The fifth annual World Day of the Poor, an initiative of Pope Francis, will be celebrated this year on November 13-14. In Canada, our slogan for this year is the phrase: "Open the doors of my heart." The event is being promoted by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which this year celebrates its 175th anniversary in Canada.

By Louise Royer, Director of the Social Action Ministry Office

Pope Francis's message to the faithful in association with the event this year is: "The poor you will always have with you." This Gospel passage inspired a meditation by the Holy Father, which, far from encouraging us to be resigned in the face of poverty, underscores the dignity of all people. His message guides us in the experience of poverty as the Gospel preaches, even while we rise up against misery in a struggle based on sharing and real love. The Social Action Office encourages everyone to read and meditate on this message. 

Reading by oneself is fine, but being together, listening to each other and sharing is better! A group from the Franciscan family has invited us to an evening of testimony and prayer at Saint Charles church in the borough of Verdun on Saturday, November 13, at 7:30 p.m., and the following day, November 14, to a special Mass at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Michel church. 

Since the World Day of the Poor is indeed global, and since poverty elsewhere in the world is often exacerbated by unjust structures whose roots lie here, Development and Peace is calling us to manifest our solidarity with impoverished communities. The People and Planet First campaign invites people to sign a petition calling on the House of Commons to adopt human rights and environmental due diligence legislation. 

In Canada, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul promotes recognition of this day among its members and in the communities where it works. The general public is familiar with the SSVP through the Guignolée. The Society has other arrows in its quiver as well, including campaigning for housing that is sanitary, safe and affordable. 

In the diocese, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Catholic Action Montreal, alongside many other organizations and government agencies, assist thousands of individuals and families in need. One or another local conference or social ministry or support organization may coordinate some activities on that Sunday. Then again, they may not; good works attract so little attention... 
Some themes to inspire reflection and discussion can be found on these websites: :  and (France). 

And yes, this day opens the doors of our hearts, providing those who accept assistance and those who offer it the opportunity to meet together as brothers and sisters in one human family.