Thousands of refugees are in the U.S. and Oklahoma’s Catholic Charities will be taking in around 1,800 people.
Stillwater’s Catholic Charities at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church might house some displaced individuals. However, it depends on the availability throughout the state.
The Stillwater Catholic Charities location is affiliated with the Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma in Tulsa. East Catholic Charities are expecting 800 people in Tulsa and 1,000 people going to the Catholic Charities in Oklahoma City.
Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Brian O'Brien, said circumstances displacing people all over the world happens a lot, and the Catholic Charities in Tulsa and OKC are the only Authorized Refugee Resettlement Organizations in the state.
Although Catholic Charities is constantly resettling people, O’Brien said the organization could be expecting more people in a shorter period of time. One of the deciding factors for Catholic Charities for where people will stay in Oklahoma, is locating places for people to stay.
“We’re kind of leaving no stone unturned,” O’Brien said. “What we’re looking for is, sort of rental homes, vacant homes, vacant apartments and then also what would be kind of host families who might take an individual for a family into their home which they currently live.”
For O’Brien, having the ability to serve people is a tangible way to live his faith.
“Jesus was very clear, to feed those who are hungry and to give drink to the thirsty and to welcome the stranger,” O’Brien said. “You can take that as sort of a pious platitude or you can roll up your sleeves and do it.”
Thousands of refugees are in the U.S. but some places in the country are experiencing factors, like wildfires and a hurricane, making it difficult for these places to take in people.
Debbie Crowley is the director of marketing and public relations for the Catholic Charities in Eastern Oklahoma, said a challenge is there are not many apartments available.
“We’re looking at Stillwater to see that there might be opportunity there,” Crowley said. “If we do find there is enough housing to put a community of these refugees in Stillwater we’re looking at that as an option.”
Although the organization is looking for available housing, Crowley said there are multiple volunteer opportunities on its website. Additionally, Crowley said Catholic Charities is also accepting items such as furnishings and dishes to fill living spaces.