The National Council of Catholic Women
International Day to Eradicate Poverty
October 17th, 2012
Extreme poverty destroys the lives and spirit of people; it kills more children, young persons, and adults than any war. Every day, people living in extreme poverty are challenged and threatened by lack of food, shelter and access to essential services. They endure hazardous working conditions and live in precarious, degraded, and insecure living environments.
October 17, 1987, French priest Father Joseph Wresinski, saw his untiring work to unite all sections of society with the poorest and most excluded finally come to worldwide attention. On that day, over 100,000 people from every level of society and inhabited parts of the globe gathered together to hear Father Wresinski deliver his famous “I Bear Witness” speech as a commemorative stone was unveiled in the Trocadero Human Rights Plaza in Paris. His words, engraved on that marble piece, should be present in the hearts of every person on earth: “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”
First celebrated 25 years ago, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is meant to promote this first critical step by promoting better dialogue and understanding between poor people and their communities, and society at large. It represents an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts and struggles of people living in poverty, a chance for them to speak up and make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that poor people are in the forefront of the fight against poverty (UN Secretary General Report A/61/308).
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a call to everyone to gather with people living in extreme poverty to share and exchange information, as equal partners, on initiatives that focus on the most vulnerable and excluded populations, and their active participation in poverty eradication. This day is also a call to strengthen the ways in which we communicate with one another so that we can better share our thoughts, lessons learned, experiences, and act in solidarity against poverty and social injustice.
The 2012 Commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty will focus on the theme "Ending the violence of Extreme Poverty: Promoting empowerment and building peace". In that spirit, this October 17th, we encourage you to:
- Pray: Father Joseph Wresinski wrote a special Universal Prayer, the text of which can be found here: http://overcomingpoverty.org/
article/universal-prayer. The reading of Father Joseph Wresinski’s “I Bear Witness” speech is also integral to any observance. You can find his speech here: http://overcomingpoverty.org/ article/i-bear-witness-to-you.
- Spread the word: It is imperative that we get the word out about this day. In your community, consider notifying parishes and schools through regular bulletins, and perhaps writing a letter to your local newspaper editor with information and a personal plea for action. If you are organizing or participating in service activities, contact your local media to raise awareness about them on this important day.
- Tell stories: The Testimony of persons that find themselves in poverty and that relates their difficulties, frustration, and outlook and the way that they experience isolation due to their poverty can be gathered and sent to http://overcomingpoverty.org/
- Help directly: Investigate the options available for you to assist the poor and marginalized either locally, nationally or internationally. Examples include support (both financial and volunteer) of soup kitchens, shelters, bringing food and clothing to the homeless, assisting with Project Homefront Day, etc.
- Provide support: Financial support of national programs through Catholic Charities and the international programs established by NCCW in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (Works of Peace and Reconciliation) and Cross International (Women Helping Women).
- Organize an observance: Plan a special observance for the 17th of October. Ideas can be found at www.overcomingpoverty.org. Recall that the emphasis should be the solidarity of persons from every level of society.
This day is an opportunity to fulfill our mission of easing life in this world for our sisters and brothers and of bringing everyone together in awareness and solidarity. It is not an obligation but a right and a sacred responsibility, and the sum of the National Council of Catholic Women’s Campaign for Human Dignity.
Please consider getting involved in any of the ways suggested above or in your own way, and let our parishioner Kathy Sieracki (firstname.lastname@example.org) know what you did to observe the day. She will share it with the national office of the NCCW.
Thank you for serving Christ's poor!