World Day of the Poor – 17 November 2019

“I ask all Christian communities, and all those who feel impelled to offer hope and consolation to the poor, to help ensure that this World Day of the Poor will encourage more and more people to cooperate effectively so that no one will feel deprived of closeness and solidarity.”     
Pope Francis

In his message for the third World Day of the Poor, celebrated on 17 November 2019, Pope Francis reminds us that “the poor are not numbers, but people”, to be assisted, accompanied, protected, defended and saved. He recalled that this is not possible without the humility of listening, the charism of the whole, the courage of renunciation. He reminded us that to “follow the way of charity, of humility and of listening means lending an ear to the little ones”, because God reveals himself through them. And he asked us not to look down on anyone from above. “You can only look down at a person from above,” he insisted, “in order to help them get up”.

The World Day of the Poor is central to Pope Francis’ mission on social action and an expression of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). It is therefore an annual Call to Action for Caritas organisations.

Caritas Plymouth organised a conference on poverty on 12 October to look at the causes and impact of poverty in advance of the World Day of the Poor. The CST principle of participation was at the heart of the day so we had testimonies from people with lived experience and discussion groups looking at how we could put people living in poverty at the heart of the church. The conference also looked at what we could learn from charities and ecumenical organisations such as the Trussell Trust and Church Action on Poverty.

Some of the action points from the event are:

  • To provide more resources to parishes signposting professional services and volunteer support so people feel empowered to help. Caritas Plymouth is working with St Petroc’s on guidance for engagement with homeless persons. Caritas Plymouth will also be putting the results of the mapping exercise on the website (hopefully in the form of an interactive map) so it will be possible to see what initiatives are available in a parish.
  • To raise the profile of foodbank collections to turn it into a true partnership between the people in need and parishioners.
  • To celebrate the importance of encounter. Jean Vanier, the Founder of L’Arche, said that ‘it is important not to do things for people who are poor and in distress but to enter into a relationship with them, to be with them and help them find confidence in themselves and discover their own gifts.’ 

It is hoped that this event will lead to more imaginative ways of marking the World Day of the Poor this year. Some examples include:

  • Making the foodbank collection part of the Offertory and engaging in an on-going dialogue with the local food bank to find out what they need, for example, this may not always be supplies but administrative help.
  • Listening to the stories of the poor and vulnerable. If this does not happen naturally in the parish then testimonies are available through Caritas Plymouth or CSAN.
  • Talking about where the need is in the parish and how to support it.
  • Talking about this year’s logo – what is signifies and how the parish could respond.

The logo, a poster and a prayer card are also available through CSAN, as above. 

Caritas Plymouth is available to help on 01364 645360 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The full message from Pope Francis is available at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/poveri/documents/papa-francesco_20190613_messaggio-iii-giornatamondiale-poveri-2019.html

Watch the Caritas event

Click on the player below to watch the presentations fron our November 2019 World day of the Poor event 

Download the presentations from the Caritas event 

Pope Francis' Message - Father John Deeny     Download 
Translating principles into action - Heather Buckingham, Trussel Trust   Download
Supporting & engaging challenges - Lisa Howard, Plymouth Food Equality Project    Download
Church Action on Poverty - Niall Cooper   Download

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