The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has declared November 15 as “Alay Kapwa Sunday,” or the day to help the poor, which is usually observed during Lent.
Because of the strict lockdown due to the pandemic early this year, “Alay Kapwa” programs were not implemented.
“Alay Kapwa” is a yearly campaign of the Catholic Church that supports the social services for the poor and the needy especially during times of disaster.
“We were not able to have ‘Alay Kapwa’ last Lenten season because of the lockdown, so we do not have funds this year to respond to calamities,” said Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila.
“So please be generous,” he said as he appealed for donations to Caritas Manila or to parishes around the country.
This year’s “Alay Kapwa” campaign will be done on the same day the Catholic Church marks the World Day of the Poor.
The Day of the Poor has been observed since 2017 on the Sunday before the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 22.
The theme of this year’s observance is “Stretch Forth Your Hands to the Poor.”
In the Vatican, the restrictions due to the pandemic forced Church leaders to scale down the commemoration.
Speaking at a press conference Nov. 12, Archbishop Rino Fisichella said the pope would not be able to host a lunch for poor inhabitants of Rome at the Vatican as he had in previous years.
The president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization also noted that the Vatican would be unable to provide a “field hospital” for the poor in St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis will, however, follow his custom of celebrating a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 15.
The theme of this year’s World Day of the Poor comes from a line in chapter six of the Book of Sirach: “Stretch forth your hand to the poor.”
Pope Francis released his message marking the day in June. In it, he said that the coronavirus pandemic had revealed new depths of poverty that Catholics could not ignore.
“This pandemic arrived suddenly and caught us unprepared, sparking a powerful sense of bewilderment and helplessness. This has made us all the more aware of the presence of the poor in our midst and their need for help,” the pope wrote.
Pope Francis established the World Day of the Poor at the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016. It is celebrated each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, a week before the Feast of Christ the King.
In his message for this Sunday’s commemoration, the pope wrote: “In order to perform an act of worship acceptable to the Lord, we have to recognize that each person, even the poorest and most contemptible, is made in the image of God. From this awareness comes the gift of God’s blessing, drawn by the generosity we show to the poor.”
“Time devoted to prayer can never become an alibi for neglecting our neighbor in need. In fact the very opposite is true: the Lord’s blessing descends upon us and prayer attains its goal when accompanied by service to the poor.”