The Advent Giving Tree was once an annual feature of this parish, but sadly it was a tradition that slowly disappeared. The Christmas tree will appear in Saint Bartholomew’s church shortly, during the season of Advent, and we plan to revive the tradition in line with a new diocesan appeal. As we make our way through Advent, we will be making preparations for the arrival of the Christ child at Christmas here in our parish and also in our own homes as we celebrate together and enjoy this feast. Christmas has always been a time of giving; a time to be a host and to enjoy the hospitality of others, to exchange gifts and to remember those who are much less fortunate than ourselves. This Advent season as we are preparing for Christmas and buying gifts and food, the Archbishop has asked us to support a special and urgent appeal for the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza city. This is a joint venture with three charities: the Bishop’s Appeal, the Friends of Sabeel and the United Society.
The Al-Ahli Hospital was built in 1882 and is owned and run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. It provides services to all patients regardless of religion, gender, social class or political affiliation. Following the conflict during the summer areas of the hospital are now no longer safe for patients and staff to use and there is now a need to make necessary repairs to enable the hospital to continue its work. With five hospitals and twenty-four health facilities in the area shut down entirely due to damage, the need is now urgent. We will also be dividing the money with the Peter McVerry Trust in helping the homeless here in Ireland. This trust was established in 1983 to tackle homelessness, drug abuse and social disadvantage. The trust does vital work in providing housing and residential services, homelessness services and drug treatment programmes. The Peter McVerry Trust provides 75,000 meals each year to the homeless and socially disadvantaged and each year helps house over one thousand homeless.
From the first Sunday in Advent (30th November) we will be making preparations for our Advent Giving Tree. Envelopes will be available from the back of the church in which you can fill out a pledge form (at the bottom of this page), seal it in the envelope and have it attached to the tree. If you can give your donation (either by cheque or cash) to the church wardens or the treasurer (Mr Charlie Smith) as soon as possible, that would be greatly appreciated. There is an urgency about this appeal and we would like to be able to collect all of the money for it as soon as possible. Please consider making a gift to the Al-Ahli Hospital and the Peter McVerry Trust this Christmas; it will make a real difference to the lives of many people.