St Joseph inspires Caritas to be “creatively courageous”.Thursday 11th March 2021
In his Apostolic Letter on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2020, proclaiming the start of ‘The Year of St Joseph’, Pope Francis describes St Joseph as “a tender loving father…who is creatively courageous”. Caritas can have no more fitting a patron than St Joseph, the tender loving foster father of Jesus, for several of its services including, Service for Older People, Service to the Deaf Community and of course for its annual schools’ Lenten charitable giving appeal, St Joseph’s Penny.
Drawing their inspiration from St Joseph, being “creatively courageous” has certainly proved to be a key factor in Caritas’s ability to adapt and sustain its services and fundraising activities during the last year of restrictions due to the pandemic.
The famous St Joseph’s Penny collection boxes are being ‘rested’ this year during #LockdownLent, to comply with a need for safer ways to donate including online and text giving. Our schools have stepped up to the challenge however by creating their own collection boxes and jars, setting up Just Giving pages linked to the campaign, in some cases setting a fundraising target of £1904 – the year of the very first St Joseph’s Penny school collection and setting whole school community fundraising challenges such as collectively running the equivalent length of the Camino de Santiago, to name but a few examples. Using social media to reach their wider school communities and share ideas and successes has proved invaluable.
Other schools have contributed to Caritas’s Lenten Pray-Fast-Give resources by providing daily prayers written by pupils on the themes of Catholic Social Teaching, bringing the wider community together in prayer each day. Caritas is very grateful to all our schools for their continued commitment to the campaign in very challenging circumstances.
Times may have changed but the willingness of children to help other children and families in need has clearly not diminished since the day the first St Joseph’s Penny campaign was launched in our schools in 1904 by Bishop Herbert Vaughan, who was the Bishop of Salford at this time.
Bishop Vaughan was a man of great vision who cared deeply about the growing number of cold, hungry children without parents and living on the streets, who were also being drawn away from the Catholic Church. He sought the help of religious sisters to care for such children, including Alice Ingham from Rochdale. As a young girl Alice felt called by God to care for the poor children of the town and as an adult, she followed her vocation and became Sister Mary Francis from the Order of the Franciscan Missionaries of St Joseph.
Together with Bishop Vaughan, she set up homes for orphaned children. As a result, in 1886 the Catholic Children’s Rescue Society (CCRS) was founded to continue this vital work but how could it be paid for? That’s when Bishop Vaughan, came up with the “creatively courageous” idea of the St Joseph’s Penny Appeal, asking all the children in all the schools to donate one penny. The first collection in 1904 raised 55,217 pennies. This amounts to around £230 today.
We like to think Bishop Vaughan and Alice Ingham would approve of how the St Joseph’s Penny schools’ appeal has continued to stay in our hearts and evolve to meet changing needs and in this Year of St Joseph and as we approach the Solemnity of St Joseph on the 19th March, let us give grateful thanks for the tender loving father figure who humbly continues to inspire us all to be, as Pope Francis so aptly puts it, “creatively courageous”.
To access St Joseph’s Penny learning resources, weekly prayers and ways to donate, please go to https://www.caritassalford.org.uk/service-view/sjp2021/
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