“We should always look to Our Lady, Star of the Sea and Mother of Hope. May we work together to advance toward a new horizon of love and peace, of fraternity and solidarity, of mutual support and acceptance.” Pope Francis, World Day of Peace Message, Jan. 1, 2021, “A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace”
The Catholic Church begins the new year with a celebration of the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God, also known as our “Star of the Sea, Mother of Hope,” a shining beacon who guides us closer to God throughout the year. It was very fitting, therefore, that in his New Year’s World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis asked Mother Mary to guide us all to follow the principles of justice, peace and care for all creation as the basis for a culture of care and a “compass capable of pointing out a common direction ensuring a more humane future.”
This new year, our Holy Father called on all world leaders “to advance on the path of fraternity, justice and peace between individuals, communities, peoples and nations” through a culture of care during this pandemic “which became a global phenomenon cutting across boundaries, aggravating deeply interrelated crises like those of the climate, food, the economy and migration, and causing great suffering and hardship.”
The pope again praised the frontline workers and consoled families who have lost loved ones to the virus, saying: “In paying tribute to them, I renew my appeal to political leaders and the private sector to spare no effort to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines and to the essential technologies needed to care for the sick, the poor and those who are most vulnerable.” A few days later, on the Feast of the Epiphany, Pope Francis continued his focus on “a culture of care as a path to peace,” encouraging all to imitate the Magi: “These wise men from far-off lands were able to ‘see’ beyond appearances. A way of ‘seeing’ that transcends the visible and makes it possible for us to worship the Lord who is often hidden in everyday situations, in the poor and those on the fringes.”
Cardinal Michael Czerny, the undersecretary of the Vatican Migrants and Refugees Section, echoed this papal call for a new way of “seeing beyond” to build a culture of care as a path to peace everywhere: “‘Happy New Year of 2021’ means seeing clearly, for the first time, that our only sound hope and our only sustainable happiness will come from caring for each other and our common home … ‘each other’ means all our brothers and sisters, beginning with the neediest and most vulnerable.”
The diocese’s invitation tothis year’s Red Massfor public servants in January included a quote from Pope Francis on collaborative care: “We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead and how ‘our lives are interwoven with and sustained by ordinary people, men and women valiantly working to provide essential services and public safety.’” At the Red Mass, Brandee Menino spoke on behalf of HOPE Services Hawaii, which she heads, which has been dedicated to inspiring hope and changing lives with the vulnerable for the past 10 years. The Catholic affiliate has been a vital community collaborator on the Big Island responding to homelessness, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 crisis, demonstrating how to foster a culture of community care.
“Whether it’s the Sacred Heart Affordable Housing project in Pahoa, providing a social service lifeline to rural Puna and increasing affordable housing for our houseless kupuna, plus collaborating with six non-profits to deliver rental and mortgage assistance to COVID-hit households, community support makes possible opportunities to innovate and try new ways to care, such as working toward making homelessness on Hawaii Island rare, brief and nonrecurring.”
For more ways to inspire hope, change lives and foster a culture of community care, please visit hopeserviceshawaii.org and officeforsocialministry.org.
As we journey together in this new year, let us wish each other the blessings in the final prayer of Pope Francis’s newest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti”:
“Lord, Father of our human family, you created all human beings equal in dignity. … Move us to create healthier societies and a more dignified world, a world without hunger, poverty, violence and war. May our hearts be open to all the peoples and nations of the earth. May we recognize the goodness and beauty that you have sown in each of us, and thus forge bonds of unity, common projects, and shared dreams.”