New York State Proclamation Praises Catholic Charities
Fr. Eric Cruz Explains Why
The State of New York issued a proclamation last week congratulating Catholic Charities on its Centennial. It’s easy to understand why when you read this sermon Catholic Charities Bronx Regional Coordinator Fr. Eric Cruz delivered beforehand as he celebrated a Bronx Centennial Mass at St. John Chrysostom Church.
By Fr. Eric Cruz
Gifts That Last Forever
On behalf of the St John Chrysostom School community and the entire Bronx: To you, my colleagues in Catholic Charities, thank you. Your dedication and service is an inspiration and blessing to those you serve - the poor and needy - and to me personally.
Today we hear the Lord praise a widow who gave two cents to the community treasury for use to serve the needy. Jesus holds her in high esteem because from the very little she has, she gave everything she had for someone else in need. And that means so much: It lasts forever.
My Own Story
I remember back when I was finishing second grade at St. Augustine School and mom had to transfer me because she couldn't afford tuition - $20 (monthly). I was going to have to change to Our Lady of Victory where monthly tuition was about $14. I didn't know why my mother was crying; the priest was upset; the teacher was upset. I didn't get it until years later.
Someone gave the school the extra $5 for my monthly $20 for tuition. I stayed there another year or two and everyone was happy. I sure was and so was mom.
That simple act I'll never forget. Someone, who didn't want to be known, gave us a simple gift that endures forever.
And it's exactly how it is with us at Catholic Charities, isn't it?
Tracing Our Vocation Directly to the Lord
We celebrate 100 years as a chartered charitable organization although we can trace our history back 200 years to the American Revolution when an orphanage founded by religious sisters was expanded to a hospital for wounded soldiers both from the rebel forces and the British military. We trace our vocation to 2,000 years ago directly back to the Lord and a widow and her two cents.
It's been 100 years. We presume that the needs of the poor and vulnerable were different then than the needs now. But maybe they aren't that different because people will always need compassion, hope, someone with whom to laugh or cry, and someone that will accompany them along a journey.
And that's what you, my brothers and sisters, do.
Calling the Marginalized “Sister” & Immigrants “Brother
The truth is that each of us does not get to meet the numerous families that walk through our agency doors. We may meet - just once - a single mom and kids seeking housing. We may meet - just once - a man with rent arrears or a family that lost everything in Hurricane Sandy.
Yet this doesn't diminish the greater truth that the simple, singular encounter touches their lives, as well as our lives, and leaves an impression that lasts forever. The firm handshake and gentle words, the embrace and hand held gently, the gratitude and joy are gifts that last forever and are never forgotten. And they are gifts given to us as much as those entrusted to us.
The Lord doesn't pull a shoelace and undo the knot. No. He invited us to join him and heal the suffering hearts, the rugged hands, and the hungry and thirsty. He calls us to serve the least of His children. Society labels them as the marginalized; we call them sister. Society tags them as illegal aliens; we call them brother because they are our brothers and sisters.
This Catholic Charities Centennial anniversary offers us the opportunity to celebrate the mission we share and the many lives that have blessed us. We stand on the shoulders of those He called before us.