The Archbishop of Montreal invited representative refugee families sponsored by the Archdiocese, together with their sponsors, to share experiences and to get to know one another at a gathering on Saturday, April 7, 2018.
Responding to a personal invitation from the Archbishop, more than 150 people came to meet him and to get to know one another. The Office for Cultural and Ritual Communities - Msgr. Pierre Blanchard, Arthur Durieux (Le Pont) and Alessandra Santopadre - assisted by many volunteers, warmly welcomed the families at Saint-Jude Sanctuary. The refugees, who fled Burundi, Iraq, Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan, brought dishes from their countries of origin, contributing to a potluck that was very apropos!
Following a brief welcoming message, three people spoke in turn, and each delivered a testimonial and expressed their heartfelt gratitude.
"Believe me, it is a great honour and opportunity for us to come here to Montreal after having been forced to leave our homes, countries and roots behind because of this odious and senseless war," said Atnan, father of a Syrian family sponsored by the Archdiocese.
Following a communal meal, Archbishop Lépine addressed his guests, reminding them how much we are graced by their example of courage. "We could think that you are the ones receiving and that we are here to welcome you... but we are also receiving something. Welcoming you truly makes us grow," explained the Archbishop.
"In Montreal, we have a longstanding tradition of being a land that welcomes newcomers, where we are called "to live together" harmoniously. This vocation is being fulfilled today in our city, where we meet people from every continent," he said.
According to the Archbishop: "Easter teaches us that we must all have a hopeful outlook on life. How do we view others? Our loved ones, our neighbours, the members of our community? How do we perceive those who are not like us, whose identity is different from ours? Easter is an occasion for renewing our perception of others and, especially, for ensuring that this perception is inspired by hope."
Incidentally, was it not our ancestors' plan, "to live together" harmoniously?
Watch a video of Most Rev. Lépine's address
Watch a video of Msgr. Pierre Blanchard's address and the testimonials of refugees
Some photos of the event