Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, today is the World Day for the Poor. In his message for today, the Holy Father Pope Francis returned to perhaps the most dominant theme of his pontificate: helping the poor and weakest. Speaking about this year’s theme, “Stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32), the Holy Father asked us to think about what we can do to eliminate or lessen the suffering and marginalization of the poor. Likewise, he asked us to consider how we can assist them with their spiritual needs.

On August 19, 2020, Pope Francis delivered a striking general audience address, in which he reiterated that this has nothing to do with politics and ideology, but is a central pillar of the Gospel, since Jesus made himself poor in order to enrich us:

“Christ Himself, Who is God, despoiled Himself, making Himself similar to men; and he chose not a life of privilege, but he chose the condition of a servant (cf. Phil 2:6-7). He annihilated Himself by making Himself a servant. He was born into a humble family and worked as a craftsman. At the beginning of His preaching, He announced that in the Kingdom of God the poor are blessed (cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20; EG, 197). He stood among the sick, the poor, the excluded, showing them God’s merciful love (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2444). And many times He was judged an impure man because He went to the sick, to lepers… and this made people impure, according to the law of the age. And He took risks to be near to the poor.”

It is our duty and privilege therefore to be close to the poor, to help them as best we can, and to allow them to experience the love that the Lord Jesus has for them. In this way through our giving, we become that little bit poorer ourselves, thus imitating the perfect condition of the Divine Servant.

In today’s message, Pope Francis reminds us of our call to reach out our own hands to the outstretched hands of those in need. He tells us that, “A hand held out is a sign; a sign that immediately speaks of closeness, solidarity and love. In these months, when the whole world was prey to a virus that brought pain and death, despair and bewilderment, how many outstretched hands have we seen!”

The flooding in Kotapdu

In this context, I wish to make an appeal for a dear friend, Father Nirmal Daram. Fr. Daram is the parish priest of Kotapdu, a very poor parish in the diocese of Vijayawada, India. The parish is so poor that there is no Church building. Mass is celebrated outside. Father also looks after many orphans and educates them. Recently, terrible storms left the entire area submerged and the coronavirus has also ravaged the area.

It is Father’s dream to build a Church, and to be able to support those entrusted to his care, especially with good quality education for those beloved children who have suffered much in their young lives.

Celebrating Mass outdoors; they have no church building.

This seems to me a wonderful opportunity to help a local Church that is growing each day, and that lives its Christianity with joy and humility even in the midst of great suffering and poverty. Therefore I ask for the generosity of readers of Where Peter Is. We know Pope Francis loves the poor and continually asks us to reach out to them, so I know Fr. Daram would be deeply grateful if readers of this wonderful site took the Holy Father’s words to heart. Father estimates £12,000 ($15,000 USD) will allow him to see his vision for the parish come true. May the Holy Spirit guide his project and bring it to fruition!

Here is the link to the fundraising page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/buildaCatholicChurch

Images provided by the author

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Stephen Walford, a married father of five living in Southampton, on the south coast of Great Britain, is a Catholic author who combines teaching piano with writing theological works ranging from Catholic eschatology and Mariology to the papacy, notably the vision of Pope Francis. His most recent book, Pope Francis, the Family, and Divorce: In Defense of Truth and Mercy, contains a preface by Pope Francis, and is also endorsed by various members of the Vatican Curia, including Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, chair of the 'C9' Council of Cardinals, and Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. His writings have also appeared in L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican Insider and National Catholic Reporter.

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