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.
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
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.
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
Sudan Conflict: Canada's Immigration Measures to Support Refugees and Families
Date Posted: May 17, 2023
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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!!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.