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January is Poverty Awareness Month, and in the past year, many of us heard of, or perhaps experienced, greater levels of poverty than ever before. Neighbors who have always struggled to pay their bills or rent have fallen further behind. Others, who lived on the margins but were able to get by, are now unable to do so. For the first time some are seeking help to provide life’s essentials: food on the table, a warm place to live and essential healthcare.

In our diocese, Catholic Charities has increased its food distribution by 154 percent to help hungry families, and rental and utility assistance for struggling families by 288 percent. These neighbors in need show us the face of Christ. As such, we must respond generously to assist them.

As people of faith, we understand the responsibility to see and serve the poor. We sing the response to Psalm 34: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord.” The Lord himself exhorts us in Sacred Scripture to “stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32). 

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge

This month and always, may we give of the gifts Our Lord has generously given to us, whether it be our time or our financial resources, to assist those in need. For Jesus also tells us, “Whatever you do for the least of these brothers of mine, you do for me” (Mt 25:40).