As we all know, the signs of poverty are pretty much everywhere. Friday mornings around 10 AM, our members of St. Vincent de Paul listen to the individual stories of those seeking assistance and our congregation has been very generous in assisting this effort with the use of monthly envelopes for that very purpose. I just returned from another mission trip to Haiti this past weekend, and it continues to be remarkable to see people living in conditions that cats and dogs in the US would never see. However, on this particular trip I was particularly struck by some of the pilgrims who made the journey. Georgos is in eighth grade. Before he left for Haiti, he had filled his suitcase with toys purchased with his own money, for children whose faces he had never seen. He was a dynamo of enthusiasm for the adults and had a commitment beyond his years.  Chrissie is a third grade teacher in West Palm Beach, and she was bringing used school uniforms that would be treasured by the little ones in Haiti. Accompanied by her husband Matt, they recently lost their home to a fire, and a few days later left their three children with the grandparents to make this trip to Haiti. “We hesitated to come on the trip for obvious reasons, but I want my husband to understand my passion for the poor,” she said. On my return, I was reading some of the topics that our Holy Father touched on at World Youth Day in Poland which is when I realized again that they do walk among us. “Celebrate Jesus who is living in our midst.” After Haiti, I know this to be true. “A merciful heart can go out and meet others, it is ready to embrace others.” Some years ago, two residents of Bishop Grady Villas spoke at the end of Mass at St. Timothy’s in The Villages.  Now years later, the parishioners from there attend the Harvest Ball that supports the scholarship fund for adult residents with intellectual disabilities.  They come in buses, because there are so many who wish to attend.  Retired themselves, they clearly have a keen perception of what it must be like for an elderly parent to be concerned for their adult child when they are gone.  Pope Francis challenged the young people who had come from many countries not to be swamped by smart phones, laptops and places of pleasure and entertainment.  I was struck particularly by how directly in one instance he spoke to these young adults: “Do not retire from the ministry of mercy and compassion at the age of 23, 24 or 25.” Even as they begin their adult lives, the Pope believes in their commitment to people less fortunate than themselves, because they do walk among us. Anyone seeking to help the poor in Haiti, there is a gala at the World Marriott on Saturday, September 24. For information, call 407 765 9232. Bishop Grady Villas Harvest Ball is at Rosen Shingle Creek on Saturday, October 22. Call for information at 407 892 6078.

God Bless,  Fr. John