Liset Uria Lopez and her husband Carlos Cesar Uria Trello, Cuban refugees, are grateful to Catholic Charities for helping them resettle in Corpus Christi.
Luisa Buttler for the South Texas Catholic
Carlos Cesar Uria Trello and his wife Liset Uria Lopez arrived in Texas as refugees in 2006, after political unrest in Cuba. They brought their two daughters and a dream of a better life. They did not know the language or the culture of the country that took them in and they had no money.
“We didn’t know how to use a phone or take the bus. We had never even driven a car before. All we had was our family and the strength God gave us,” Carlos Uria said. “When we came here from Cuba, we were scared and faced many challenges.”
Fortunately for the Uria family, Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi helps individuals and families—who are escaping war and persecution in their own country—to resettle in the United States. It assists refugees with housing, employment, language and assimilation into their new American surroundings and culture.
According to the most recent statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced from their homes everyday as a result of conflict or persecution. Approximately 14 percent of the displaced are being resettled in the Americas, including in South Texas.
Many of the refugees who are helped by the Immigration Services Department of Catholic Charities, in conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, are Burmese and are relocated to Port Lavaca in the Diocese of Victoria where there is a company willing to provide them employment, said Kim Seger head of Catholic Charities’ immigration and refugee services.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York visits a displacement center in Dawodiya, Iraq on April 10. The center holds refugees displaced from Mosul when ISIS attacked in June 2014, with about 60-70 percent Yazidi refugees. Others are Christians, Muslims and a few other small minority religions.
Catholic News Agency
The Urias were first assisted by Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, and were then referred to Corpus Christi and assisted by Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi.
“This strange country welcomed us with open arms, support, compassion and generosity,” Carlos Uria said. “The people at Catholic Charities guided us through our challenges, and we will remember and rejoice in that for the rest of our lives.”
Speaking through a Spanish to English translator, Carlos and Liset Uria gave their refugee testimonial at a lunchtime meeting hosted by the Immigration Services Department at the Catholic Charities office on June 28. The meeting was open to the public and welcomed anyone with a specific interest in immigration and refugee programs.
“We hope that Catholic Charities will continue this refugee program,” Liset Uria said. “It gives those fleeing their country peace of mind that life can be better.”
This year, the Urias celebrate 27-years of marriage and they now have three children. Their oldest daughter graduated with honors from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and was recently married. Their middle daughter will enter the 11th grade at Roy Miller High School and is a passionate violin player. Their eight-year-old boy is enrolled in a gifted and talented magnet program at Windsor Park Elementary.
“My children are more American than most Americans,” Carlos Uria said jokingly. “They are proud, yet humble.”
In this Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis calls on all Christians to shelter the homeless, including those in their backyard and beyond. The Holy Father has petitioned on behalf of immigrants and refugees from the first days of his papacy.
“Faced with the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing death on account of war and hunger, and who are traveling toward a hope for life, the Gospel calls us to be ‘neighbors’ to the smallest and abandoned, (and) to give them a concrete hope,” Pope Francis said. “Therefore, in the imminence of the Year of Mercy, I make an appeal to the parishes, to religious communities, to monasteries and sanctuaries…to express the concreteness of the Gospel, and to welcome a family of refugees.”
Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi plans to host quarterly meetings on the topic of immigration and refugee resettlement. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4. For more information, call Seger, immigration attorney and director of immigration services at Catholic Charities, at (361) 884-0651, ext. 228 or email her at