Let’s work to assist those in great need

| November 23, 2011
Archbishop Nienstedt

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt

The Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul is sponsored by our local Catholic Charities and has always prided itself in offering shelter to anyone need­ing a place to sleep for the night.

Unfortu­nate­­ly, that capacity ended this past August, when the number of homeless people seeking assistance outgrew the space available. For the first time ever, people were turned away at the doors. This is another clear sign of the impact that this slumping economy is having on the lives of hundreds of people.

The U.S. Cen­sus Bureau reports that the number of Americans living in poverty rose by more than 2.6 million in 2010 to an all-time high of 46.2 million people. We are told that 1 in 15 Americans now live below the poverty line.

The poverty rate among children rose to 22 percent, while the poverty rate among households headed by females swelled to 40.7 percent. At the same time, poverty among Hispanics is growing at a faster rate than any other group, with statistics showing 13.2 million people, comprising 26.6 percent of all Hispanics living here in the United States, fall below the poverty line.

In addition, the number of people without health insurance has risen to 16.3 percent, while the number of workers with employee-paid health insurance declined to 55.3 percent.

The picture is indeed bleak, with little relief in sight. The political stalemate in Washington, D.C., is surely a big part of the problem, but government alone should not be expected to resolve such an enormous challenge. We are all responsible for the common good. Institutions as well as individuals need to find ways to respond to the current situation.

I encourage our parishes to find ways to do so by bonding with another parish from an economically challenged area of the archdiocese.

Particularly as we approach this holiday celebration of Thanksgiving, I urge all of us to reflect carefully on the abundance of blessings we have received and consider how we can translate our gratitude into concrete actions.

Generous people

I know the great generosity of our Catholic people in this archdiocese.  When we and other areas of the country were hit by tornados, faithful Catholics gave $219,592.74 for the relief efforts. Fifty percent was sent to the USCCB to help other communities, and 50 percent was sent to our own archdiocesan Catholic Charities for local assistance.

In response to the terrible drought and refugee situation in East Africa, again our Catholic people donated $305,869.24 for relief efforts — all of which was sent to Catholic Relief Services. Such generosity, I have come to learn, is characteristic of Catholics in this archdiocese.

No single factor has created the present financial crisis that has left so many Americans impoverished. But it can be said that this situation has resulted in part from a culture of “not living within our means.”  Rather than curse the darkness, we need to work together to find the light. Together we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Together we should reach out to assist those who are in great need, right here at home.

God bless you!

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Category: Only Jesus

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