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Office for Refugees, Archdiocese Toronto (ORAT)


Immigration Canada Announces New Pathway for Columbians, Haitians, and Venezuelans

Date Posted:  December 1, 2023

Immigration Canada has recently announced a new humanitarian pathway for Columbian, Haitian, and Venezuelan nationals who have family in Canada.  For further details about this program please click here.


West Papuans in Papua New Guinea: A Forgotten Refugee Population

Date Posted: November 13, 2023

It is a refugee crisis few have ever heard of, people from West Papua, part of Indonesia, have been fleeing conflict by crossing a porous international border on the same island to reach safety in Papua New Guinea, ever since a referendum considered seriously flawed took place more than 50 years ago.

Click here to view the full article.


Public Registration Update

Date posted: November 3, 2023

The online registration for the General Public program, which had run from Oct 23rd, 2023, to Oct 30th, 2023, has now been closed. A total of 322 applications were received, representing 1,121 refugees. The following table provided registration statistics based on the refugees' Country of Origin/Citizenship.

Post Public Registration

Due to the high demand for this program and the limited allocation provided by Immigration Canada, a random draw of registrants was conducted in the coming weeks. All cosponsors had an equal chance of being selected to proceed with their application through ORAT. Those selected received an invitation from ORAT to attend the virtual Introduction to Resettlement information session.

For those who were not contacted by ORAT, we encouraged them to reach out to other Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) in their area to explore the possibility of sponsorship through their organization. A list of SAHs could be found here.


Aid to the Church in Need Publications

Date posted: October 31, 2023

🌍 Every year, Aid to the Church in Need unveils its comprehensive global report, offering crucial insights into the persecution faced by Christians worldwide. Dive into the latest 2023 report to discover the highlights of this profound study. Click here to explore ACN's eye-opening report on the state of Christians across the globe. 📖


Scale Without Borders – Tech Summit

Date Posted:  October 17, 2023

We are excited to announce that we have partnered with our friends at Scale Without Borders for SWB’s annual Immigrants in Tech Summit!

On October 30th and 31st, Scale Without Borders is taking over (parts of) the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada’s largest museum to make space for immigrants and newcomers in tech and entrepreneurship.

SWB is currently offering subsidized tickets to our community. Enter “Scaler” for 30% off your tickets today. Spots are limited!

To learn more, visit https://scalewithoutborders.com/summit-2023.


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. 


Canada must continue to open doors for refugees

Date Posted: September 29, 2023

Prayers were offered during the Archdiocese of Toronto’s commemoration of the 109th World Day of Migrants & Refugees for all refugees who have been forced to flee their homeland.  In a particular way, the suffering Christian community was remembered.  For further details of this event, please click here.


Catholic bishop hopes 'history will not repeat itself' after ceasefire in Armenian enclave

Date Posted: September 29, 2023

An Armenian Catholic Bishop said that he hopes "history will not repeat itself" following a Sept. 20 ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh.  For further details click here


The persecution of Christians in Pakistan persists

Date Posted: September 29, 2023

In the face of this adversity, persecuted Christians proudly proclaim, "We are willing to sacrifice our lives for the sake of Jesus." This resolute stance comes as the world observes a day of awareness for violence based on religion. For further details click here


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.


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.


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 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.


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



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.


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.


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. 


'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. 





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