Warm and blessed greetings to you for Christmas and the New Year.
Unfortunately, it won’t be the happiest of Christmases for many this time, as we feel the effects of the energy crisis and rising prices. If things seem bad in this country, however, they are far worse in other parts of the world. People in Asia and Latin America, where Columban Missionaries are working, will be in greater need than we are of the hope, the peace and the joy of Christmas.
For many years our very own British Columban Fr. Ed O’Connell has been at the forefront of the campaign to support disadvantaged children and their families in Lima, Peru, through his leadership of the “Manuel Duato” Special Needs School and civil association “Warmi Huasi”.
Each year the wonderful “Manuel Duato” school, founded by the Columbans in 1976, provides education, therapy and material assistance to over 1,000 infants and children with Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and other similar conditions. Under the outreach programme, teachers go out to severely challenged children who remain at home, and help local schools integrate pupils with special needs into the mainstream educational system.
“Warmi Huasi” (‘House of the Women’), which celebrates 20 years in 2023, supports mothers and children living in marginal areas of Lima and the Andean region of Ayacucho, offering such services as workshops, homework clubs, reading and literacy groups and communal kitchens.
Reflecting on all this, there came into my mind the words of one of the Eucharistic Prayers we hear the priest recite at the time of the Consecration in the Mass. The one entitled, “For Various Needs IV – Jesus Who Went About Doing Good” says how, “He always showed compassion, for children and for the poor, for the sick and for sinners, and he became a neighbour to the oppressed and the afflicted. By word and deed he announced that you are our Father, and that you care for all your sons and daughters.”
In that spirit of concern “for children and for the poor”, once more I have recourse to your generosity this Christmas. I ask for your help for our Columban Mission, in spite of the difficulties that maybe you yourself are facing at this time, remembering that we are all “sons and daughters” of the one Father.
May God look upon your kindness and grant you a TRULY Happy Christmas.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Boles SSC Columban Director in Britain