On Saturday 5th November a fruitful initial formation day for the inauguration of Caritas, Southwark took place in Amigo Hall, next to St George’s Cathedral. It brought together over a hundred parish representatives from the Southeast, Southwest, Kent and an online group from every part of the Diocese. We also welcomed non-parish-based representatives from different charities. Canon Victor Darlington, who will be directing the new agency, offers his thoughts below.
Caritas means love.
At the heart of the gospel message, is our calling to love one another, as Christ loves us. This love is meant to go beyond words and our spirituality into concrete actions that make a change in the community. It is meant to be transformative and life-giving. This is what Caritas Southwark sets to achieve. It is not going to be a body that seeks to take over charities in our parishes, but to be that umbrella that coordinates all the various charities in our parishes and offers support when required.
The headquarters of Caritas is based in Rome, and some dioceses such as Westminster, Clifton and Brentwood already have their own branch. Archbishop John Wilson intends to inaugurate our Caritas, Southwark in Lent 2023.
In the gospel, we know the story of the good samaritan when the outcast, came forward to support someone in need. The good Samaritan took the stranger he has never met before as his neighbour, as the one to reach out to. As the one to show love to. As the one to be Caritas towards.
We also know that at the last judgment Jesus is going to judge us on how we were able to support those on the margins: the hungry, those thirsty, those in prison, and those lonely. Our Catholic Social teaching always invites us to take our charitable actions outside our home, into the community. While we must always begin on the grassroots level, looking after those in our local parishes, we must move forward to support and make partnerships with other agencies to ensure that we give a voice to the voiceless and those in need.
In the Archbishop's Letter to all parishes, he has invited everyone in his diocese to be a part of this vision of making Caritas a reality in our diocese. We have had a formation day and heard from parishes across Southwark.
Using the Caritas Analysis model in various groups, we examined the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of the various charities within our Archdiocese. Together we used the method of seeing, judging and then making a decision to take some key actions forward as a roadmap for the future.
We rely on our dear Lord to be able to succeed and in your prayers and support. All of us in the Archdiocese are a part of the Caritas Family. Please pray for this new initiative in Southwark, which is at a very early stage, and for the discernment of those involved in taking the project forward.