Miscellaneous » Outreach Ministries (Hands of Mercy) » Refugee/Migrant Ministry

Refugee/Migrant Ministry

The St Josaphat Refugee/Migrant Ministry welcomes anyone who is interested. Please consider volunteering. You will find that the experience enriches your life as much as the lives of those that you serve. To learn more about the Refugee\Migrant Ministry email [email protected] or contact Jean Bystedt or Judy Lovero.

Current News

About Our Refugee Ministry

Early in 2022, Lincoln Park Old Town (LPOT) parishes formed a refugee ministry and began working with Exodus World Service to assist in the resettlement of refugees in Chicago. The LPOT parishes include St. Josaphat, St. Teresa Avila, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Michael and Immaculate Conception/St. Joseph. Over the past year, the parishioners of the member parishes have responded generously.  
During our first year, LPOT helped to settle two refugee families in their first apartments, a family of eight from Afghanistan in April and a family of four from Myanmar in November. LPOT parishioners donated household goods to complete a “Welcome to America Pack'' for each family, delivered and then physically set up their apartments. In addition, each apartment was well-stocked with food staples along with ethnic foods specific to their cultures. 
LPOT was a sponsor of and participated in the annual Exodus Run/Walk for Refugee Kids in September 2022 raising funds for trained mentors to provide academic support and encouragement to refugee children this school year. 
In November, St. Josaphat collected and delivered a Welcome Baby Care Pack to a Syrian refugee family with limited resources to prepare for their newborn. 
Eight refugee families were provided support through the Exodus New Neighbor and New Neighbor for Youth programs. Committed teams of two, met with the families weekly for a minimum of three months to assist them as they adjusted to their new lives in America and/or were mentor/tutors to their children.

About Our Migrant Ministry

In response to the overwhelming number of migrants arriving in Chicago without access to basic necessities, our ministry has expanded. While the City of Chicago struggles to put systems in place to meet the needs of the new arrivals, as Christians we are summoned to respond to Christ’s call... For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25:35). Throughout the summer, our parish collected items that were urgently needed by migrants and delivered them to collection sites for distribution. Parish members also provided meals as part of a Meal Train serving migrants in the 18th District Police Station.
St. Josaphat responded to the request from Cardinal Cupich to financially support an asylum seeking family identified by Catholic Charities for six months and to assist them in settling into the community. St. Josaphat parishioners generously donated $11,000 through the Lenten almsgiving collection.  The St. Josaphat team has been working with Catholic Charities and a team from St Simon the African since May. In spite of the lack of low income housing, the family found an apartment in the Brighton Park neighborhood in September and their 10-year-old son now attends their neighborhood school. With the help of an attorney from the parish offering pro bono services, they are looking forward to securing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allowing them to work while they pursue legal asylum in the United States.
Due to their outreach work with local migrant communities, a small group of St Josaphat parishioners and mom’s of SJS students, identified additional ways that our parish community can help. They are spearheading a winter clothing drive at the school and in the parish. Their goal is to collect 250 new or gently used coats as well as boots and sneakers. The donated items will be distributed to migrants sheltering at the 18th Police District and at a migrant shelter in Hyde Park. Several Spanish speaking people from the parish have responded to the request for help with translation. 
In addition, our commitment to assisting Exodus in their work with refugees has continued. St. Josaphat School children collected 13 Household Packs and cash donations for refugee families as part of their Lenten Almsgiving. The Household Packs included commonly used household items such as diapers, dental products, paper products and cleaning products. Products that we take for granted but are a costly drain on a family struggling to buy food and to pay rent. An example of the deliveries we have made include to a  Syrian family of 8, a young man newly arrived from Sudan, a couple from Ukraine, a Rohingya family of 4 four that we helped to move into an apartment in November 2022, and an elderly Syrian couple with a special needs adult son who was resettled near their daughter’s family after being separated for 15 years. These represent just a few of the people who were helped! The St Josaphat Junior HIgh students had a competition to collect quarters and raised almost $1100 to purchase a Welcome Pack for a newly arrived refugee family. The Welcome Pack includes all things needed to set up an apartment other than furniture. The family also finds basic pantry staples and groceries from an ethnic grocery list when they arrive in their new home. The Welcome Pack was delivered with the help of SJS students and their parents. St. Josaphat parishioners continue to support refugee families through the Exodus New Neighbor program. Our parish is currently gathering another Welcome Pack to be delivered to a refugee family in early December. 
With a record number of refugees arriving in Chicago, we are working together with Exodus World Service and the other LPOT churches to offer them safety, hope and support. Exodus World Services is in need of individuals and families to befriend the refugees and support them as they adjust to their new community. There are a number of ways that you can help.

2023 Winter Coat Drive - Thank You!

The winter coat drive sponsored by St Josaphat School was a great success. Over 400 items were collected, enough to provide winter gear for 175 people! SJS students earned an out-of-uniform day on Wednesday, Dec 6th for exceeding  the challenge to collect 250 winter items. Thank you to the SJS women who initiated, organized and delivered the clothing and to everyone who participated for your generosity.
Coat Drive 2023

2023 Welcome the Stranger: Meal Train

Immaculate Conception/St.Joseph Parish shared information on a meal train organized to feed migrants temporarily housed at the 18th District Chicago Police Station, 1160 North Larrabee Ave. As you are probably aware, they are sleeping on the floor of police stations around the city. These newly arrived migrants are spending many weeks in the police stations until room becomes available at a local shelter. During that time, the migrants must rely on donations from the community and have no access to cooking facilities. As migrants they receive no government assistance, but rather depend on the generosity of others and private institutions, such as our parishioners and the parishes of our Lincoln Park/Old Town Parish Grouping (LPOT).
Please pray for the migrants in our community and consider whether you can help. Motivated by Christ’s call to demonstrate mercy—attending to the needs of others with compassion and love—you can assist by providing lunch or dinner. Click the button below for more information and to sign up.

Exodus World Service

Exodus World Service mobilizes the Christian community to welcome and befriend refugees. A volunteer can make a profound difference in the life of a refugee. The Exodus New Neighbor Program helps to ease the loneliness and isolation that many refugees experience when moving to a new country. With a record number of refugees arriving in Chicago, we are working together with Exodus World Service and the other LPOT churches to offer them safety, hope and support. Exodus World Services is in need of individuals and families to befriend the refugees and support them as they adjust to their new community. There are a number of ways that you can help by volunteering. Detailed information on the New Neighbor, New Neighbor for Youth, New Neighbor Conversations, and New Neighbor Citizenship Programs can be found on the Exodus website https://exodusworldservice.org/serve-chicago-area/#neighbor.

World Refugee Day is June 20th 

“Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us—except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.” 
— Khaled Hosseini,  Author of The Kite Runner and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
According to the United Nations, World Refugee Day is an international day designated to honor 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. At the end of 2022, more than 100 million people were forcibly displaced globally — a record number propelled by the war in Ukraine and other conflicts around the world. For millions of refugees who are forcibly displaced each year due to conflict, violence and persecution, fleeing is the first step in a long and difficult journey to finding safety. Finding safety is their first objective. https://www.unhcr.org/us/world-refugee-day
A Prayer from Exodus World Service
God of grace,
Watch over all refugees - embrace them in the pain of their partings.
Into their fear and loss, send love.
Open our eyes that we might see you in them.
Open our hearts that they may see You in us.
Open our arms that we might welcome refugees to new homes.
As you stretched out your arms and invited everyone home.
~Exodus World Service
Matthew 25:35-40:
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you came to visit me. Then the just will ask him: Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we visit you when you were ill or in prison? And the king will answer them: I assure you, as often as you did it for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me.