Archdiocese of Newark offers an array of services to assist migrants, refugees amidst crisis
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With the Catholic Church celebrating its World Day for Migrants and Refugees on Sunday, September 24, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops honoring its National Migration Week in the days leading up to it (September 18-24), the Archdiocese of Newark wishes to highlight its own work assisting the many migrants and refugees living in New Jersey amidst the ongoing immigration crisis.
According to the most recent statistics published by the American Immigration Council in 2019, New Jersey is home to more than 2 million immigrants, giving it the fifth largest immigrant population in the nation. But that number is expected to rise considering the influx of migrants and refugees getting bussed north from Southern border cities, including more than 100,000 brought to New York City in the past year. To help these people, multiple archdiocesan ministries and parishes are providing food, shelter, legal aid, and other forms of assistance.
Below is a sample of the ways in which the Archdiocese supports those in need. For additional information and resources, visit the website of the archdiocesan Office for Social Concerns at www.rcan.org/social-concerns/. “When we seek to serve our immigrant brothers and sisters in different ways, it is a sign that the Church is universal,” said Father Timothy Graff, director of the Office for Social Concerns. “And when we serve those in need, whoever they are and wherever they are from, we are serving the Lord who created us and calls us to love one another.”
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark’s Bishop Francis Center for Legal Immigration Services has been helping migrants and refugees since 1976, serving approximately 6,300 individuals annually. Its work includes providing free and low-cost legal representation during all phases of the immigration process, including removal proceedings. Staff also provides significant support to unaccompanied minors, from offering free legal assistance to reuniting vulnerable youth with their families. And for those who need further support, the program helps with obtaining cash assistance, medical referrals, English-language training, and employment readiness resources.
To learn more about these and other services offered by Catholic Charities’ Bishop Francis Center for Legal Immigration Services, call 973-733-3516 or visit www.ccannj.org/immigration-and-refugee/.
St. Lucy’s Church in Newark
As a religious institution, St. Lucy’s Church cannot help people in court — but that does not stop it from supporting migrants and refugees in need. The parish regularly partners with organizations like First Friends of New Jersey & New York to find lawyers who can represent detained immigrants, which has led to several people being saved from deportation over relatively minor infractions. It has also played a significant role in bringing about legislative change through the years. Most significantly, parish staff spent 10 years working with Faith in New Jersey to rally local leaders and lobby the state government until undocumented immigrants were legally allowed to obtain driver’s licenses.
To inquire about St. Lucy’s immigration services, contact Omar Navarro at 973-803-4207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mercy Houses of Newark and Jersey City
The Mercy Houses of Newark and Jersey City — which are operated by the archdiocesan Respect Life Office — provide food, clothing, and other essentials to anyone in need. But the number of immigrants they serve is growing substantially; in fact, roughly half of the 200 clients they help weekly are migrants and refugees from all over the world. To meet their specialized needs, The Mercy Houses have expanded their services to include getting government ID cards and rental assistance up to $1,000. They even helped 17 children from Latino countries enroll in charter schools.
Mother Theresa House
Created through a partnership between Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark and St. Theresa of Calcutta Parish in Montclair, the Mother Theresa House is a temporary refuge for asylum-seeking families in Montclair. Upon moving into the house, immigrants connect with local volunteers who help them learn English, provide transportation, and acquaint them with community resources. Once the families are ready to be self-sufficient, the volunteers help them transition to independent living. For more information about the Mother Theresa House, which can take in a maximum of 12 people at one time, call 973-733-3516 or visit www.ccannj.org/immigration-and-refugee/.