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Second Catholic diocese to support a refugee family from Syria

Syrian refugee families arrive on the Isle of Bute in Scotland (Photo: Getty)

The Archdiocese of Cardiff is to become the second Catholic diocese in Britain to help support a refugee family from Syria.

The diocese has given up a property for the family. The initiative has been organised by Sister Ruth O’Neill, a member of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

The first Catholic group to welcome a family from Syria was the Diocese of Salford. The family arrived in November and have been assisted by parishioners at St Monica’s, Flixton.

The refugees are being supported as part of the Government’s Community Sponsorship Scheme and are among the 20,000 the Government has promised to accept from Syria. Cardinal Vincent Nichols has encouraged parishes to become involved in the scheme.

The Archdiocese of Cardiff said: “Unlike most who have already arrived having fled their countries and making long and dangerous journeys, the journey of this family will be carefully planned for them.

“Before leaving Syria, they will have been identified as needing humanitarian protection. Their past experiences will undoubtedly have been traumatic, but they will be assured of a warm welcome and secure environment in which to rebuild their lives.

“They will travel safely and be met on arrival. They will have the right to work in the UK and, as refugees, will have the same entitlements as UK citizens.”

The property will be managed on behalf of the diocese by a housing association, Cartrefi Hafod.

The archdiocese encouraged Catholics to think about how they could help refugees.

“The Catholic Church in England and Wales is encouraging people to look at ways in which they can help resolve this humanitarian crisis. Prayer, practical, financial, or organisational help, as well as emotional and spiritual support are all part of the endeavour of resettlement. Teaching English, offering professional skills and advice or merely saying ‘hello’ each have their part to play also.”

Sean Ryan, who is working full-time for the Diocese of Salford to help parishes host refugees, told the Catholic Herald that the experience can be transformative.

“The most important message I would want to convey to parishes is: as well as transforming the lives of these people and generations to come in their families, you are also going to be transforming your own lives and the life of your parish. You will be blessed by this beyond measure and united by it. People will be more robust and proud of their faith and their community, and new people will come out of the woodwork. It is a wonderful blessing,” he said.