Sunday 15 November 2020
In his message for the fourth World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis writes that ‘keeping our gaze fixed on the poor is difficult’, but that it is ‘more necessary than ever if we are to give proper direction to our personal life and the life of society.’ He draws on the Book of Sirach as a guide for reflection and action following the pandemic. ‘Now is a good time to recover the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world’, he says. ‘Until we revive our sense of responsibility for our neighbour and for every person, grave economic, financial and political crises will continue.’
The Richness of Many Years of Life
In marking the World Day of the Poor in 2020, and mindful of the Covid-19 pandemic, CSAN has focused on the richness of many years of life. We have published a short resource for individuals, local churches and groups, available below to download.
The bishops of England and Wales have shared their hope that parishes would consider fresh opportunities for older people to experience more of the care and belonging that they want, and that we would hope to see for ourselves and our loved ones. Pope Francis, too, has called on everyone to embrace positively the reality of ageing, and to counter the ‘throwaway culture’ which leaves many older people socially isolated. This theme has even more significance following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many Catholic parishes have long organised home visits and social activities, which older people often help to arrange, as well as being participants. Older people with complex care needs may require specialist residential care, but this will not be necessary for the great majority, who live with reasonable health and remain active. Care homes for the elderly set up by Catholic religious orders, for people of limited means, have not always been able to make ends meet, for example because of costs to upgrade buildings; some have closed in the last 20 years. The Covid-19 pandemic has put the remaining care homes under greater financial stress and risk, but has also demonstrated the importance of valuing care homes and their residents and staff.
Over two years, around 20 Catholic parishes have worked with three diocesan charities to address the challenge of creating more of the social connections that older people in the local neighbourhood – of any faith or none – feel right for them. One fruit is Reaching Out, a guide for Catholic parishes, and others who are interested, for local discernment and starting activities. Reaching Out includes inspiring stories from those involved, telling how they brought together people of all ages and added more joy in their communities.
The new resource includes a prayer written specially for the Day. We are very grateful to the Little Sisters of the Poor for their collaboration with us on preparing the resource.
Picture credit: Little Sisters of the Poor. Re-used with permission.