Saint Joseph Parish has a long history of helping sponsor refugees coming to live in the South Bend area. In recent years, parishioners have assisted newly arrived refugees from Bosnia, Rwanda, Liberia, Congo, and other places. This year Saint Joseph Parish is assisting with the resettlement of a family from Iraq.

The Christian Action Commission, in collaboration with the American Red Cross and Church World Service, coordinates our sponsorship of incoming refugee families. Sponsorship involves a commitment of a few parishioner leaders, a number of helpers (for moving furniture, accompanying families to appointments), and more volunteers to assist with donations of needed household items. Typically, resettled families need the most help in the first three months as they navigate the health care system, learn English, and enroll their children in schools. 

We offer assistance with:
•    Obtaining food, clothing and shelter    
•    Locating housing, purchasing household items and setting up a household
•    Enrolling children in school and monitoring their academic progress
•    Enrolling adults in ENL classes
•    Transportation to medical appointments
•    Learning about public transportation
•    Securing driver licenses and obtaining a car
•    Securing employment
•    Budget counseling
•    An ongoing mentoring relationship

Sponsors are not responsible for the family’s financial needs, and the involvement is not a permanent commitment. The work is challenging, but very rewarding, and offers our parishioners a chance to learn about other cultures and religious practices while putting elements of Catholic Social Teaching to work in our community and personal lives.

The American Red Cross has provided us with a list of items for donation. Please download the list and contact Kathleen Kusbach, Saint Joseph Refugee Resettlement Coordinator, to plan your donation.  Donation items list >

The Saint Joseph Parish Resettlement program began with the arrival of the Vietnamese “Boat People”. Saint Joseph was the first church in South Bend to reach out to these refugees. In 1998, a volunteer with the Refugee Services of South Bend office asked if we would sponsor refugee families once again.  Parishioners began by sponsoring a Bosnian family. We have since sponsored two other Bosnian families, a Liberian family, a Sudanese family, and two Rwandan families. We also offer less formal assistance to other refugees in the community.  

Refugee Services of South Bend was closed unexpectedly in the summer of 2006, leaving many newly-arrived families in crisis. Our parish has helped many of these families. The refugee services program is now connected with the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
Kathleen Kusbach
Refugee Resettlement Coordinator


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