The Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada are responding to Pope Francis’ call to care for refugees in a very real and tangible way. The Marthas have collaborated with the TRI-Heart Society to bring a privately-sponsored family of Syrian refugees to live in their 87-year-old convent, a home that 106 Martha sisters have lived in over the years. Read what the Marthas sisters say about this outreach:
Since 1928 our Sisters have had the privilege of living and ministering in the Community of St. Andrew’s. Initially we were invited there by the pastor of the day because of the great need for qualified teachers. No salaries were available at that time; however a convent was built so that the Sisters would have a suitable place in which to live. This residence has served us well for almost 90 years and for a period in the 1970’s served as a Novitiate House for our Sisters in formation.
Our pastoral work in St. Andrew’s continued until last year but the property has now become surplus to our residential requirements.
Our Congregation wanted to find a way to respond the humanitarian refugee crisis in the Middle East and given our long history of working with the people of St. Andrew’s, we have agreed to make this convent available to the private sponsor Tri-Heart Society for a one year period as required by Immigration Canada. We are open to serving the greatest need and our federal government has identified the Syrian refugee crisis as a humanitarian catastrophe that we must respond to. This opportunity allows us to continue our ministry and tradition of working with the people of St. Andrew’s to assist those in most need.
As required by Immigration Canada, a lease agreement inclusive of utilities has been entered into to assist the refugee family in understanding the customary housing regulations in Canada. However, the Sisters of Saint Martha are not pursuing financial gain from this arrangement and any monies received will be redirected to serve the welfare needs of the chosen Syrian refugee family.
We have given the family some time to learn English and plan to have a connection with them soon. We have assisted refugee families through donations to a Parish group where our sisters are involved in Lethbridge Alberta. We as a Corporation have donated funding for assistance of refugee persons living in camps in Lebanon.