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Ironing out refugees' needs

Syrian refugees are seen at a makeshift camp in Adana, Turkey. One hundred Syrian refugees are expect to arrive in Rutland this year. (CNS photo/Nathalie Ritzmann) Syrian refugees are seen at a makeshift camp in Adana, Turkey. One hundred Syrian refugees are expect to arrive in Rutland this year.
As the volunteer group Rutland Welcomes continues to prepare for the arrival in Rutland of 100 Syrian refugees, members George and Cheryl Hooker are ironing out one of the details.
 
They are seeking to acquire an iron for each household.
 
Mr. Hooker spoke about the project at Masses at St. Peter Church in Rutland, where he is a parishioner, on the weekend of Jan. 7, and the need for the irons has been expressed in the parish bulletin. “There are many who have voiced their opinion that they would like to assist the refugees in some way. At this point, whether we agree or disagree with their arrival, the fact of the matter is, they are coming,” a notice in the bulletin read. “Many of the Rutland churches in the area, as well as many people from the Rutland community—some of whom are our parishioners—have already come forward to assist the people of Syria in various ways.”
 
As mentioned in the bulletin: “As a faith community, will we see the face of Christ in these refugees? Can we show mercy—the face of Christ—to these our brothers and sisters? Can this be an opportunity for us to put the corporal works of mercy into practice by seeing the face of Christ in these people? By reaching out to them in prayer, and through our assistance to them, might we be evangelizing the love of God and His mercy?”
 
According to World Vision, a global Christian humanitarian organization, 13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance due to a violent civil war that began in 2011; 4.8 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.1 million are displaced within Syria. Most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and in Egypt.
 
“This is an opportunity for us as Christians, as Catholics, to be accepting,” said Cheryl Hooker, a parishioner of St. Peter Church in Rutland and a volunteer with Rutland Welcomes. “It’s the right thing to do. There but for the grace of God go any one of us.”
 
She is hoping to raise enough money from the church collection to buy 30 irons and plans to purchase them locally.
 
The Hookers are co-chairs of the Set Up Committee of Rutland Welcomes, a volunteer network of several hundred people that works with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.
 
Mrs. Hooker said irons are one of the items the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program suggested as part of helping the refugees set up their new homes.
 
She praised the St. Peter Parish Council; Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin Father Thomas Houle, pastor; and Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne for supporting the collection and the effort “to bring people who are suffering here so we can help.”
 
As of Jan. 10 no Syrian refugees had arrived in Rutland, but Mrs. Hooker hopes two or three families will arrive by the end of the month. 
 
Last modified onTuesday, 10 January 2017 15:37
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