December 1, 2014

EDMONTON – Paulette Johnson of Catholic Social Services wonders why Canada is not doing more to help the besieged people of Syria.

"We should do so much more to relieve them. What do you do when people are so desperate? How can Germany take in 10,000 when we take in only 200?"

Her plea came at the same time Archbishop Richard Smith asked parishioners to consider helping these war-torn people.

To date, six parishes have made commitments to sponsor Syrian or Iraqi families – nine cases with a total of 33 refugees to be sponsored.

Four more parishes will sponsor refugees from a government list which will be available in January.

Five parishes outside of the city have expressed interest and will likely be involved in the New Year when the archdiocese receives the list of cases from the government.


Meanwhile, Syrians safe in Canada are having their hearts torn out when they receive desperate phone calls from friends and relatives caught in the war zone pleading for help.

Johnson listened to one story from a refugee family – a story that is similar to others.

"Mortar shells landed in front of our house, breaking glass and destroying part of the front walk. Our children were so scared by the sound of the bombs and wanted to leave. We went to my parents' house which is not really very far away but we had no other place to go.

"The son of one of our friends died from fragments from a mortar shell that hit his head."


"Our children were afraid to leave the house or even sit on the balcony. Whenever they heard an explosion they ran and hid in the bathroom; sometimes they were so scared they got sick.

"They stopped going to school and became depressed just staying home all the time. We didn't leave the house any more except when absolutely necessary.

"But soon, with no work and no security where we live, we had to leave the country."

Johnson often hears much the same stories, some in which family members have been killed.

Parishes wishing to sponsor a refugee can call Johnson at 780-391-3327.