November 6, 2015

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Doing all we can to help with the refugee crisis

David SilerPerhaps no migration of citizens from a single country has ever been more broadly reported than the millions fleeing Syria, seeking peace and safety as a result of civil war and the rise of ISIS. The images that have been shared around the world of the mass suffering, especially of young children, cannot help but tug at our hearts and demand our cries for justice. More than 4 million Syrians have fled the country during the past five years!

Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis has been resettling refugees from various countries around the world to central Indiana for 40 years.

Refugee is a legal term to describe an individual who has been given this status by the government, while immigrants are people who have fled or migrated to another country but have not been given the status of refugee. It will be up to the U.S. government to decide which individuals will be given refugee status and invited to start a new life in our country—as will be true with other countries who decide to do the same. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) contracts with the State Department to provide resettlement services, and we in turn subcontract with the USCCB.

We have already begun the process of resettling our first Syrian family, and since we have a long and successful history of resettling refugees, we expect that we will likely be asked to resettle more of those who will seek to make a new life in the U.S.

If and when that time comes, the state department will provide funding to the USCCB, who will in turn grant us funding to help refugee families find housing, employment, language services, enculturation training and job training, among other things. Resettling in a foreign land is extremely complex and requires a very comprehensive and professional approach.

Last year alone, Catholic Charites in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis resettled 587 refugees from seven different countries. We cannot do this work without additional financing support from the community, and without the many volunteers who help by mentoring families, teaching English and donating household items, just to name a few things.

Members of the community are always free to join us as volunteers to help resettle refugees from all parts of the world who have fled their homelands for many of the same kinds of reasons that Syrians are fleeing today. Unfortunately, most of this work is done in central Indiana, meaning that the options for non-financial involvement of people from other parts of the archdiocese are limited.

We can be proud that the Catholic Church of the United States is on the ground in the countries that have become overwhelmed by the refugee crisis. Our Catholic Relief Services is there providing food, water, clothing and shelter.

What else can you do?

Pray for the migrants and refugees, for their plight, and for peace.

Visit our website to learn more about our current refugee services and how you can get involved. Go to for more information.

Donate to Catholic Relief Services at

To learn more about the Syrian refugee crisis and how you can help, log on to for CRS information, or for USCCB information.

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. E-mail him at

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