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Diocese unites with Pope Francis on first World Day of the Poor

November 22, 2017

METUCHEN – In union with Pope Francis, more than 600 faithful of the Diocese of Metuchen gathered at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi to celebrate “Evening Prayer: In Solidarity with the Poor” on Sunday, Nov. 19.

Pope Francis instituted the new World Day of the Poor observation at the end of the 2015-16 Jubilee Year of Mercy and said it will take place annually on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, in preparation for the Feast of Christ the King.

The theme this year was “Love not in word but in deed.”

Bishop James F. Checchio presided over the evening liturgy, which he said was an occasion for the community to come together to reflect on how poverty is at the heart of the Gospel and an opportunity for those who work to aid, care for and comfort those in greatest need to be affirmed, inspired and sent forth with a renewed commitment to building a “culture of encounter” and bringing people together across differences with tenderness and solidarity.

Members of clergy, religious, Catholic parish and school communities were in attendance as well as representatives of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen and Saint Peter’s University Hospital.

Hundreds of liturgical musicians from around the diocese enhanced the liturgy, providing music that expressed the Church’s solidarity with the poor.

In a video message released two days prior to the prayer service, the bishop echoed Pope Francis’s desire that the annual World Day of the Poor observance serve as an invitation for people of faith and good will to do something to help those most in need.

“Our challenge is not just to remember the poor on this day, but to do something for the poor, too” Bishop Checchio said. “As beautiful as our Diocese is, and the four counties that we live in are, I’m told that 115,000 of our people may go to bed hungry tonight…that’s hard to believe! These are our neighbors, our loved ones.”

He continued, “So, as we approach Thanksgiving Day, let’s remember to give thanks to God for all of the blessings and the graces He has bestowed on us by making it a point to do something for the poor. There are many ways you can help. Consider all of the wonderful organizations and ministries that work to assist the poor right here in our diocese.”

During the liturgy, Bishop Checchio expressed his gratitude to all those who minister to the poor and pointed to some of the many people and organizations that provide assistance to residents in their local communities.

While not an exhaustive list, the bishop pointed to the following ongoing ministries that serve the poor in the Diocese of Metuchen, which is comprised of Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties:

Deacons’ Table: Approaching its 4th anniversary, the Deacons’ Table is funded and staffed by the permanent deacons of the diocese. They serve approximately 75 guests each week with a delicious dinner and hearty portion of fellowship.

Food Pantries: Food pantries across the diocese are staffed by volunteers and serve hundreds of families each month. A large percentage of their client base are considered “working poor.”

Catholic Charities Solidarity Team (CCST): In the Diocese of Metuchen, CCST was founded in response to our Gospel call to love God, neighbor and creation. The team works to reduce injustice and suffering facing the poor and the vulnerable around the world and here in our diocese. Members are currently supporting projects in Guatemala, Kenya, Lebanon and the Philippines. The Solidarity Team works in close relationship with Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Pregnancy Help Centers: Centers across the diocese work to help women facing unplanned pregnancies to choose life. Volunteers work to provide emotional, spiritual and material support for women and families in need.

Center for Great Expectations: The Center serves pregnant or parenting homeless women and their children to overcome, and break, the destructive generational cycle of trauma, abuse, homelessness and addiction.

Saint Peters’ University Hospital: The Catholic healthcare system headquartered in New Brunswick serves the healthcare needs of the poor, including a new opioid addiction program.

St. Vincent de Paul Societies and Parish and School Social Concerns Groups: These all volunteer organizations are dedicated to helping individuals and families in the local community through works of kindness and generosity such as holiday toy giveaways, financial assistance, winter coat distribution and much more.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen: Driven by Catholic social teaching, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen provides quality services with dignity and respect to the poor, vulnerable, and all people in need and partners with families and communities to improve the quality of life. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen serves all people in need, from all walks of life, all religions, and all economic levels.

Prison Ministries: Many in the diocese serve in the area of prison ministry, which seeks to address the spiritual needs of those who are incarcerated.

Catholic Schools: Catholic schools of the Diocese of Metuchen work hard to raise children out of poverty through education, the surest route out of poverty for the young.

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Caption (photo 1): Bishop James F. Checchio delivers the homily at the Nov. 19 Evening Prayer: In Solidarity with the Poor, the Diocese of Metuchen’s local observance of the first World Day of the Poor as proclaimed by Pope Francis. (Tara Smith, Diocese of Metuchen, photo)
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Caption (photo 2): Bishop James F. Checchio poses with representatives of Immacualta High School, Somerville, who attended the Nov. 19 Evening Prayer: In Solidarity with the Poor, the Diocese of Metuchen’s local observance of the first World Day of the Poor as proclaimed by Pope Francis. (Tara Smith, Diocese of Metuchen, photo)
View/download full size photo

 

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