Photo provided by: 
Mae Desaire

Refugee Family News

The Basilica of Saint Mary is proud to partner with Lutheran Social Services to co-sponsor refugee families who are starting new lives in Minnesota after living in refugee camps throughout the world. Want to get involved in this ministry? VIsit our Refugee/Immigration Ministry page for more information, or donate to help support this effort.

Read about the Refugee/Immigration Ministry's latest activities and reflections on the Just Living blog.

December 2021: Afghan Family: Adjusting well to new colder climate

Come in! Come in! Come in! That was the greeting we received the first night we met the family that the Basilica is helping from Afghanistan. The young man that greeted us is in middle school and is part of the family of 10.  He gestured for us to come up for green tea. The dad arrived a few minutes later having gone to a store to get nuts and fruit to welcome us. Our Circle of Welcome team from the Basilica and Lutheran Social Services were there to meet and greet the new family. The family left Kabul, Afghanistan in August. It was quite a struggle to get all of this large family on a plane to the US.  They have eight children ranging in age from 11 months to 17 years old. 

Over the past two months the Basilica has outfitted the family in winter gear, rugs, a vacuum and various other things. Our Circle of Welcome team has taken them on outings to Como Zoo, the Lake Harriet kite festival and sledding.

On one of our visits when we were bringing over a rug, we were once again greeted by the same gregarious young man that had greeted us the first night. He motioned for us to come in for green tea and showed us to their dining table. All of the children came around to greet us. As soon as we sat down a feast appeared before our eyes with mom dishing up very delicious food. Large flat bread, beef stew, saffron rice and chickpeas and two spoons appeared. Never having eaten food from Afghanistan we assumed we each had a spoon and we started eating only to realize later the bread was meant to be broken and the beef stew and everything else was to be spooned on top of the bread and then into our mouth and the spoons were serving spoons. 

The family is doing very well.  The dad is fluent in English and three other languages and the others are learning. The children are all in school. The dad just got a job and they all seem to be adjusting to this very new and different life especially living in this new colder climate.

When we volunteered to be part of the Circle of Welcome team we were delighted to help. Since then we have been humbled by the hospitality and friendliness of this Afghan family. Minnesota is so very blessed to have them.


February 2016 - December 2021:

Over the past several years, we have helped nine Asylee families from Djibouti (Family #1), Cameroon (Family #2), Liberia (Family #3), Togo (Families #4 & #8), Honduras (Family #5), Guatemala (Family #6), Lebanon (Family #7) and Ethiopia (Family #9).

January 2019 - December 2021:

We welcomed and assisted a family from Somali (Tenth Family), a family from Burma (Eleventh Family) and a family from Congo (Twelfth Family).

January 2019: Ninth Family: After long delay of welcoming, a family arrives

After a 4 month gap in any refugees coming to the U.S. through Lutheran Social Sevices in the Twin Cities, a family of six is set to arrive on January 25th from Congo. They have lived in a refugee camp in Rwanda, and will settle into the Twin Cities soon.

June 2018: Eighth Family: Lived in Refugee Camp for 20 years

The family is Karenni, orinigally from Burma. There is a mother, father and two young daughters ages 4 and 6. They are coming from a camp in Thailand and have been there for 20 years.

February 2018:  Seventh Family: Coming together after years of separation

The mother and father are originally from Ethiopia, but lived in Nairobi, Kenya for many years before coming to the US. Father originally setteled in Colorado in 2014. Mother joined him in Colorado several years later. The family moved recently to Minnesota. They now have three children--two sons in Kindergarter and pre-school and a daughter who is one.

February 2018:  Sixth Family: In refugee camp for 12 years

A Karen family of eigth originally from Burma/Myanmar, fled to a refugee camp in Thailand in 2006. Mother and father, with six children: two sons ages 14 and 1, and four daughters ages 12, 8, 6 and 3.

January 2018:  Fifth Family: Large Family seeking safety

A family of eight originally from Somalia. Secondary migrants to Minnesota. Mother, father and six children: Five sons, ages 15, 14, 13, 11, 9 and one daughter who is 3 years old. They now live in Minneapolis. 

May 2017:  Fourth Family: Eager to settle in Minnesota after a long trip

Basilica parishioners welcomed the 4th refugee family this May. The family is a small family, of a woman with a 10 month old child. The woman is pregnant and due with her

second child  in July. This family comes from Somalia. They lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for many years. 

The Basilica team is held a baby shower for her at her new home. Through the Basilica, they were able to provide needed items for a new born: diapers, car seat, stroller, clothing etc. 

At this point, the Basilica has co-sponsored two families from Somalia, one from Iraq and one from Burma/Myamar. Each family has been very different. However, they have all be grateful and gracious as they settle into life in Minnesota. They lives are filled with efforts to learn English, find work, enroll the children in school and care for medical and dental concerns. 

February 2017:  Third Family: Arrive in Minnesota after 17 years in refugee Camp

On February 23rd, members of the Basilica of Saint Mary gathered close to 10:00pm to welcome a special family to Minnesota. The family had been living in a refugee camp in Thailand. They had just spent close to 24 hours on a flight that brought them from Bangkok to Doha, Qatar, to Chicago to Minneapolis.

The family was tired, but seemed excited for this new phase of their life. They are a Karenni family—a different ethnic group from Karen, but also from Burma/Myanmar. They are a family of five, with a mother, father, two daughters (9 and 6 years old) and a son (17 months).

Photo provided by: 
Janice Andersen

To learn more about the Karenni community and their refugee status, read THE KARENNI PEOPLE.

While verbal communication was a challenge, there was a definite connection between people: compassion and kindness, welcome and support—mutually shared between Basilica parishioner and new Minnesota resident.

Look for more information in upcoming posts and in Weekly Newsletters. 

July 2016:  Second Family: Starting school, learning English

In late July 2016, a family of two parents and three small children arrived in Minnesota.  This family was originally from Iraq but was living as refugees in Turkey. 

This family’s mentor team reports the family members are delightful, grateful to be here, and anxious to start their new lives.  The children started school in September, and the adults have been taking ESL classes and looking for work. Please keep them in your prayers as they continue their new adventure! 

February 2016:  First Family: From Somalia to Kenya to Minnesota

In February 2016, the Basilica welcomed a family of six: two parents and four young people. This family was originally from Somalia, but spent the last 22 years in a refugee camp in Kenya. Learn about the conditions in this camp

A Basilica mentor team helped them with tasks as diverse as learning how to shop for food, getting to appointments and school and finding out how to get around their new neighborhood – every experience was new after two decades in a refugee camp.

In June, the family decided to move to southern Minnesota to be closer to relatives, but the mentor team has kept in touch.