Who We Are
Becoming Neighbours is a companion program that matches immigrants and refugees with members of Roman Catholic women and men religious congregations and their associates and friends. They provide a presence and act as friends, guides and mentors during the newcomers initial adjustment to Toronto.
What Is Unique About Becoming Neighbours?
- It is a companion program in which immigrants and refugees are matched with members
of Roman Catholic women and men religious congregations and their associates and
friends in collaboration in mission.
- It provides ongoing education, formation and the opportunity to reflect upon the
experience of working with and for immigrants and refugees in dialogue with their faith
Who Can Be Companions?
- Those who accompany refugees and immigrants
- Those who are prayer partners for immigrants and refugees
- Those who network with other to address immigration inequities
Goals of the Becoming Neighbours Ministry
- To match companions with immigrants and refugees according to their preferences.
- To provide emotional support and foster independence so that immigrants and refugees reclaim self-confidence and self-esteem.
- To provide an effective means of cultural exchange in a non-threatening safe environment and in an atmosphere of trust and friendship.
- To break isolation and help the adaptation into a new society.
- To assist immigrants and refugees to become active community members
- To create a bridge between the community and the immigrant and refugee in order to address issues that require systemic change.
Becoming Neighbours ministry opens the door to forge new relationships while creating a link to community.
The relationship that develops between the immigrant and refugee and the companion provides an effective avenue of cultural exchange: the immigrant or refugee learns about his/her new environment while the companion is exposed to different cultures and traditions.
At Becoming Neighbours, WE BELIEVE AN INDIVIDUAL CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Our “community-based” outreach approach helps to empower immigrants and refugees and makes their integration into the community easier.
Becoming Neighbours is a collaborative ministry with a clear multicultural focus.
During the Fall of 2003 Sister Margaret Myatt, CSJ, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St.Joseph of Toronto, and members of her Leadership Team invited the leaders of other women and men Roman Catholic Religious Congregations to gather and to explore how together they could collaborate to respond to some of the greatest unmet needs in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
Appalled by the plight of immigrants and refugees, hearing of their sufferings and being challenged by situations of injustice, nineteen religious congregations established Becoming Neighbours, a Joint Apostolic Ministry (JAM) in the form of a 2-year, Host Program Pilot Project in November 2005. The first Ministry Director was hired April 24, 2006. In September 2007, Becoming Neighbours, a Joint Apostolic Ministry was established as their permanent ministry.
Consultation with settlement agencies revealed that there is a tremendous need of assistance for new comers during the first stage of settlement in Toronto. Direct information from staff at the United Way, information from two United Way and City of Toronto reports: Poverty by Postal Code and A Call to Action…A Report of the Strong Neighbourhoods Task Force and findings from other agencies made a strong case for locating this new ministry in Scarborough. Scarboro Foreign Missions offered work space at 2685 Kingston Road.
It is the Vision of Becoming Neighbours to:
- Address basic unmet human needs of refugees and immigrants
- Encourage and strengthen relationships among people and among religious congregations
- Build lasting communities and give hope to the world
- Give witness to our Catholic faith and religious life
As well, in light of this Vision, from the very beginning, in response to the unmet needs of refugees, immigrants and displaced persons, this collaborative ministry was viewed as an opportunity for renewal and revitalization of apostolic religious life, for sharing strengths, for supporting each other and working more closely with the laity.
We presently have 20 sponsoring members. We hope you take time to visit their websites.
- Provision of a companionship program that matches newcomers to Toronto with established Canadians who provide a presence and act as friends, guides and mentors during their initial adjustment in Toronto to Canadian society.
- Promotion of cultural integration and enrichment while assisting immigrants/refugees to become active and fully participating members of the community.
- Provision of opportunities for formation through in-service and reflection.
- Engagement in theological reflection and analysis as a guide in addressing both the immediate needs of newcomers to Canada and issues that require systemic change.
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