With the approval of the Provincial Council and the support of the board at Enfield Montessori School, Sr. Maryann Agnes Mueller has been able to sponsor a refugee family from Ukraine through a program called “Welcome Connect.” A mother and her three children now live in the once-empty chaplain’s house on the property behind Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Enfield, Connecticut, where they hope that their father will soon join them.
This family arrived in the U.S. in mid-December, with all of their belongings in 2 large suitcases and personal backpacks. Hoping to share some American holiday cheer, the teachers and parents from Enfield Montessori School showered the Ukrainian children with donated gifts, and the sisters welcomed the family to the convent to share Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
One of their first outings in Enfield was a visit to the town library, where they signed up for library cards and checked out some children’s books to help them improve their English language skills. A pediatrician who is the parent of an Enfield Montessori graduate gave the children check-ups and vaccinations, so that they could begin school immediately after the New Year.
Because of the pandemic, and then the war, the Ukrainian children have been attending school virtually since 2019 and have not had many chances to interact with other children. The two younger ones are now happily enrolled in Enfield Montessori School, where they are finding a supportive community, while their older sister is attending 11th grade at Enfield High School.
The mother is able to ride a bus to take free ESL classes, and — thanks to the support of the sisters and the community — the family is already on their way to financial independence. Grateful for their safety and the generosity of the community, they are nevertheless still anxious about the loved ones they left behind in Ukraine.
Welcome Connect is part of the Welcome Corps consortium of organizations with expertise in refugee resettlement, protection, and welcome for the U.S. Department of State. For information about how to sponsor a family, visit their website.