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Volunteerism shines through difficulties and disappointments


CHRISTMAS MESSAGE  Archbishop Michael Neary

THE difficulties and disappointments for family members who are unable to come home and share Christmas will contribute to the loneliness already being experienced during this tough year. In his Christmas Letter, the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Michael Neary observes that this festive and spiritual season has brought into focus the continued challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Empathising with all those bereaved, hospitalised or in nursing homes, Dr Neary sends a message of goodwill, highlighting the strong ethos of volunteerism that has continued throughout this challenging year.
He writes: “People who have been deprived of the opportunity to gather for the celebration of Mass have experienced a huge lacuna in their lives.” Dr Neary also notes that for ‘young people who love to gather and relate with their friends it has been very demanding’.
“Likewise, for our priests – the things we need to do, would like to do and want to do we cannot do them in the way in which we were accustomed and yet our priests have responded very generously to the challenge of the pandemic,” he writes.
Praising the huge spirit of volunteerism, particularly those involved in various ministries as well as those who have been cleaning and sanitising churches, he acknowledges the great level of cooperation across the congregations and communities.
He cites the stark realities of how charitable organisations like St Vincent de Paul have struggled due to a fall-off in donations because of restrictions to fundraising practises.
They do such ‘wonderful work locally and help to alleviate suffering and hardship, enabling families to have a better Christmas, find it extremely challenging’. 
“None of us knows the different forms which poverty can take behind closed doors … In other years these organisations depended on the generosity of the Mass-going people to rally to their support. In view of the lockdown and restricted numbers their resources are considerably reduced while the demands made on them continue to increase.”
However, he highlights ‘an innate generosity in people which, I believe, surfaces particularly in this season of goodwill’.
He confirms that over the past 27 years the Archdiocese of Tuam has contributed €9,802,185.98, almost ten million euro to Trócaire, while this year to date the Archdiocese has contributed almost €210,000. 
“This speaks volumes for the generosity of our people,” he states.
“Finally, I want to thank yourselves for your co-operation, understanding, generosity and support and I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy and peaceful Christmas and pray that the New Year will be a year of great blessings for you, your family and all those dear to us,” Archbishop Neary concludes.

The amount of money the Archdiocese of Tuam has contributed to Trócaire over the past 27 years.