Archdiocese to Launch Official Syrian Refugee Appeal this Sunday

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
20 Nov 2015

Refugee camp on the Syrian-Jordan border

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, CatholicCare Sydney and the Justice and Peace Office will officially launch the Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP Syrian Refugee Appeal this Sunday 22 November, at a special 10.30am Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Syrian Catholic Church in Concord.

The Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP Syrian Refugee Appeal is the direct response from Archbishop Fisher, and the entire Archdiocese, to the tragic circumstances facing millions of Syrian men, women and children in the wake of continued violence and persecution in their home country.

Following the September announcement by the Federal Government that Australia's refugee intake would be increased by 12,000 persons to allow those fleeing Syria to find a home in Australia, Archbishop Fisher was quick to confirm that the

Archdiocese, its agencies and the Catholic people of Sydney would be ready to work alongside the government to welcome the refugees.

"On a practical level I commit the welfare agencies, parishes, religious communities and families of the Archdiocese of Sydney to responding generously to assisting any such refugees whom the Commonwealth allows to come to Sydney," he said.

Families live in tents with few belongings

The Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP Syrian Refugee Appeal is a practical way for those in Sydney and beyond to be part of this generous response.

Syria is ranked as the 4th country in the world where Christians face the most persecution.

The federal government has said they will focus on persecuted minorities, including Christians, which he expected to be the majority.

However this may not be the situation in reality.. The UNHCR says 90 percent of the refugees leaving Syria and 99 percent of refugees leaving Jordan are Sunni Muslims.

Peter Vardos, head of the government's Syrian Refugee Resettlement Task Force recently said; "It is a non-discriminatory program across the board and I am confident that by the end of the process, when you look at the make-up of the 12,000 people, they will come from a range of ethnicities and religions."

The Archbishop's appeal provides three key ways in which people might assist refugees in resettling in Australia.  People can make a financial contribution to the appeal, offer low-cost accommodation, or contribute to local efforts aimed at welcoming refugees into the community.

The Mass will be celebrated by the Archdiocese's Chaplain to Sydney's Syrian Catholic Community, Rev Rahal Dergham.  Father Rahal said that the Christian community in Australia wants to see more persecuted people brought here and made safe.

"The situation in Syria is now nearly unbearable and that's why people are leaving," he said. "They are leaving in masses and probably no one will stay, even in the safe areas because they will no longer be safe. Anyone, any Christian who is still there, lives in constant fear and they are right to be in fear."

Minister Peter Dutton on his recent visit to a refugee camp in Jordan

At just 33 years old, Fr Rahal is a vocal advocate for the wellbeing of Syrian refugees, and alongside Sydney's Syrian Catholic community, has acted as an advisor to CatholicCare, which - as the official welfare agency of the Archdiocese of Sydney - has responsibility for operating the appeal.

CatholicCare Sydney CEO, Bernard Boerma, says as Australia prepares to welcome 12,000 refugees, Catholics and all those of goodwill have an opportunity to act and meet the needs of the truly vulnerable.

"We're echoing Pope Francis in encouraging everyone to respond generously to the appeal," says Mr Boerma. "In particular we're asking for offers of accommodation and financial donations, and for parishes to rally together and organise activities to show support to those who will soon begin rebuilding their lives in our Archdiocese."

For more information, or to make a donation to the Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP Syrian Refugee Appeal, visit or call 1800 690 302.

For suggestions on practical ways to welcome refugees into a parish community, visit the Justice and Peace Office website: