In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Sep 5, 2013

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you today, in order to request your continued prayers and financial support in aide of the Syrian refugees, displaced because of the civil war in that country. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops working through the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace initiated a joint campaign last June to assist these refugees now living in numerous camps in the surrounding countries. The United Nations now puts the number of refugees at 2 million people, half of which are children. Further estimates from inside Syria point towards an additional 6 million people who are seriously affected by the war.

This tragedy has affected the Syrian people from every walk of life, ethnic group and religion. The minority Christian population is under serious threat for its survival from religious extremist groups and from continuing insecurity for their families and homes and they find themselves often isolated and fending for themselves –kidnappings and murders continue to plague the community and more than 60 Churches have been destroyed. The United Nations is describing the situation in Syria as a major humanitarian Crisis affecting all the people of Syria. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has recently stated:

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to express my closeness in prayer and solidarity with all the victims of this conflict, with all those who suffer, especially children, and I invite you to keep alive the hope for peace. I appeal to the international community to be more sensitive to this tragic situation and make every effort to help the beloved Syrian nation find a solution to a war that sows destruction and death. (Angelus in Rome for the Feast of Mary, Queen of Peace)

Pope Francis has also instituted a day of prayer and fasting on September 7th of this month and I am most grateful for the good spiritual efforts of those in our Diocese who are able to participate on that day. Due to the fact that there was relatively short notice given for that international day of fasting and prayer, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have designated September 14th to be a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria in our dioceses in Canada. Fasting can include a total or partial fasting from food or a fast from other activities during that day that you deem important and serve as a true offering in addition to our prayers. At St. Andrew’s Cathedral on September 14th there will be a time of Adoration following the morning Mass at 9:30 am until 11:30 am. Mid-Day Prayer will then be said, followed by Eucharistic Benediction.

For parishes which have not already done so, a collection will then be taken up during the Sunday Masses on September 14/15 to aid the refugees in Syria. Donations can be made to the parish directly for Development and Peace or contributions can be made directly to Development and Peace through their Web Site.

I pray that this appeal on behalf of the suffering people of Syria will bear good fruit and the blessings of peace. I remain,

Yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Richard Gagnon
Bishop of Victoria

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