Arlington parish responds to pope's ‘Share the Journey’ appeal

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The newly-formed Refugee Support Ministry at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Arlington began as a conversation over the summer about how to respond to refugee resettlement issues, said parishioner Anne Murphy.

 

“The timing was perfect given Pope Francis’ new initiative focusing on refugees and immigrants,” she said.

Now an ongoing effort, the ministry’s first project the weekend of Oct. 14 was a donation drive on behalf of Catholic Charities’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS).  Parishioners donated dozens of household items such as bed linens, dishware, flatware and hundreds of dollars in gift cards and checks to benefit newcomers.

“These donations help us stretch the limited federal funds we have to work with,” said Gregory McKinney, associate director of community outreach at MRS. “Rather than using that money to buy the goods and groceries required for these new families, we use the donated items. This effort at OLQP is a huge help and the pope’s Share the Journey message is motivating more and more parishioners across the diocese to donate and to step up as volunteers.”

Since the 1970Ss, MRS has been the agency within the Diocese of Arlington charged with welcoming newcomers. Before arrival here, refugees are vetted and qualified by the U.S. government for officially protected status and resettlement.

Recent additions to those with protected status categories are Afghans and Iraqis who worked alongside U.S. troops and embassy staff in those war zones. No longer safe on the streets back home, they now constitute the majority of the clients resettled by MRS. In fiscal year 2017, MRS resettled more than 250 families and is approved to do the same for FY18.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017