DE PAUL TRUST
Launch of the Annual Report 2003-2004
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
Croke Park Conference Centre, 1st December 2004
The De Paul Trust is a relative newcomer to the Dublin scene but its roots, through the various branches of the Vincentian tradition, are deep. Dublin has been very fortunate to have had the presence of this Vincentian charism for almost two centuries, with the Vincentian fathers, the Daughters of Charity and the Society of St Vincent De Paul Society. It is a charism that is alive today with a great capacity for adaptation to new situations.
The work of the De Paul Trust is with some of the poorest of the poor. It is an expression of the caring face of the Church which is not sufficiently well known, perhaps because it works with some of the sadder expressions of human suffering which many of us would prefer to be kept out of our consciousness. We all have a deep sense of unease when faced with human weakness, a fear that somehow there but for the grace of God any of us could find ourselves today or at any time in the future.
The De Paul Trust and its workers face this challenge head on. They simply become a friend and a helping hand to many who find themselves homeless, and who have fallen victims of alcohol or other substance abuse and who find facing day to day life difficult and the way back at times well nigh impossible. The Trust offers that friendship and basic support which are the first steps in restoring that simple sense of self esteem which gives people the courage to enter along that the long road towards change.
This will not happen at once. At times these victims will live with their addiction and problems for long periods of time. The caring, friendly help and acceptance that they receive, at whatever stage they are – even where signs of progress are difficult to identify – is not a question of going along with their addiction, but creating those most basic bonds of affection which will permit the person to come the point where they wish to change. Being accepted as you are, being loved even when you are at weakest is the precondition for a person to find his or her own sense of esteem and thus the ability to change.
The De Paul Trust is an example of the particular contribution which Church agencies should be bringing in the contemporary configuration of social services. We have a strategy for the homeless and we can be grateful for the substantial progress that has been made, due to an intelligent cooperation of voluntary, salutatory and Church bodies.
In its work the Trust – as Church organizations should do – reaches out to those whose needs are most difficult to meet. In this way the Trust shows the special care of Jesus who in his ministry never failed to heal those who were bound by burdens which prevented them from living that freedom that God wished for human persons, created in his own image and likeness.
I often recall the fact that when Jesus visited his own town and was met with rejection, it is noted in the Gospel that he was unable to work miracles there because of the lack of faith of his own townspeople, except that he cured some sick and those who were possessed.
There is a mystery here from which all of us have something to learn. It is that at times true faith is to be found not in the respectable citizens of our own communities, which most of us consider ourselves to be, but in those who are on its margins, and who despite their sufferings and weakness may somehow be closer to God than most of us.
The De Paul Trust and its workers respond to the harsh needs of some of the least fortunate in our community, recognising in them, even when they are at their weakest in human terms, their potential and their yearnings and seeing beyond all human weakness the image of God.
I hope that the trust will attain the support it needs to continue this work in our name and that in this way it will be a witness of the caring face of the Church and of that traditional solidarity of the people of Dublin who had great care and compassion for the weak.
May the Lord bless your efforts and may he be the greatest friend and support of those with whom you work.