Letter to all the faithful of the Diocese of Ottawa

"I was a stranger, and you welcomed me..." (Mt 25:35)

Fifty years ago, the Catholic Immigration Centre (CIC) was entrusted by the Ottawa Catholic Church in Ottawa to build a welcoming community in our city and to care for immigrants and refugees. CIC has remained faithful to that mission.

This year, the Catholic Immigration Centre is celebrating 50 years of providing compassion, help and hope to newcomers. Whatever their crises, sorrows or difficulties, CIC accompanies them to put down roots, to find their place in the community, to assume responsibility, and to live fully their gifts.

All of us share this calling as we seek to live as a community of followers of Christ in a world that needs our witness. Here and now, we ought to commit ourselves to this witness in our daily lives. In seeking to be instruments of reconciliation, we discover that the fruit of Christ's spirit is peace, that the fruit of peace is security and that the fruit of security is openness, generosity and solidarity.

At this time, I sincerely thank everyone who has participated in the mission of the Catholic Immigration Centre - each one of you has become a catalyst towards shaping the future of our community. Support for CIC comes from all walks of life and from many different faith communities. Some of it is organized and some of it is spontaneous, all of which works enthusiastically and unconditionally in giving immigrants and refugees tools to an improved life. Examples of such support exist in committee work, cultural interpretation, translation, pastoral work, sponsorship, orientation, workshops, employment assistance, housing search, eviction prevention, accompaniment, counselling, donations and, presentations to groups and institutions. These contributions foster harmony in the community while developing the uniqueness of each newcomer to Canada.

I urge each of you to continue steadfastly to support the Catholic Immigration Centre. By supporting CIC and its mission, we seek both to minister to the refugees and immigrants who arrive in Canada and to build a welcoming community in Ottawa. Whether you choose to give your time, energy and talents as a volunteer or prefer to make a financial commitment to the work of CIC, know that by opening your hearts to immigrants and refugees you are helping to create an environment in which the potential of all can be fulfilled.

We can be rightfully proud of what has been accomplished over the past fifty years and we offer our prayers of thanksgiving to God. May he generously bless all who come to this land and all those who welcome them.

+ M.A.Gervais
Archbishop of Ottawa