Pope Francis, on 20 November 2016, in his Apostolic Letter, Misericordia Et Misera (Mercy with Misery), established the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, the last Sunday before the Feast of Christ the King, as the WORLD DAY FOR THE POOR. Taking a cue from the Pontiff, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi reiterated this in their letter dated 26 October 2022. This year, the Day falls under the theme: “For your sake Christ became poor” (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).
To mark the Day, the Archdiocese of Lilongwe, tasked by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, hosted the function on the National level. Dioceses were requested to celebrate this function by identifying the poor and assisting them. Here in Dedza, the Commissions, the Christians, people of goodwill, different groups and institutions of the Diocese of Dedza were also asked to mark this Day on the Diocesan level. One whole week was therefore set aside to celebrate this vital function. This was the week beginning 7 November and ending 13 November 2022.
Joining the whole world in celebrating the Day, the Diocese of Dedza celebrated this function on Wednesday, 21 December 2022, at St Martin de Porres (Dedza) Parish and Fatima (Kalinyeke) and the outstations of Dedza Parish.
Speaking at the commemoration function, Rev Father John Chithonje, the Vicar General of the Diocese and the Parish Priest of Dedza Parish underlined the prevailing poverty and the need to assist the poor. He urged the faithful to develop a spirit of sharing with the poor, make sharing a habit and internalize sharing in their hearts, minds, and behaviours. Fr Chithonje said the time to demonstrate and spread the culture of caring for the needy is NOW. He continued that the Church’s teachings should mobilize ALL of us, the faithful, to recognize the poor and serve as their advocates to sustain their hope amidst their suffering.
Fr Chithonje lamented that it is a pity that people are suffering while some Church and political leaders are using vulnerable people to enrich themselves. “It is,” he said, “imperative to make the poor people feel at home in the Church as well as in the country”. This, he noted, requires deliberate efforts on our part as a Church and as a country if we are to transform poor people’s lives through inspiring works that give real hope for progressive and sustainable change for the better.
The vicar general pointed out that the persisting poverty is mainly due to the maldistribution of resources, greed, and exploitation. These factors are responsible for avoidable hunger, starvation, and suffering leading to the poor living life of hopelessness devoid of human dignity.
In conclusion, he said its high time for us all to walk the talk because:
· when people have no food to eat,
· when people lack clothing, and
· when people have accommodation,
they become vulnerable to, among other things, exploitation through human trafficking, disease, e.g. the Cholera that our country is experiencing and many other threats.