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On Sunday, 19 November 2019, the Church will celebrate the Seventh World Day of the Poor with the theme - Do Not Turn Your Face Away From Anyone Who Is Poor (Tobit 4:7). Celebrating the World Day of the Poor (WDP) with underprivileged people “is a fruitful sign of the Father’s mercy and support for the lives of our communities.” The Holy Father invites us to follow the example of Tobit with a simple act of charity to foster harmony and fraternity in our community, which will give us meaning to our Christian life. He reflects on the story of Tobit’s practical approach towards the poor by assisting and accompanying them from all afflictions.

Tobit, an old and blind father, embraces his son Tobias before he sets him out on a long journey. He leaves Tobias with his “spiritual testament”, advising him to revere the Lord, avoid sin and live righteously (cf. Tobit 4: 5). Tobit’s words encouraged his son not to turn his face away from anyone who is poor but perform good deeds, practice justice and righteousness and give alms (cf. 4:7). Despite losing everything, Tobit remained devoted to God and shared his meal with the poor, clothing to the needy and burying the dead. Tobit recognised his poverty during his time of trial, enabling him to empathise with others in need. While remaining faithful to God’s teachings, he advises his son Tobias never to turn away from anyone who is poor, as every person is our neighbour and through them, we can truly encounter the face of Jesus.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus’ birth. In her autobiography, “Story of a Soul,” she says that perfect charity means accepting others’ flaws, finding joy in small acts of kindness, and sharing love with everyone, not just those closest to us. Charity should be like a candle, not hidden but providing light to all.

As we celebrate this WDP, we should be reminded that everyone has the right to experience the light of charity. No one should be denied that light. May the selfless love of Saint Therese inspire us to keep our focus on the face of Jesus Christ and never turn away from those who are in need.

(Extract from the message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the Seventh World Day of the Poor)

Since the promulgation of the WDP by Pope Francis in 2017, I have celebrated it with the underprivileged, marginalised, migrants, and refugees in my previous parish in Sentul and now, for the past two years in Kuantan. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, I was still able to celebrate WDP. All profits generated from these events were utilised to fulfil the material and spiritual necessities of the impoverished.

This year’s event will be held at the Church of St Thomas, the Apostle, Kuantan, on Sunday, 19 November, from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm. It will be celebrated at Pahang/Terengganu District level, and all proceeds from the event will be utilised to provide aid during the monsoon floods that usually occur towards the end of the year, as well as for education for underprivileged children. We warmly welcome everyone to join us in our celebration.

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