John Coleby, Director of Caritas Westminster, writes:
I am writing this note as I come to the end of my time as Director of Caritas Westminster. The time of the Spirit compels us to remember the fundamentals of our faith. Jesus is risen; he has shown us how to live and in doing so we experience that love the Father has for all his creation. He has sent us the spirit of love, forgiveness, service and justice to transform us and our world. We are on our own roads to Emmaus or Damascus. It seems to me we have the roadmap and the clues and yet on all levels we struggle to consistently stay on the path. I think this is what it so challenging to live a fully Christian life and why the social teaching of the Church is its best-kept secret.
In recent times, we have seen years of austerity and increasing levels of poverty, the global pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, wars in the horn of Africa and North Africa, floods and droughts and fires caused by ongoing environmental degradation. As a worker for social justice one can feel overwhelmed and, at times, without hope. But while these occurrences are disturbing, I do find hope – in the greater part because I have observed and experienced the love, forgiveness, service and fight for justice by ordinary people who are moved by the Spirit to carry on in the face of such challenges and get stuff done and show God to the world.
I see God’s love demonstrated in the quality of relationships we build with people with intellectual disabilities, people in need of food, people excluded because they are deaf, people recovering from domestic abuse and modern slavery, people who are alone and frightened, people seeking sanctuary. I see the commitment to loving neighbour as self and the recognition that as Church we are to listen to all people, thus affirming their dignity and ensuring they are the architects of their own futures. Love is made concrete in acts of service to our fellow human beings and so, together with forgiveness and reconciliation, we seek justice for a fairer world where everybody has a place and where everybody’s story is worthy of being heard and appreciated.
It has been a privilege to work alongside Justice and Peace colleagues during my time as Director of Caritas Westminster. I will cherish your profound questioning and call for radical change so that people may find God’s love in everyone they encounter.
Fr Dominic and Colette write: We thank John for his time of service on the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission and for all his good work establishing and leading Caritas Westminster over the past eleven years. We wish him well for the next chapter of his life and look forward to welcoming the new Director in due course.