With Thanksgiving almost here and the start of Advent and the Year of Mercy nearly upon us, I wish to take a few moments to recognize just a few examples of goodness being spread throughout the world by the Catholic Church today. Too often such acts go unrecognized or simply overlooked in the glut of news and information.
The Knights of Columbus recently donated $500,000 to Catholic Relief Services to support the Jordanian Catholic Church’s schooling of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in that country. The gift will support the expansion of programs in 18 Jordanian Catholic schools that provide refugees with a safe space to learn, heal from trauma and regain a semblance of childhood, while catching up to their grade level after years out of school.
In addition, a special collection taken in Catholic churches around the U.S. earlier this year has raised nearly $8.1 million. The remitted funds have already been distributed to Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs facing the people in Iraq, Gaza, Syria and surrounding countries where refugees are fled. These organizations have well-established partnerships with the Catholic Church in the region that allow them to respond quickly and efficiently to victims in some of the hardest to reach areas. Funds from this collection are also being used to support Church programs to aid persecuted Christians and to respond to the rebuilding needs of Catholic dioceses in the impacted areas.
Here in Baltimore, the Knights of Columbus are also donating over 1,000 new coats. I will join my brother Knights in giving out the coats on November 30th to children in need in Baltimore City, including Sandtown-Winchester, the epicenter of the unrest earlier this year, and to families from other parts of the City. I pray these coats will be not only a source of warmth this winter but a reminder that all of us are loved by God and deserving of his warm embrace.
May these few acts remind us of all the good being done on behalf of our Church, and may they inspire each of us to serve others as Pope Francis intended in the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy.