"Little children, let us love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it" (1 John 3:18). It is with these words that Pope Francis starts his message for the first World Day of the Poor to be held November 19, 2017.
The Holy Father launched this initiative in the wake of the Year of Mercy. For mercy is not only a spiritual attitude; mercy must be lived in concrete situations, with concrete persons, for a concrete change.
For the Pius X Secular Institute Family, the proximity with the needy and the poor is not only a beautiful poetic expression; it is an every day reality for our mission sends us to "practice the apostolate, through works and (our) presence in the world, with the working-class, among the needy and the poor" (Constitution, article 1).
Poverty can be identified in so many faces. It is up to us to take the option to go out to encounter Jesus present in the poor. We must be creative to be close to those who suffer around us! By their commitment, the Pius X Secular Institute members have said "Yes to the needy and the poor"! Here are a few examples and witnessings.
Fin à la faim (End to Hunger) – Jacques Thibault & Colette Doré, associate members from the region of Montreal
In the actual economic context, more and more families are suffering and unable to make ends meet. The project End to Hunger came about in August 1994, when Jacques and Colette Thibault became aware of the great needs of families in their own neighbourhood. What started as a gesture of solidarity to help out a few families on a weekly basis became a charitable organization. The needs have become even greater. Throughout the years, the organization has grown to answer these needs and is recognized as a solid support for many poor families in the region of Lanaudière. Today, the team has more than 50 volunteers who all have at heart to be welcoming to the needy bringing them not only food but also love and dignity.
Colette Doré Thibault recently wrote: "End to Hunger is much more than a quick fix for food for the poor. Together, we allow less fortunate people to better their quality of life and to help them see light at the end of the tunnel. We know that life is not always easy for all; but it's up to us to help them see that they too can have a break. Our organization allows also young and old to become better persons through the giving of themselves and being available for others. The hard reality of certain situations of people we meet constantly asks us to let ourselves be touched with a listening ear. Together, it is possible to be sowers of hope!"
End to Hunger sprung in Colette and Jacques' life from a calling of Christ Himself who is poor. A simple gesture of sharing with a needy neighbour has today become an organization that reaches out to hundreds of people. As they started off, they were far from thinking that their act of love would become a charitable organization... but a small "Yes to the needy and the poor!" allowed the Providence to guide them to a wonderful mission of solidarity.
For more information on this concrete implication with the poor, please visit the web site www.finalafaim.org
The Autistic Person: A Treasure for our World! - Mrs Lucie Latour, associate member from the region of Quebec
Mrs Lucie Latour is involved in a community organization where she tries to explain autism to younger brothers or sisters, to parents and grandparents and sometimes even to persons who might doubt they are themselves autistic. That also brings her to classrooms where she explains to other students what autism is and why a student who lives with autism acts in such a way.
Her commitment on this path is not by chance. She is surrounded with autistic people in her life. She is the mother, the sister, the cousin and friend of autistic persons. "I have a double mission : to help the students and family members of an autistic person understand the situation and to help them welcome that person in is manner of being - autistic - and to love that person just as he/she is. And it's with great joy and passion that I do this work."
"God doesn't make 'scrap'; these autistic persons, children and adults, allow me to see the beauty that every person hides. And these parents and grandparents who love this child, different than what they had imagined, and who are called to accet this reality, the autism of their beloved child. I see the living Christ through these persons who die to themselves so as to be born to new values: a heart more welcoming of the difference that is seen, a love for life renewed by letting go of what others will think in our society, and the possibility of seeing what is essential in life and happiness in love. Yes, what a great mission to help these people better understand and above all to see the miracle of a heart being transformed! To give is not a chore or a duty, but great pleasure in a wonderful mission!"
An Entire Region Serving the Poor - The Region of Colombia
The Pius X Secular Institute has a presence in Colombia since 1968. It is a conscious choice that comes from an answer to Pope Paul VI's call to the Churches of the North to aid the Churches of the South. Pope Paul VI was himself a prophet of the poor. It is at that moment that the Pius X Secular Institute decided to take up the pilgrim's staff to go where the Pope himself was going: Colombia!
From the stard, the missionary team set up roots in the Alfonso López neighbourhood, a poor section of the city of Popayán. The presence of Canadian missionaries was a catalyst for the community to organize itself: construction of a church and community centre, setting up a daycare centre, prison ministry, developing a medical clinic, etc. The community has now taken responsibility for all these sectors and the Pius X Secular Institute continues to be a beacon for the men and women of the neighbourhood.
The Pius X Secular Institute's residence in Popayán is found in that same neighbourhood. The members of the region continue to have a presence organizing apostolic and social activities to touch the lives of the poor from this sector in Popayán. In their day to day activities, the Pius X Secular Institute continues to bring hope with microcredit loans, organizing flea markets to offer used goods to poorer families, a pastoral presence with the men and women who are too often rejected just by the fact they live in that neighbourhood. Through this concrete presence, the Gospel takes root in the lives of the people.
A Call to Everyone: The Poor Are Our Masters!
May the World Day of the Poor be the opportunity for each and everyone of us, especially the Pius X Secular Institute members to make ourselves close to the poor and the needy. May is also be an occasion to see that the poor are not just the subjects of a day in the year, but an everlasting commitment that we live on a daily basis. Let us dare a gesture to become close to our poorer brothers and sisters! As we approach the poor, may we meet the Poor - Jesus - who comes to encounter the poor that I am!