By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Echoing a call the U.S. bishops issued in a pastoral reflection last month, Catholic Charities of Louisville is asking people to “Stand with Refugees.”
The agency that has resettled thousands of refugees in the Louisville area is launching a campaign to raise awareness about its work and the plight of refugees.
Katie Litanga, coordinator of grants for Catholic Charities’ Migration and Refugee Services, said in an interview March 30 that the effort is Catholic Charities’ response to the uncertainty caused by the recent executive action on immigration issued by President Donald Trump.
The executive action — a revised version of one issued in January — places a travel ban on individuals hoping to enter the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries and reduces the number of refugees that will be allowed to settle in the U.S. this year.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz said in an email March 31 that he is joining with Catholic Charities in “standing with refugees.”
“As Catholics, we have been called to welcome the stranger, a command that is woven throughout Sacred Scripture and that is embodied in Jesus Christ, who told us that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Him,” he said in the statement. “Our Catholic Charities of Louisville has provided distinguished service in answering this call by welcoming refugees with dignity and compassion, helping them to be integrated into the community and fostering their ability to be productive citizens who contribute to the common good of our community.”
The campaign, which will run throughout the year, will focus on fundraising for Catholic Charities’ work with refugees and helping people in the community better understand the situation refugees are in and who they are.
So far, three events have been planned:
– The campaign will kickoff with the “Stand with Refugees Benefit Night,” set for April 20 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Tim Faulkner Gallery, 1512 Portland Avenue.
The night will include live music, performances by refugees and opportunities to learn about refugees and their cultures. Food will be provided by Common Table, a culinary training program operated by Catholic Charities, and other eateries around town, including Vietnam Kitchen and Farm to Fork Catering.
Artwork created by refugees will be available for purchase and a photography exhibit will feature portraits of resettled refugees.
Tickets for this event are $25 if purchased in advance at www.cclou.org/stand and $30 at the door. All proceeds will benefit Catholic Charities’ Migration and Refugee Services.
– “Table of Plenty,” an event where West End residents and residents of the wider community are invited to “break bread” and share a meal with refugees, will be held April 26. The event is free and will take place in the gym of Catholic Charities’ St. Anthony campus, 2222 W. Market St., from noon to 5 p.m.
– “Charitable Barrels Fundraiser,” an event that will feature food and live music, is planned for May 11 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Haymarket Whiskey Bar, 331 E. Market St. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at www.cclou.org/stand.
Funds raised by the events will help Catholic Charities continue its work with the refugees who are still able to come to Louisville and “secondary refugees,” those who were resettled elsewhere in the U.S., but come to Louisville soon after, said Colin Triplett, director of the agency’s migration and refugee program. Secondary refugees may come to Louisville to reunite with family members or for various other reasons, he said.
Shelley Dewig, capacity and outreach coordinator for Catholic Charities’ Migration and Refugee Services, said in an interview March 30 that the fundraising efforts will help Catholic Charities continue services, such as case management, English as a Second Language classes, school and job placement and transportation for refugees and pay the salaries of staff members.
She is also hopeful that the campaign will help to spread “correct and accurate knowledge” about refugees. She wants people to know that “refugees are the most highly and securely vetted population” to enter the U.S.
“They are not here to harm anyone,” said Dewig. “They’re escaping people trying to harm them.”