Pope Francis took the lead on World Day of the Poor, Sunday 17 November, hosting 1 500 homeless and needy people for lunch in the Vatican’s large audience hall. On the menu was lasagne, chicken in cream of mushroom sauce, potatoes, sweets, fruit, and coffee. The pope’s guests were brought to the Vatican by volunteers of charity groups who help them daily.
Throughout the preceding week, a mobile clinic was set up in St. Peter’s Square where volunteer doctors offered free specialist health care to poor people. General care is available year-round nearby, another of Francis’ initiatives. Earlier, at a Mass for Rome’s needy in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said those better off should not feel “annoyed” by the poor but help them as much as possible.
He said they should ask themselves: “Do I, a Christian, have at least one poor person as a friend?”
World Day of the Poor did not go unmarked here in South Africa. Among the activities at various conferences around the country:
- Our Lady of the Sacred heart, Midrand, turned 121 loaves into sandwiches for hungry people;
- At Lady of Peace in Roodepoort, 246 loaves of bread were distributed to orphanages in the area;
- In Pietermaritzburg, 150 loaves were used to feed 1350 people;
- La Rochelle combined efforts with Turffontein parish, taking to the streets of Johannesburg to distribute 3 000 sandwiches to old age home, informal settlements and parks where homeless people gather.
Thank you to everyone who got involved. We are so proud of what we, as a society, are able to achieve. Well done, Vincentians!