St. John the Divine and the Refugee/Newcomer Committee of Onoway hosted the former “Vicar of Baghdad”, the Rev. Dr. Canon Andrew White for a meet and greet. The visit on May 8 was in addition to Canon White’s presentation at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, in Edmonton, the previous evening. There he spoke of his work in the Middle East regarding the persecuted Church and his continued efforts at reconciliation between people of different faiths in the area.
The meet and greet at St. John’s Onoway was a wonderful in that it had a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it was an opportunity for Canon White to meet and thank the community who welcomed and supported “his family” the Laali/Kanno family from Iraq. It also enabled him to spend time with “his family”: Yasir, Sarah, Mallak, Matti, and Grandpa Sami (Sarah’s father) who he recommended to come to Canada. As Canon White puts it, “I only send the best”!! Yasir had been Canon White’s driver while he was in Jordan.
As they say, it takes a community, and the community responded to the call. St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, St. John the Divine Anglican Church and the Onoway Baptist Church, along with many others in the community, churched and non-churched, joined together to bring this family to Canada. If it had not been for one person asking the question ‘how can we help as a community?’ we might not have had the opportunity of welcoming our lovely family or Canon White. Never let anyone tell you one person cannot make a difference!
The Laali/Kanno family are fast approaching their one-year anniversary in Canada. They are living proof of how our Lord answers prayer. The family had been waiting in Jordan for four years after fleeing from Baghdad due to the increased danger for Christians. Canon White was contacted and asked if he had a family he could recommend and without hesitation he recommended the Laali/Kanno family. It is because of Canon White’s faith and trust in our Lord, his work in Iraq and Jordan, and the family’s faith and trust in God that they were able to come to Canada.
Canon White was moved by love of Christ he witnessed reflected by Onoway and the surrounding community in their welcoming of the Laali/Kanno family. The family was provided with a fully outfitted home, rent-free for the first year; with the contents being gifted to them when they leave. The family was also gifted two vehicles. Many members of the community have driven the family to and from appointments, shopping, ESL lessons, and much more. Two members of St. John’s, Susan and David Daniel provided extra English lessons to help the family learn the language.
During his brief visit, Canon White spoke with people and graciously answered questions regarding his work in the Middle East. We were moved by Yasir’s public acknowledgement of everyone on the Refugee/Newcomer Committee for our help over the past year. Speaking perfect English, he thanked everyone by name. He would not have been able to do so only three months ago. It was wonderful to witness!
The Refugee/Newcomer Committee was so grateful that Canon White was able to join us for the evening. We needed to meet the man who made it possible, through his love, faithfulness, and trust in God, for us, a small rural community, to have been able to help, get to know, and love such a wonderful family! It was a truly blessed evening. Submitted by the Rev. Cheryl Boulet, rector, St. John the Divine, Onoway
Photos: Canon White, the Vicar of Baghdad is pictured with St. John the Divine parishioners and members of the Onoway Refugee/Newcomer Committee; and the Laali/Kanno family: back row, from left, Yasir, Sarah, and Sami (Sarah’s dad); from left, directly behind Canon White, Matti, Mallak and Cheryl Boulet.