On Nov. 13, World Day of the Poor, the Shalom Catholic Community responded to the Church’s call and dedicated itself even more intensively to the most needy in our society.
“He who has found a friend has found a treasure”, says the word of God. It is appropriate to apply this reality of friendship to the relationship between the Shalom Community and the poor. This reality does not exclude assisting their needs, helping their health and improving their living situation. It includes all of this, but it also goes beyond it. It involves reciprocity, caring, listening, sharing what one has to give.
There are several testimonies of lived experiences on the World Day of the Poor, which took place on November 13. The Shalom Community’s missions around the world became even more dedicated to our poor friends, responding to the Church’s call.
New York (USA)
The missionaries of the Shalom Community and prayer group members dedicated themselves to preparing a special day for our dear friends: the poor. Service groups were set up for food, kit distribution, hospitality and music. The core of the organization even consisted of a volunteer who had already experienced homelessness.
Weeks before the work of the organization had begun, hygiene materials, winter clothing and gifts had been prepared for distribution, in addition to invitations personally delivered to the individuals in need.
On the 13th, the central point of activities was St. Damien’s Church, and there also were three other distribution points. Many volunteers engaged in the service, and passersby were also attracted by the hospitality offered. About 300 meals were served, 150 articles of winter clothes were distributed, and hygiene materials were provided by the mission.
Shalom Mission in the Eternal City opened the doors of the San Lorenzo International Center for a fruitful service: to encounter young people and the poor. The proposal of the event was not only to offer relief of the basic needs of our street brothers and sisters, but to cultivate true friendship as well. The youth invited and served the individuals in need and shared their life stories through the valuable service of attentiveness and listening.
Praia, Santiago Island (Cape Verde)
The Shalom Catholic Community of Cape Verde offered its members and residents of the Palmarejo Grande Valley area, on the outskirts of the city of Praia, an experience of joy, fellowship, prayer and celebration of life.
Throughout the day, the Community’s missionaries, together with volunteers from the health area and residents from other areas of Praia city, organized recreational activities, moments of prayer, care, and outreach work among the local people.
The missionaries point out that the highlight of the event was the Holy Mass, presided over by Father Irineu Correia, the local parish priest. According to Jenifer Nunes, head of the Shalom Community in Cape Verde, the large participation of residents during the Mass was an important indication of the success of the work. Nunes commented that it was “very rewarding to find so many adults and children who we had visited, or who had participated in some of our activities, coming back at the end of the day to celebrate the Eucharist with us.”
The closeness and sense of family throughout the event was striking. For Domingas Sanches, catechist at Palmarejo Valley, this day was very important to let them know that they are not alone. Nurse volunteers from the Youth Clinic contributed to this outreach and screening for hypertension and diabetes throughout the area. According to nurse Maria de Lourdes da Silva, by receiving professionals at home, people feel more comfortable sharing their true state of health and it is helpful being able to provide help to the elderly or people with reduced mobility.
To join this new family, Paiol na Praia area catechist Toni Tavares attended the event with his entire catechism class. Among the fifteen young catechists, Clenice da Veiga said that the most beautiful thing about this experience, in addition to the many games played with the children of this area, was being able to listen to the testimony of the missionaries and discover that it is possible to hear the voice of God speaking to herself and the other catechists.
Again demonstrating the importance of personal witness, Fazenda da Esperança also joined the new family, sending four of its members to work to raise awareness against the use of alcohol and drugs.
The Community shares that, through the various types of collaboration, 32 people received assistance from the nursing team, about 25 children received hygienic care, more than 100 people participated in the community lunch, there were many areas visited by the door-to-door evangelization team, and more than 50 children were involved in recreational and prayer activities.
However, in the end, the greatest aspect of the event was, without a shadow of a doubt, the certainty that we are all one family, all poor before God and called to live in communion.
On the occasion of World Day of the Poor, the Shalom Mission in Switzerland organized a charity dinner for the neediest missions, particularly those in Mozambique and Madagascar, and in Brazil the “Schools of Peace” project, located on the island of Marajó in the Amazon region.
The environment at the dinner, along with the missionaries’ shared experiences, fostered a sense of true brotherhood, which not even distance could prevent. Instead, a sense of unity arose from the sharing of material and spiritual gifts, thus concretizing a bond of charity and hope.