Each Christmas, for the past four years, the 56 parishes of Kildare and Leighlin have made a gift available in all their churches for distribution to homes around the diocese and beyond. Thanks to thousands of people undertaking to deliver one or two to neighbours, friends and other family members, more than 40,000 Christmas gifts have been distributed each year.

For Christmas 2007, 45,000 gifts packs were made available in all the churches of the diocese starting this weekend, 8/9th December.�� This year�s gift pack contains a small crib scene and a prayer card with a Christmas table prayer.� Also included in the pack is a leaflet with a Christmas message from Bishop Moriarty and information on the diocesan �Need to Talk?� initiative.

�Need to Talk?�

Explaining the purpose of this initiative, Bishop Moriarty stated

At the beginning of Advent we launched a new awareness campaign in the diocese called �Need to Talk?�.� It was prompted by our growing concern about the levels of self-destructive behaviour in Irish society.� This initiative is an expression of our care for the whole community, not limited to any particular group.

We have made a wallet-size information card widely available throughout the diocese.� The card carries two helpline numbers (Samaritans and Aware) and the address of the diocesan website � www.kandle.ie � where information on other support services is available. Our message is that asking for help is a real strength.

Christmas message of peace

In speaking about the Christmas gift, Bishop Moriarty commented

This year in the diocese we are focusing on the message of peace that is at the heart of Christmas.

Along with acting as a signpost for various support services through the “Need to Talk?” initiative, we also want to affirm that the Church is a source of on-going pastoral care.� As a Christian community, we are called to reflect the healing and hope that the Lord offers to us, his gift of peace for a troubled world.

In this regard the crib is a wonderful focus as we reflect on the meaning of Christmas.� The humility of the manger scene reveals God�s love in all its powerful simplicity.� Each Christmas, we take great heart that whatever the darkness of our winter nights, the Lord provides true solace, a new dawn.

Bishop Moriarty concluded by saying

I want to thank parishes for having made such a success of the Christmas gift initiative over the last four years.� I particularly thank all the people who take on to deliver the gifts.� It is a simple gesture but an important one.� We all have a responsibility to reach out with a message of welcome and hope.

Notes

The Kildare and Leighlin Reach Out campaign was launched in Advent 2004 as a response to the priorities identified by parishioners through an earlier consultation process.

A report of the Reach Out campaign was delivered to every home in the diocese in October 2007.� Feedback on the accompanying survey is currently being studied and a report will follow early in 2008.