Refugee Ministry

Lincoln Park Old Town (LPOT) Catholic Parishes

The parishes of St. Josaphat, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Vincent de Paul, Immaculate Conception St. Joseph and St. Michael in Old Town have joined together in supporting the newly arrived refugees in our community. This collaborative Lincoln Park Old Town parish grouping is known as LPOT (Lincoln Park Old Town) Catholic Parishes. 

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. If you are interested in becoming a New Neighbor, please follow the steps below: 
  1. Sign up to be placed in a New Neighbor program. This will put you in contact with our Program Team who will get you started on a short application and background check, facilitate your match, and check in with you throughout your volunteering. 
  2. Register for our virtual Engaging with Refugees: Cross-Cultural Training. This training is required for all of our New Neighbor volunteers and is a great way to connect with others passionate about refugee ministry! 
  3. Feel free to reach out to Exodus' Mobilization Manager, Carissa Zaffiro, at [email protected] or (513) 264-0440 with any questions as you discern next steps.
Exodus World Service continues to look for volunteers to act as New Neighbors for refugee families and refugee youth. Information about these programs can be found on their website


Help Support a Local Syrian Refugee Family

Jean Bystedt, a parishioner at St. Josaphat, meets weekly with a refugee family to support their adjustment to life in Chicago. Please take a minute to read about her experience and consider her request.
October 18, 2022
No doubt you already know that many parts of the world are experiencing a refugee crisis. Men, women and children flee their home countries for any number of reasons: war, famine, persecution, political unrest and corruption among them, hoping to find safety and the opportunity to live a better, more rewarding life in a new “promised land” - whichever will take them in and give them a chance. I’d like to introduce you to one such family from Syria who arrived in Chicago just over a year ago.
I met them this summer through Exodus, the organization with whom St. Josaphat and other Lincoln Park parishes partner in order to connect with refugees, welcome and befriend them. Their family consists of Mom, Dad, and four children. They fled Syria eleven years ago and lived ten years in Jordon before coming to the U.S.  It was a hard life for them there, as refugees are not allowed to work and living conditions are difficult. While they were in line to leave Jordon five years earlier, they became pregnant and because of that their exit papers were rendered null and void.
Their first year in Chicago was a formidable adjustment, but their relief in being here, optimism, and eagerness to assimilate sustained them. Dad is now proud to be working in food service at Loyola University. While he speaks no English, he exudes friendliness and has a welcoming spirit. In fact, he’ll join in any conversation, regardless of its language, speaking only his native Arabic, gesturing, and using Google Translate!
The children are in CPS schools, learning their lessons in English, delighting in field trips, and experimenting with American foods - bless the creator of taffy apples!  Mom is a gentle soul who loves her family above all else and is driven to learn English. She’s already taken two semesters of ESL and is now eager to practice. That’s where I come in. Each week we meet in her home and talk about what’s happened since we were last together, look at and comment on eclectic photos, read and discuss simple stories, and dissect Arabic recipes! Neither of us can believe how quickly the hours pass between two women of disparate cultures - and generations!
Theirs is a very simple, family-centric existence. They have few possessions and ask for very little. They are loving and happy. And once again… pregnant. It’s for this reason that I request your help. As a parish initiative and with the support of Exodus, we’d like to welcome their new baby, due in December, with the essentials needed to care for him - yes, it’s a boy! If you visit the wishlist (and I hope you will), you’ll see no UPPAbaby strollers or BabyBjorns, but rather the basics like onesies, pj’s and diapers. The items on the list must be new (as designated by their refugee settlement organization), but if you have other baby related items like strollers or carriers, let me know via the email below and I’ll check with the family re: their additional needs.
Right now they have nothing and anything on the list you can donate will make a big difference. This is an opportunity, dear friends, to move beyond refugee awareness and concern and onto action. Sincere thanks for your consideration and generosity.
Jean Bystedt
[email protected]
All wishlist items will be delivered to St Vincent de Paul Parish for storage until delivery. You can donate to the Welcome Baby Pack through the Amazon Wishlist link below.


World Refugee Day: June 20

June 20th is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. World Refugee Day celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. It is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for those who have fled their countries with so little, and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives. You can read more on the World Refugee Day website.
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
For more information about our Refugee Ministry, contact Judy Lovero at [email protected]
Learn more about the refugee organizations that we support here:
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.