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More than just food for thought: first World Day of the Poor this weekend

By Cian Molloy - 17 November, 2017

This Sunday sees the Church celebrate its first annual World Day of the Poor, which is being marked across the globe following a request made by Pope Francis at the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy in June this year.

The Pope said the aim of the observance is “so that throughout the world, Christian communities can be an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need”.

In Rome on Sunday, about 4,000 poor and needy people, accompanied by volunteers from Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Poland, will take part in a Mass celebrated by the Pontiff. Afterwards, 1,500 will be invited to lunch in the Paul VI Hall, adjacent to St Peter’s Square, while the other 2,500 guests will be taken to lunch in some of the Catholic colleges, seminaries and charitable organisations located near the Vatican.

For those dining in the Paul VI Hall, on the three-course menu is a meal of gnocchi (a type of dumpling) with tomato sauce, then  a stew of veal and vegetables followed by a desert of tiramisu and coffee, all prepared by the Pope’s own chef Sergio Dussin. The Vatican police band and a children’s choir will also be in attendance to provide background music.

In Dublin too, there is a focus on food for the World Day of the Poor. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has sent a message to his parishes saying it is ‘an opportune moment” to highlight the Crosscare Parish Food Appeal, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd December.

Crosscare is the social services arm of the Dublin Archdiocese and it operates food banks in seven locations within the diocese: Brackenstown, Darndale, Glasnevin, Blanchardstown, Dundrum, Jobstown and Dun Laoghaire.  As well as providing needy individuals and families with essential, but basic food items, this service also provides people with basic hygiene and sanitary products.

“This year we are asking that parish food appeal collections be held on one weekend only,” says the Archbishops message. “This will allow us to distribute hampers in good time for Christmas to hundreds of families.”

Additionally, Crosscare has identified the items that are most needed and wanted at this time of year and that it would like parishioners to donate.  These items include, shampoo & hygiene products; soups; tinned meats; seasonal biscuits and cleaning products.

To reduce Crosscare’s administrative burden, parishes are asked to consider organising for the delivery of items that they have collected to one of the seven foodbank locations.

Commenting on World Day of the Poor, Mgr Geno Sylva of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation told Vatican Radio, “We are all poor in some way and everybody’s got something to give, something to offer and this day can serve to open our minds and hearts, our attitudes towards the poverty that exists every day of the year.”

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