17/09/04 Launch of Crosscare’s Annual Collection

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Saint Laurence O’Toole Day/Food Centre
Address of
Most Rev. Diarmuid MARTIN
Archbishop of Dublin

Our daily news is filled with stories about tribunals, the state of our health service, traffic chaos – stories that interest us because they affect us in our daily lives.
Crosscare supports people who rarely make the news!  Their focus is different from that of most people whose concerns range from where to holiday next year, or when to change the car, to the genuine concerns about mortgages, about the future of children, about schools, about health, about getting on in years. If you are a full-time Carer or locked in poverty or homeless you are very different.   Your focus is on basic survival and your powerlessness to escape your situation. 
Tonight 40 street drinkers will be accommodated in Crosscare night services.  Our staff will receive them with great kindness; they will have a good meal, a shower and a warm safe place to sleep.  I have visited these shelters myself  which are sadly still a regular dimension of our Dublin by night
Our Food Centres give more than food to those who call.  The sharing of a meal is not the entire service; here companionship exists across the tables. People meet and greet each other, the aloneness of their lives is broken here, the sacredness of their lives is acknowledged, and each is recognised as an individual with a personal story.  For some, the shared communal experience is the most important social contact of their day, and sadly for many it is the only contact of the day.
Crosscare, the Diocesan social service agency, is a model of true Christian charity.  It works day and night to share the simple “good things”, like food, shelter and friendship, knowing that, in that way, it witnesses to the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel.  It has been in operation since 1941 and has a long and proud tradition of responding to the needs of the poor.  Through its various programmes it has shown that it responds to the needs of our time.  It has been a prophetic voice for the dispossessed; it has challenged the complacency that comes from our newfound prosperity.  It is a sign of hope for people at their most difficult times.   
Over the years Crosscare has changed and expanded to meet new needs and look to the future.  Many teenagers receive counselling at our 5 centres.  We offer training to early school leavers.  Community education projects exist in 25 parishes supported by our voluntary network, addiction education and training is provided to those who deal with people at risk, such as parents, prison officers, teachers, Gardaí, community works and so on. 
We support those who are providing full time care for a loved one.  We promote access to education and accommodation for travellers. 70 charities redistribute food through our Food Bank that would otherwise end up in landfill sites.  We provide accommodation for teenage boys at risk; and advice and support service in the city centre on social and emigration issues.  We have recently developed a service to parishes to help raise the awareness of the abilities of those with disability in the all aspects of parish life.
In 1999, the Irish Bishops in their pastoral ‘Prosperity with a Purpose’ said and I quote: The need for frank dialogue and honest appraisal is nowhere greater than in trying to answer the vexed question: who is benefiting from the surge in Ireland’s economy and who is not?  While the bustle on the street of practically every city and town and the impressive counts of builders’ cranes on many skylines point to widespread prosperity, it is a prosperity that is far from universal”
We have never been as wealthy as we are now.  We have seen sustained prosperity over the past 10 years.  We now have the resources to tackle entrenched poverty.  However social divisions have not gone away, indeed in many areas they have increased.  
One of the great political challenges right across Europe today is how to reconcile strong economic growth with equity. How do we enhance those mechanisms which have shown can generate optimal growth, while ensuring that the fruits of growth reach all.  It is an acute challenge for Ireland.  It is not something that happens automatically.  We are proud of our economic achievement.  Ireland occupies the first place in Europe in so many economic indicators.  We have to find ways of ensuring that our increasingly wealthy Ireland can also be in the first place with the quality of its health and social services, with programmes reaching out to bring back into the mainstream of inclusion those who find themselves on the margins of prosperity. 
There is going to be much political reflection in here in Ireland in the coming months and years and I would challenge all political parties – as well as other groups such as trades unions and employers’ organizations, and economic thinkers and think-tanks – to place this challenge at the heart of their reflection and indicate how concretely the growth-equity divide can be overcome.
In the meantime, Crosscare addresses the question in another way.  It does so in recognising the dignity of the most marginalised and takes concrete steps to ensure that they can realise that dignity to the fullest degree.  Crosscare’s workers and volunteers witness to the fact that justice and equity are their daily concerns.  They are the concern also of those who support Crosscare and of the Archdiocese of Dublin which is proud to have such an agency.
I appeal to parishes of the Diocese and to the entire Christian community in Dublin to take real ownership of Crosscare, to ensure that its work is better known, to work to ensure that its services are the best.  
Today I am here to launch the Annual Appeal for Crosscare which takes place next weekend – 25/26th September in all the parishes of the Diocese. The generosity of the Diocese in the past has ensured the work of Crosscare is supported and I ask for that continued generosity.
Crosscare’s care and support to those most in need mirrors the love of Jesus Christ for each of us and must be the mark of the Church in action today.