Thursday 29 September 2016

Sharing the same spirit by serving others on Christmas Day

Published 28/12/2015 | 02:30

'People just like you and me left the comfort of their homes and gave up their day to serve Christmas dinner to the needy' (picture posed)
'People just like you and me left the comfort of their homes and gave up their day to serve Christmas dinner to the needy' (picture posed)

What do a Nigerian, an American, a Canadian, a family of five who are getting ready to move to England, and more than a few Irish folks have in common? Well, they all met, many for the first time, on Christmas Day, to prepare and serve dinner for the needy at St Patrick's Church in Waterford Ireland.

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We met many new friends, extended our worldwide family and recognised that all us are in need, especially of one another.

We all came from different backgrounds, different jobs and different places on the journey. But we all shared the same spirit. A spirit that says everybody matters and nobody is wasted.

For one full day, folks just like you and me laid down their family traditions, let go of their materialism, left the comfort of their homes, some their comfort zone, and came together in a church they did not belong to, to just be with somebody in need.

Mingled with those who came to serve and those who came to be served were those who actually attended this church. Together we all came together to a place where people could break bread, share and love one another.

There was some preaching too, but not a word was uttered, it was all through actions. Like a heavenly play orchestrated on a grand stage, some were cooking, some were carving, some were setting up, some were serving, some were singing, some were eating, all were smiling, all were safe, all were loved. Everybody was moved. Everybody was transformed.

I have travelled from coast to coast, continent to continent, sea to mountain, to "see" again. I have met many wonderful souls along the way.

Interestingly, the event on Christmas Day was not easy to find. I wasn't invited, the event was not advertised, but rather spread through word of mouth, mainly through the local police, to those in need.

I actually spoke to more than a few charity organisations over a period of several weeks to track this place down. During that process I met with several dead ends, or so I thought. With every charity I spoke to, I left a message that I was seeking to serve. I spoke to Catholic charities, Amish charities and a variety of others along the way.

In the end, I found St Patrick's, a Methodist church I had thought was Catholic, which was choosing to serve in this way for the very first time. They wanted to help.

Sometimes we have to look, we have to do the knocking, the seeking and the asking ... then the door will be opened.

Name and address with Editor

Supporting 'Slab' will hurt SF

When times go against you, there is an old adage: "small leaks can sink big boats." Hence, I cannot help but feel that the faux pas Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness made, when they gave unqualified support to Thomas "Slab" Murphy following his recent conviction for tax evasion, will prove to be politically damaging for both of them.

In light of this, it now must stretch one's imagination that the decent, law-abiding people of Ireland, north and south, would want to be governed by Sinn Féin, whose political progress, to date, has been achieved through terrorist association.

It now behoves all the people, who were born and bred in the 32 counties of this island, whether they hold republican or loyalist views, to vote for peace and democracy, and to destroy a still-festering wound of division, that has shamed all of us in the eyes of the world.

Harry Stephenson, Kircubbin, Co Down

Dublin has its problems too

Recently a caller to a radio station on which the recent floods were being discussed, said that if the flooding had happened in Dublin, it would have been sorted.

I thought it was a very sad and misguided, ill-informed comment.

It is a fact that most of the people in power in this country do not hail from, or live in, Dublin. For example, take a look at the current Cabinet. It follows that many, if not most, of the leaders of State organisations and quangos are also non-Dubliners.

The media, both print and broadcast, is dominated with people from rural Ireland.

The city of Cork, in a county which is bigger than Dublin, suffers terrible floods every year, and not just in winter. Heavy rain, combined with a high tide, will see premises all over that city flooded, and this is a regular occurrence. There is never a countrywide call-out for those people who have suffered the problem for generations. Neither is there a remedial process in sight. The citizens of Cork are also poorly represented in terms of Cabinet seats and in Government.

The Dublin area, with its population of about 1.3 million, suffers floods in parts regularly. It has areas of poverty and unemployment greater than the total population of whole counties.

So there is no point looking in the direction of the capital city and its population when things get a bit tough elsewhere.

Harry Mulhern, Dublin

Poignant tale of 1915 truce

Your comment piece by Don Mullan (Irish Independent, December 24) on a spontaneous truce in 1915, during World War I, was both poignant and apt. In these times of wars it is uplifting to read of ordinary people, in this instance rank-and-file soldiers, reacting to the futility of war.

Also of interest was the part played by Richard Schirrmann,the founder of the International Youth Hostel movement. Schirrmann visited this country and held the work of An Oige, the Irish Youth Hostelling Association, in high regard. This work by An Oige continues to this day, offering hostels where young, and not so young, people may meet in friendship and peace.

Brian Graham, Warrenhouse Road, Dublin 13

New Man/caveman

I have been a New Man for over 40 years - cooking, shopping, cleaning, nurturing, and always in touch with my wife's feelings.

This Christmas Eve, like every other, when I arrived home, having found the best turkey and ham and beaten the queues to bring it home and place it on the worktop for my wife to admire, the feeling I had was not that of a preening, needy post-masculine male, but the deep, primal satisfaction of the hunter who has just killed his quarry and dragged it back to the cave.

Tom Farrell, Swords, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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