“In 2017, Pope Francis instituted the World Day of the Poor so that “throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.” Ordo Liturgical Calendar 2020-2021, page 396.
In preparing this blog, I watched the Netflix series Maid. The program is very informative (some of the language would not be appropriate to Sister Immaculata’s ears) and depicts how a family can experience inordinate stress in trying to live below the poverty line. The main character leaves an abusive relationship with her 3-year old daughter and tries to negotiate the social welfare network in the United States (which in fact may be more challenging that ours in Canada.) It seems every time the mother takes two steps forward, bureaucracy or circumstance pushes her hard in a different direction.
As I was growing up, our family struggled in similar ways, living from Mother’s Allowance and Baby Bonus cheques month-to-month. We moved more than 18 times before I reached my 18th birthday, but thank goodness we were never homeless. There were six of us: my mom and five of us, her children. Most of my life we lived in housing projects in Sudbury, Garson, Toronto, and back to Sudbury. I knew that it was not a good idea to share with people where I lived because they might judge me or think less of me because my family was poor. I attended 6 elementary schools and 2 high schools. I was relieved when I got to high school because if we moved, I was able to stay at the same school. I do not share this because I want sympathy. I share it to acknowledge that children who grow up in poverty, who have adults (usually teachers, in my case) to encourage and support their potential, can flourish and leave behind the pull of generational poverty. I wanted to become a teacher, to support young people to know their full potential and to achieve their goals and dreams. My upbringing helped me to be sensitive and aware of what poverty feels like from the inside. Today, I am an advocate for the poor in my community and in the world.
Let us pray:
Gracious God, you have a preferential love for the anawim.
Remind us to be kind, grateful and generous when opportunities appear for us to interact with your beloved poor.
Their humanity deserves the dignity that Jesus gave us all.
Help our political leaders to work for the common good, so that being poor is not an indictment but an invitation to generosity and loving care.
We ask this through the intercession of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, John Bosco and Juan Diego.
Pat Carter, CSJ is a disciple, a teacher and an advocate for the poor. She has been a Sister of St. Joseph for more than half of her life and loves to use words to inspire faith and laughter. She is a cantor at her parish of St. Jerome’s in Sault Ste. Marie.