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Arlington parishioners, Bishop Burbidge assemble care bags for World Day of the Poor

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The tables at St. Ann Church in Arlington were spread, not with Thanksgiving dinner, but with an abundance of items to offer to those in need, as part of the second World Day of the Poor Nov. 18. 


Drawstring bags with the diocesan Catholic Charities logo were filled by an assembly line of church volunteers. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who first celebrated the 9 a.m. Mass, was among the volunteers to line up to fill 226 care bags for clients of diocesan Catholic Charities.


Into each bag, volunteers placed personal care items — socks;  undershirts; toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss; hand sanitizers; shampoo, brushes and combs; soaps and tissues; snack foods; rosaries and prayer cards.

At the Mass, Bishop Burbidge reiterated the theme of the day from Psalm 34: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him.”

“In the midst of our busy and demanding lives and noise and chaotic world we no longer notice the materially and spiritually poor in our midst nor listen to those who need us most,” said Bishop Burbidge. “The Lord only asks we give what we have — loaves and fishes — and then watch him miraculously use them in ways we can never imagine.”

Laura Fisher oversaw the care bag project. “While the bags are a small, singular gesture of kindness, the hope is that perhaps the bags can touch the lives of those who may be suffering from poverty, letting them know that they are not alone and that there are neighbors who are thinking of them and praying for them,” she said.

Hosting this event meant that “despite the divisiveness in our country, the St. Ann community can come together as one to respond to the pope's call to help the poor, and follow Catholic social teachings to aid the least among us in our diocese,” said Fisher.

Fisher hopes parishioners are moved to get involved in supporting organizations that help the less fortunate.

“Younger family members learn about caring for our neighbors and that maybe this simple care bag, while it cannot transform a life, can perhaps change someone’s day,” said Fisher.

Parishioner Rob Riordan said it was important to have his daughter, Tess, participate in the event.

“We have plenty and try to make sure the kids recognize that not everyone does, and this is a way for all of us to understand that,” he said.

His daughter, a fourth-grader at McKinley Elementary School in Arlington, appreciates what she has in her life. “I like helping people who don’t have things I have,” she said. “I like what I have and when other people don’t have it, it is sad.”

Parishioner Scott Russell volunteered because he sees the need locally. “There are many people in our community that need help,” he said. “There are people outside the country that need help, too, but we have need here. We need to all pitch in and do our part.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018