March 8, 2021

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington's Newcomer Services Launches “POWIR” Parish Engagement Program to Welcome Influx of Refugees Over the Coming Years

Parishes Partner with Catholic Charities to Secure Donations and Train Volunteers, as Catholic Charities Welcomes 300 Refugees This Year and Rebuilds Volunteer Capacity to Welcome 600 Refugees in the Next Fiscal Year

ARLINGTON, Va. - Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington's Newcomer Services recently announced a new training initiative, Parishes Organized to Welcome Immigrants and Refugees (POWIR), to expand its capacity to welcome and support an influx of refugees over the coming years. Newcomer Services helps State Department-approved refugees secure housing, employment and/or job training and health care, as well as assists children as they integrate into schools upon arrival.

During the last two years, Catholic Charities provided stabilizing support to 300-400 refugees annually, most of whom had Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for having assisted the United States' military efforts abroad. With the anticipated increase in the annual refugee admissions cap, Catholic Charities expects to expand from welcoming 300 refugees this year to closer to 600 in fiscal year 2022.

“Refugees flee violence, persecution and desperate poverty in their homelands in search of safety for themselves and their families, and they are admitted to this country only after years of intense vetting by our government,” said Stephen Carattini, President and CEO, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. “We are committed to welcoming these vulnerable men, women and children with open arms and hearts, sharing the love of Christ through practical support that enables each family a fresh start and hopeful future.”

POWIR Virtual Training Session

March 11, 2021
4-5:30 p.m.

Interested individuals, organizations and parishes/churches


The March training is the second of two initial sessions, the first of which took place in February. At the February training, more than 20 representatives from Catholic parishes and other faith community groups learned how to prepare for and partner to best support immigrants and refugees arriving in their local communities. Among the parishes and churches represented were Our Lady Queen of Peace in Arlington, Our Lady of Lourdes in Arlington, St. Bernadette in Springfield, St. John Neumann in Reston, and Rock Spring Congregational Church of Christ in Arlington.

Already, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, located at 830 23rd Street S., Arlington, VA 22202, is hosting a donation drive through the end of March for household items needed for refugees. For a list of items requested and how to donate, visit here.  

Worldwide, there are more than 25 million refugees, according to the United Nations. The ceiling for the number of refugees who can be accepted into the United States was 205,000 in 1980 and for the past few decades has remained at an average of 100,000 annually. During the last few years, the cap was decreased to 30,000; 18,000; then a low of 15,000 in this fiscal year. The new presidential administration is expected to increase the annual refugee admissions cap to 125,000 in the 12-month period starting October 1, 2021. The congressionally set cap on SIVs continues to remain at 10,000 annually.

Newcomer Services is one of 104 national affiliates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Since its founding in 1975, the office has resettled and assisted over 20,000 refugees and asylees in the Northern Virginia community. All refugees who enter its program have been vetted by the U.S. State Department, and 89% of those whom Catholic Charities assists have SIVs.

For additional information, contact Amber Roseboom, Director of Media Relations, Catholic Diocese of Arlington, at 571-215-8731 or

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Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington serves the poor and vulnerable who live within the 21 counties and seven cities of the Diocese of Arlington, which is led by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. Catholic Charities provides food for the hungry, a free medical clinic for adults including prenatal care, adoption services, transformational housing for the homeless, mental health counseling, emergency financial assistance, prison ministry, workforce development and immigration and refugee services. Catholic Charities serves all, regardless of