In August 2016, a family of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo was legally resettled in St. Petersburg by the State Department, and they soon registered in our parish. After escaping the Congo, where there has been a civil war, they lived in a refugee camp for a year before being vetted and allowed to come to the US. The family includes a mother, father and four children ages one-and-a-half, 3, 6 and 7. They are practicing Catholics, attend Mass at our parish each weekend, and 3 of the children are baptized. The youngest one still needs to be baptized, and we are making arrangements for that. (Photo below shows the father with the two youngest children.)
A second family(arrived Nov. 15) includes a mother, five adult children (aged 18 -25) and one granddaughter, aged 3.The oldest son was a mechanic in the DRC. The family has been Catholic for three generations, and the grandfather, they tell me, was a catechist. Also living with this family is a 22 year old man who is awaiting the arrival of his wife and four month old child.
Although they have received some services through the State Department, Daystar, and their assigned agency (Jewish Family Services is coordinating their case), and despite the fact that the father is employed as a dishwasher, they still have many needs. The family now has to pay rent of about $800 per month, utilities, food and transportation. They do not have a car, but rely on the bus and on the father's bicycle. The father operated a sewing machine in the DRC.
Both families are overjoyed to receive the friendship and assistance they have received so far. God is truly taking care of them through the generosity of our community. Please be sure to welcome them if you see them at the 11:00 Mass!
What Can You Do?
Saint Mary's parishioners are pooling their resources to help. We have already provided a washer and dryer for the first family, a crib and sewing machine, bus cards, linens, a dining room set, toys and clothing, but the families still have many needs. If you are able to help provide any of the following items, please contact Claudia McIvor at 727-896-2191, extension 207. Cash and gift card donations are also gratefully accepted.
For an opportunity to meet our refugees in person, please come to the parish hall on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 7 PM. We will share our Christmas traditions with them, and they will share their traditions with us. Bring a snack to share, or bring something to show that you do at Christmas time (an ornament, song, prayer, display, decoration...)
This is the REVISED list of needs, 11/15/16
- New washer and dryer for the second family (donations will be combined to buy these)
- Toddler car seat (1)
- Stroller for 3 year old
- Chest of drawers
- Save-A-Lot grocery gift cards
- PSTA Bus cards (any denomination)
- Clothing (call us for sizes)
Read More by clicking on the links below.