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Showing Solidarity with Refugees and Muslims July 5th, 2017

A report from the Denis Hurley Centre, Durban, South Africa

We had two opportunities this month to show solidarity with our neighbors, especially important since Refugees and Muslims are often groups who are kept at a distance and treated with suspicion.

June 20 was UNHCR’s World Refugee Day. The Denis Hurley Centre’s (DHC) Refugee Pastoral Care worked with other organizations in the Refugee Service Providers’ Network to offer a great day of activities in our Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall. Live music was provided by René Tshiakanyi a French-Congolese singer, songwriter and guitarist, who also entertained the crowds outside in the Mall. A film about corruption in Senegal was screened followed by a discussion and opportunities for people to get to know each other. Food was then served for hundreds. Pleasingly, the event was attended not only by refugees from many different African countries but also by South African nationals keen to break down barriers. 

(Members of the 3 Abrahamic religions breaking the Ramadan fast with dates. (From l to R) Sr. Cathy Murugan, HF, Sufiso Duma with Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI) and Ohad Rooiblatt, an Israeli volunteer with project TEN (Project TEN is an international development program that operates volunteer centers in developing areas).

The next day, being one of the last days of Ramadan, we encouraged non-Muslims to observe the fast as a way of joining in prayer with our Muslim brothers and sisters across the city and across the globe. Then at 5pm, as the rays of the sunset filled the upstairs room, we broke the fast accompanied by our Muslim partner organizations, Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI), Grey Street Mosque, South African National Zakáh Fund (SANZAF) and RAUF (Refocus and Upliftment Foundation).

A good conversation was held about Ramadan traditions and our healthcare team were able to find out ways to help the many Muslim patients who come to our clinic. Delicious snacks and drinks were then enjoyed by all.

Denis Eugene Hurley, OMI, was the South African Roman Catholic Vicar Apostolic of Natal and Archbishop of Durban, South Africa. He died in 2004. The Denis Hurley Centre is a community center created as a place of Care, Education and Community responding to the needs of people in the heart of Durban, South Africa. Visit the Center’s website:


2017 World Refugee Day: Take Action & Pray for Refugees June 15th, 2017

The United Nations General Assembly in 2000, designated June 20 as World Refugee Day. According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is one who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

For many years the Catholic Church, through its various agencies has worked and actively raised awareness about the plight of refugees through advocacy, education, and services to provide increased protections for them.

These efforts take place on the international level through organizations like Catholic Relief Services and Jesuit Relief Service, and domestically, through Catholic Charities and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Visit Justice for Immigrants website to read more about the U.S. Bishops’ campaign to support immigrants and refugees.

Download a 2017 World Refugee Day Resource.

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