Remembrance Day commemorated on November 11th, invited us to pause to thank all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and to honour those who have and continue, to fight for peace. We remember the deceased veterans and we prayerfully reflect on the enormity of human poverty and misery caused by war.
Catholics worldwide will also mark the World Day of the Poor on Sunday, November 15th and the theme for 2020 is "Stretch forth your hand to the poor.” We are challenged to accompany the poor and to stretch out our hands in solidarity and work together with people of goodwill to seek ways to address the complex issues of poverty and justice.
We are thankful for the various ways that the People of God support the poor in their own communities as they work together with helping hands to make a difference:
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt. 25:35)
The Alberni Low Energy Housing Society has collaborated with St. John Paul II School, Holy Family/Notre Dame Parish, the Diocese of Victoria and BC Housing, to build over 40 affordable housing units in Port Alberni. As well, St. Peter’s Parish, the Unitarian Church, and BC Housing are collaborating to provide for an “out of the cold” (from Nov.15 to March 31) Winter Shelter (to accommodate 25 guests) in the church basement at St. Peter’s in Nanaimo.
“I was hungry and you gave me food" (Mt. 25:35)
Many parishioners support the efforts of St. Vincent de Paul by donating non-perishable food items and clothing to those in need. The 9-10 Club, located at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, provides a morning meal (5 days a week). In collaboration with St. Vincent de Paul Society, Strathcona Regional District, Island Health, and St. Joseph’s Parish in Tahsis, many helping hands assist with food security in Tahsis and Gold River. St. Rose of Lima Parish in Sooke supports their local Crisis Centre, Shelter Society and Food Bank. St. Edward the Confessor Parish in Duncan has a “Feed the Poor” fund that has provided assistance to the neighbouring Christian Reformed Church to help with the preparation and delivery of monthly dinners to those in need.
“I was sick and in prison and you came to visit me" (Mt. 25:35)
The isolation of the vulnerable and our elders (the greatest poverty of our age) has become apparent and found new meaning during the Covid-19 pandemic. New creativity and the importance of connection has come forward as pastors, administrative staff, and many parish volunteers phone their parishioners on a regular basis to check on their well-being. The youth group at Christ the King Parish in Courtenay has reached out to the shut-ins and delivered prayer books, and calendars. Expressions of heartfelt appreciation are heard from otherwise lonely people who appreciate a listening ear made possible through a simple phone call.
Countless people of God in love and service accompany the poor and collaborate with other people of good will as they stretch forth their hands to the poor. May we always remember the sacrifices made by others with the hope to create a better world now and in the future.