SCARBOROUGH — Catholics are asked to live out their faith by “welcoming the stranger.” In Maine, Catholic Charities Maine’s Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS) is driven by that call each day.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m., community members are welcome to attend a free presentation entitled “New Mainers: Learn Why People Come Here.” The event will be held at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church on 150 Black Point Road in Scarborough with the presentation offered by RIS staff themselves.

“This is an opportunity to get accurate answers to any questions people may have,” said Baba Ly, assistant director of RIS. “The more people know about immigration laws and those who are arriving in Maine, the better able they are to follow the tenets of Catholic social teaching and welcome those who settle in our communities.”

In Maine, RIS has led the way in offering that welcome, according to a press release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. RIS helps those seeking a new life in America to become responsible and self-reliant members of the community. The program welcomes refugees upon their arrival; meets basic needs like housing, food, and clothing; arranges for language lessons; offers community, cultural, and employment orientation; assists with employment development and placement; helps with family reunification; and offers medical and mental health referrals.

RIS provides immersion programs to refugees like the American Friends Program, which matches English-speaking families or individuals with refugee families to integrate them into the community, and the RIS Mentoring Program, which matches refugees with volunteer mentors who help them reach their personal, academic, and career goals.

“RIS has been and will continue to be a place where refugees can feel safe, be treated with compassion, and work with staff members who are from their own communities,” said Steve Letourneau, CEO of Catholic Charities Maine. “Refugees deserve to work with an agency that has decades of experience providing quality and compassionate services to meet their needs. To see a refugee family blossoming in a safe environment, one that is free of hostility and open to possibilities, is the most rewarding experience you can imagine. Witnessing this again and again is what truly keeps our staff going.”

“The diocese is so grateful for the efforts of RIS in answering our baptismal call to welcome the stranger and ensuring that the dignity of every human person is protected,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley. “Through their dedication and service, Catholic Charities Maine is defending the sacredness of human life by helping individuals and families, many of whom fled from violence seeking compassion and care, to never become victims again.”

In the last decade, RIS has resettled thousands of refugees in Maine. The staff at RIS understand the plight of those they serve as many of the staff members at RIS are refugees and immigrants themselves.

There are many ways to assist RIS in its mission. To donate items that are included in the “welcome kit” provided to refugees, visit You can also donate money, furniture, or household items for the refugees by visiting

For more information about RIS, call (207) 871-7437 or visit

For further details about the presentation on Jan. 21, call (207) 883-0334.

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