Sharing Our Story

From Refugees to Refuge

Authored by: 
Dave Rogalsky (Canadian Mennonite for MCEC)

Lucy Roca graduates from ALWLucy Roca, pastor and planter of Refuge de Paix in Sherbrooke, QC receives her diploma for completing the
Anabaptist Learning Workshop from Henry Paetkau, Area Church Minister for Mennonite Church Eastern Canada,
at the congregation’s tenth anniversary celebration on October 14.


Lucy Roca was leaving Columbia for her and her family’s safety twelve years ago. As she left her home the Columbian national church commissioned her to establish Spanish speaking congregations in Canada in coordination with Mennonite Church Canada. Landing in Sherbrooke Quebec she set to work immediately. Ten years later there is a thriving congregation there, and they have spawned seven other congregations from Montreal to Quebec City and in between.
October 14 saw a loud and energetic celebration of the congregation’s life and accomplishments.  With about thirty regular attenders the number was swollen to around fifty by pastors who have been mentored by Lucy over the past ten years, friends, Henry Paetkau, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada Area Church Minister, and Bernard Sejour, MCEC Mission Catalyst in Ottawa and Quebec. In many ways the celebration was like other anniversary celebrations - speeches, music, food, history, and prayers. But Refuge of Peace, or is it Refuge de Paix or Refugio de Paz, is culturally Hispanic in a culturally French part of Canada. When Muriel Queval, co-director of Mennonite Central Committee Quebec with her husband Claude, prayed for the congregation, it was translated into Spanish, as was her toast to the congregation, using sparkling apple juice. The crowd heartily raised their glasses and toasted each other around the room.

Bernard Sejour, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, Mission Catalyst in Ottawa and Quebec, toasts Lucy Roca, pastor and planter of Refuge de Paix in Sherbrooke, QC, and Henry Paetkau, Area Church Minister for MCEC, at the congregation’s tenth anniversary celebration on October 14.

While Roca says that she will keep on serving as pastor “until the Lord calls me home” she has been busily at work training leaders for other congregations, and for Refuge de Paix. Her daughter, Estafania Rosero, says that she and her husband, as well as several other young couples have been given increasing responsibility to lead, including the Sunday sermon. Besides that the celebration in Sherbrooke included the first graduation of  MCEC’s Anabaptist Learning Workshop. Six people received certificates for completing the program and an additional 42 received diplomas for taking part in courses originally formulated as Hispanic Leaders Training. Lucy, her husband, daughters and mother were among those honoured.

The congregation has touched many lives in its ten years. Andreas Martinez, himself a refugee from Columbia, speaks highly of the pastoral care he and his wife, a Venezuelan received as they settled into Quebec. The congregations planted by others who were interns with Lucy minister to Mexican immigrants and others as Quebec receives many from other lands. Lucy hopes that a vision she has had that they will plant sixteen more congregations will be fulfilled, just as the one for the initial seven has already been. She also hopes that new cities will be touched, and new generations. This is also already coming true as most of those at the celebration were her children’s generation with children of their own. But concerns exist as well - people come when they are in the mood rather than regularly, and she is concerned that not all who attend have a growing personal relationship with God. That and the fact that they are newcomers, refugees needing help to move into Canadian society, get their paperwork done, and make new homes. She asks for prayer from her sisters and brothers across Canada.

 

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