A Rich Heart for the Poor
STORIES OF COURAGE AND COMPASSION
I came a day earlier from my annual retreat due to a funeral in the parish towards the end of March 2020 and was taken aback to see the entire market and shops closed; there were many policemen on the national highway at Kashimira. That was the last Mass that I celebrated with people; from that evening, the lockdown began.
St Jerome Church, Kashimira is on a hillock adjoining the national highway. As we come down from the church, we would see many hawkers selling vegetables, fish, fruits, flowers, snacks, clothes etc. These temporary shops were destroyed by the policemen and Municipal workers during the lockdown period, so that people would not gather there. These hawkers lost their daily livelihood. Some of them had nothing in the house to eat. With God's grace, the Church had collected love offering during the Lenten Zonal Masses. I formed a ‘Reaching out Committee’ of seven people, and distributed this Lenten love offering among these poor people.
I received a call from one of our parishioners that the Aged Home was in need of certain things; this was sent to them with the help of other parishioners. Some of our Committee members distributed rations to 175 poor families over two days. A few children were helped to purchase school textbooks and notebooks. Some poor families were given medical help by the church.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul members stood firmly in support of the poor people and with their adopted families. The members were looking after the poor sick people, and giving them all sorts of medical help and admitting them to hospital if required. SVP members also distributed the ration to the poor families and to the adopted families.
St Ann's Hospital Sisters went to the slum area to distribute ration to the poor families, and St Jerome Convent High School also distributed ration to the poor. Four of our parishioners distributed ration privately in their areas and also in the Mission area. A few parishioners, together with some politicians, distributed cooked food and ration to poor people.
I have experienced the generosity of our parishioners during this pandemic. Many people came forward to help and support me. A few people gave donations to buy the rations for the poor families. They have loving and generous hearts for the poor. They love the poor and care for them. I bless them and pray for them.
Fr Marshal Lopes
Parish Priest St Jerome Church, Kashimira