The Catholic Missourian showcases Community Sponsorship Program

Community Sponsorships of refugee families blooming in the heart of Missouri

By Jay Nies

The Islamic Center of Central Missouri hosts fellow Community Sponsorship group members for a meal with Afghan refugee families.

Cindy Schlueter dropped by a recently resettled Afghan family’s home in Columbia, with clippers to trim up the boys’ hair.

The parents and children were kneeling on their colorful rugs, absorbed in prayer.

The oldest teen noticed the crucifix pendant Mrs. Schlueter was wearing and asked, “Do you pray?”

“Yes, I pray,” she responded.

“Me, too,” he said.

God was present, and they both knew it.

“We were on the same page,” Mrs. Schlueter vividly recalled. “For someone in their situation, there can be nothing more meaningful to know that the person sitting across from you in your home, who speaks a different language, who’s cutting your brother’s hair, prays to the same God.”

Mrs. Schlueter is a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Columbia, which recently began sponsoring its second refugee family from Afghanistan through Refugee Services of Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri’s (CCCNMO) Community Sponsorship program.

Community Sponsorships have been an essential part of helping Catholic Charities resettle more than 250 Afghan refugees in the area since Sept. 26.

Community Sponsorships enhance the agency’s ability to resettle people, and it builds community support for its work.

“That’s where community sponsorship is really critical,” stated Samantha Moog, director of CCCNMO Refugee Services. “In order to resettle all of these people, we need churches, organizations, groups and individuals in the community to work with us.”

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