SW Ontarians implored to remember needy year-round

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Take your Christmas spirit beyond December, and use it to support those in need year-round.

Religious leaders, including the head of the Roman Catholic diocese for Southwestern Ontario, delivered that message to parishioners on Christmas Day, reminding the well-fed and well-dressed of their suffering neighbours just outside church doors.

Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the Diocese of London, who led the Christmas morning mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica in London, the seat of the diocese, reminded the congregation of the religious message behind the holiday celebrations.

“This is what truly matters: God is with you,” he said.

“To the sick and the suffering, to the lonely and the lost, to all those who feel that God does not care and has forgotten them, the angel today announces, do not be afraid because even in the darkest of nights, there is light.”

A Christmas morning message from parish pastor Jim Mockler struck a similar tone to Fabbro’s homily, pairing the word of God with a call to action to help vulnerable and marginalized people.

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“The people in need we discover at this time of year to assist, also need our help and presence the other eleven months of the year,” he said.

“Those who benefit from our sharing and compassion need to experience our healing touch every day. The people who benefit from our suspended judgment about them need to experience this wonderful gesture each time we encounter them.”

Crowds filled the pews at St. Peter’s, and at churches elsewhere in the region, for Christmas Day services.

“We all come as we are, in joy or sorrow, filled with confidence or searching,” Mockler said in his message.

“We come here so God can find us and bring us the peace and direction for which we long.”

The diocese recently announced the $1-million Pope Francis Fund for the Poor to bolster the work of organizations across the region that work with those who are struggling.

Catholics in Southwestern Ontario are also in the midst of a “year of prayer” across the diocese, which Fabbro proclaimed earlier this year.

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