Refugee Outreach

Bringing about a more humane and just immigration system in the United States.

The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, have long been concerned about the refugee crisis throughout the world and in early 2022 determined a way to assist refugees in the Toledo area.

Welcome House

In November of 2021, Sisters gathered to discuss concrete ways to help.  “The influx of refugees, especially from Afghanistan, began to surge again and we realized we have a home that could become a temporary shelter,” according to Sister Nancy Surma, Refugee Support Group Steering Committee Chair.

The home was a former residence for Sisters and when vacated, the house presented an opportunity for shelter.

A three-generation family of eight from Afghanistan recently moved in for a temporary stay.  Everything fell into place with the family needing a home right when the Sisters realized this home was available.  “It really feels like God’s work when I think about the timing,” said Surma.

Sister Pat Gardner

Sister Pat Gardner is ready to pick up family members to grocery shop.

Over the last several years the Sisters have worked with US Together, a local refugee resettlement agency, founded in 2003. US Together assists refugees and immigrants escaping wars, violence tyranny and extreme poverty to find a safe haven in Ohio.

The Sisters have also had a standing committee that has been advocating for the marginalized and underserved (migrants, immigrants,) for the last several years.

Sisters on the current Refugee Committee are helping the family get adjusted locally by giving them rides to grocery shop, to take them to the Mosque on Friday afternoons, get paperwork completed and by teaching them English.  One family member who speaks English well is working, and the others, including two children are becoming more proficient in English.

“This family has experienced a dramatic change in their life, and are very grateful and hospitable to the Sisters who stop by to help.  As Sisters, we realize we are also learning from the family members.  They help us understand a broader vision of the world by interacting with people from other countries,” Sister Nancy said.

Anyone interested in financially supporting the Sisters in this Outreach Ministry are invited to contact Eileen Kerner, Director of Congregational Advancement, ekerner@sistersosf.org or 419-824-3625.

Previous stands: 

Immigration Stand 10.29.18

Refugee Statement 2017

Sylvania Franciscans work for Migrants and Immigration Reform by:

  • Writing to Congress
  • Supporting local boycotts
  • Standing up for the migrants in our area
  • Praying for our government leaders that they make wise decisions regarding the immigrant population to preserve the rights of immigrant workers and to ensure family unity

Sisters' Stories

Sr Joan Jurski

Sister Joan Jurski

To be a woman of peace and seeker of justice has been part of my life as a Franciscan. It is the Gospel call that is lived through the spirit of St. Francis. This has directed my life throughout my years of ministry, especially most actively as a diocesan Director of Peace and Justice. Perhaps the most challenging times to act on these values has been in educating people to the Church’s Social Teaching regarding immigration. For many people, Catholics as well, the idea of migrants and immigration raised fears and a variety of arguments to keep them out of this country. Creating parish social ministry committees helped in the dialog and education about our basic social teaching to revere and respect all persons. It was not enough to collect clothes or food for Migrants, social action for change was needed. In collaboration with other ecumenical bodies we continued to work for immigration reform which respects the dignity of all people. And the work goes on.
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