Catholic Vancouver Nov. 13, 2017

Vancouver gears up for World Day of the Poor

By Agnieszka Ruck

Volunteers serve a free lunch at The Door Is Open. (BCC file photo)

VANCOUVER—Homeless men spending the night at the Catholic Charities Men’s Hostel in downtown Vancouver Nov. 18 will have a welcome surprise the next morning.

Members of the Knights of Columbus will be serving pancakes at the shelter that morning for the Church’s first-ever World Day of the Poor.

Pope Francis, who announced the World Day of the Poor last year, set the date for Nov. 19.

“We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our occasional volunteer work, or of impromptu acts of generosity that appease our conscience,” he wrote in his message for the first World Day of the Poor.

“However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people’s needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life.”

Catholics in Vancouver are joining churches around the globe in marking the special day.

While the Knights of Columbus will be serving breakfast Sunday morning, a few blocks away other volunteers will be cooking up giant pots of Congee, a chicken and rice porridge, for guests at The Door is Open. That Downtown Eastside centre serves hundreds of meals to the poor, homeless, and drug-addicted every day.

Archbishop Miller is also releasing a letter and official prayer for the World Day of the Poor, and churchgoers will be encouraged to donate warm clothing, socks, and canned food to worthy causes.

Frances Cabahug, co-manager of The Door Is Open, is very happy Pope Francis has declared a World Day of the Poor. 

“He’s called for, not just an acknowledgement that there is poverty, and that’s something that needs to be addressed, but he’s calling for a personal encounter with the poor,” she said.

“When we talk about poverty, we tend to think of numbers, because poverty is often thought of as an economic issue. It’s not just numbers and it’s not just money, but the experience of people that we need to also look at.”

More information will be available at