By Richard Meek, The Catholic Commentator, published 10/30/2015
Heartbreaking pictures of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war ravaged Syria continues to touch the public’s conscience daily. Perhaps no image is more horrific than that of a 3-year-old boy who drowned and his body washed up on shore near a Turkish resort.
As the refugee crisis continues to escalate, Corina Salazar looks on with a heightened sense of awareness. As director of Refugee and Immigration Services for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, she fully understands the faces she sees in media reports from across the globe may be the same people she will greet as they step off a plane in Baton Rouge to settle into a new life.
In fact, Salazar said she is surprised her agency has yet to be contacted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding potential acceptance of refugees.
To help sponsored refugee children seeking protection in the United States, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (CCDBR) has established the Louisiana Esperanza Project and received initial pledges of $310,000 over the next four years.
“The children at our border are some of the most vulnerable children on our continent,” said Winifred Reilly, who with her husband Kevin Reilly, Jr. helped kickoff the project with a challenge grant. “Their parents have the same hopes and dreams as we all have for our own.”
The project follows a statement by the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops issued earlier this month in which the Bishops urged protection of these vulnerable children and respect for their families.
Baton Rouge, La—On July 28, 2015, Bishop Robert W. Muench officially launched the expansion of a transitional housing program that helps homeless men successfully re-enter their communities after being released from prison. Bishop Robert Muench blessed 8 new apartments at Catholic Charities Joseph Homes, doubling the capacity of the program to now house 15 men. Bishop Muench was joined by Mayor Kip Holden, Councilperson Tara Wicker, and others who contributed to the expansion in a blessing/ribbon cutting ceremony.
The new apartments were funded by the City of Baton Rouge Office of Community Development and The Huey & Angelina Wilson Foundation. Some of the furniture was donated by the LSU Phi Mu Sorority.