World Day of the Poor 2017
A roundup of reports from across the Archdiocese of Mumbai
In the month of June 2017, the OLCM (office for Lay Collaboration in Ministry) decided to publicise the Holy Father’s letter for the first World Day of the Poor. Sessions were organised for the heads of Associations and Cells in several parishes between July to September 2017.
In October, OLCM members circulated e-flyers to various parishes, giving suggestions for the week preceding November 19. We have collated some of the reports of events organised in the parishes to mark the first World Day of the Poor.
Salvation Church, Dadar
The Salvation Church Ushers organised an Eye checkup camp (free of cost) for the parishioners on Nov. 19, in association with Aditya Jyot Foundation for Twinkling Eyes. Free spectacles were given; many parishioners and people of other faiths availed this free service.
Cajetan Braganza (a current IMFE Candidate) organised a joint programme with the SVP Conference on Nov. 19 for over 50 poor parishioners, concluding with lunch. Fr Melroy Mendonca was invited to share on the World Day of the Poor.
The Children’s Parliament, along with its core team and the Parish priest, Fr Barthol Machado, visited the inmates of the Remand Home on Nov. 19. Around 350 inmates were entertained with action songs, games and a singsong session. Fr Barthol addressed the inmates, and said a short prayer in Hindi. It was a touching experience; some of the core team members were in tears when the young inmates sang a few emotion-packed songs. Packets containing a samosa, brownies, biscuits, jelly and chocolates were distributed to all the inmates. A few left over packets were distributed to the poor on the streets of the parish.
Vailankanni Zone members visited Asha Daan. In addition, they prepared and distributed food packets to poor families. The parish SVP Conference visited Asha Daan.
St Michael Church, Mahim
The parishioners took the opportunity to give back to the innocent and underprivileged children who live on the streets of the parish. The day started with Mass for the volunteers – the priests, nuns, PPC members, Sunday school teachers, members of the Focolare, Ashadeep Community Centre and the youth of the parish. Then we joyfully welcomed 125 children and teenagers, all dolled up in their best, to spend Sunday morning with us. Our excitement grew as we saw the happiness on those faces.
They played a number of games, dancing, laughing and thoroughly enjoying the warmth. In the city where there is often friction between the poor and the middle class, we found ourselves living ‘according to the ability of each’ through our talents, seeing Jesus in one another. We discovered how easily some can hula-hoop, hit a paper ball on a target, dance to a common music playlist or even jump rope.
When it was time for our new friends to leave, we sent them with a bag of goodies and a lot of blessings and love.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Orlem
Legionaries from ‘Our Lady of Assumption’ praesidium, of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Orlem visited Shanti Niwas, a home for the destitute at Goregaon East on Nov. 19, and spent the day with the inmates. The home is under St. Jude (Malad East) Parish, supervised and managed by Br. Poulo Santini of the Brothers of Charity, assisted by Br. Sanjay from the Marian congregation of House of Charity. The Home has 13 young, old and bedridden inmates.
Some Legionaries took charge of the kitchen and prepared pulao, chicken curry, green salad, in addition to the home-cooked vegetables. A member helped some of the inmates with their personal hygiene. We found the inmates enthusiastic and happy.
After praying the Rosary together, with Hindi hymns and the regular afternoon prayer, the inmates and the Legionaries partook of a delicious lunch; the cake and banana added to their happiness. Post lunch, the elderly inmates of the Home went to their rooms for an afternoon nap, while some helped clear the kitchen.
It was a touching experience to spend the day with the destitute – cooking for them, praying, singing and eating with them.
Around 130 Confirmation youth went out in pairs or threes reaching out to the poor and were asked to send a write up and make a poster per class (depicting snap shots and a synopsis of their outreach. These posters were put up on the Feast of Christ the King with appropriate wordings.
The Living Water Prayer Group went into the streets, serving the poor.
The Young Adults Association spent a weekend at the Talasari Missions
Our Lady of Assumption, Kandivali
Utility items like buckets, mugs, jugs, tumblers, trays, soaps, towels, biscuits etc were collected by the various cells which were distributed to the poor & needy of the Parish on the 26th November.
Besides the *’Friends of Mission’* organised a White Elephant stall on 12th November, where clothes were collected and the poor and needy were requested to select clothes suitable to them.
Besides the Associations, the SCC coordinators duly filled the ‘Stay healthy’ & ‘Take Care’ kits received from the Catholic Communication Centre. These Kits will be distributed to the Poor & needy families in the Parish.
St Joseph Church, Gokuldham, Goregaon East
Fr Jude Rodrigues, Parish Priest, announced on Nov. 19 that free coaching classes will commence shortly for those appearing for their Class X examinations.
St Louis Parish, Dahisar
On Sunday, Nov. 12, 26 houseworkers (Catholic and other faiths) came together from 11 am to 1 pm. A magic show was followed by games and lunch.
Sunday, Nov. 19 saw 105 persons belonging to BPL families (Catholic and other faiths) from different sectors of the parish enjoying an event from 7 pm to 9 pm, with games and dinner.
The Parish Priest, Fr Lancy and Fr Arun were present for the programmes. A number of Cell and Association members helped in organising these events.
Our Lady of Mercy Church, Pokhran
The Sunday School of Our Lady of Mercy Church, Pokhran organised an exhibition showcasing Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of the Poor, as well as the Works of Mercy undertaken by the children of the Sunday School, along with their parents in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor. Our Lady of Mercy Church, Thane, also celebrated the World Day of the Poor. The community members along with the kids went and met street children and distributed food packets and water to them.
Infant Jesus Church, Dombivli West
The parishioners along with Rev Fr. Cajetan gave the beggars food on the World Day of the Poor.
Another group of parishioners visited an old age home in Dombivli.
St Francis Xavier parish, Kanjurmarg
120 poor people attended the celebrations of the World Day of the Poor and partook of a delicious lunch.
St John the Baptist Church, Thane
The parish celebrated the World Day of the Poor with 150 people. It was an evening filled with love, fun and laughter. There were games and dancing for the guests, followed by a sumptuous dinner, lovingly prepared by the parishioners themselves.
Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Sion
Following a briefing on November 5, 2017 by a resource person from the OLCM team of the Bombay Archdiocese, the parish decided to ask parishioners to donate food grains packed in ½ kg and 1 kg packets. On the World Day of the Poor, the food grain packets were distributed to the poor after 9:15 am Mass, after a special prayer for all the poor around the world, especially in Mumbai. On November 14, the parish had invited 75 beggars for a cooked meal.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Bandra
With contributions and suggestions from the Parish Priest, Fr. Reuben Tellis, the members of the Mt. Carmel S.V.P. unit shopped for items like rice, a variety of dal, tea, oil, biscuits and tooth paste. These items were packed into hampers, with the names of the chosen families. 40 families (adopted by the S.V.P. Conference) and 10 other families (including those of other faiths) were presented the hampers on Saturday, Nov. 18.
St Andrew parish, Bandra
The 17 Small Christian Communities were requested to donate dal, rice, toiletries and other utility items which were collected by the parish office. These items will be packed into the Archdiocesan bags according to the size and need of each of the poor adopted families. The S.V.P. Conference will carry out the distribution.
St Peter parish, Bandra
The 14 Small Christian Communities were given the bags sent by the Archdiocese and encouraged to contribute groceries, utility and stationery items. They were instructed to fill each packet with at least five items. The packets would then be distributed to the poor families of the parish.
St Francis of Assisi parish, Bandra
Fr. L.M. George made an announcement, urging the parishioners to donate grocery and utility items which will be collected by the Church. These items will be packed and distributed to the poor families of the parish.
St Vincent de Paul parish, Khar
The Parish Team made announcements urging the parishioners to donate grocery and other items in the bags prepared by the Archdiocese. These items will be distributed to the poor residing in the parish.
Sacred Heart Church, Vashi
The parish distributed STAY HEALTHY and TAKE CARE kits through SCC Animators to all families for collection of items such as Dal, Rice, Tea, Soaps etc within a week and these will be distributed to the poor.
On Sunday 19 Nov 2017 lunch was served to about 20 poor people in the church premises.
November 12, 2017: To mark the forthcoming World Day of the Poor, 12 members of the Vailankanni Zone, with the zonal animator Annie Furtado, and sister animator, Sr. Irene Fernandes, Superior of Yuvathi Sharan, Prabhadevi, paid a visit to Mother Teresa’s Asha Daan – a home in Byculla, Mumbai, for abandoned and differently-abled children, HIV-positive people and the destitute. They were taken around by Sr. Magdalene MC. It was a humbling, disturbing, yet uplifting experience when the team visited the 350-plus inmates. Many were tongue-tied and shaken from the complacency of being blessed by God with a healthy and loving family and a comfortable home, when they witnessed special children, especially inmates brought in from the streets who were being rehabilitated, and the sacrifices put in on a 24×7 basis by the sisters and their volunteers. Children, women and men, all were taken care of patiently here. The members donating phenyl, washing powder, oats & Bournvita, plus a cash donation.
November 19, 2017: On the first World Day of the Poor, the Vailankanni Zone toyed with various idea and then fixed on the plan of feeding the poor. Poor families were identified in advance and coupons were distributed to ensure a smooth handing over of the packets. Zonal members gathered at the residence of the Zonal leader, and lent a hand in cooking a meal of chicken biryani and raita Members went to the slums and the footpath and distributed 35 food packets. It was a heartening experience indeed, being a sort of first-time interaction with the poor, for many of the zonal members.
Sacred Heart Church, Worli
November 19, 2017: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Joseph’s Conference, Sacred Heart Church, Worli, visited Mother Teresa’s Asha Daan. Seven members, plus a couple from Mangalore joined us in the visit. Keeping in mind the approaching season of winter, Sr. Padma, Superior of Asha Daan, suggested to bring along little containers of Vaseline along with which fruits were donated. Being the World Day of the Poor, around 100 able-bodied inmates had already left for St. Anne’s, Mazagoan, for a special mass, entertainment programme plus lunch. But the remaining 250 inmates did give members an experience of the enormity of the task faced by the sisters there, in taking care of their needs. Being in the ministry of caring for the poor, SVP members thought it would be easy to interact with the inmates, yet, this was something that was unexpected. In the works of charity done so far the SVP has visited homes of the poor, and witnessed poverty first-hand, but here was poverty magnified. Poverty not of the material kind, but of souls in need of love and caring! Something provided by the sisters, day in and day out. We can term this an unforgettable visit.
As Church, we have the opportunity to love Jesus in the other, especially the poor, each and every day of our lives. The celebration was an attempt to reach out to the poor and underprivileged in our midst, whom we normally do not notice. Although we belong to different strata of society, we found a common ground, living with Jesus in our midst. All we need is that push to bring out our Catholic values and to realise that God is omnipotent, living and loving in each person on this planet we call home.
Our beloved Pope Francis declared the first World Day of the Poor as ‘a reminder that there, in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor.’
Have you ever looked into the eyes of those who are poor? Their eyes glisten with gratitude for whatever little good is done for them. That clearly is the face of love – both clean and pure. That clearly is the face of God.
(collated from reports sent to OLCM)