Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT)
The 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees – Sunday, September 25, 2022
From: Deacon Rudy Ovcjak, Director
The theme announced by His Holiness Pope Francis for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees is “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees.” Click here to see Pope Francis’ entire message.
This occasion will be marked with the celebration of Mass, which will take place on Sunday, September 25, 2022 at 10:30 AM at St. Joseph Syriac Catholic Church, located at 999 Lakeshore Road East, Mississauga, ON. Cardinal Collins will preside and Bishop Paulos Nassif will be the homilist. A reception will follow. All are welcome.
Please click here to obtain a soft copy of the poster for this event. Consider making this available to parishioners.
I invite you to mark this day in your parish. Included below are some suggestions for the day:
Suggested Prayers of the Faithful
Suggested Bulletin Announcement
The theme announced by His Holiness Pope Francis for the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees is “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees.” In his message, Pope Francis reminds that inclusion of those most vulnerable is the necessary condition for full citizenship in God’s Kingdom. Indeed, the Lord says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:34-36).
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.
IRCC Announces 2022 Allocations
Date Posted, July 18, 2022
Immigration Canada (IRCC) has just announced to Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) their allocation for 2022, which is the number of refugees that a SAH is able to sponsor this year. In the coming weeks we will be submitting applications to IRCC that we have already received from cosponsors. Since we have fulfilled our allocation for this year, we are unable to process any additional applications.
We encourage you to monitor our website for further information on the Public Session Registration, which we plan to hold later this year.
Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees: a future to build together
Date posted: July 4, 2022
Building the future with migrants and refugees is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 108th World Day of Migrants & Refugees (WDMR). In order to walk together towards the WDMR, which will be celebrated on Sunday, September 25, 2022, the Migrants and Refugees Section (M&R) is setting up an itinerary that begins with the Holy Father's Message, where he emphasizes the fact that a better future is only possible if it is achieved together with the most vulnerable. Pope Francis reflects on the sub-theme "a future to build together" and involves us by directly asking us a question. Along with the Holy Father’s, there is also a witness from His Eminence Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, who shares his experience of living together with migrants on the island of Lampedusa.
Click here to watch the full video.
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. For further information click here.
'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.
Thank You Event for Cardinal
Date posted: May 8, 2022
ORAT has been working closely with a number of Eastern Rite Catholic and Orthodox churches, whose communities have been greatly helped by Cardinal Collin’s support of refugee resettlement.
These communities wished to express their thanks to Cardinal Collins for his leadership in this area; a leadership that has helped to save over 5,000 refugees from terrible persecution and violence since 2009, giving them new hope and a new life in Canada. A banquet has been organized to thank Cardinal Collins for his work.
The banquet will take place at 6PM on June 18th at the Toronto Grand Convention Centre. Mass will be celebrated at 4PM on the same day at the Good Shepherd Chaldean Cathedral. Tickets for the banquet are $75.00.
Consider attending this event to thank His Eminence and to show your continued support of this important work. Please contact Eleanor D’Souza at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (647) 494-5419 ext. 4 if you would like to purchase tickets for this event.
Date posted: April 19, 2022
Wishing you and your family a very blessed 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!!
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:
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:
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 email@example.com using the subject line “Help Ukraine”. Further information on these programs will be provided as details emerge.
IRCC Announces a Further Delay for 2022 Submissions
Date Posted: March 16, 2022
The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has just announced to Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs), of which ORAT is one, that they will not be able to submit any refugee sponsorship applications to IRCC until the beginning of May. It was also announced that submissions at that time may be significantly restricted.
For those that have begun the refugee sponsorship process with ORAT in late 2021 or in 2022, we ask that you continue to exercise patience, that you monitor our website for further updates, and that you refrain from contacting our office to inquire about any 2022 cases.
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.
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.
Prayer, charity, and fasting are 'weapons of the spirit' for Ukraine, Pope says
Date posted: March 7, 2022
Pope Francis said that “prayer, charity, and fasting,” are “weapons” that can change history and are especially needed today in his prepared remarks for Ash Wednesday. Click here to read the full article.
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.
Date posted: March 2, 2022
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent, in which all Catholics are called to prepare for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery; that is the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lent continues for 40 days until the beginning of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is a privileged time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving, providing an opportunity for Catholics to renew and deepen their relationship with Jesus, and to amend their lives, so that they might live as He taught.
On this Ash Wednesday, and in response to the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, Pope Francis has asked that all believers pray and fast for peace in this troubled part of the world. “I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on this day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.”
Wishing you a blessed and fruitful Lent.
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.
Update on 2022 Submissions
Date Posted: February 1, 2022
In the fall of each year, ORAT begins its work to register cases for the upcoming submission year. In the past several years, Immigration Canada has allowed Private Sponsors to start submitting cases as early as January 1st. Unfortunately, this is not the case this year. Immigration Canada is currently not accepting refugee sponsorship applications from Private Sponsors. We are waiting on Immigration Canada to announce to Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) when they can begin to submit applications.
For those that have begun the process with ORAT in late 2021, we ask that you continue to exercise patience. We will announce when Immigration Canada begins accepting applications. In the meanwhile, we would ask that you monitor our website for updates and that you not contact our office to inquire about the status of your case.
It is also important to note that Immigration Canada is currently experiencing a 12 week delay in processing cases (i.e., cases that were submitted in 2021). Under normal circumstances, Immigration Canada issues Approval Letters and G Numbers 1-2 weeks after receiving the application. This is now taking up to 12 weeks.
UPDATE: Public Registration & Operation Afghan Safety Registration
Date Posted: January 20, 2022
The online registration for the General Public and Operation Afghan Safety(OAS) programs, which took place simultaneously from January 3, 2022 to January 9, 2022, has closed. A total of 439 eligible applications were received, representing 1,414 refugees. The following table provides the registration statistics based on the refugee’s Country of Origin.
Given the high volume of demand for these programs, and the limited allocation provided to us by Immigration Canada, we will conduct a random draw for both programs. All cosponsors will have a equal chance to be 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. This is a mandatory session for cosponsors, and marks the first step in sponsoring a refugee through ORAT.
We are currently waiting on Immigration Canada to provide us with further information on the 𝐎𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐀𝐟𝐠𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐒𝐚𝐟𝐞𝐭𝐲 (OAS) program. Once we have received this information we will proceed with the draw.
We would like to thank all registrants for their continued patience, as we await further information from Immigration Canada.
We will provide a further update when we are able to proceed with the draw.
Afghan Human Rights Defenders Arrive in Canada
Date posted: January 20, 2022
The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced the arrival in Canada of over 250 Afghan refugees, including 170 human rights defenders, as government-assisted refugees. Canada has a long and proud tradition of standing up for human rights at home and abroad. Click here to read the full article.
Research Participants Needed
Date posted: January 19, 2022
General Public Registration & information on Operation Afghan Safety
Date Posted: December 24, 2021
ORAT is pleased to announce the details of the following two refugee resettlement programs. Cosponsors for both programs must reside in the Greater Toronto Area.
Online registration will take place simultaneously for both programs and will begin on Monday, January 3, 2022 at 12:01AM and will close on Sunday, January 9, 2022 at 11:59PM.
If you wish to sponsor a refugee for either program, please click on the following link: https://intro-to-resettlement-public-2022.eventbrite.ca.
Given the expected high level of demand for these programs, registrants will be limited to sponsor 1 (one) family. Families, as defined by the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), are comprised of mother, father and dependent children under the age of 22. Exceptions may be granted to those who wish to sponsor more than one family when there are compelling reasons to do so. Please note that we will not consider any changes to the name of the Cosponsor or the name of the Principal Applicant (i.e., head of the refugee family) once the registration form has been completed.
Also, it is important to note that registering for these programs is NOT a guarantee that you will be able to sponsor through ORAT. Given the limited allocation given to ORAT by Immigration Canada for each program, and the expected large number of registrants, ORAT will be holding a draw for each program. All registrants within each program have an equal chance of being selected and invited to attend the “Introduction to Resettlement” Information Session. Only those with winning draw numbers will be invited to attend the online information session. For those invited, attendance is mandatory, marking the first step in sponsoring a refugee family through this office.
While Refugee sponsorship is not without cost, there is NO fee for registering for this program. However, those cosponsors that are allowed to proceed with the sponsorship process, will be required to deposit 100% of the liability with ORAT prior to the case being submitted to IRCC. These monies are held in trust for the refugee and are disbursed on a quarterly basis upon their arrival to Canada. We ask that you not register if you are unable to deposit the required monies.
The estimated average processing time for Immigration Canada for applications submitted to them in 2022 is 3 years. The table below outlines the estimated cost of sponsorship for refugees that arrive to Canada in 2025. Please note that additional monies are required to sponsor senior citizens. A table of these additional costs has also been provided.
Sponsorship Cost Table
Additional Funds Required for Seniors
Afghanistan: How many refugees are there and where will they go?
Date posted: December 2, 2021
Thousands of people are scrambling to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban seized back control of the country, almost two decades after they were ousted by a US-led coalition. Experts expect that most new Afghan refugees will flee to neighboring Iran and Pakistan, where hundreds of thousands of Afghans already reside. Click here to read the full article.
The 2021 World Day of Migrants & Refugees
Date Posted: November 26, 2021
The celebration of this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR), on Sunday, September 26, is now a happy memory. The words of Pope Francis in the Angelus in St. Peter's Square, in ardent affection and support for migrants, refugees and those who assist them, continue to inspire us.
The video below was created to preserve and share the beautiful highlights of that Day. In addition to the Holy Father’s words, it shows scenes from celebrations of the WDMR in various parts of the world as well as in Rome.
Red Wednesday honours persecuted Christians
Date: November 23, 2021
St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica once again stood up for persecuted Christians — one of dozens of cathedrals around the world illuminated for Red Wednesday. On a night dedicated to modern martyrs, Cardinal Thomas Collins urged Christians to “thank God for the gift of martyrs” and to “imitate them.” Click here to read the full article.
Quarantine Requirements for Privately Sponsored Refugees Q&A
Date Posted: October 25, 2021
Question: When is a PSR newcomer exempt from the requirement to quarantine? Is there any documentation provided to the newcomer in this regard?
Answer: Immigrant Reception & Information Services (IRIS) at Toronto Pearson Airport provide assistance to all Government Assisted Refugees and Privately Sponsored Refugees. Travelers who have been exempt from the mandatory quarantine are given a handout titled “Mandatory Requirements for Fully Vaccinated Travelers without COVID-19 Symptoms Arriving in Canada by Land, Air, or Water.” However, Immigrant Reception & information Services (IRIS) has indicated that they have not seen a lot of resettled refugees (PSRs and GARs) receive this document.
Question: What is the meaning of the circular lime-green ‘PHAC’ sticker that has been placed on a newcomer’s Single Journey Travel Document?
Answer: Immigration Reception & Information Services (IRIS) advised that when the travelers, including resettled refugees, are told they are exempted from quarantine, the CBSA officer will put a lime green circle sticker (printed with PHAC) on their documents, so, they will not need to line up to receive the COVID-19 test at the airport and quarantine. There are security guards checking every passenger’s document before they are permitted to go outside to the public area. Please note that this is the current procedure at the Toronto Pearson Airport.
Special Program for Afghans Who Assisted Canada
Date Posted: August 30, 2021
In response to the unfolding situation in Afghanistan; Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) initiated a special program to help Afghanis. This program aims to resettle Afghan nationals from within Afghanistan whose employment involved a significant and/or enduring relationship with the Government of Canada, which could be, but is not limited to:
Recently, IRCC has updated the eligibility requirements for this special program. Right now, Afghan nationals do not need to currently be in Afghanistan to apply for this program. If they and/or their family members leave or have left Afghanistan (on or after July 22, 2021), they may still apply if invited to do so, and their application will still be processed under the Government-Assisted Refugees Program.
Applicants do not need to return to Afghanistan to finalize their application or to provide biometrics or have a medical exam.
For more information please click Here .
"Towards an ever wider WE": A Church that reaches out
Date Posted: July 6, 2021
Caring for those who are wounded: this is another step along the way to the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021. Pope Francis asks the Church “to go out into the streets in the existential peripheries to heal those who are wounded and to seek those who are lost”, fearlessly and without discrimination. Click here to watch the video.
Getting Involved in Refugee Sponsorship
Date Posted: June 30, 2021
Please click here to access a video produced by Immigration Canada, which presents the beauty of refugee resettlement, and some ideas on how to mobilize volunteers to assist in refugee resettlement.
"Towards an even wider WE": One Church, one home, one family
Date Posted: June 4, 2021
In his new video, the Holy Father invites every baptized person to feel part of a single Church, a single home, a single family. The video contains the personal testimony of migrants who feel part of this “we”. Their experience of being welcomed in a parish shows that the dream of Pope Francis can be realized. Please click here to watch the full video.
Report Finds Most of the World's Population Lives in Countries Where Religious Freedom is Violated
Date Posted: April 22, 2021
In its 15th Report on Religious Freedom in the World, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) warns of severe threats to this fundamental right worldwide. The report has been produced by international Catholic pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), notes that religious freedom is violated severely in one out of every three countries. According to this report-officially presented in Rome and in other major cities around the world today. This fundamental right was not respected in 62 (31.6%) of the world's 196 countries between 2018 and 2020. Marcela Szymanski discusses report findings and sheds light on what concrete things are being done to defend religious freedom around the world.
To watch the full video, please click the following link:
Refugee endowment keeps on giving!
Date Posted: October 29, 2020
Please click on the following link to learn more about how endowments can assist the church's work in assisting refugees.
ORAT's Sponsor Resource Toolbox
Date Posted: June 15, 2020
As part of our continued effort to support sponsors in their work to settle and integrate newcomers to Canada, we have put together a toolbox of information about various aspects of settlement, as well as links to some of the most commonly provided services for newcomers. This information has been compiled into a kit entitled the "Sponsor Resource Toolbox", and is intended to be a quick reference tool for Constituent Groups (CGs) and Cosponsors to locate services for their newcomers. It is our hope that along with the CG Handbook, the Sponsor Resource Toolbox will assist you in the work of settling newcomers within the Archdiocese of Toronto.
The Sponsor Resource Toolbox is a searchable pdf document, and is designed to be as accessible as possible. By simply clicking on the relevant subject matter in the Table of Contents, the user is automatically brought to the corresponding section in the toolbox.
To access this document, visit the "Resources" section on ORAT's website or click on the following link: https://www.archtoronto.org/refugee/Documents/O%20Sponsor%20Resource%20Toolbox%2011-Jun-20.pdf
We hope that you find this toolbox to be a helpful resource in your work to support your newcomer. If you have any feedback and/or suggestions to improve this document, please contact us at (416) 934-3400 x804 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
CG Handbook (NEWLY RELEASED)
Date Posted: May 29, 2020
Thank you to the many people involved in refugee resettlement, who through their tireless efforts have supported refugees sponsored through the Office for Refugees at the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT).
In an effort to help current and future sponsors, we have developed the Constituent Group (CG) Handbook. In a special way, this resource has been developed to assist CG's who are making use of donated funds and who are sponsoring refugees that ORAT has named through its overseas missions (i.e., Project Hope cases). At the same time, we believe that it is a helpful resource for sponsors who have named their own refugee.
The handbook provides CGs with a framework, principles, best practices and over-arching information on various aspects of refugee sponsorship. It provides CGs with an approach that helps the refugee achieve the best possible outcome and helps to ensure for the long-term sustainability of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. The best practices have been gathered from CGs throughout the Archdioceses and from our own experience, having seen what has worked and what has not worked.
To obtain the document, visit the "Resources" section on ORAT's website or click on the following link: https://www.archtoronto.org/refugee/Documents/O%20CG%20Handbook%2028-May-20.pdf.
The document, as a searchable pdf document, is designed to be as accessible as possible. Simply click on the relevant subject matter outlined in the table of contents and you will automatically be brought to that section in the handbook.
It is our hope that this document will be a help for you and assist you in the work of refugee resettlement. Please let us know if you have any feedback and/or suggestions on how to improve the document. You can contact us at (416) 934-3400 x804 or by email at email@example.com