The Fifth World Day of the Poor (WDOP) was celebrated by the Universal Church on 14 November 2021, with the theme chosen by our Holy Father Pope Francis, “The Poor You Will Always Have with You,” (MK 14:7). Over the years, individuals and groups have come forward to spend their time and effort in contributing towards the poor who are affected physically, economically and financially. The Parish of St Joseph in Sentul has always paid extra attention and care towards the poor and vulnerable in our community. Parishioners have always placed great importance in their service to the poor and marginalised.
During the weekend of WDOP, our Parish organised two events – a vaccination program and a food distribution program. On Saturday, 13 November 2021, we organised the COVID-19 Immunisation Vaccination (CIV) program for both documented and undocumented refugees and migrants living within our vicinity. These refugees and migrants were mostly workers from farms, factories and restaurants in the area. A total of 300 people turned up for their vaccination. They have been given appointments for their second dose, scheduled to be on 4 December 2021.
Prior to this, we organised two other CIV projects for refugees and migrants on 16 October and 30 October 2021 respectively. These CIV programs, in collaboration with the Malaysian Red Crescent and Tenagaita, went on smoothly without any hitches. Plans are in the pipeline to coordinate a CIV program especially for refugee and migrant children, aged 12-18 years in December 2021. As the roll out of the COVID-19 Immunisation Vaccination (CIV) takes place throughout our country, we need to ensure that even those who are undocumented receive their vaccines. Vaccinations are important as they may reduce the possibility of serious illness and effects of the C19 virus.
Our Parish Integral Human Development Ministry (PIHDM) distributed 330 food packs to all who turned up for their vaccination, including volunteers. The following day, on 14 November 2021, food packs were distributed to over 400 adoptee families and individuals. As some families were unable to collect their food packs personally, the PIHDM made necessary arrangements to personally deliver these to their homes. All this was part of our Parish’s annual World Day of the Poor program.
In the first three years of WDP (2017-2019) our Parish celebrated this event on a grand scale together with our Parish Family Day, but in these past two years, we’ve been forced to curtail our celebrations due to the pandemic. The annual School Uniform project however, is scheduled to take place just before Christmas, in time for the 2022 school term. We hope that it will be as successful as in previous years.
People living in poverty are often neglected or overlooked. Most of the time they are invisible to our sight, even though they are always in our midst. We should not forget or ignore them. Instead, we should acknowledge their visible presence as they are part of our lives. Let us not hesitate to reach out to them as a people of God.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy