Pope Francis reminds us that “a Church without charity does not exist.” Since the first coronavirus pandemic lockdown in March 2020, Caritas, along with many other charities and voluntary organisations, has clearly shown that the Church does exist.
Even though church buildings were closed, front-line Caritas services and those of many associated charities remained open. For Caritas this meant that our key staff kept open our residential young parents’ homes and hostel for the homeless, housing services to refugees and support to vulnerable older people. Services were scaled down in outreach as a precautionary measure but never stopped serving some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Volunteers over 70 years of age were asked to shield and protect their health against the rising tides of death brought on by Covid-19. Like others, we have had to adapt and move to the use of technology to keep open services such as our refugee education services as well as to stay connected to our supporter base. The disruption to schools and parishes, however, has adversely impacted our schools’ work, and the St Joseph’s Penny and Caritas Sunday Appeals have not taken off.
The pandemic has given us all an opportunity for reflection and increased a desire in us to build back our society better than it was before the virus came. As we move into a second lockdown, we also enter the season of Advent and we must look to the future with HOPE. Under the leadership of Pope Francis globally and Bishop John locally we hope and pray for the possibility of a ‘new normal’ where poverty and disadvantage are eradicated.
Looking forward to 2021, Caritas in the Diocese of Salford will continue to support diocesan initiatives including Hope in the Future and the Laudato Si’ work to raise awareness and take environmental action to safeguard our Common Home. We will support our parishes and schools who are at the heart of their communities and we will continue to fulfil our mission to bring the message of the Gospel home through practical help and action.
I do hope you enjoy this final edition for 2020 of the Caritas Beacon. Please know that you will all be in our prayers throughout this second lockdown, and over the Advent and Christmas periods.
Caritas Diocese of Salford.