By: Simon Caldwell
At least two families of refugees from the Syrian War are to be welcomed by a parish in the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
The move will make the Church of Our Lady and St Christopher in Romiley, near Stockport, the first in the Diocese to work with the Government in resettling about 20,000 refugees from camps along the Syrian border.
It follows the success of project at St Monicas's Church, Flixton, in the neighbouring Diocese of Salford, which has already welcomed a family from Syria.
The project also represents part of a new focus on social justice and action in the Diocese of Shrewsbury following the launch of the local Caritas agency last year.
The initiative will involve befriending the families and helping them to integrate into society over a two-year period.
Canon Michael Gannon, parish priest and Vicar General, said he hoped other parishes in the Diocese would follow suit. He said: "The whole concept is about creating missionary parishes and responding to the call of Pope Francis to have that missionary call. We are very much up for it."
Canon Gannon added: "It is very much a response to Pope Francis's call. I am determined to see this through and I know I am supported here."
The project will be paid for by funds generating by Our Mission Together, the fund-raising initiative under way in the Diocese.
Each parish which takes part allocates 30 per cent of funds given through the generosity of parishioners to projects within the parish.
Our Lady's has identified three parish projects. Besides the welcome of refugees money will be spent on catechetical resources and formation courses for adults, and on developing waste ground at the rear of the church.
News of the initiative was reported exclusively in the autumn edition of the Shrewsbury Catholic Voice, which went on sale in parishes of the Diocese on Sunday. The magazine also reported on about a new project for refugees and asylum seekers in Wythenshawe, Manchester, which is being run by Caritas Diocese of Shrewsbury in partnership with the Diocese of Salford and the Ivy Evangelical Church.
The Well Project is helping more than 30 people from Afghanistan, Turkey, Syria, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and Iran to learn English and better integrate into society.