A ‘practical and real’ celebration for World Day of the Poor

The Archdiocese of Wellington had a more “practical and real” celebration of the fourth World Day of the Poor on November 15.

At a Mass celebrated at St Joseph’s Church in Levin, Cardinal John Dew stressed, “it’s not what is on the table that matters, it’s who’s sitting in the chairs”. The cardinal concelebrated the Mass with parish assistant priests, Frs Raymond Soriano and Dennis Nacorda.

“Since the first World Day of the Poor in 2017, we have focused on some big initiatives and efforts in order to reach out to the poor. This year, we are trying to make it more practical and real,” the cardinal said.

In a nod to the pandemic, Cardinal Dew emphasised that sharing should be done “safely”.

“That might mean inviting a neighbour over for a meal, or paying for someone’s coffee in a local cafe, passing on some home-grown vegetables to others, baking a cake for someone in need, donating to the foodbank, it might mean sponsoring a meal at the Compassion Soup Kitchen, supporting the Vincent de Paul foodbank, working with  people in our communities who do their upmost to make sure that foodbanks are supplying good quality food to those who are in need,” he said.

Cardinal Dew said that, while what is on the table, like fresh vegetables and meat, matters, those who are at the table also matter.

“It matters because it is at our family tables – and at our church family tables – that we learn to care for one another, be aware of others.  It is at our tables that we learn to share, even if it does mean going without that last juicy piece of meat we had our eye on,” he said. “We certainly learn to share at our family tables and become aware of the needs of others.”

Cardinal Dew said that this year, Pope Francis’ message for the day had the theme “Stretch forth your hand to the poor”, a phrase taken from the Book of Sirach.

“‘Stretch out your hands to the poor’ helps us to fix our gaze on what is important and overcomes the barriers of indifference. This enables us also to meet Jesus, who told us clearly that he is present in the least of our brothers and sisters,” he said.

He said that sometimes we stretch our hands out to give and, at other times, to take.

“In the weeks ahead, what can we do to stretch out our hands to give to someone else that will make a difference in their lives,” he said.

Cardinal Dew also called on people to be aware of those affected by Covid-19.

“Those now without jobs [which] means without money, without money means without wholesome food, warm clothes and warm dry houses so that all can be healthy.  We know that many people have been badly affected by Covid,” he said.

Cardinal Dew thanked the parishioners of Levin and Otaki for actively helping the poor.

“I ‘d like to acknowledge the work that is happening in this parish to stretch out hands to the poor. From the ongoing work of the very busy St Vincent de Paul foodbank to the plans for Benefit Impacts in Levin and Otaki next year, these are wonderful examples,” he said.

Wellington Ecology, Justice and Peace advisor Lisa Beech told NZ Catholic they decided not to organise big events this year.

“Cardinal John encouraged people, [in] whatever situations they found themselves, . . . to share some food with others, whether in person or by donating to a foodbank or the Compassion Soup Kitchen or another organization,” she said.


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Rowena Orejana

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