2020 Allocation and Public Information Session

Please note that we are currently awaiting our 2020 allocation from Immigration Canada, which we expect to receive at the end of February. In either April or May, we plan to announce details about an online  registration event that we will arrange  for members of the general public who wish to sponsor a refugee. The online registration will be open for several days.  We anticipate a high level of demand for the limited allocation that we will receive. To manage this, we will be holding a random draw to select a number of registrants who we will then invite to an Introduction to Resettlement Information Session.  This marks the first step in sponsoring a refugee through this office and attendance is mandatory for all selected registrants.  

105th World Day of Migrants & Refugees

Sunday, September 29, 2019 marked the 105th World Day of Migrants & Refugees, a day dedicated by the Catholic Church to remember and pray for those who suffer as migrants and refugees. The theme announced by His Holiness Pope Francis for this year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees is "It is not just about migrants". In his message, Pope Francis reminds us that "every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age. The Lord entrusts to the Church's motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future.  This solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience… This is a great responsibility, which the church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will…"

In the Archdiocese of Toronto, this day was commemorated with a Solemn Mass, which took place at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church in North York.  Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore Pakistan, Lawrence Saldanha presided, with Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, and a large number of clergy concelebrating.  In his homily, Bishop Kirkpatrick spoke on the Gospel parable of Lazarus and the rich man, and on Pope Francis' message for this day.  He exhorted the faithful to continue their work to care for and protect those who suffer as migrants and refugees.

The presentation that immediately followed the Mass, focused on the suffering of the Pakistani Christian refugee community, many of whom have fled to Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.  A video that was created specifically for this event was presented to the roughly 250 people in attendance.  The video and accompanying presentation by Archbishop Saldanha underscored the suffering of this community and the various factors driving the oftentimes brutal persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan.

Mr. Garnett Genuis, Conservative MP for the riding of Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, shared the Conservative Party's vision for Refugee Sponsorship, and in particular the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.

Deacon Rudy Ovcjak, Director of the Office for Refugees at the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) highlighted the work being done by the office to address the plight of the roughly 400 Pakistani Christian refugee families stranded in Thailand.  In July, a small team from the office travelled to Bangkok to meet with 65 of these Pakistani Christian families, both Catholic and Protestant. His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of 

Toronto, set aside $250,000 to

assist with the cost of resettling someof these families to Canada.  An additional $250,000 is expected to be contributed by Catholic parishes throughout the Archdiocese.  The combined funds will support the sponsorship of 18 of the 65 families.  Work is underway to reach out to Catholic bishops and sponsoring organizations across Canada, to ask for their assistance to sponsor the remaining families.  To date, eight Catholic Dioceses have indicated their willingness to sponsor one or more families. These include the Dioceses of: Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Peterborough, Halifax and others.  Efforts are also underway to reach out to Protestant communities and to potential donors to ask for their assistance.

The event marked an important milestone on the way to saving these 400 desperate and suffering Pakistani Christian families.

If you are interested in sponsoring a family or in contributing towards this cause, please contact the Office for Refugees at (416) 934-3400 x804 or by email at oratrefugeeoffice@archtoronto.org.


Volunteer Opportunity at ORAT

Volunteers Job Description

Summary of the ICMC's 2018 plenary meeting 

Please click  on the attached link to view a video, Summary of the International Catholic Migration Commission's (ICMC) 2018 Council plenary meeting  


Vatican Releases Anti-Trafficking Resource

Geneva, 22 January 2019 - A new resource aims to inspire Catholics in their ministries both to eliminate human trafficking and to support its survivors.

The Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking were released in January by the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section. The publication provides in-depth insight into the issue of human trafficking, which Pope Francis has called a “crime against humanity.”

Migrant women who survived human trafficking playing soccer at an Italian reception center managed by nuns. © UNHCR/Jordi Matas “One of the darkest aspects of contemporary history,” states the new publication, “human trafficking victimizes millions of people all over the world.” Amongst its victims are the most vulnerable in society, including women, children, the disabled, the poorest and those who come from difficult family and social situations.

Human trafficking takes different forms, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage, slave labor, servitude, forced begging, organ-harvesting and reproductive exploitation among others.

Examining ten dimensions of this complex phenomenon as defined by international law, the new resource outlines a framework for the Church to respond. Its ten chapters explore the causes of human trafficking and why it persists today. They also examine how it operates and why it remains hidden from public view.

In the document’s preface, Frs. Fabio Baggio and Michael Czerny, Undersecretaries of the Migration and Refugees Section, explain that the publication aims to “motivate and sustain the much-needed long-term struggle” to eradicate human trafficking.

The new resource responds to Pope Francis’ declaration that “the Catholic Church intends to intervene in every phase of the trafficking of human beings.” Its development took six months of church-wide consultation with leadership, scholars and organizations working in the field.

Invited by the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) contributed insights for the development of the resource based on its past and present experience in responding to survivors of trafficking and of sexual and gender-based violence.

“ICMC and our national member organizations in many countries are committed to serve those who have been subjected to such abuse and to take strong action to eliminate these crimes. The Vatican resource will help us to become more effective in our efforts,” says ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo.

Frs. Baggio and Czerny note that the publication’s guidelines are “deeply grounded in the Church’s reflection and teaching and its longstanding practical experience responding to the needs of men, women, boys and girls caught up in human trafficking and in slavery, both past and present.”

They hope the new resource will motivate and inspire the Church’s anti-trafficking ministries in dioceses, parishes, religious congregations, schools, universities and other organizations. The guidelines will also be useful as key messages for use in pastoral and educational work.


2018 ICMC Conference

In his message for the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees Pope Francis expressed the Church’s concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking, and encouraged efforts at all levels of Government (Ecclesial and Political ) to help welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees. Like ORAT, many Catholic organizations strive to heed Pope Francis’ call to be like Christ, who identifies Himself with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.

One particular organization to highlight is the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC). ICMC is an international non-governmental organization whose mission is to protect and serve uprooted people, including refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, victims of human trafficking, and migrants - regardless of faith, race, ethnicity or nationality.

At the ICMC Council meeting in Rome from March 6 – 8, Pope Francis affirmed and encouraged ICMC members to continue the vital work they do saying “I would like to reaffirm that the cause of this organization is the cause of Christ Himself.” The ICMC Council, composed of representatives of all bishop’s conferences, met to accomplish a number of items, including the election of ICMC’s President, and approve membership of ICMC’s Governing Committee. His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, continues to be a member of ICMC’s Governing Committee. Video highlights of this year’s meeting are available on our Facebook page.  The videos showcase some of the efforts that the Church continues to make to address the plight of migrants and refugees.


Moral Sponsorship for Refugee Sponsorship Applications


ORAT recently held an information session for members of the general public (potential cosponsors) who wished to sponsor a refugee(s) for resettlement. One of the requirements that we placed on the attendees to the Information Session is that they secure a pledge of Moral Sponsorship from a parish within the Archdiocese.

Important Note: The member of the general public approaching a pastor should have attended ORAT's recent, mandatory information session, entitled "Introduction to Resettlement".  When a pastor is approached by a member of the general public who has not attended the Introduction to Resettlement Information Session, or by an overseas refugee seeking sponsorship, we would encourage that they be directed to contact ORAT.

By providing a Moral Sponsorship, a parish commits to assisting the cosponsor with the logistical elements of resettlement in the unlikely event that he or she is unable to do so. If your parish has or is planning to form a Resettlement/Constituent Group, I would ask that you please consider providing a Moral Sponsorship if you are approached by a member of the public who has attended the Information Session.

It is important for a parish to recognize that there is no financial obligation associated with a Moral Sponsorship. The full financial liability is deposited with the Archdiocese by the cosponsor at the time that the sponsorship application is submitted to Immigration Canada.

Please note that it is not ORAT's policy to direct potential cosponsors to a particular parish. We have asked that each potential cosponsor arrange to meet with a pastor in a parish near their residence and ask if they would be willing to provide moral sponsorship of their refugee sponsorship application.

If you have any questions about Moral Sponsorship, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 416-934-3400 x804 and ask to speak with someone from our Outreach team.

Cheque Requisition Form

Throughout the years ORAT has made several changes to the Cheque Requisition Form, which is used by Cosponsors and Constituent Groups alike to access monies that they have deposited with the Archdiocese of Toronto for the settlement of their newcomer.  Unfortunately, many cosponsors and Constituent Groups are making use of older and out-of-date forms.  This has introduced an unnecessary level of complexity into the process. 

As such, we are asking that all Cosponsors and Constituent Groups use the current Cheque Requisition Form that is available on our website.  Please click on the following link to access this document Resettlement funds deposit release - public.

For those that are accessing Project Hope funds, we would ask that you make use of the Project Hope Cheque Requisition Form, which is also available on our website at Resettlement funds deposit release - Project Hope

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.


Support available from ORAT

  • Provides information sessions for the general public regarding refugee resettlement as well as other Canadian immigration options.

  • Is the liaison between parishes, the Archdiocese and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in refugee resettlement.

  • Assesses resettlement applications and settlement plans.

  • Monitors all procedures before and after submission of a resettlement application and the integration process.

  • Invites you to enroll in the resettlement email distribution to receive information about refugee related issues regularly.


ORAT assists the faithful and enables them to provide assistance for uprooted people by helping parishes, religious orders, Catholic institutions and others to find durable solutions for refugees in need. Additionally the ORAT provides similar services to Christian communities in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Toronto. 
ORAT 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.

ORAT works with partners nationally and internationally to ameliorate the situation of uprooted people.


ORAT 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.


ORAT facilitates the Sponsorship Agreement of the Archdiocese of Toronto; animates and coordinates the Catholic network on refugee assistance; liaises with other civic sponsors, dioceses and archdioceses, and international organizations such as ICMC (International Catholic Migration Commission), UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and other refugee serving members of the international community on issues such as resettlement, protection and social justice.

ORAT's mandate covers the entire geographic area of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and where members of resettlement groups reside beyond these geographical boundaries.

ORAT is also mandated to link and network with organizations nationally and internationally for greater cooperation.

Services Offered

Information Sessions: ORAT provides general immigration and refugee information sessions open to the public on a regular basis. The goal of these sessions is not only to ensure that people understand the Civic Resettlement of Refugees (CRR) Program, but that they are also empowered with the knowledge on all the ways a person can legally enter into Canada.

Parish Information Events: ORAT is available to provide support with information nights to parish councils, committees or just simply, interested parishioners, on general refugee issues, on civic sponsorship opportunities, etc. Please inquire with the Resettlement Educator if you are interested in hosting information sharing event or the monthly seminar.

Training: ORAT provides training to those interested in learning more about settlement and integration on an ongoing basis. Additionally, ORAT publishes a newsletter to give updates regularly.

Referrals: Although ORAT's main focus is the civic sponsorship work, ORAT can assist parishes, religious orders, chaplaincies, Catholic institutions and related groups in finding professional service providers with regard to refugee and immigrations issues or advocacy needs.

ORAT is funded by:

   ShareLife logo