Nova Scotia

Sydney parish forges bond over Syrian refugee sponsorship

A new Catholic parish in Sydney is bonding over sponsoring a Syrian refugee family.

Sponsorship has instilled new energy into Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish, members say

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish was created 18 months ago from the congregations of Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Anthony Daniel and St. Joseph's. (Marguerite Bourgeoys parish)

A new Catholic parish in Sydney is bonding over the work needed to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish was created 18 months ago from the congregations of Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Anthony Daniel and St. Joseph's. The parish's home is at the former St. Joseph's, which had the newest building. The other churches were closed.

The merger process was "painful," parish priest Rev. Bill Burke said.

'New energy as a faith community'

But they've found a "new energy and a new vibrancy" among those laying the groundwork for a refugee sponsorship, he said.

The people volunteering for the committees come from the different closed parishes and different communities.

"It seems to have given us new energy as a faith community... We're moving forward. We're moving into a new way of acting together," said Burke.

'This is a gospel call'

The parish council was unanimous in its decision to move toward sponsorships after speaking to members of Lifeline Syria Cape Breton, he said.

"They just say, 'These are our brothers and sisters. These are people who are in a life-and-death situation,'" Burke said.

He said that even though Cape Breton has economic challenges, parishioners feel they must help out.

"This is a gospel call ... This is a dire situation and I believe the gospel impels us to do this," said Burke.

The parish started the process of becoming a sponsor after two council meetings.

Parish council will also ask people if they can help financially, donate furniture or clothing, or be members of a committee, said Burke.

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