Syrian refugees Ahmed Al Kango and his wife, Sahar, help their children learn English Feb. 7 in their home in Elkhorn, Neb. Pictured from left, the children are Mohamad, Ghaith and Abdulrazzaq. (CNS photo/Joe Ruff, Catholic Voice)
OMAHA, Neb. (CNS) -- It's families helping families.
That's the bottom line as parishes and Catholic ministries step up to help refugee families -- most recently, several from war-torn Syria -- adjust to a new life in the United States.
"We reach out to our vulnerable brothers and sisters," said Kaela Volkmer, who chairs the social teaching ministry at St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha and helped welcome a Syrian family -- Ahmed and Sahar Al Kango and their three boys -- two days before Christmas.
As part of reaching out, Volkmer and others put on a party Feb. 12 at St. Wenceslaus Church's social hall for the Al Kangos and about 160 other Syrian refugees in the Omaha area. They were among those sponsored through Omaha-based Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska or the Refugee Empowerment Center by people of several faiths, such as Catholic parishes, Beth El Synagogue, First United Methodist Church and Countryside Community Church.
"It was an interfaith gathering," Volkmer told the Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Omaha Archdiocese. "It was a great time for them to have a safe, welcoming place to be together, and to know other families support them."
It also was an opportunity for the Syrian community, which is just beginning to form in the Omaha area, get to know and support one another, Volkmer said.