Of the estimated 20 million refugees that exist worldwide today, up to 90,000 of them settle in the United States where the Catholic Church responds to most of those in need. Recently, a family of four refugees fleeing the devastation of war in their homeland arrived here in the Bay Area with only the possessions they could carry.
Normally the staff of Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigrant Services (RIS) has 90 days to make arrangements for a refugee family, but this time they had one week. RIS staff contacted St. Hilary Catholic Parish in Tiburon, California and, within days, two parishioners, Michelle Doty and Joyce Raffo, responded and began gathering goods to help the family get settled into temporary housing. Together with Father Bill Brown, pastor at St. Hilary, Michelle and Joyce coordinated donations from other parish families.
In addition to the outpouring of love and generosity from the Doty and Raffo families and St. Hilary parish, Father Tony LaTorre, pastor at St. Philip the Apostle Church in San Francisco, donated three beds to Catholic Charities for the family. The acceptance and support for a refugee family is truly a concrete expression of God’s love for humanity. The parishioners of St. Hilary are clearly living their faith in a giving and joyful way.