An Update from the Parish Community of St. Kevin
Refugee Family Sponsoship Committee


One year ago our Parish responded to the urgings of Pope Francis and Bishop Bergie and began the process to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.

Under the guidance of our pastoral leaders, a special collection was arranged to fund the initiative and a committee was formed to guide the project. The Parishioners of St. Kevin’s responded with admirable generosity and commitment. The sponsor’s commitment to support a refugee family is for one year and our Parish certainly did not hesitate to make that commitment.

Much generosity was shown by the Parish to locate, decorate and furnish a suitable rental accommodation that would ultimately house our family.
After overcoming some unavoidable delays in the process, a delegation from the Committee met our refugee family from Syria upon their arrival at Pearson Airport in August of last year. Both the family and St. Kevin’s Community were overwhelmed with joy at this finally coming together.

The family is comprised of Antoun (Tony) Maalouf, the father, Rana Bshara, the mother, and their two children, Soleil - an eight-year-old girl, and Ghassan - a six-year-old boy. This young family fled war-ravaged Syria to Lebanon on their journey to the safety and freedom of Canada. Much of their worldly possessions and, most importantly, family and friends were left behind in Syria.

Rana is a graduate of Damascus University with a Bachelor’s Degree in French Literature. She is comfortably competent in English, French, and Arabic. Prior to the war, she worked for Air France. Unfortunately, that airline left the country after the outbreak of the war. Since arriving in Canada, Rana has been working part time at a francophone daycare center. Her busy day begins at about 5:00a.m. to prepare the school lunches and do other household chores. Soon after their arrival Rana began attending Niagara College in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Since then she has successfully completed two advanced English courses. She is rightfully proud of these two certificates. Rana has proven to be a very ambitious person and works hard at balancing her roles as wife, mother, homemaker, student and she even manages to do some volunteer work as well.

Antoun is also a man on the go. He was determined to be self-sufficient as quickly as possible. He is passionately devoted to the welfare of his wife and their two children. Upon his arrival in Canada, he spoke no English. He has been attending ESL courses at the Heritage Center, as well as working nearly full-time at Sobey’s grocery store in Fonthill.

Through that work and other endeavors, he has earned the nickname of ‘The Machine’ and has quickly become more competent in English. Tony was a Mechanical Technician in the printing industry in Syria and is a talented self-taught musician. Both he and Rana are in frequent contact with their families in Syria through social media. Their devotion to family is yet another demonstration of their goodness of heart.

Antoun and Rana recently purchased a used car. Both have obtained drivers’ licenses and are well on the road to independence. Tony is scheduled to begin the English Language -Training in Technology course at Niagara College in January of next year and plans to work night shifts at his current job. As a couple, they have managed the challenges of their new circumstances and have adapted to living in Canada with great skill. They have proven to be very frugal and make wise use of their limited resources. We are very proud.

Soleil, the daughter, like her name, is a ray of sunshine. She is a very happy girl, fun to be with, and an excellent and popular student at Alexander Kuska Catholic School. Even at her young age she is a fast learning pianist, has attended swimming lessons at the YMCA, and is enrolled to play soccer this summer. She recently celebrated her First Holy Communion here at St. Kevin’s with her classmates from Alexander Kuska. She speaks impeccable English and Arabic.

Ghassan is a typically energetic little boy of six years. He is quite bright and doing very well at Alexander Kuska School. He is very close to his sister, has taken swimming lessons, and is enrolled to play soccer this summer. Within his family circle, his nickname is Suna. He has learned very quickly to speak, read and write in English, and he can also speak Arabic.
In summary, the St. Kevin’s Refugee Committee is pleased to report that this Parish has been blessed to welcome into our midst this lovely new family. The Committee believes that the Parishioners of St. Kevin’s can rightfully feel proud of this Parish’s devotion to seeking social justice for all.

Those who have met the family in any capacity, especially here at Sunday Mass, come away from that experience with a humble sense of pride. At a recent gathering, Rana told those present that few of us ever get to see the angels who look after us in our lives. She then said that she and her family have had the good fortune to meet many of them face-to-face at St. Kevin’s.

May God bless this family and the community of St. Kevin’s Parish.

Lord Jesus Christ, we praise you:
bring peace into the world, especially in Syria, by bringing your peace into the hearts of all.
Help us to turn away from selfishness, and to follow you in love and service.

“Whatsoever you do to the least of my people that you do unto me.”