Catholic social action team commissioned in Norwich
The work of Catholic social action organisation Caritas East Anglia was formally commissioned by the Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia, at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich on Sunday November 17, followed by a special celebration lunch. Hugh de Las Casas reports.
Caritas East Anglia is the latest addition to the worldwide federation of Caritas Internationalis, which is the second biggest humanitarian organisation in the world and was commissioned during the 11am Mass at the cathedral on the World Day of the Poor.
In his homily, Bishop Alan said: “In all that we do for the poor, we must always remember that we are taking the Lord and his message to them – doing so often without words for it is the Lord Himself, working through us, who is welcoming and listening, who loves them and brings them his message of hope and reassurance.”
Caritas East Anglia will be focussed specifically on those within the Diocese of East Anglia who are in need of help. Bishop Alan went on to say: “The Alive in Faith campaign has raised a significant sum of money which is already being applied to projects across the Diocese which seek to assist those who are undergoing severe hardship.
“The St Edmund’s Fund also seeks to assist individuals who find themselves in a crisis or emergency situation.”
After the homily, the 22 members of the Commission, drawn from priests and laity within the diocese, were called up to the altar for a blessing of their work and a crystallization of the preparatory work which has been going on for over a year.
Fr John Warrington, chair of the Commission, said after the Mass: “This launch is the springboard to encourage people and priests from across the diocese to share their involvement with the work of Caritas and how we can move forward together as a diocese, and as Caritas East Anglia.”
Mass was followed by a lunch in the Narthex for representatives of every parish in the diocese along with clients of St Martins Housing Trust who have benefitted from the remarkable work that the charity does. One of their members remarked, in a video presentation; “This place is my safe haven”.
Caritas East Anglia is led by its development worker, Jacinta Goode, who will now be busy organising ‘festivals’ in Norwich, Newmarket and Peterborough.
These festivals will bring an opportunity to make contact with individual parishioners around the diocese and encourage everyone to be involved.
Speaking on Radio Suffolk, Jacinta said: “Today is World Day of the Poor which Pope Francis has designated as a special day for us to think about what we can do for the poor. Not just to pray for them but to do something for them.
“In Caritas East Anglia we are looking at where the Lord is working in our churches and our communities and discerning where the Holy Spirit may be leading us to share God’s love with others through our actions and through prayer.
“Social outreach is already happening across the diocese and there are many people working with the poor, the homeless and the marginalised – working in night shelters, visiting those who are isolated, working with ex-offenders for example.
"We are looking at where that is already happening, bringing people together and highlighting where people might get involved and serve. There is massive work which needs to be done with refugees, asylum-seekers for example,” said Jacinta.
“In this role my faith has already been strengthened by meeting people and seeing them interacting with those they are serving. They are not just making lunch for people, they are talking to people, they are walking with them and that is what we are called to do. Jesus walked with the poor and the marginalised and we need to follow his example and do what he did.”
You can find out more on the Caritas East Anglia website
Pictured top is Bishop Alan commissioning the Caritas East Anglia team and, above, serving lunch to one of the lunch guests from St Martin's Housing Trust. Pictures by Eldred Willey.
Click here or see below for a picture gallery of the Commissioning Mass and lunch.