.

Sponsorship is a lot of work. It entails serious commitment and responsibility (time, logistics, emotional support and finances). To sponsor one refugee you have to fundraise about $11.800; to sponsor a family of four you need $26,000 (It might include in-kind donations, like an available apartment, furniture, etc.)

2. Twinning: Team up with an other parish. Some parishes are gifted in fundraising, while others are blessed with volunteers. There is always the possibility of sharing responsibility with another group in order to gather resources faster to sponsor a refugee family.

3. If you have experienced members, your committee can decide to sponsor a high need refugee without financial obligation. In this category the sponsorship liability is covered by the government or secured by community members of the refugee. These refugees need logistical (human resources), technical, moral, spiritual and other integration support ‘only’. It is very similar to the previous types of sponsorships, but your parish/ group will not need to raise a lot of funds; instead of, has to be well prepared to provide extra care for the newcomers, because they may have medical conditions and therefore need more help to settle; other challenges for these types of cases may be large or broken families, people with special needs, no formal education or lack of English, and so on.  While other sponsorships are for one year, this category requires a two year commitment. For these cases you need a strong, committed group of experienced volunteers able to meet the challenges.

4. Your committee can offer moral support to a refugee. In some cases both finances and logistics are available, however without moral support and supervision from a parish or constituent group, the sponsorship case can not be processed.


  • Information Sessions: ORAT holds several information sessions in parishes based on request, and at ORAT, open to the public. The goal of these sessions is to explain the responsibilities related to the process of bringing a refugee to Canada.
  • Parish Information Events: ORAT is available to provide support by information nights to parish councils, committees or just simply, interested parishioners, on general refugee issues; on the civic sponsorship opportunities, etc. Please inquire with ORAT if you are interested in hosting an information night.
  • ORAT offers consultation with pastors, parish social ministries, committees, parishioners, or any other group who are interested in sponsoring refugees;
  • ORAT assesses sponsorship applications (the refugees’ eligibility forms, etc.) and settlement plans in order to achieve compliance with the complicated and ever-changing requirement.
  • Training: ORAT provides training for parish groups and assist to form committees. ORAT connects parish committees with refugee services depending on the newcomers’ needs. Additionally, there is a Refugee Sponsorship E-training course available to individuals interested in becoming sponsors.
  • Referrals: Although ORAT’s main focus is the civic sponsorship work, the Office can assist parishes, religious orders, chaplaincies, Catholic institutions and related groups in finding professional service providers in regards to refugee and immigrations issues or advocacy needs.
  • Overseas Referral Agency: ORAT is currently in the process of developing an overseas referral agency for refugee sponsorship. The goal is to establish an institution in Africa and in the Middle East that would be able to refer refugees to the Canadian government resettlement programs as well as to civic sponsors.  


First of all, you need to form a Sponsorship Committee (Constituent Group) and then approach ORAT to take the next steps.

If you are ready to sponsor a refugee, or are willing to assist in the survival, of at least one refugee (for instance, an Iraqi Christian or non Christian) or have any further questions about sponsorship, please contact: 416 645-0827 ext 104

Comments, feedback or complaint about ORAT can be submitted to the Director or to the Advisory Board of ORAT.
(371 Old Kingston Road, Unit A; Toronto, ON M1C 1B7)