Diocesan Council Ecumenical meeting on 27th February 2019

Peter McVerry Trust Ecumenical Meeting 27th February 2019
Father Peter McVerry gave a moving and thought-provoking talk to a large attendance at an Ecumenical Meeting on Wednesday 27th February 2019 held in Fitzgeralds Woodlands Hotel ,Adare Co. Limerick.
Father Peter was accepting a cheque on behalf of the Peter McVerry Trust for 9,000.00 Euros from the Church of Ireland United Dioceses of Limerick, Killaloe & Ardfert. This was as a result of donations to the Mission Sunday Project held in November by the Diocesan Council for Mission who, for their 2018 project had decided to focus on ‘Mission at Home’ and the current homeless crisis in Ireland.
Fr. McVerry gave an outline of how he became involved in the homeless situation in Dublin initially and how the McVerry Trust grew from small beginnings in Dublin in1975 and now has become countrywide.
He informed us of the following:
1 In 1975 the number of social housing units under construction was 7500; in 2015 it was 75. Apart from the economic problem of demand exceeding supply for affordable units, one of the main causes for the current homeless crisis is the non-availability of social housing by the local authorities. He also stated that with 40,000 mortgages already in arrears for at least two years, if the ‘vulture funds decide to close in the homeless situation will only get much worse.
2 The type of people who are homeless has totally changed since 1975. Forty odd years ago, there were only about 1000 homeless on the streets of Dublin… mostly men with addiction to alcohol, who were known affectionately as ‘knights of the nite’, and moved around from one hostel to the next, where they were provided with food and a place to sleep. Nowadays, a homeless person can be a college student, a person from a broken family or relationship, a family who have been faced with eviction because the landlord has suddenly increased the rent beyond their means or wants to sell the property or, a person just out of prison with no means of support from family of friends.
3 Fr Peter described the wide variety of facilities that the Trust provides and how it is vitally important that follow up support services are in place to help people stay out of homelessness. His staff spend a lot of time with people who have been on drug addiction. Drugs, alcohol,or any other such addiction has been their means of escape from the memories of abuse as a child, broken relationships, mental health problems and, it is when they come off their addiction is the danger time or worse, commit suicide. The Peter McVerry Trust offers a comprehensive package of support that will provide the best opportunity possible for them in planning a pathway out of homelessness and/or drug addiction. Fr Peter said the best method of assisting a person coming off addiction is to help them regain a degree of self-respect, self-confidence, and personal integrity, and by so doing to re-establish himself or herself in the community and move towards greater independence and opportunity.
4 Fr. Peter closed with a word of advice. Next time we meet or pass a person begging on the street, or sleeping rough in an alleyway is to not be judgemental, but to remember that person is like ourselves, ‘made in the image of God’. They may be hungry, have no money, suffer from mental or physical illness, but most likely what they most desire is a ‘friendly word’ to be treated with respect as a fellow human being. As we read in the Gospels when Jesus met those who had severe personal problems he treated them with respect and above all with compassion. Those attending the ‘ecumenical evening’ came away assured that their donations will be used prudently, efficiently and, to the best effect as humanly possible.