Our Collaborative Lenten Gift: What is POWIR?

Jesus calls all of us in the parable of the Good Samaritan to be responsible for those in need, no matter who they are or where they come from. The St. John – St. Paul Collaborative Lenten Gift this year recognizes Jesus’ call and will direct all contributions into the St. John – St. Paul Collaborative POWIR Fund to support our POWIR work going forward in partnership with Catholic Charities.

What is POWIR?
POWIR is an acronym that stands for Parishes Organized to Welcome Immigrants and Refugees. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launched the program in 2010 to intensify volunteer involvement in resettlement at the parish level to create a welcoming environment for incoming refugee families. Under U.S. law, a “refugee” is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin. Refugees resettled through the POWIR Program meet the criteria and have been thoroughly vetted before resettlement.

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston (CCAB) operates the diocesan resettlement program through its Office of Refugee and Immigration Services. Hundreds of refugees have successfully been resettled through CCAB to date. Participating parishes partner with Catholic Charities to welcome and support newly arrived refugee individuals and families in recognition of the importance of communities for successful resettlement.

SJSP Collaborative Efforts to Date
Following a number of exploratory presentations by Catholic Charities, the SJSP Collaborative began to work with Catholic Charities and St. Ignatius Parish to support two families who had arrived last September. The families share an apartment in Boston and include a mother and son from Honduras and a mother with two sons from the Democratic Republic of Congo. SJSP parishioners have contributed to their needs including transportation to medical appointments and contributions such as winter clothing and a smart TV. Three of the five refugees are now employed full-time. The families are well on their way to a sustainable future, the underlying goal of the program.

SJSP Collaborative POWIR in the Future
The establishment of a SJSP Collaborative POWIR Fund will enable the Collaborative to become a full partner with Catholic Charities for future resettlement of refugee families and individuals. The Fund dedicated to support our Collaborative POWIR work will be held and managed in the SJSP Collaborative Office where expenditures will be approved and authorized for specific needs identified by Catholic Charities in partnership with SJSP Collaborative POWIR.

Throughout Lent, the Collaborative Service Commission will continue to share information and stories in the bulletin and on our website (www.sjspwellesley.org/collaborative-lenten-gift-2020) as we prepare for our Collaborative-wide Special Lenten Collection on March 28-29.