As we conclude the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, we do so right before we celebrate our great national day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a fitting time to reflect upon the gratitude we share in our hearts to God for His merciful love for each and every one of us. It is also a time for us to reflect upon how we show that merciful love to our families, our friends and to others. The mission of Catholic Charities offers us a wonderful opportunity to consider how we extend the love of God to others, especially those who are vulnerable and in need. We are blessed in the Diocese of Palm Beach with a wonderful Catholic Charities ministry which continues to grow and to reach out in every way possible to make God's merciful love present in a concrete manner.
Pope Francis is a living example of charity in action. By his manner of life and his preaching of the Gospel, he makes clear that charity is not a matter of going beyond what love expects of us. It is easy to understand charity as something that is extra – more than necessary. Charity is the same as love. Love does not have boundaries and certainly the reaching out and care of the vulnerable and those in need is the most concrete manifestation of true love. The vulnerable have a right to the basic necessities of life. When we provide these necessities to the vulnerable, especially in a loving Christian manner, we are not reaching down to those who are not entitled to them, but actually reaching out to those who have a legitimate right to them. That is why the mission of Catholic Charities in our Diocese is essential to what we are all about as followers of Jesus Christ. As we give thanks to God at this time of year for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us, we give thanks to God that we are privileged to share in assisting those in need.
Pope Francis often speaks of three simple words which are essential to every aspect of life – please, thank you and sorry. These three words are very important ones at Thanksgiving and also very important in terms of the mission of Catholic Charities. The Pope expresses how these words are essential to relationships with God and each other. At Thanksgiving, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Palm Beach certainly expresses these words to all of you.
Please – Catholic Charities continues to ask for your generosity in supporting its mission. The needs which it meets, from the unborn child in a mother's womb to the elderly and infirm among us, require care and love so that every person, made in the image and likeness of God, feels welcome and respected. Catholic Charities asks you to please love by being open to the suffering and needs of others through awareness, prayer and support. This support also includes material needs and financial resources. This is quite obvious not only for those who are in financial need but also in spiritual, emotional and moral need. It takes a great deal of financial generosity for Catholic Charities to carry out its mission to be the living presence of Christ which reaches out in an loving manner that touches and changes the lives of others. And so, we continue to say please to you in supporting the ministry of Christ within our Diocese in a manner that makes a difference.
Thank you – Catholic Charities expresses its deep gratitude to you for the generosity which you have given to its mission. There are so many financial needs before us and so many needs of our individual families which make the sharing of our resources not always easy. The faithful of the Diocese of Palm Beach have been exemplary in their support of Catholic Charities even when it is a difficulty on a personal level. Especially at Thanksgiving, we say thank you for all that you do on every level to learn more about Catholic Charities and to support its efforts through prayer, awareness and financial generosity.
Sorry – Catholic Charities expresses its inability to meet all needs and to do all the many things which it wants to do. So many people come to it and it is impossible to meet all their needs due to a lack of personnel, resources and ability. While we are sorry for this, and express that regret, Catholic Charities continues to do all it can to build, both now and for the future, so it may encounter vulnerable people in their need and offer the face of Christ to them. I am very pleased with the growth that I have seen in the mission of Catholic Charities over the past years and its firm intention to be the best that it can be, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the Gospel.
I say thank you to Catholic Charities for its wonderful ministry. We are blessed with an extremely faith filled and dedicated director, Mrs. Sheila Gomez, as well as a staff and a Board of Directors who go beyond what is expected of them. I again say please to them to continue to carry out their ministry and to continue to expand that ministry to all of our Diocese. I also say sorry to Catholic Charities that I am not always able to be as present to them and their ministry as I would like. However, I assure Catholic Charities always of my full support as it makes the mission of Christ a priority for our Diocese.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we do give thanks to God for a vibrant Catholic Charities ministry among us. We also give thanks to God for all people, including those who are vulnerable and in need, as we realize that we are all, to some degree or another, in the same situation. These men and women remind us that we are one family and that only God's love and mercy are able to give us foundation and hope. We give thanks to God for our families in which we truly encounter the face of God and pray that all men and women may realize we are part of one family which is His.
At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, we realize that while a year in which we reflected upon God's mercy is coming to a close, His mercy never comes to a close but only increases as we open our hearts to Him and all men and women. From all those at our Catholic Charities ministry to all of you, a Blessed Thanksgiving!
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
November 25, 2016