On Saturday 18 December Corpus Christi Church in Gateshead hosted the formal launch of our diocese as a Caritas Partner. Bishop Robert Byrne CO began this event, taking place in our Diocesan Year of the Eucharist, by celebrating the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving for all the work that happens in the Vicariate for Caritas, especially that of the dedicated lay people who live out the call of Christ to serve all in need remembering especially his words found in Matthew’s Gospel “..in so far as you did this to the least of these brothers of mine you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40) During his homily he reminded us of the teaching of St Thomas Aquinas that for Christians, love is a choice we make. We choose to love those in need just as the Good Samaritan chose to stop and help the man left on the roadside.
Raymond Friel, Chief Executive of Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN), the Caritas agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, was present and gave a presentation outlining the place of Caritas in the Church and how CSAN is developing within England and Wales. He spoke of the power of Catholic Social Teaching and Caritas as a sign of God’s Love. He reminded us of the words of Cardinal Tagle “We are blessed to learn about life from the poor we serve. That is how to be Caritas.” Raymond concluded his remarks by expressing his delight that our diocese has become a member of CSAN and that he looks forward to working closely with us.
The event concluded with words of thanks from Fr Adrian Tuckwell to all who give so much of their time to serving the marginalised in our diocese. The Caritas Hexham and Newcastle Fund was also formally launched at this event which will be an encouragement to those already working in outreach within the diocese but also an invitation for more parishes, partnerships and schools to become ever more involved in this essential element of what it is to be a Catholic.