A Model of Newcomer Welcome and Support at the Local Level
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS), along with dioceses across the country, relies upon parishes and other local community groups to carry out the scriptural mandate to “welcome the stranger” personified in refugees, migrants, and other men, women, and children on the move. Parishes Organized to Welcome Immigrants and Refugees (POWIR), a privately funded national initiative led by USCCB/MRS, seeks to develop a base of support, mentorship, and welcome for the newcomer through local, parish-based ministries of hospitality.
“Being part of this effort to welcome a refugee family has been like touching the hem of Jesus’ garment.”
—POWIR volunteer, Catholic Charities of Boston
Launched in 2010, POWIR supports a selected set of diocesan resettlement programs each year to meet critical needs of newcomers. Since its inception, 52 MRS resettlement affiliates have participated in POWIR, making a difference in the lives of individuals and families from 50 countries. Thousands of volunteers have walked alongside and supported newcomers with language acquisition, employment, housing, life skills, and cultural orientation.
With the world witnessing the highest number of displaced persons since World War II, POWIR continues strong. Resettlement dioceses are identifying an expanded set of newcomers not traditionally served by POWIR such as elderly and youth refugees, unaccompanied minors, asylees and asylum seekers and second-generation immigrants. POWIR dioceses also are equipping parishes and community groups with skills to focus on long-term integration as an integral part of refugee and migration ministries. .
By offering welcome and hospitality in their parishes and communities, volunteers’ lives are simultaneously enriched through meals shared and friendships formed. To find your nearest POWIR program, see the map below.