The Roman Catholic Episcopate declared 2014, the year of charity service. As part of this program a conference was organized in March, where the institutions carrying out social services amongst the poor, were introduced. As the continuation of the spring event, on the 25th of October another conference was organized: this time the public was able to meet those foreign benefactors, who arrange the gathering and transport of donations, which are sometimes taken for granted in Romania. The audience was given an insight to the tremendous amount of work behind each transport; they were presented how charity service is made.
More than one hundred people were listening to the live, personal accounts of two of the benefactors, in the festivity hall of the bishop’s palace. The first speaker was Coby Willemsen-van der Kolk on behalf of Stichting Steungroep Nederland Roemenie, the charity foundation which supported Caritas with 425 M3 high quality materials and co-financed projects for 89.000 € since 2002.
The president of the Dutch foundation spoke down-to-earth and directly about the future of abroad sponsoring, about making donations cost-efficient, about their expectations towards Caritas and the ways in which beneficiaries can support the work of Caritas.
“I had a wise father who taught his children: to be is more important than to have. Over the years we understood more and more what he meant by this. We can fill our houses with the nicest things, fill our bank accounts or have the newest telephones. At the end of our lives we leave the world as we came in it… empty handed. What remains, are the memories, and they are mostly not about what somebody had, but about how a person was” – Coby Willemsen-van der Kolk worded.
She also expressed her happiness for seeing young people in Holland and Romania working as real volunteers, sharing time and talents with young, challenged people, with the elderly, or with minorities… “without financial compensation, the hug of child, the kiss of an old lady is enough and priceless” – she emphasized, than added that – “organizations like Caritas need our support, in material or immaterial ways to fulfill its services. We have to remember if we point out our index finger to tell ‘the government does not take enough responsibility’ three other fingers are pointing out to us, asking what do we do for the community?”
The second speaker, Peter Zidar from Maria Anzbach, Austria talked about a completely different kind of support. He presented the project in which students from Austrian professional schools traveled to Oradea to participate at the renovation of St. Joseph’s hospital – a project which needed enormous amounts of time, dedication, organization, and also financial background.
Besides the live accounts, there were also presented two short video-messages at the conference. In the first one Renate Meier, Franciscan sister from Mallersdorf detailed her long activity in helping mostly poor families with small children, while in the second one the newly built cooperation was presented, between St. George’s parish of Vreden and St. Ladislaus parish of Oradea.
At the conference Kiss Karoly, the executive director of Caritas presented the basic principles according to which they are trying to construct a volunteer movement in the local churches. As he pointed out, they would rather put emphasis on charity serving, rather than to provide services, and also on helping the needy by human gestures besides financial support. “There are many people, who don’t pass by the poverty of their neighbors without helping. We would like to gather these people, so they can help in an organized way, under the wings of local churches” – said the executive director, who mentioned as positive examples the organized work of the Tasnad Church and the St. Ladislau Church in Oradea.
“Our aim with the conference was to personally meet the people, whose benevolence enables us to help others. Frequently we fail to realize how much time, organization, work, connections and planning is behind our projects. All of this doesn’t fall down from the skies; it is the product of hard and dedicated work. But even more important than the invested work, is the caring and dedication which motivates our benefactors to do good and help others. It is vital for us to learn and practice this kind of approach, so we can help the needy following the example of our Lord Jesus” –Böcskei László Roman Catholic bishop emphasized at the end of the conference. In the closing moments he presented the foreign benefactors with flowers and medals of honor as an expression of his gratitude.