JORDAN – On Wednesday, May 24, Caritas Jordan, the social arm of the Catholic Church celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Mass presided by the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa at Our Lady of Peace Center in Amman.
The Mass was concelebrated by Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Bishop William Shomali and Apostolic Nuncio in Amman Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin. Present at the Mass were a number of priests from various churches in Jordan, Caritas Jordan Director General Wael Suleiman, members and participants in the Caritas Regional Conference of the Middle East and North Africa, civil and government dignitaries, Caritas Jordan employees, and a large number of people from various governorates in the Kingdom.
In his homily, Bishop Shomali said how beautiful it is to meet all together, “to thank God on this joyful 50th anniversary of Caritas Jordan, which has unstintingly been serving the poor, the sick, the orphans, and the widowed in addition to visiting the prisoners, feeding the hungry, and housing the refugees.”
It is a source of pride that Caritas Jordan is a member of Caritas Internationalis which operates in 200 countries.
He emphasized that Caritas is a Latin word which means love and that love is one of the attributes of the Almighty God. This word was chosen for the name of the largest and most important Catholic institution that serves the needy and suffering people. He also quoted events from the Holy Bible, which dictates the spirit of the activities of Caritas by reflecting on the words of our Lord Jesus to His disciples, to love one another, according to the Gospel.
He continued: “We are in a country that has done its best in welcoming refugees since 1948 until now with the wars in Syria and Iraq. Thanks to the wisdom of the leader of this country, His Majesty the King, whom we greet and pray for. We convey to him and to all of the Jordanian people that Caritas will remain in the service of Jordanians, Christians and Muslims, without discrimination because love joins us all together.”
He concluded by saying: “We pray together so that Caritas Jordan will continue to serve in the spirit of the Gospel and the Christian tradition. We pray until each one of us embodies in one’s life the acts of mercy in the example of the Lord, Who came not to be served but to serve, and Who, for our sake, became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich.”
During the Mass, prayers were said thanking the Almighty God for supporting the message of Caritas Jordan over the past five decades in alleviating the suffering of the sick by providing them with medical care, by finding suitable jobs for the unemployed, by housing the forcibly displaced and making them feel at home, by extending a helping hand to the persecuted and displaced as well as by providing them with love, respect, and peace in Jordan under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein.
Before the end of the Mass, a message from His Holiness Pope Francis was read. The Pope sends “warm greetings” for the 50th anniversary of Caritas Jordan and expresses “his deep appreciation for the generous acts of mercy and charity carried out by members of Caritas Jordan in the past years.”
As he recalls the sacrifices and prayers of all those who have assisted these works, the Pope places emphasis on the awareness of the urgent needs of refugees and local communities throughout the Middle East and the world. He adds that he “encourages all who engage in the work of Caritas to deepen their relationship with Christ and to foster fraternity among themselves, so that renewed in spirit they may continue to make Christ’s love present, especially in situations of poverty, injustice and oppression.’’
The Pope concludes his message by renewing his affection for all who are involved in the work of Caritas, and imparts to all the members of Caritas Jordan and those they serve his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and strength in the Lord Jesus.
Later a message addressed by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Roman Curia was read out.
In his message Cardinal Sandri says: “Born five decades ago in response to the humanitarian emergency caused by the Six-Day War, Caritas Jordan has greatly advanced in its services to the most needy, our brothers who are poor and weak. It has succeeded in animating and sensitizing the local community and so has helped build a more balanced and tolerant civil society in which the Church is called to be light.”
Noting that the social, educational, humanitarian and medical assistance that Caritas Jordan continues to offer to thousands of beneficiaries—through countless initiatives—is widely appreciated, he says: “I will recall here two, only two such projects, recently inaugurated during the Jubilee Year of Mercy for the benefit of immigrants from Iraq and Syria, namely the Mercy Restaurant and the Garden of Mercy.
“Responding to the needs of the poor requires the gaze of Lord Jesus Christ,” he says, “This is the characteristic of Christians, faith that works through charity.”
He concluded by stating that “humble and generous people who, like the Lord Jesus, can walk beside their brethren, and share in their burden.”
Caritas Jordan Director General Wael Suleiman expressed deep gratitude to the Mother Church for launching its humanitarian arm, Caritas. He also thanked His Majesty the King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein for his dedication to serve humanity; the Jordanian government and the Jordanian people who supported the activities and projects of Caritas over the past years; and all those who contributed to the launching of Caritas Jordan in 1967.
Deacon Jubran Salameh, chairman of the board of directors of Caritas Jordan, thanked all the friends, donors and benefactors who contributed to the success of the projects undertaken by Caritas Jordan. He added that this support enabled Caritas to extend a helping hand to the needy, to heal their wounds and to bring about a smile of hope on the faces of the distraught.
Photos: Souren Khodanian and Samir Shomali