As we were preparing this newsletter, there were plenty of dark stories in our world. Wars, and rumors of war filled the news cycle. Episodes of violence and divisive rhetoric made headlines. Coupled with the shorter days of the fall season, it would be easy to get discouraged.

But Isaiah’s words of hope – which we hear every year at the Christmas Mass at Midnight – provide inspiration to Catholic Charities and those we serve year round. “A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Note that he says, “the people”, not “the man” or “the woman”….. because it takes all of us to find light. Think about the last candlelight service you attended. The event probably started incomplete darkness, then someone lit one candle. They passed it over to the person next to them, and the light, while still small, doubled. As each person lit their candle from their neighbor’s flame, the light in the room grew until the room was illuminated in a warm glow.

That’s what happened between Frank and Rob – the men whose story we are sharing this Advent and Christmas season. Both had made some poor choices, under the cover of darkness, and were incarcerated as a result. Both had made the firm decision, upon their release, to not return to that dark place. Their paths crossed. Ray found a glimmer of hope in Frank’s success. Frank shared how he found a spark of encouragement and help at Catholic Charities. The staff at Catholic Charities found real joy in providing help when needed, and the successes of both men.

The Isaiah reading goes on to note that “the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder and the rod of their task master was smashed as on the day of Midian”. Lifting the burden of poverty, overcoming the stigma of past choices, breaking down barriers and lighting the path to dignity and self-reliance happens here every day. While we don’t literally smash yokes and rods and poles, we do lift burdens and provide hope for Frank and Rob and all who come to our doors and sit down with our case workers.

Every donor, stakeholder and partner in this mission to lift our neighbors out of darkness participated in creating that flicker of possibility that became a great light in the darkness for Frank and Rob – and for every person who comes to our door hoping for life to be better. It’s your prayers, your financial gifts, your volunteering time that allows Catholic Charities to be a beacon of light in the darkness. This coming year will hold many, many more opportunities to be part of this work.

Watch our social media, our website and this newsletter for updates as our food pantry is built out, our programs grow and ways to become involved multiply!

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joyand great rejoicing.

By Susan Walker, Executive Director of Outreach and Engagement at Catholic Charities of Kansas City–St. Joseph

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