Minnesota: Dying Catholic Parish helps Burmese refugees

This is a story posted at The Catholic Spirit yesterday.  St. Bernard’s Parish in St. Paul, Minnesota was dying until the priest encouraged Christian refugees from Myanmar (Burma) to join his flock.

It all started a little over a year ago when one Catholic family from the Myanmar state of Karenni heard church bells ringing in the distance. The family members followed the sound to St. Bernard, where they began attending Mass regularly.


While the refugees have been a tremendous blessing for St. Bernard, making the parish a welcoming environment for them has presented some challenges, Father Anderson admitted.


Then there are challenges that naturally arise from blending different cultures. While most long-time parishioners have welcomed the newcomers with open arms, a few have struggled, Father Anderson said. [note that in the story it isn’t just a culture clash with long-time parishioners but between two different ethnic groups—ed]

You can visit The Catholic Spirit and learn all about what they are doing.   Readers know that we are all for private charitable help for refugees, so the collection of clothing, especially much-needed winter coats, is wonderful.  But, I wondered, where is the federally contracted resettlement agency, isn’t appropriate clothing on their list of items to supply to refugees in their State Department contract?

Then we note that St. Bernard’s has hired a full time “refugee liason.”  Who is paying for this, the charitable members of the Parrish or the taxpayer?  I would like to know because what is described here is the work of resettlement contractors.

To further help meet the refugees’ needs, St. Bernard has created a full-time refugee liaison position. Tom Flood, former dean of students at St. Bernard High School, which closed in the spring, began his new job at the parish Sept. 1. He assists at parent-teacher conferences with an interpreter, helps the refugees get established with a doctor, walks them through the process of getting their green cards, helps them find employment, and provides a number of other services.

“I’m basically helping them get acclimated to life in Minnesota and life in the United States,” he said.

The reporter needs to tell us where the funding for this job comes from—the private charity of parishioners (which is what the story implies) or the US Taxpayer?

For new readers:  This is just one of many stories, we have written about your tax dollars funding the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities.