Recognition for Charitable Projects Helping Those in Need
Bishop Fürst awards prizes for diaconal commitment worldwide in Lourdes
The Diakonia Prize Pro Diaconia 2017 of the International Diaconate Centre (IDC) and the Diaconia Christi Internationalis Foundation was awarded by Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart in Lourdes last Saturday. The IDC’s Protector awarded the Diakonia Prize – which is given every four years – during the 2017 IDC Study Conference, which took place in Lourdes between the 7th and the 10th of September on the topic of Salvation and Healing.
In his capacity of IDC Protector, he awarded the first prize in the amount of 3,000 € to Deacon Renato Afonso Vinhal, from the Brazilian Archdiocese of Uberaba, who, together with his wife Dilma, leads the Sao Pio Catholic residence for the homeless. The project is guided by a verse from the book of Isaiah He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. The project team intends to purchase the house, which is currently rented, in order to be able to expand it and to stabilize it long term. At the moment, 40 homeless people are living there, people at the margins of society, stigmatized by the general public and living in constant danger. In Sao Pio they prepare for social reinsertion. The diocese backs the project fully and the initiators have managed to enlist the help of a team of competent volunteers – physicians, social workers and psychologists. In the house, the beneficiaries train, with some guidance, for leading a life as independent as possible.
The total value of the Prize is 6,000 €. The second prize. In the amount of 2,000 € was awarded by Bishop Gebhard Fürst to Deacon Kevin Duffy, for the project he is carrying out in St. Helens, in the English Diocese of Liverpool. The project is called Welcoming the Stranger. Duffy founded a Welcoming the Stranger Café, which, since 2016, provides a first contact point for asylum seekers. A core team of volunteers is supporting the project which, according to those running it, has up to 80 beneficiaries. The team includes not only Christians, but also Muslims, Sikhs and people without any religious background. In the meantime, other activities have started around the café: a gardening group, a bike workshop and a hiking group. As of the autumn of last year, the Welcoming the Stranger Café, will have taken care of another 60 people, arriving in St. Helens as part of a government program for relocating Syrian refugees.
The third prize, in the amount of 1,000 €, went to Deacon Charles Dube from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Africa. He gained recognition for a Home of Peace, in which poor and homeless people can find a home. The beneficiaries are people who had to leave their homes as a result of violent conflicts and subsequently became poor and homeless. The house, with a capacity for 200 people and including an onsite vocational training centre, has been there since 2001; prior to that, a Catholic couple had founded a soup kitchen which motivated many people to collaborate. Christians of various denominations participated in this Inter-Church Mobile Soup Kitchen. According to the project managers, 80 people are currently living in the house, which is under threat of being closed down because of insufficient funding. From these, 30 are women, 25 men and just as many children.