Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Refugee Resettlement: Locally Rebuilding Global Lives

By Rebeccah Rendall

            Our mission here at Catholic Charities Indianapolis Refugee Resettlement is to focus a concerted effort on rebuilding the lives of newly arrived refugees. In order to fully understand the complicated and unique situations that refugees must deal with, it is important to understand exactly who a refugee is. In 1951, when the United Nations established its own branch to assist refugees around the world, the UN defined a refugee as anyone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” ( Basically, a refugee is a person who is forced, due to fear of persecution, out of his or her own country. Eventually, through a series of processes, some refugees are resettled to Indianapolis. This is where our organization comes into the picture. We are here to help as our clients acclimate themselves to the United States and our customs.

            How then, you may wonder, does this relate to global solidarity? Global solidarity is simple “a call to recognize each individual person as a part of one human family” ( This is exactly what we do every single day. We, as a group of people dedicated to improving the lives of refugees in Indianapolis, want to make our clients feel human again. We do not want to trivialize their experience or act as if it did not happen. Rather, we are here to aid the rebuilding process. We want these refugees to know that they are out of harm and that they have friends here. They are not pawns in a game of war. They are not denied rights because of their ethnicity or their religion. Instead, we want to restore their humanity through our services. We want every refugee that enters Indianapolis to know that this place is home. We do this by setting up apartments before they arrive, making sure they have adequate food for a few weeks, and providing them with necessary furniture. We also help with vitally important appointments such as meetings at the social security office or mandatory health screenings. We also have amazing volunteers that tutor students, teach English classes, help clients learn the bus routes, and organize our storage facilities.

            You may be reading this and thinking, “That is great. A few people help a few people, but I could never devote that much time to refugees.” We want to challenge this notion! Every little bit helps. Here are a few ways that you can help Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program. You can donate items such as clothes and kitchen items. If you have something that you would like to donate, please contact Robert Newport at You can also volunteer for as much time as you can commit. If you can only volunteer for one hour per week, that is fantastic! We would love to find a place for you in our organization. If you would like to volunteer or want more information about volunteering, then please contact Mike McCarthy at If these options are not appealing to you, do not worry! You can still do something! We want to spread the word about refugees and their stories. One way that you can do this is by simply telling your friends and families about the realities that refugees face. You can also utilize social media. We have an active Facebook page called “Catholic Charities Indianapolis Refugee and Immigrant Services” or You can also follow us on Twitter @CCI_Refugee. The idea is that by spreading knowledge about refugees, we are restoring their humanity. By playing a part in restoring their humanity, you can also become an integral part of their life. To us, this is the epitome of global solidarity.

Rendall recently served as a social media intern for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Year of Faith: Connections to Global Solidarity

By Ken Ogorek

We’re about halfway through the Year of Faith announced by Pope Benedict XVI—now to be brought in for a landing by our Holy Father Pope Francis. This Year of Faith commemorates two landmarks:  the start of the Second Vatican Council and the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Connections between Global Solidarity and the Year of Faith abound. Here are three:  1) Knowing our Faith, 2) Celebrating our Faith, and 3) Sharing our Faith. Let’s briefly flesh out each of these areas a bit.

Knowing our Faith
Part of what’s asked of us during this Year of Faith is revisiting the basic doctrinal and moral teachings of our beautiful Catholic faith. With a firm grasp on what God in His great love reveals to us in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition we know that a sense of connectedness to our sisters and brothers both near and far is not optional for people of Catholic faith; it’s in a sense part of Jesus’ great commission to each of us: Go everywhere, baptize everyone, teach them everything!

Jesus doesn’t say “Only be concerned about your own back yard. Don’t worry if some folks don’t even know how important baptism is, let alone that they’re invited to celebrate it. And for gosh sakes don’t speak the truth in love so neighbors near and far will know what my loving Father intends for them!” When we truly know our Catholic faith our sense of Global Solidarity is strong.

Celebrating our Faith
Our Catholic faith is a beautiful gift from a loving God. When we renewed our baptismal promises recently at Easter we heard the words “This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it.”

The word catholic means universal. Worldwide! Part of what’s beautiful and powerful about our faith is that it doesn’t change in its basic truths from one part of the world to another. God speaks to all people in all places because of His great love for each of us. God’s great love for each of our sisters and brothers, manifest in the teaching of His holy, Catholic Church, is certainly cause for joyful celebrating. For proud professing. For global sharing.

Sharing our Faith
In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis we see the Year of Faith as a warm-up for an intensified focus on evangelization. Faith grows stronger when it’s shared. And that brings us full circle to this third connection between Global Solidarity and the Year of Faith.

In the multifaceted effort of evangelization we must provide opportunities for and challenge folks to live out their Catholic faith in a variety of ways. Living our faith means sharing that faith with neighbors near and far. And sharing our faith includes works of mercy—both spiritual and corporal—often directed toward the least of our sisters and brothers, toward those most in need.

Local needs are great. But the eyes of faith also see opportunities for outreach in distant lands—outreach that enriches us as we encounter Jesus in our sharing with neighbors whose homes we see at various points on the globe.

The phrase Global Solidarity doesn’t figure prominently in most Year of Faith language. But it’s in good company. Global Solidarity is a concept that like many—speaking the truth in love, living a sacramental prayer life, radiating joy—is organically connected to our Catholic faith and makes a fitting feature for this current Year of Faith. For more information on the Year of Faith please see our local Year of Faith page at

Ogorek serves as Director of Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  His emphasis on the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults as well as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church helps people appreciate Global Solidarity accurately and in authentically Catholic ways.  Ken helps parish catechetical leaders share Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition with the faithful—helping them in turn enhance their sense of Global Solidarity.