The Auckland Catholic Caring Foundation gave out $770,000 in grants this year to 60 partner agencies and organisations that work to lift people out of poverty.
At a Mass celebrated on August 2 at Christ the King church in Owairaka, Auckland, the foundation recognised students, volunteers and partner agencies for all the work that they did the previous year.
Vicar for Social Impact and Communications Lorraine Elliot said that to be able to celebrate Mass and thanksgiving with all of them together is “so special”.
“Every Caring Foundation Mass is special, and this year was no exception. For me and the team it is a very humbling experience, catching up face to face with all these wonderful men, women, and our rangitahi and tamariki, who have all done exceptional mahi helping the most vulnerable in our community,” Ms Elliot said. “A huge thank you and aroha to all of you.”
The presider at the Mass was Auckland diocese vicar-general Msgr Bernard Kiely, who acknowledged the young people.
“We put a lot in the diocese into our schools. And one of our hopes and our dreams is that you will be mediators of God’s light, God’s caring, God’s presence, God’s compassion, God’s ‘I love you’ to others who need it,” he said.
Msgr Kiely talked about his brother Gerard who, in the past, met a recently-released convict and street dweller named Samson. Samson had his head in a frame and walked like a Star Wars robot, which captured Gerard’s attention. Samson also “didn’t smell the best”.
“The interesting thing about Gerard was that he was oblivious to all that. He (Gerard) was just meeting him (Samson) face to face,” Msgr Keily said.
“He looked at the guy and said, “I love you’. Samson stood upright and patted Gerard on the shoulder and said, ’I love you, too’.”
Msgr Kiely said that it was a turning point for him in how he met people, and “honour[ed] the person within”.
Ann-Marie Parker, Catholic Caring Foundation manager, told NZ Catholic that this year was particularly challenging for the foundation, as needs in the community continue to rise.
“The cost of living in the greater Auckland area, in particular an increase in some private rents, means for some families, after their rent and bills are paid, that there is very little left for food,” she said. “Our partner agencies are experiencing a huge demand for their services, as a result of these financial pressures.”
She said that a lot of the families who are receiving help from the Caring Foundation have not yet recovered from the devastating floods early this year.
“This has meant that far too many families have little to no reserves to help them if something unexpected happens. This puts huge pressures on families,” Mrs Parker sai,d noting that some people who have sought help this time have never accessed social services before.
“The challenges over the incoming year for the foundation is the level of need in our communities exceeding the funds we have available,” she said.
Ms Parker said that those who would like to make an impactful donation for those in need can donate through the website: www.caringfoundation.org.nz , online to BNZ 02-0100-0242648-00 (please email to let them know of your gift [email protected]) or phone (09) 360 3045.
“Times are tough! And the needs of too many of our people [are] getting more extreme. So a gift to the Catholic Caring Foundation is truly helping those in need. And a gift this year is needed more than ever as demand hits an all-time high,” Mrs Parker said.
She added that, for a number of families, extreme financial hardship is just one event away.
Photo: Msgr Bernard Kiely with some pupils from St Mary’s School, Northcote, who were among those whose service was acknowledged at the annual Caring Mass