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No more empty prayers for refugees

No more empty prayers for refugees

The New Haven Register reports the story of an Episcopal priest who decided not to pray one more time for refugees – until she had begun to put her own prayers into action.

The Rev. Patricia Leonard-Pasley of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church was always praying for those affected by the Syrian refugee crisis, and then one day, she said, “something snapped.”

Leonard-Pasley decided then she wasn’t going to say one more prayer or talk about it “until I do something,” to help.

So Leonard-Pasley spread the word, scheduled a spaghetti and meatball dinner at her house, and told people to bring anyone they wanted.

Forty people showed up, and formed the kernel of a community group that eventually sponsored a Syrian refugee family for settlement in Connecticut.

Leonard-Pasley was speaking at a meeting where Chris George,  executive director of Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services, described the problem, when so many refugees are seeking respite from terrible situations in their home country, and waiting a long time in refugee camps while background checks, interviews, and health screenings are completed. It can take years for a refugee to reach America.

Every state has refugees assigned arbitrarily and those helping the resettlement effort might get an email with short notice at 9 p.m., George said.

In their new lives, refugees will be free from roadside bombs, kidnapping and torture, but “it’s not going to be easy” being a refugee, George said.

The family will need a place to live, transportation, furniture, clothing, jobs, knowledge of the language. They’ll need help getting kids registered for school, navigating supermarkets and other stores. They are starting over with the support of a resettlement agency such as IRIS or also with the help of a community group such as Amity House.

George said refugees are eligible for safety nets afforded others in America who are impoverished, including food stamps, cash assistance and subsidized housing.

George said refugees who come to Connecticut are lucky, but those who have a community group such as Amity House sponsor them are “super lucky.”

One might say, it is the answer to a prayer.

Read the story at the New Haven Register.

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