Refugee Hope and Haven Project



Refugee Update:

St. Bonaventure Refugee Hope and Haven Committee is asking for  furniture and household items for refugee families.

We will require furniture and household goods for the Adam Jr. refugee family expected to arrive in Calgary over the next one to two months but we do not have the capability to store items. We expect to get firm arrival dates soon.

Many thanks to the St. Bonaventure parishioners who have generously donated furniture and household goods to our refugee families and to our volunteers who have generously donated their time and use of vehicles for deliveries.

Please check for furniture updates on the parish website for items required. Anyone interested in donating items, please contact the individuals below.


For furniture items please contact Brian Del Castilho at 403-278-9043 (call) or 403-614-5950(text)  email 

For household items please contact Jane Isakeit at or

Catherine Pinckney at 403-278-9988  

St. Bonaventure Hope and Haven Refugee Program

August 2017 Update

Status of Current Refugee Support Program:

Status of Current Refugee Support Program:

St. Bonaventure has financially sponsored three Syrian refugee families - in partnership with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) - since the parish’s refugee program commenced in September 2015. They are the Odicho, Yousef and Hanna families. At the request of CCIS we supported the Tekle family from Eritrea and Yaqoub family from Iraq in 2016 with household goods and furniture.

In 2017, at the request of CCIS, we have helped the Mehari, Kahsay, Abebe, Gebremariam, Tsegay, Abraha and Tesfamichael refugee families and Mihret Elfe & Jorjo Awalom from Eritrea, the Almansour, Hanna and Marina refugee families from Syria, and the Al-Baghdadi family from Iraq with provision of furniture, household goods and clothing. In addition, the Refugee Committee provides ESL training for some refugee families, assistance with finding work, and helps integrate the families into Canadian society. Moreover, the committee is assisting Dennis Castellino in his efforts with Father Arnold Hereira from Pakistan to expedite the migration of persecuted Pakistani Christians into Canada. This initiative is supported by Bishop William McGrattan.

St. Bonaventure parish plans to financially sponsor (with family sponsors) one new refugee family in 2017 – the Adam Jr. family from Syria. The parish provides financial support (apartment rental payments and monthly expenses) for up to one year following each sponsored refugee family’s arrival in Canada. St. Bonaventure parish has assisted two refugee families (the Odicho and Yousef families) obtain required Canadian documentation (SIN cards, health cards etc.) and is providing English as a Second Language (ESL) training to the Odicho family. We are also providing social and cultural support to help the families acclimatize to their new lives in Canada and assistance finding work. All the refugee families are very appreciative of all the support they have received.

Odicho Family:  The Odicho family (Samer, Jomana and 4-year old Lionardo) arrived in Calgary on September 28th, 2015. The father, Samer, obtained a full-time job in December 2015 as a barber and the family has been financially independent since the end of May 2016. Jomana gave birth to a baby boy (Emanuel) on November 14th, 2016. Thanks to those parishioners who have provided baby clothes and goods for the Odicho family. Jomana has applied to bring her brother and his family into Canada through CCIS (the Adam Jr. family) and our parish has agreed to help financially support them for their first year in Canada. Samer now volunteers to help us deliver furniture to other refugee families.

Yousef family:  The Yousef family - Antoine, Hanan, twin 4-year old sisters Maysa and Elena, Isabel Lazar (Antoine’s mother) and Maryam (Hanan’s sister) - arrived in Calgary on November 23rd, 2015. Antoine (Tony) has a part-time job as a pharmacist assistant and cashier at Shopper’s Drug Mart in Lake Bonavista Promenade, thanks to Todd Hill, one of our parishioners.  Tony was a pharmacist in Syria and is studying hard to certify as a pharmacist in Canada. He obtained his Shopper’s Drug Mart Gold Pharmacy Assistant certification in April 2016. Maryam is currently taking government ESL lessons and is currently seeking employment. Hanan has been accepted into a program for immigrant women in the Fall of 2017.

Tony Yousef receives his Gold Pharmacy Assistant Certificate

Tekle Family:  The Tekle family (Rezene, Sara, and 1 year-old daughter Peniel) arrived in Calgary on November 23rd, 2015. Sara gave birth to a baby girl (Melahier) in late December 2016. Rezene has found work in a furniture warehouse.

Hanna Family: The Hanna family (Hiba, Milad and Anita) arrived in Calgary with the father (Chamoul) in October 2015, but have had a difficult time settling into Canada. Chamoul sadly died in December 2015 of a heart attack and the son (Milad) lost his job at a furniture warehouse early in 2016. Milad now has part-time work. We provided the family with ESL lessons in 2016. The family lives in Marlborough.

Yaqoub Family:  Nassar Yaqoub is an Iraqi refugee who got married in early July 2016 in Calgary and lives in a small apartment in McKenzie Towne with his new wife, mother and sister. We were asked by CCIS to help them settle into their new home. They had their first child in June 2017.

Mehari Family:  Yohannes Mehari is an Eritrean refugee who arrived in Calgary in November 2016 with his wife (Asmeret Fekadu), who is pregnant, and two young children (Fkri & Snit). They have rented a small apartment in the Beltline district of Calgary. Yohannes is seeking work as a driver. At CCIS’s request, we provided household goods and furniture to the family in late December and January.

The Mehari refugee family (with Yohannes’ father) in their newly furnished apartment

Kahsay Family:  The Kahsay refugee family from Eritrea comprises Abraham (aged 19 years), Michaela (aged 17 years) and mother (Nina). Abraham and Michaela are both at school and the mother is infirmed. The family has received emergency CCIS financial support. Our parish delivered much needed furniture and household goods to their downtown apartment in late January 2017.

Abebe Family: The Abebe family from Eritrea consists of Yonas (father), Sabah (mother) and Hannar (baby girl). Household goods and clothing were delivered to them at their Beltline apartment at the end of February and furniture in early March.

The Abebe refugee family in their newly furnished apartment

Gebremariam Family: Yohannes and Abrehet Gebremarian and their 3 children live in a basement suite in N. Calgary and were supplied with household goods and furniture in March 2017. They arrived in Calgary in late 2016 and lacked beds for their children as well as dressers, sofas, chairs and a table.

Mihret Elfe: Mihret Elfe lives in Marlborough in a basement room and we supplied her with household goods, clothing, a bed, dresser and T.V. at the request of CCIS in early March 2017.

Almansour Family:  The Almansour family (6 adults) from Syria arrived in Canada in March 2017 and is living in a townhouse in Woodbine. They were supplied with household goods on April 1st and furniture donations on April 8th, 2017.

Hanna Family: Sarah Hanna and her 12-year old son, John, have been in Canada since December 2016, and live in an apartment on Varsity Drive, NW Calgary. They, also, were supplied with household goods on April 1st and furniture donations on April 8th, 2017

Tsegay Family:  Aaron Tsegay, wife Kidawep Hailu, son Aden, and daughter Menkem, from Eritrea live in SE Calgary. At CCIS’s request, our parish provided them with some household goods, beds, crib and dressers in early May 2017.


The Tsegay refugee family in their apartment

Marina Family: Mourice Marina, his wife Toumeh Merna and children Jouhy (son) and Joice (daughter) arrived in Calgary in March 2017. They live in SW Calgary. They were supplied with household goods and furniture for their apartment in SW Calgary in early May. Both Mourice and Toumeh have secured work as cleaners in a Calgary school.

Abraha Family: Bereketab Abraha, his wife Freweini, son Noel and daughters Hiyab and Lewhat arrived in Calgary in mid-May 2017 and live with Bereketab’s brother (and sponsor), Samer Negassi, in the Marlborough area, NE Calgary. They received household goods and furniture from us at the end of May.

The Abraha refugee family

Tesfamichael Family: Furniture items and household goods were delivered to the Tesfamichael refugee family from Etritrea (Father Isayas, mother Selam and children Sifora, Senay and Eyobed) in mid-June 2017. They live in Martindale.        


The Tesfamichael refugee family (without Eyobed)

Al-Baghdadi Family: Furniture and household goods were provided to Rand, Muna and their family from Iraq in July. They are relatives of the Yacoub family and live in New Brighton.

Nteziryayo Family: The refugee committee provided household goods to Freddie and Emily Nteziryayo and their two young sons in July. They are from the Congo.


The Nteziryayo Family with George & Catherine Pinckney

Jorjo Awalom: Furniture and household goods were delivered to Jorjo Awalom and some of his relatives in the Rundle area of Calgary in July. They are from Eritrea.

Integration into Canada:

We provide weekly ESL training for the Odicho refugee family, and are helping them and other refugee families integrate culturally into Canada.

An Advent social event was held at St. Bonaventure parish in December 2015 for the Odicho, Yousef and Tekle refugee families to meet parishioners. It was attended by approximately 100 people and was greatly appreciated by the families. In late December 2015 we also provided all three refugee families with Christmas hampers through the kind generosity of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. In February 2016, 4 of our Syrian refugees attended a Syrian Refugee Welcome dinner at St. Michael’s church, at which over 200 refugees were present. In March 2016 we took five Syrian refugees to the Calgary Flames game against the Nashville Predators, which they greatly appreciated. We also took the Odicho and Yousef families to Cross Iron Mills mall in May. The Hanna family and Tony Yousef attended the World Refugee Day Mass followed by a reception on June 20th, 2016 at St. Mary’s Cathedral and met Bishop Frederick Henry.

The Hanna refugee family meets Bishop Frederick Henry

The Yousef and Odicho refugee families also came on two trips to Fish Creek Park with several parishioners in June and July 2016 and attended the Stampede Breakfast at St. Bonaventure Parish on July 10th. We also attended a dinner to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Odicho family’s arrival in Canada at their apartment in late September 2016 and the 4th birthday party of the Yousef family twins, Maysa and Elena, on November 13th, 2016.

The Yousef family at Fish Creek Park

The Odicho family celebrating their 1-Year Anniversary in Canada

In December 2016, six Christmas hampers were provided to our refugee families through the generosity of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They were very grateful to our parish and the St. Vincent de Paul Society for the generous Christmas season support. Brian Del Castilho also hosted a Christmas social event for our Syrian refugee families in mid-December and the Yousef family in January 2017.


                                              Leonardo Odicho enjoying Brian Del Castilho’s Christmas display

The St. Bonaventure Refugee Committee assisted the Odicho and Yousef families obtain ESL assessments for their children in March as this is a pre-requisite for refugee children before they can register with the Catholic Board of Education to attend kindergarten in the Fall of 2017. The children are now registered to attend St. Matthews’ school. We went with them to attend a Kindergarten orientation meeting at the school in late May. We also helped the Yousef family with its 2016 tax returns, which were supplied free of charge by CCIS at their downtown office in Calgary.

On July 15th, 2017, we attended Lionardo Odicho’s 5th birthday party in Fish Creek Park. He loves Superheroes, especially Spiderman.

Funding Needs:

The parish has generously provided financial support for the refugee program through three second collections after masses in September & October, 2015 and February 2016. The second collection held on Sunday, February 14th, 2016 raised almost $8,000 for the refugee fund. Bishop Frederick Henry has also given $5,000 per refugee family to each parish in the Calgary diocese supporting refugees, including St. Bonaventure parish. Funding for 2017 is planned to come in large part from the parish envelope collection in August 2017. Any donations are gratefully received.

Many thanks for your generous support of this worthy charity. It costs $5,000 -$7,000 per refugee in financial support for one year.

God Bless!

George Pinckney

Refugee Committee Chairman

Tel. 403 278-9988   Email Anyone interested in donating items even if they are not listed please contact the individuals below.


                                Brian Del Castilho at 403-614-5950, email or

George Pinckney at 403-278-9988, email  

For household items please contact Jane Isakeit at or Catherine Pinckney at 403-278-9988