The Holy Father, Pope Francis has declared that the First World Day of the Poor be celebrated on 19 November 2017 (33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time). He announced this on 13 June 2017, (the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, the great Franciscan Doctor of the Church), with the intention of making the event a regular annual observance.
St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) who was born in Lisbon, Portugal, took the words from St John: “Let us not love in words but in deeds” in order to identify with the poor. On this coming November 19th, the Holy Father invites us to proceed with a week, “Of numerous moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete aid.” He also suggests that we, “Invite the poor and the volunteers to take part together in the Sunday Eucharist, so that the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is revealed even more genuinely the following Sunday.”
On a regular basis, our Parish Integral Human Development Ministry (PIHDM) has been doing something every week in terms of providing cash and provisions (groceries) for the poor who are staying around our vicinity. The poor in our neighbourhood are seeking protection, assistance and love. Without fail we have been continuously carrying out the “works of mercy” stressed by Holy Father during the Jubilee Year of Mercy 2016.
Every first Sunday of the month we have a second collection for the poor during all the weekend Masses. We collect between RM2,500 to RM4,000 plus in order to support the poor and the underprivileged. We have almost 250 adoptees mainly the refugees and we spend RM10,000 to RM15,000 every month. Our expenses far exceed our income but we trust in God’s providence.
When it comes to reaching out to the needy in our neighbourhood, it is all about “heart, head and hands.” The “heart” is the one where we reach for “the lost, the last, and the least.” The “head” is to do with the outreach plans and strategy through planning, games, activities, etc. for the needy. The “hands” are to do with the outreach to one another and empowerment where the members or volunteers are trained and equipped with resources in order to bring others to the Lord Jesus.
The PIHDM provides space for learning, mobilising, connecting, and engaging every parishioner to get involved in their outreach. Most of the time they find their work and commitments are overloaded and they do not have the manpower to assist the poor. We know everyone is busy, stressful with our own personal carrier and we too are over-committed with many other tasks be it at home and or in the work places. Despite this, over the years this ministry has been steadily growing in their outreach to the poor and marginalised. They too have achieved a lot of success through a number of events. No matter what, we still do struggle to engage all parishioners to build bridges with those in need and to find a place of effectiveness and service in the community.
The PIHDM is a vibrant ministry in our parish and is looking out for more volunteers and donours to serve the poor. We try to listen unceasingly of the struggles of the poor people and find ways to address to these and try to bring an awareness to them. United with a passion to serve the needy, let’s together as one family of St. Joseph fulfill our vision and mission.
St. Anthony of Padua:
“Actions speak Louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.”
Fr. George Packiasamy