Dear Brothers and Sisters

At a Service on New Year’s Eve in 2013, Pope Francis encouraged all those present (including himself!) to look back over the year and “courageously ask ourselves: ‘How did we live the life God gave us?’”.   And he went on to say that there are:  “So many people, marked by material and moral poverty, poor people, unhappy, suffering, who appeal to the conscience, not only of the public authorities but of every person”.

Human need is everywhere and we are invited to respond to it, however and whenever we can.   Sometimes a kind word or helping hand is enough.   However, there are other times when people need more professional help.

A significant development this year will be the establishment of Caritas Diocese of Hallam which will encompass all the social action projects in the Diocese. Caritas will be inaugurated on March 3rd and your priest will be asked to send representatives from your parish to this event.

The word Caritas means ‘charity’. It encapsulates Christian love for all mankind – a love expressed in social action.  Establishing Caritas Diocese of Hallam means that we become part of a national network seeking to strengthen and facilitate Catholic charitable activities, and to ensure that the voices of the poor and Catholic teaching are heard in guiding public policy.

The response to a questionnaire sent to all priests to assess the scope of social action in Hallam was 100% which was very encouraging and appreciated.  It is revealing to learn of the amount of good work that is being carried out. I never realised how much.

This weekend February 10 and 11 is the annual Diocesan Collection for Hallam Caring Services. In the Caring Services, which will be part of Caritas, we have a growing team of dedicated and competent professionals whose ministry encompasses all these issues and offer individual and group support to those who seek it.

One project I visited this year is Carmel Care in Hillsborough, which provides welcome, unconditional acceptance, nurture and growth for those experiencing social isolation, loneliness and addiction. Here is what one person said,

“Then I visited for the first time: as I went through the door, a warm welcome and a hot cup of tea at the table.  No questions asked. I was received as a family might receive a beloved guest. I felt genuinely valued, and I can say from the bottom of my heart that my life was changed that day.”

The most casual look at the Hallam Caring Services Annual Newsletter reveals the breadth of services that is offered to individuals, families and vulnerable people in our schools and parishes.  The newsletter is available on the Diocesan website or from your parish priest.

Hallam Caring Services depends on your generosity to maintain and develop their ministry.   Every penny of your money is used to support, strengthen and heal all those who seek their help.

I know you will be as generous as you can.

Yours sincerely in Christ, the Redeemer.

Bishop Ralph's Signature