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Thursday, 30 March 2017

St Catherine's Stuttgart - a welcoming place for refugees

In Stuttgart St Catherine's Parish Centre was originally conceived to be the administrative office for the congregation as well as a space for church meetings and gatherings such as choir practice. But the centre has taken on an enhanced role as the parish has responded to the influx of refugees in this city in Baden-W├╝rttemberg. It has become a place for refugees to come and find clothing, toys, and essential household goods that they require as they establish their new life in Germany. Of course they also receive care and advice from the volunteers from the parish who give their time to the centre.

One of the remarkable aspects to this work is that the parish has engaged two persons who are refugees themselves to work in the centre alongside our church volunteers. They are Salim, a young woman from Eritrea, and Shukri, a young man from Syria. Thus St Catherine's is encouraging refugees to help other refugees.

I had a brief interview with Salim and Shukri to give them a chance to tell their story and their hopes for the new life in Germany. The video can be found below, with the parish priest the Revd Canon Ken Dimmick translating from the German (and the choir rehearsing in the background!)

Seeing St Catherine's at work with refugees was just one aspect to a recent parish visit which also included baptisms and confirmations at the main Sunday morning mass, a joyous and wonderful celebration. Fr Ken and I were assisted by the auxiliary priests associated with the parish, the Revd Wolfgang Siebenpfeiffer, the Revd Julie Lipp-Nathaniel and the Revd Brigitte Gutbrod.

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