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Charity in action

 

This Sunday will see the final round of Caritas fund-raising bazaars in Shatin, Tuen Mun and Cheung Chau. The bazaars, held in another three districts over the past two Sundays, gathered thousands of people together on organising committees, as well as voluntary workers from various parishes and Church-run schools, attracting tens of thousands of visitors.

After returning to Hong Kong from the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelisation in the Vatican, John Cardinal Tong Hon opened the fund-raising bazaars on November 4. He encouraged people to continue to connect with each other through their love, uniting their strength through kindness, in order to pave the way for a concerted effort to benefit the community.

He added that Caritas has helped many people walk through different stages of their lives and the bazaars have become a well-established event, demonstrating the endless, positive energy of the give-and-take dynamic in society.

Turning charity into action is actually the message of the two most recent major events of the universal Church. This year, October 11 marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II and the inauguration of the Year of Faith by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Year of Faith is intended to urge us to reflect on our lives, look into the way we live our faith and enter into a new conversation on living as a witness to Christ. Jesus, whose love has continued to inspire people over 2,000 years.

He also entrusted the Church to us. The Year of Faith is a special invitation urging people to practice their faith through concrete love of neighbour, active commitment and participation in Church life.

Caritas is a social service organisation run by the local Church and has been serving people since 1953. For nearly 60 years it has been joining hands with local people, regardless of race or creed in facing the difficulties the territory has encountered, especially among the poor, newly-arrived immigrants and ethnic minorities.

Caritas currently provides a diversity of services at over 140 locations in Hong Kong. Its annual budget for recurrent expenditure runs to $1.5 billion. Apart from government funding and contributions from the Community Chest, it relies largely on donations from people in different walks of life. One of its major fund-raising events is the annual bazaars.

Every year, the bazaars mobilise over 10,000 volunteer workers from Caritas organisations, parishes and Catholic schools. This long-running event has become an annual outreach for these people. From the perspective of education and evangelisation, the bazaars have truly made an impact in the areas of solidarity among people and mutual care.

Through the preparation work and participation, the bazaars have become schools of charity, which enable people of good will to contribute their labour to the care of others. This is a two-way process, benefiting both those who give and those who receive, while enhancing interpersonal communion and fostering tolerance and acceptance of different opinions. These are essential elements to community growth.

Caritas runs under the banner of Love in the service of hope. This act of charity, which is never out-dated, is a personal invitation to every member of society. SE