As Christians around the world celebrate Holy Week and look forward to the promise of Easter and the Resurrection of Christ, we remember that almsgiving has always been part of our Lenten observance.
In these trying times, Canadians are feeling uncertain about the economic future. However, as we face our individual challenges, we should remember that many people in poorer countries cannot even meet their basic needs. Many of them lack such essentials as medical facilities, medicines, food, clean water and sanitation. In many cases, they do not have the luxury of self-isolation and physical distancing due to overcrowded conditions. They are the one who truly shudder at the prospect of COVID-19 spreading.
As the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada, Development and Peace — Caritas Canada serves these less privileged sisters and brothers in the Global South. Last year alone, the organization supported 149 projects serving 16.8 million people in 36 countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. By promoting justice, these projects help communities rediscover dignity and strength together and work to spring themselves from the trap of poverty. The partners who run these projects rely on the solidarity of Canadians.
Traditionally, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent and onwards, we encourage people to donate to help sustain Development and Peace’s global community development and humanitarian work. This year, even as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the need for Canadian Catholics’ support, it disrupted the annual Share Lent campaign.
This year’s Solidarity Sunday Mass was therefore held virtually from the Saint Mary’s Cathedral Basilica on March 29, 2020. In his reflection, the Most Rev. Brian Dunn, Archbishop Coadjutor of Halifax-Yarmouth addressed our worst fears during this crisis and spoke of the unprecedented convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. He also urged the faithful to be Christ’s instruments and enjoined them to remember Christ’s promise to all believers, “I go before you always.” A human response to this promise is evident in Development and Peace’s partnerships, which involve accompanying and “walking with” the needy instead of “leading” them.
Sr. Jean Bellini, one of Development and Peace’s partners, explained in a recent webinar, that this is Development and Peace’s chosen manner of “being with” Brazilian Indigenous and traditional peoples who are threatened by deforestation, mining exploitation and climate change.
We continue to thank those who tirelessly support Development and Peace and stand by its vision of accompanying the poor. We also offer a special “thank you” to all at the frontline of fighting the pandemic—healthcare providers, those delivering essential services and caregivers.
Those who are able to respond to a call for solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need in the Global South are urged to donate online or by calling 1 888 664-3387.
* Photo by Ann Baekken under Creative Commons license.