Joy is Being Franciscan in Service to the Poor and the Needy
STORIES OF COURAGE AND COMPASSION
The ongoing lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of some of the most vulnerable people across the country, such as migrant workers, daily wage labourers, rag-pickers, beggars, the poor and the homeless people on our streets. It was necessary to cushion the impact of the crisis on these sections and to ensure their access to daily essentials. This was a God-given opportunity to serve and to live out the motto "NO ONE IN WANT". The poor and the migrants who came to us were facing challenges under conditions of lockdown - the worries of the migrants to reach their native places, daily wage labourers had no work and no income, while others had the fear of loss of job or salary being deducted or not being paid.
We at the parish gave our time to listen to them and tried to reach out to NGOs for further help. We contacted the Centre for Social Action and sought solutions to their difficulties. During this crisis, the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel and Shrine of St Anthony at Sion reached out and supported the homeless people with cooked food, water, safety kit and dry ration at four different stages of the lockdown period. We must appreciate our volunteers of the Order of Franciscan Secular (OFS) who came to serve meals for the poor and the needy, in spite of the lockdown; around 200 people were served food daily. The foodgrains were given to all those in need, irrespective of religion.
Our Small Christian Communities (SCCs) within the parish have reached out to many in their own areas to live out the motto of the Archdiocese for the Small Christian Communities - "NO ONE IN WANT." Our Senior citizens were attended to with great care and affection, and those living alone were supported by their neighbours in purchasing of groceries, medicines, fruits and vegetables. The families that suffered the death of a loved one during this trying time were assisted with the funeral arrangements and given emotional support. A community came together online to celebrate a Golden Wedding, since the immediate family of the couple were abroad, and could not be present in person.
The daily exchange with our volunteers, members of our priest community and Secular Franciscans gave us an opportunity to know the importance of our Franciscan commitment, blending in hope and vision within the communities we work.
Our parish youth helped us bring out a wonderful documentary of the work done by the Franciscans in the Archdiocese of Bombay—‘Joy is being Franciscan’—which was released on YouTube.
As we go through this pandemic, we try to do our best for those in danger around us. Our voice must support and facilitate a vision beyond this crisis – a vision where our social systems can actively eradicate the conditions that have led to various diseases that develop and explode in the context of climate change and poverty. We pray, through the intercession of St Anthony, that an effective vaccine may be speedily found.
Fr Basil Lobo OFM