It’s hard to believe in this fresh year of 2023, early Spring days, that the season of Lent is upon us already! Lent, for many people in Ireland is associated with the annual Trócaire Lenten Appeal. The ‘Trócaire Box’ on the mantle piece has been a feature of kitchens and homes for as far back as most can remember. On the 2nd of February the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the charitable organisation, founded by the Irish Bishops was marked.
At that stage, 1973, Ireland had just joined the Common Market of Europe now the European Union. It looked forward to the great economic progress. Even in 1973 we in Ireland was counted among the wealthy nations as compared to the many so-called developing countries that we referred to as ‘the 3rd World’, now termed the global South. At that point in our history and tradition, we already had a long history of awareness of the poverty of so many nations through our many missionaries who did such great work around the globe.
The founding of Trócaire emerged from a fresh consciousness of the division across the world between rich and poor, between nations and within nations. That division was destined to grow wider unless structured efforts were put in place to enable nations to develop and prosper. Trócaire, in its foundation document puts words on this vision: “The earth and its good things belongs to all the people of the earth and no nation has the right to build its own prosperity upon the misery of others. It is our Christian duty to share our wealth and to help our needy brothers and sisters”. There is a memorable line in the Bishops letter of 2 February 1973 which has served as a guiding principle for Trócaire ever since “These duties (toward peoples in need) are no longer a matter of charity but of simple justice”.
An additional task Trócaire took on from the beginning was to keep the needs and plight of poor before our consciousness in Ireland through Development Education in schools and parish. While we mark fifty years of accomplishment and do so with gratitude and pride, the work goes on.
What has been accomplished over the decades was made possible by the sustained generosity of so many across the decades. The people in the pew heard the cry of the poor, through the appeal of Trócaire not just in the Lenten Appeal but on several occasions across the years in response to particular tragedies and disasters e.g. the recent Appeal for those affected by Climate Change in East Africa and the recent Appeal for the victims of war in the Ukraine.
Across the years Trócaire has worked with partners both in funding and on the ground. It has enabled the generosity of donors to gain added value and impact for the recipients. The Irish and British Governments, have been a great support to the work of Trócaire. It is truly a testament to the co-operative work of Church and State while respecting respective spheres and competencies. There are many other partnerships that work equally well to deliver aid and support to the communities on the ground.
Syria and Turkey
The earthquakes in Syria and Turkey on Monday 5th February have had a devastating impact on millions of people in both countries. Trócaire is responding to this crisis through the Caritas Internationalis Network. Trócaire have a longstanding relationship with Caritas Syria, whom they have supported in their humanitarian work throughout the war in Syria. Trórcaire have the capability to ensure that any funds raised in Ireland and channelled through them to the Caritas Internationalis response in Syria and Turkey will be managed appropriately to meet the needs of those most badly affected. In the diocese of Killaloe a collection is being organised this weekend in the parishes, the first weekend of Lent, February 25th/26th. Please give as generously as you can.
Lenten Campaign 2023 – Somalia
Every year the annual appeal concentrates on a particular location, with Trócaire links for promotional purposes. The overall Lenten campaign this year focuses on Somalia with Nasteha from there, one of the featured family. Nasteha’s family is one of thousands of families in Somalia who are on the brink of starvation due to a prolonged and unrelenting drought which has destroyed crops and livestock and left people with no option but to leave their homes and farms in search of help. You may have seen reports in recent months on the television about the devastating hunger crisis there which has left 8.3 million people, more than half the population of the country, at risk of starvation. The situation there is critical and urgent. We cannot simply look away!
Fintan Monahan is Bishop of Killaloe
Clare Champion Article Friday February 24th, 2023