HELPING REFUGEES EXPERIENCE THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

HELPING REFUGEES EXPERIENCE THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

I have been involved for over 40 years in my Rome parish, for 95 years it was at Santa Susanna’s and now, since 2017, at St. Patrick’s Catholic church. For even more than four decades, our parish has raised money for various Rome charities via a big annual gala event, usually the first Saturday of December, a day on or near the feast of St. Nicholas.

As our pastor, Fr. Steve Petroff recently wrote on the parish website, “despite the limits we all continue to struggle with under COVID-19, Saint Patrick’s has not forgotten our commitment to others – especially those local charities who have relied on our generosity for years.

”Taking a cue from Pope Francis and his recent visit to refugee camps in Greece and the needs of our own trusted partners, this year’s beneficiaries are the Centro Astalli Casa die Georgia and the Joel Nafuma Refuge Center. Both of these charities assist refugees here in Rome. To assist them this year your contributions will be collected through two dedicated go fund me accounts and they go directly to each charity. This campaign will run through the entire Christmas season but if you can give today, please do so.”

I echo Fr. Steve’s words and, in this unusual post on Joan’s Rome, I ask you to consider helping our virtual campaign and showing your Christmas spirit by supporting the two institutions mentioned, especially because the pandemic has created many new needs. No gift is too small.

Wishing you the Lord’s choicest blessings!

Website: Home – St. Patrick’s Catholic American Parish in Rome (stpatricksamericanrome.org)

Facebook: (20+) St. Patrick’s Catholic American Parish in Rome | Facebook

One goal of the 2021 all-virtual St. Nicholas Serata for Charity campaign is to meet specific needs of Centro Astalli’s Casa di Giorgia, a structure that offers far more than just hospitality to women refugees and their children. Casa di Giorgia, founded in Rome in 1999, welcomes women, alone or with children, who are in need of international protection. For each beneficiary, after an initial interview and evaluation, volunteers build a customized integration project that takes into account their previous migratory path, psycho-physical conditions and socio-cultural context of origin. Casa di Giorgio currently welcomes 30 women of various nationalities, fleeing major crisis areas around the world such as Congo and recently Afghanistan, and as winter approaches, they urgently need: 30 new mattresses (Only €135 will provide a brand new mattress) – a new gas boiler (1500 euros) and 5 cabinets (5,000 euros). If just 10 people give €150 each, they can get the new gas boiler for hot water. Give today at https://www.gofundme.com/…/st-patricks-american-church…

Another goal of  the 2021 all-virtual St. Nicholas Serata for Charity campaign is to meet specific needs of the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC). This Center, a non-faith outreach ministry of St Paul’s within the Walls Episcopal Church in the heart of Rome, provides humanitarian and educational support for refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world. Many have fled political and religious persecution and the majority of them have been exploited by smugglers or traffickers. Average age ranges between 18-30 years: 80% male and 20% female. The JNRC’s holistic approach provides for both the physical needs of their guests, such as food, clothing, shoes & blankets, as well as educational, financial, psychological, legal & livelihood assistance; plus language classes, assistance in finding work and integrating into Italian society. The JNRC needs 600 underwear (600 Euro), 2250 pairs of socks (675 Euro), – 50 Winter sleeping bags (1100 Euro), educator for 32 Italian lessons @ 90 mins. each (1120 Euro),  Emergency Fund (500 Euro), Personnel – cultural mediator (1000 Euro), Give here today: Fundraiser for Giulia Bonoldi by St Patrick’s Catholic American Church in Rome : St Patrick’s American Church for JNRC (gofundme.com)

 

WHEN DOES THE CHRISTMAS SEASON END?

It has been a quiet day in the Vatican as Pope Francis prepares for his first general audience of the New Year tomorrow. As Christmas 2019 and New Year 2020 both fell on a Wednesday, Francis’ last general audience was December 18.

It’s always good to return from a vacation and have some down time before jumping into a busy routine full time – and that’s what life is like when you cover the Vatican and the papacy. There are never-ending private audiences, from heads of State or government to groups of all sizes, general audiences, papal trips, a busy liturgical schedule, expected (and unexpected) documents, and surprises of all kinds, like the Pope popping up in unexpected places such as religious houses, hospitals, schools or the 100 Nativity Cribs exhibit.

Upcoming liturgical events include next Sunday’s celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord when the Pope usually baptizes babies in the Sistine Chapel during Mass, then vespers in St. Paul’s Outside the Walls on Saturday, January 25 for the solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul and start of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and on Sunday, January 26, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s basilica to mark Sunday of the Word of God.

If you recall, last September, in the Motu proprio “Aperuit Illis,” Francis decreed that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.

On another matter: the following article from Aleteia is in response to questions I have been asked, in person and via email, about the end of the Christmas season. In the years I worked at the Vatican, I was always struck by the fact that the nativity scene and Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square stayed up until the February 2 feast of the Presentation and I have adopted that date as the end of the season, the time when I take down decorations, change my dining table settings, etc. However, a real tree usually had to come down earlier. Pope Francis marks the Baptism of Jesus as the end of the Christmas season.

However, my Lladro nativity scene is up all year!

As you will see, February 2 once was the date the Church considered to be the end of the Christmas season.

WHEN DOES THE CHRISTMAS SEASON END?
Philip Kosloski | Jan 06, 2020
Is it December 26? January 6? February 2?

In secular culture the Christmas season begins around Halloween and ends on December 26. However, in the Roman Catholic Church, the liturgical season of Christmas only begins on December 25 and lasts much longer!

The USCCB explains, “The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts, and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him…including the fact that he was born to die for us.”

For those dioceses in the Roman Rite that celebrate Epiphany on January 6, the Baptism of the Lord falls on the Sunday after it. In other places where Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday that falls from January 2 through January 8, then the Baptism of the Lord could occur either on the following Sunday, or on a Monday (this happens if Epiphany is celebrated on January 7 or 8).

The latest that the Baptism of the Lord can occur is January 13. The season of Ordinary Time starts on the day after this feast.

This means that typically, the Christmas season runs roughly from December 25 – January 13.

For many Eastern Catholics (as well as Orthodox Christians), the birth of Jesus is celebrated on January 6 (or sometimes on January 7).

At the same time, the historical Christmas cycle extends even past the Baptism of the Lord. Traditionally the feast of Candlemas (the Presentation of the Lord) occurs on February 2 and marked the final conclusion of the “Christmas cycle.”

Candlemas celebrates an event that occurred 40 days after Jesus’ birth and was his first introduction to the Temple. In other words, it is the final “baby Jesus” feast day on the Church’s liturgical calendar.

Christmas is a beautiful season in the Catholic Church, one that doesn’t end on December 26, but extends as far as February!