Sunday 28 July is Caring Sunday in Aotearoa New Zealand when the archdiocese focuses on its services for the poor and marginalised.
The archdiocese supports many groups through its own agencies and helps to fund others. This month, Catholics around New Zealand focus on the ministries in the Church which care for people in many ways.
On Caring Sunday, Archbishop John Dew says, we come together to celebrate and support this work and raise awareness of how people can be involved in the future. ‘Being there for those in difficulty, for refugees and migrants, the poor and the lonely and for the victims and perpetrators of violence and abuse, is a non-negotiable requirement if we are to be faithful to our vocation to be at the service of the world.’
The archdiocese through its Catholic Social Services agency enacts our belief in the dignity of every human person and aims to help people regardless of their colour, creed or circumstance.
Operating largely on donations, social workers, community leaders and professional counsellors provide a wide range of services, from counselling for alcohol and drug problems, to suffering from grief, depression and sexual abuse.
CSS manager Lesley Hooper says the agency works with the vulnerable, many of whom can’t access these vital services elsewhere. ‘Our social workers support people with issues around accommodation, accessing the right benefits, needing someone to advocate for them, and helping to manage their budgets. Counsellors work with depression, grief, anxiety, self-esteem and anger management. We work with children who are dealing with parents separating, losing close family members, bullying at school and self-esteem issues. We aim to help people to function well and participate in the community.’
The archdiocese also supports the Wellington Night Shelter whose staff work daily with homeless men to improve their situation by providing a place to sleep, but also working with them to address the issue of why they are homeless.
Night shelter manager Mike Leon says winter is a particularly hard time of the year. ‘With an average of 20 new people seeking emergency accommodation each month, some of whom are rough-sleeping on the streets, the night shelter provides an immediate response.’
Staff help clients to rebuild life skills in preparation for moving back into permanent housing. The shelter also collaborates with local groups to help the men access programmes to improve their lives. Readers can support the work of the shelter through prayer and donations of cash or goods such as soaps, towels and blankets.
Organisations like Catholic Social Services and the Wellington Night Shelter are working together to enhance the well-being and dignity of the whole person by promoting societal change and social service. On Caring Sunday the archdiocese asks all Catholics to pray for and contribute to caring ministries. In parishes on 28 July parishioners will be invited to contribute to these works of outreach.
Mother Theresa said, ‘We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our homes to remedy this kind of poverty.’