You have heard the cry of the poor and risen to the challenge of responding to it, both at home and abroad”, the people of Hull should be rightly proud of themselves!
This accolade was given by Jacquie Heaney, CAFOD’s Director of Organisational Development and People at the end of a service held at St Charles Borromeo Church in Hull, on the feast of Christ the King, to mark 50 years since CAFOD was established by the Catholic Bishops on the eve of the Second Vatican Council in 1962.
Canon Michael Loughlin opened the proceedings by warmly welcoming Bishop Terence Drainey and Bishop Richard Frith, Jackie Heaney and representatives of diocesan groups, the Union of Catholic Mothers, the Catholic Women’s League, the Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Catenians, Emmaus, the Catholic Women’s Luncheon Club and on this Youth Sunday, we welcome children from our primary and secondary schools as the feast is also National Youth Sunday.
He welcomed civic leader, Councillor Danny Brown, the Lord Mayor of Hull and his consort and members of Hull Churches Together and Hull Interfaith Group and priest and parishioners from Hull parishes.
Mrs Norah Hanson then lit the server candle of the Menorah, which was on loan from Anlaby synagogue. The church lights were dimmed as young Naomi, sang out in the darkness.
Very fittingly young people featured prominently in the service leading the singing, while pupils from St Mary’s College supported by Hannah Stevenson, the school chaplain, led a very thought-provoking Examination of Conscience after lighting the remaining Menorah candles.
Bishop Richard then read the Opening prayer, acknowledging the many ways in which the people of Hull reach out to others in need locally, as well as supporting CAFOD and Christian Aid. Mrs Teresa Ulyatt read from Archbishop Oscar Romero’s daily meditations before children from St Richard’s Primary School performed a liturgical dance to The Lord hears the cry of the poor, beautifully sung by Mrs Rosa Bate.
Following the reading from Luke’s Gospel, Bishop Terry gave a very thought provoking homily, opening with the words spoken by Jesus in the synagogue;
‘The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour’
He framed the rest of his homily using the words from a verse from the hymn; O Lord all the world belongs to you.
“The world wants the wealth to live in state,
but you show us a new way to be great;
like a servant you came,
and if we do the same
we’ll be turning the world upside.”
I suspect that if you went into school and asked the students what they would most like to be when they left school, the majority would say something like, “a pop-star, a celebrity, rich, important, influential.” I doubt that anyone would declare that when they grew up they would like to be a servant, a slave, small, unimportant, one who suffers, a sacrifice for others or one of God’s poor.
The poor have always had a very important place in God’s plan. Those, whom the world thinks as the lowest of the low and on the outside of things, often end up being the most important and at the centre of everything. We have just finished reading the Gospel of St Mark throughout the whole of this last year and this is one of his most important messages; those who should know what is going on are often the most confused, e.g. the apostles and the official followers of Jesus; and those who are, to all intents and purposes, blind, ignorant or powerless, are the very ones who see clearly, understand perfectly and are treated with great respect in the gospels by Jesus. For example, we see this in the poor widow who only put a few coppers into the treasury, Jesus holds her up as a perfect example of what his followers should do. The blind man, Bartimaeus, recognises Jesus for who he really is, the Son of David, the Messiah; whereas the disciples struggle to make sense of it all.
Maria Hutchinson, a former Head Teacher and a CAFOD education volunteer, next presented pieces of artwork prepared by children from all the Catholic primary schools in Hull, highlighting the many ways in which they support CAFOD and invited the congregation to view them following the service.
Jacquie Heaney, shared some of her experiences on a recent visit to CAFOD funded projects in Kenya and extended thanks to all present from a CAFOD partner she had met there.
Both Bishops then led the closing prayer before a rousing rendition of the closing hymn, ‘Christ be our Light’ which was still being hummed as people left the church!
Our special thanks go to the wonderful organising group – you know who you are; also to Mrs Gabrielle Awre and Mr John Murray who provided the musical accompaniment throughout the service and to all who came along to share in a truly fitting event – led by people of faith of all ages!