By Sarah Mac Donald - 17 December, 2013
Two thousand envelopes containing telephone calling cards, metro subway tickets and signed Christmas cards from the Pope are being given out among the poor of Rome as a Christmas present from the Pontiff.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, and the Missionaries of Charity are targeting locations around the Italian capital where some of the poorest and most marginalised of the city can be found.
The envelopes, which will be delivered by Archbishop Krajewski on behalf of the Pope, are franked with Vatican stamps.
This allows those who receive one to use its contents simply by adding an address. Each envelop contains the Pope’s signed Christmas greeting card, telephone cards and day tickets for the Metro.
The directorate of ATAC, the Municipal Agency for Transport in Rome, has offered 4,000 day tickets for the Metro, while Vatican Post has offered the stamps, and the envelopes were donated by the Vatican Typography.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, the annual sit out by the Black Santa at St Ann’s Church on Dawson Street in Dublin begins on Wednesday (18 December at 2pm).
The Christmas charity appeal will be launched by the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson and the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisín Quinn. The children’s choir of the Kildare Place School will provide festive songs for the occasion.
The annual sit out continues right up until Christmas Eve. The Vicar of St Ann’s, the Rev David Gillespie, joined by clerical colleagues from around the diocese, will remain outside the city centre church from 10am until 6pm each day collecting money for a number of charities.
They will be joined by different choirs each lunchtime including the choirs of Castleknock National School, St James’s Primary School, Taney Primary School, Catholic University School, John Scottus School, Loreto College, the Seafield Singers and the ICA Choir.
The Black Santa sit out is modeled on a similar appeal which has been run by successive Deans of St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast for many years. It became known as the Black Santa appeal because of the long heavy black cloaks worn by the clergy to keep out the cold.
The money collected this year will be distributed to St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, the Dublin Simon Community, Protestant Aid, Trust and the Church of Ireland Overseas Aid (Bishops’ Appeal).
“We’re looking forward once again to witnessing the generosity of the people of Dublin and we urge them to support us this year as generously as they have done in the past. I want to assure people that every cent that is donated goes directly to the charities concerned. There is no administration cost whatsoever,” the Rev David Gillespie said.