MUMBAI, India – In Mumbai, the Church will be taking up donations to mark the World Day of the Poor, instituted by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay, launched the ACTS project – standing for ‘Actively Called to Serve’ – which will give bags to each parish, so people can donate items like grain, rice, sugar, and toiletries for the less fortunate.
ACTS will work with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Center for Community Organization.
“Pope Francis has decreed that the 33rd Sunday of every year should be dedicated to the poor. The first World Day of the Poor falls on November 19 this year. I join the Holy Father in urging all of us to celebrate that day in a meaningful way: It is a day to rediscover our call to be a church of the poor, for the poor,” Gracias said.
On Sunday evening, Gracias will share a meal with a group of poor people in a sign of solidarity.
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The cardinal – who was a close friend of Mother Teresa – has instituted several programs to serve the poor in his archdiocese, including his 2013 Advent campaign for the urban poor in Asia’s largest slum.
“Our Lord gave us the striking example of simplicity and poverty in His own life. He taught His disciples to value poverty,” Gracias said. “The first beatitude is, ‘Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.’ He strongly urges us to reach out to the poor.”
He said all parishes in his diocese have been asked to create at least one program for the poor, saying it can be big or small, depending on the capabilities of each parish.
“I encourage all our parishes to celebrate the World Day of the Poor; if not on November 19, on any day leading up to the feast of Christ the King, the following Sunday or even after that. May we be effective instruments in making the world more humane and the Church more Christ-like,” Gracias added.
“Pope Francis has ceaselessly been reminding us about special care for the poor,” the cardinal said.
“The celebrations on November 19 recommended by the Holy Father are another occasion to remind us of our special option for the poor: The special heart that we should have for the poor,” Gracias said.