On Saturday, February 11, 2017, family members, Catholic Charities and volunteers from St. Aloysius Catholic Church were on hand to greet an St. Aloysius parishioner Ann Leibowitz offers refugee mother cookiesIraqi family of 5 as they arrived at the Baton Rouge airport to join other family members CCDBR resettled last year.

“In today’s world, service to the poor often means helping people from around the globe, said David Aguillard, a parishioner at Aloysius and Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. “We live our Christian faith and Catholic tradition when we welcome them as members of our single human family, house them, and help them become our new neighbors.”

“This is nothing new for Aloysius,” continued Aguillard.  “We’ve done the same for other families in past years, helping Catholic Charities house and welcome refugees when they first arrive no matter where they’re from.”

“The Catholic Church has a long-standing tradition of helping refugees and immigrants as a matter of human rights,” said Aguillard.  “The fact is in today’s world, our neighbors include people from around the globe.”

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The specific details about the family are confidential, but the family, like all refugees, fled their home and country because they had no other choice. “Their lives and the lives of their children were in danger. They acted to seek safety for their family, just as any good parent would do,” said Aguillard.

The family fled to Turkey after receiving death threats and applied to the United Nations for “refugee status”, triggering the 2-year long vetting process. They passed the rigorous scrutiny of the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies before being cleared to enter the United States.  “We too are concerned about our country’s safety, and it’s important to note that no terrorist acts have been committed in the U.S. by refugees.  Our nation’s process is more selective and thorough than any other’s.  In the U.S., you are more likely to be struck by lightning, bit by a dog and die in a car accident than hurt by a refugee. We don’t have to abandon our ideals to be safe. That path leads to insecurity, not increased security.”

“Refugees have the same hopes and dreams Americans have-- to live in safety, worship without fear and support their families,” said Aguillard. “We who were lucky to be born in the US often take those freedoms for granted.  It is a privilege to be able to share the American dream and serve others through our Church at the same time.”

David Aguillard greets refugee at the airportSince 1974, Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement program has helped refugees settle into our area. No matter what the country of origin, refugees face incredible cultural challenges throughout the resettlement process.

“The work doesn’t stop with the arrival at the airport,” said Aguillard. “We’ll be helping the family learn English, find a job, and assimilating into our community for months and need volunteers and donors to help with the process.” The agency has posted volunteer opportunities and donation needs on its website www.CatholicCharitiesBR.org or call 225.336.8700.

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