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Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT)


Letter from Archbishop Francis Leo on the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Date Posted:  September 28, 2023

His Grace, Archbishop Francis Leo has shared a letter on the occasion of the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.  Click here to see a copy of it. 


109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Date Posted:  September 27, 2023

Together with the community of Jesus the King Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Toronto commemorated the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees at a special Mass that was celebrated at the Cathedral of the Transfiguration in Markham, Ontario.  Monsignor Makarios Wehbi presided at the Mass with His Excellency Bishop John Boissonneau, Senior Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto, giving the homily.  Please click here to see the Mass and program. 


Pakistan Strengthens Already Harsh Laws Against Blasphemy

Date Posted: August 8, 2023

Earlier this year, Pakistan’s government expanded the reach of its Blasphemy Law.  While it is already a capital offense to insult Islam or its founder, Muhammad, the expanded law now provides for significant jail time for those who insult people connected to Muhammad.  This is a serious threat for all religious minorities in that country.  Please pray for this country and those affected by this insidious law. For further details click here.


Martyrs of the Third Millenium

Date Posted: August 8, 2023

Please join the Chaldean community in remembering and praying for religious minority populations who are facing great persecution and ongoing suffering.  For further details click here.


Chaldeans shocked by patriarch's removal of status

Date posted: August 1, 2023
Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid’s recent decision to revoke the official status of Patriarch Cardinal Louis Sako as the head of the Chaldean (Eastern-rite Catholic) Church of Iraq has left the country’s dwindling Christian community and the entire worldwide diaspora deeply hurt, said Bishop Robert Saeed Jarjis. Click here to view the full article.

Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay - For many today, migrating is the only choice

Date posted: July 31, 2023

What can we do so that migration is only one of several options, rather than the only choice? Building on Pope Francis' message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees "Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay", a reflection by the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Card. Michael Czerny SJ, and a testimony from Syria. Click here to watch the full video.


Armenia in Crisis: The World Over 

Date posted: July 26, 2023

Sam Brownback, former US Ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom, and Most Rev. Mikael Mouradian, bishop of the Armenian Eparchy of the US & Canada discuss the plight of Armenians & Armenian Christians in the face of a months long blockade by Azerbaijan. Click here to watch the whole interview.


Research Participants Needed!

Date posted: July 11, 2023

Researchers from York University and Dalhousie University are looking for participants for that seeks to understand how delayed international resettlement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic affects the human security of refugees. All interviews will take place online so participants must have internet access and access to a computer or phone capable of video calls.

Who can participate: Resettled refugees who arrived in Canada between June 2020 and November 2021

Time: 90 minutes

Location: Online (Zoom)

Compensation: $50 honorarium in appreciation for participant’s time

For detailed information on project/research and the team carrying out the research, please read the attached flyer. If you are interested in participating, please contact Leah Nicholson at Leah.Nicholson@dal.ca to schedule a call. Please let the research team know if you are newcomer sponsored by ORAT.

For further information, click here to read the Research proposal to study the impact of COVID-19 on Refugees. Click here to view the “COVID-19 and Refugees: Understanding the Human Security Consequences of Delayed Resettlement” poster.


Archbishop Leo receives pallium from Pope Francis

Date posted: July 7, 2023

Archbishop Francis Leo of Toronto joined 31 other metropolitan archbishops appointed over the past year who received their pallium from Pope Francis after Mass for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29. Click here to read the full article.


International Refugee Day

Date posted: June 14, 2023

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It falls each year on June 20 and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives. Please join us in celebrating this event and praying for those who suffer as refugees.


UNHCR World Refugee Day 2023


A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

Date posted: June 14, 2023

Young Iraqi refugees are learning culinary and management skills in a program established at the church to help them when they reach their final destination in other countries. Click here to read the full article.


The Coming Christian Persecution: Tom Williams with Raymond Arroyo

Date posted: June 6, 2023

Dr. Tom Williams, Breitbart Rome bureau chief discusses his new book, “The Coming Christian Persecution”. On a global scale, Christian communities are being targeted for their beliefs, whether through violence or public policy, and it's a trend that continues to escalate. Dr. Thomas provides insight into what it means for the Church, how these outrages can be remedied and what Christians can do to prepare for what is to come. Click here to watch the full interview.


Pope Francis urges freedom in message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Date posted: June 5, 2023

The Church observes the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on the last Sunday of September, which this year falls on Sept. 24. This year’s theme is “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay.” Click here to read a message from Pope Francis for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.


Public Registration Update

Date Posted:  May 29, 2023

We would like to provide an update to all those who registered for the General Public Program, in the hope of sponsoring their family for resettlement to Canada.  Unfortunately, due to our limited allocation from Immigration Canada we are only able to help some of those who registered.  We have conducted a random draw of registrants in which all cosponsors had an equal chance of being selected to move on with their application with ORAT. Those selected were invited by ORAT to attend the virtual Introduction to Resettlement information session.

For those not contacted by ORAT, we encourage you to contact other Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) within your area and inquire if you are able to sponsor through their organization. Click here to find other SAHs across Canada:  

For those of you who are waiting on the opportunity to submit cases that might qualify under the Operation Afghan Safety (OAS) program, to date, Immigration Canada has not provided ORAT with any additional spots. 


Pope Francis adds 21 Coptic Orthodox martyrs to Catholic list of saints

Date Posted: May 23, 2023

Pope Francis announces with Pope Tawadros II that 21 Coptic Orthodox martyrs will be inserted into the Roman Martyrology of the Catholic Church as a sign of the spiritual communion of the two Christian Churches. Click here to read the full article.

Sudan Conflict: Canada's Immigration Measures to Support Refugees and Families

Date Posted: May 17, 2023

The Canadian government has recently announced several steps that it is taking to help support refugees and families affected by the conflict in Sudan. Please click here for further information.


Update on Sudan from Immigration Canada

Date posted:  May 2, 2023

Immigration Canada is aware of the current state of emergency in Sudan and is closely monitoring the development of the situation. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of refugees extremely seriously and we continue to do everything we can, alongside its partners, to bring refugees safely and quickly to Canada as circumstances allow. For additional information, please refer to the Government of Canada news release .  In the meantime, should there be any changes to the PA’s  personal circumstances or whereabouts, including updates in your contact information, please notify the Rome Visa office as soon as possible, copying oratcases@archtoronto.org.


China-Vatican Deal Violated: Steven Mosher with Raymond Arroyo

Date Posted: April 24, 2023

Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and China expert discusses the CCP's recent appointment of a Catholic bishop without Vatican approval, and China's increasing aggression toward Taiwan. Click here to watch the video.


More Than 5,000 Christians Were Killed in Nigeria Last Year

Date Posted: April 19, 2023

A new report found that last year, 5,068 Christians were killed in Nigeria and more than 3,000 others were kidnapped. President of the Religious Freedom Institute, Eric Patterson, joins to share what is behind the violence and kidnappings and whether anything is being done to put a stop to it. Click here to watch the full video.


Nigerian seminarian killed for  being Christian

Date Posted: April 17, 2023

Michael Nnadi, one of four philosophy students kidnapped in 2020 from a seminary in Nigeria's Sokoto diocese, was later found dead. Click here to read the full article.


Pakistan’s High Court Bar Association Threaten Religious Minorities with “Blasphemy”

Date Posted: April 11, 2023

Lahore’s High Court Bar Association has released an “extremely concerning” announcement, calling for a witch hunt against alleged “blasphemers” in Pakistan.  This is a real threat to all religious minorities across Pakistan.  For further information please click here.


Easter Wishes

Date posted: April 6, 2023

Wishing you and your family a very blessed Triduum and joy-filled Easter. Let us give thanks to Him who has conquered death and who invites us to share in His resurrection. Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!!

Easter 2023


Post Public Registration

Date posted: April 4, 2023

The online registration for the General Public program, which took place from March 17, 2023 to March 23, 2023, is now closed.  A total of 940 applications were received, representing 2,992 refugees.  The following table provides the registration statistics based on the refugee’s Country of Origin/Citizenship.

Public Registration Table

Given the high demand for this program, and the limited allocation provided to us by Immigration Canada, we will conduct a random draw of registrants.  This draw will take place in the coming weeks.  All cosponsors will have an equal chance of being selected to move on with their application with ORAT. Those selected will be invited by ORAT to attend the virtual Introduction to Resettlement information session.   For those not contacted by ORAT, we encourage you to contact other Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) within your area to determine if you are able to sponsor through their organization.   Click here for the list of SAHs.


Mass of Installation for Most Reverend Francis Leo

Date Posted:  March 27, 2023

On March 25, 2023, the Most Reverend Francis Leo was installed as Archbishop of Toronto, following the retirement of Cardinal Thomas Collins.

This event marks a new chapter for the Catholic Church in Toronto.  Please join us in praying for Archbishop Leo as he begins his work as the chief shepherd of this Archdiocese. 

To view the livestream of the Mass of Installation, click here.

Archbishop Leo-Official Portrait


Tribute to Cardinal Collins

Date Posted: March 27, 2023

We wish to express our heartfelt thanks to Cardinal Collins for his enduring support, kindness, and friendship that has been shown to ORAT over the years.

Since 2009, the Office for Refugees from the Archdiocese of Toronto has worked under the leadership of Cardinal Collins to resettle thousands of refugees to Canada. 

Please join us in praying for His Eminence, that he enjoys many more years of fruitful service to the Church. May we, together with him, continue to grow in our love of and service to our Lord.



Temporary Public Policy for Afghan Extended Family Members of Former Language and Cultural Advisors

Date Posted: March 22, 2023

IRCC has announced, on March 9, 2023, a new pathway to permanent residence for Afghan extended family members of former language and cultural advisors (LCAs) who supported the Government of Canada during its mission in Afghanistan, under a new temporary public policy

Under this new temporary public policy, a pathway to permanent residence has been provided for extended families of former language and cultural advisors (LCAs) in Canada who:

- are Canadian citizens or permanent residents
- were employed by Department of National Defence (DND) in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2021


For more information, please visit the following official links:

- Press release

- Temporary Public Policy

- Application Process


General Public Registration

Date Posted: March 3, 2023

ORAT is pleased to announce the launch of our 2023 Registration for members of the General Public, who wish to sponsor family members who are in need of refugee resettlement.  Click here for further details on this program.

Online registration will begin on Friday, March 17, 2023, at 12:01AM and will close on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at 11:59PM. 


Open Doors Releases its 2023 World Watch List

Date Posted:  February 13, 2023

More than 360 million Christians face high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith in Jesus. Click on the link below for the Top 50 countries where Christians face significant persecution.  World Watch List | Top 50 Countries of Persecution | Open Doors Canada


Christian leaders in Holy Land: Refugees suffer like Holy Family did
Date Posted: December 28, 2022

Comparing the suffering Jesus and the Holy Family endured to the way many people and refugees are suffering today, the patriarchs and heads of churches of the Holy Land reminded the faithful of the "deep and abiding love" God has for all his people. Click here to read the full article.


Asia Bibi advocates for Pakistanis accused of blasphemy
Date Posted: December 19, 2022
Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Catholic woman who escaped death for alleged blasphemy and who now lives in Canada, has appealed for the protection of victims of blasphemy laws in her home country. Click here to read the full article.

Red Wednesday unveils horrors faced by persecuted Christians

Date Posted: November 21, 2022

Forced conversions, lost childhoods, years of hiding, living in limbo — the persecution Christians face around the world was given specific, concrete shape by the testimony of survivors at the annual Red Wednesday vespers in Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. Click here to read the full article.

𝐒𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐧 𝐩𝐫𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐫, 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐜𝐞: 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐝𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐦
Date Posted: November 18, 2022
In a speech that touched on social services, religious freedom, Christian persecution, healing and reconciliation, Cardinal Thomas Collins urges people of faith to be courageous in the face of an aggressively secular society. Pray for all those who are persecuted because of their faith, and do whatever we can to speak against this injustice and to provide support to those who are suffering.
Click here to view the full text of the address delivered by Cardinal Collins' at the 43rd annual Cardinal's Dinner on November 15, 2022.

IRCC Delayed in Issuing Application Numbers (G Numbers)

Date Posted: November 4, 2022

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been overwhelmed with responding to the Afghan refugee crisis and to those displaced by the war in Ukraine. This has caused considerable delays in processing the Private Sponsorship applications and has resulted in a substantial delay IRCC’s issuance of application numbers (G#) for the submitted cases.

Please note that ORAT has submitted all of its 2022 cases to Immigration Canada. 

We ask all cosponsors to be patient as we wait for the IRCC to issue the application numbers.  We have reached out to IRCC asking for an update on G numbers. We will update cosponsors and constituent group (CGs) as soon as an update is available from IRCC.


108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Date Posted: September 29, 2022

On Sunday, September 25th we marked the 108th World Day of Migrants & Refugees at St. Joseph Syriac Catholic Church, in Mississauga.  Mass was celebrated followed by a reception.  His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins presided at Mass, with Bishop Paulos Nassif delivering the homily.  A number of dignitaries were also present, including: Rechie Valdez, MP for Mississauga—Streetsville, Ontario, who brought greetings from the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada;  Jasraj Singh Hallan, MP for Calgary Forest Lawn, Alberta., (Conservative Shadow Minister for Immigration); Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore; Aris Babikian, MPP for Scarborough-Agincourt; and Sheref Sabawy, MPP for Mississauga-Erin Mills. Special thanks to Fr. Manhal Abboush and the Refugee Committee at St. Joseph Syriac Catholic Church for the wonderful job in hosting this event. Click here to view the Mass and  subsequent speeches.


Canada deaf to persecuted Christians' cries

Date posted: July 22, 2022

The protection of persecuted Christians (and other faith minorities) is not at the summit of the Canadian government’s priorities. This was glaringly obvious to me as I attended the Summit on International Religious Freedom, hosted recently in Washington by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Click here to read the full article. 


Many Come to Thank Cardinal Collins for His Support of Refugees

Date Posted: June 24, 2022

Hundreds came together from various communities, including Chaldean, Ge’ez Rite, Melkite Catholic, Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Latin Rite and others to thanks Cardinal Collins for his support of refugees.  Since 2009, the Office for Refugees from the Archdiocese of Toronto has worked under the leadership of Cardinal Collins to resettle thousands of refugees to Canada.  Click here for a detailed report on this event.


Thanks to our Event Sponsors

We wish to thank the following sponsors of the event which thanked Cardinal Collins for his support of refugees. The platinum sponsor of this event is RAFAT General Contractor Inc. The Gold sponsor is Zayouna Law Firm


'God opens the door' to Pakistani Catholic refugee family 

Date Posted: June 21, 2022

Younis Gil is a small man who struggles with English. Years of stress, uncertainty and hard labour have left an imprint. But he squares his shoulders, straightens his back, meets your gaze and smiles. With his wife Saleema Bibi and surrounded by three of his adult children plus a son-in-law, he is a proud pater familias embracing a life that a few months ago was hard to imagine. Click here to read the full article.


Update on Ukrainian Crisis

Date posted: March 23, 2022

With almost 4 million Ukrainian refugees hosted in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova, many are asking what can be done to assist them. The following is an overview of current and potential options to assist.

Ukrainian Relief Fund:   In addition to praying for the situation, the Archdiocese of Toronto has created the Ukrainian Relief Fund to help suffering Ukrainians. Funds raised will be directed to ORAT and CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association). This fund will provide humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement support to Ukrainians.  Donations can be made online by clicking here, or through parish donations, when the donation is designated to the Ukrainian Relief Fund.

Current Immigration Pathways

  • Immigration Canada Pathways: At present, the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has not established a refugee resettlement pathway for Ukrainians. Instead, they have created a number of programs to assist Ukrainian nationals, including an expedited travel visa process. Click here for further information on this program.  For information on other IRCC programs, click here
  • Ontario Pathways: Ontario’s Minister responsible for Immigration, Monte McNaughton announced a 5-point action plan to welcome those fleeing the crisis.  Among the programs is Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program.  For further information, please visit our website at orat.ca and search for the March 15th post entitled “Provincial Nominee Program Now Prioritizing Ukrainian Applicants”.

Hosting a Ukrainian Family:  We have received a number of inquiries from those who expressed a desire to host a Ukrainian family travelling to Canada under the expedited visa process.  We are currently in discussions with both Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox eparchies to explore how to facilitate this work.  We will provide further updates on this program as details emerge.

Refugee Resettlement: Once IRCC establishes a refugee pathway for Ukrainian nationals, ORAT is ready to launch a multi-pronged strategy to assist refugees, including:

  1. Parishioner Sponsored Family Program (family linked cases): ORAT will launch a program to assist parishioners of Latin Rite, Ukrainian Catholic, and Ukrainian Orthodox parishes who wish to sponsor a family member that has fled Ukraine.  These sponsorships are fully funded by the sponsoring family, who will also work to welcome and help integrate their sponsored family;
  2. Parish Sponsorship of a Ukrainian family (sponsoring the stranger program): ORAT will conduct mission trips to neighbouring countries of Ukraine that are hosting refugees.  We will select families to sponsor who have no family link in the west that are able to support them.  These families will be matched with parishes and community groups throughout the Archdiocese who wish to sponsor a family. While limited funds are available to sponsor these families, fundraising efforts are encouraged from participating groups.

Please let us know if you would be interested in participating in the “Hosting a Ukrainian Family” program and/or in the “Parish Sponsorship of a Ukrainian Family” program.  Kindly send your response by email to oratrefugeeoffice@archtoronto.org using the subject line “Help Ukraine”.  Further information on these programs will be provided as details emerge.


Provincial Nominee Program Now Prioritizing Ukrainian applicants

Date posted:  March 15, 2022

Ontario’s Minister responsible for Immigration, Monte McNaughton, has worked closely with Premier Doug Ford to help Ukrainians settle and find good jobs here in Ontario.

On March 15, Minister McNaughton shared five actions that his ministry is taking to welcome those fleeing this crisis. Building on actions already taken across government, Ontario is working with employers, labour leaders, faith organizations and community groups to stand with the people of Ukraine.

  1. Ontario’s Immigrant Nominee Program is now prioritizing Ukrainian applicants; 
  2. Our expanded Second Career program is providing up to $28,000 for Ukrainians who want to train for a new career;
  3. Employers all across Ontario have stepped forward with ~30,000 well-paying jobs;
  4. The third round of our Skills Development Fund will prioritize projects that upskill and train Ukrainian arrivals for in-demand jobs;
  5. Ontario’s settlement services are currently providing translations and support for recognizing Ukrainian education, licensing and certifications. 


Aid to the Church in Need Publications

Date posted: March 10, 2022

On an annual basis Aid to the Church in Need releases a published global report which include highlights .of persecution of Christians around the world. Click here to view ACN's latest 2021 report on Christians worldwide.


Additional Immigration Support for Those Affected by the Situation in Ukraine

Date posted: March 4, 2022

In response to the current conflict, Immigration, Refugee, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is implementing a series of measures to aid Ukrainians and people residing in Ukraine to seek harbour in Canada. Click here to read the full article.


Canada to Welcome Those Fleeing The War in Ukraine

Date posted: March 4, 2022

In support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is introducing new immigration streams for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada temporarily or permanently. Click here to read the full article.


Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief

Date Posted:  March 1, 2022

In response to the unfolding crisis in the Ukraine, the Archdiocese of Toronto has launched a humanitarian relief effort to help the Ukrainian people.  Funds raised will be directed to ORAT (Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto) and CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association).  Please click here for further information about this appeal and to learn how you can help.


The Canadian Government's Response to displaced Ukrainians

Date Posted:  March 1, 2022

The Canadian government is working quickly to assist those that have been forced to flee war in the Ukraine.  Please click here for further information.


Statement from the CCCB on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Date Posted:  March 1, 2022

The Executive Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) condemns the escalation of tensions and violence in the Ukraine marked by Russia’s invasion, which was seen today, Thursday, February 24, 2022, in the form of militarization and bombing in various Ukrainian cities.

In solidarity with the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, in unison with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with the people of Ukraine as well as with Canadians of Ukrainian origin and descent, we encourage the faithful and all people of good will to pray for the imminent restoration of peace, dialogue and human fraternity.

Conscious of the regrettable lessons about violence which we have all learned throughout human history, we implore all involved to pursue non-violent means to resolve disputes and disagreements. The use of military force does not favour dialogue and peace; rather, it endangers innocent human life, the dignity of the human person and the security and safety of all the people caught up in this conflict.

Jesus came to bring the gift of peace, and it is through Him that new pathways of dialogue can be opened, even when all other avenues appear closed. With Pope Francis, who has entrusted this situation to the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, we ask Our Lady, through her powerful intercession, to open hearts so that anger, resentment and division may start to be healed and that any further escalation of unnecessary violence may be avoided.

War in Ukraine
Date Posted: February 25, 2022
Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, in response to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, has asked that prayers be offered at all Masses this weekend for those suffering in this war. Many have been displaced and have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries. The Office for Refugees is carefully monitoring this situation to see how we are able to assist those who have been forced to flee their homeland. Please click on the attach link for further information about this unfolding humanitarian crisis. Click here to read the full article.


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