FACEBOOK-COVEREditor's note: We are happy to share the good news about "Orphan Sunday", a day to pause, to pray and to reach out and help. Learn more about this initiative at OrphanSunday.org. Lisa

Orphan Sunday 2014 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Orphan Sunday, November 2, 2014

By Susan Scott, Midwest Regional Coordinator, Orphan Sunday
Jodi Jackson Tucker, International Director, Orphan Sunday

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows…" (James 1:27)

susie scottNovember 2, 2014 is Orphan Sunday, a day to celebrate God's heart for orphans and pray for children without families. Individuals, communities, and churches around the globe come together as one voice for foster care, adoption, and global orphan ministry. Orphan Sunday has been celebrated in the United States since 2009, and will take place in 60 countries this year. Increasingly, Catholic churches are becoming involved to respond to the word wide orphan crisis.

Orphan Sunday is an initiative of the members of Christian Alliance For Orphans, www.cafo.org, a network of individuals, churches, and over 150 organizations working together in unity to "defend the cause of the fatherless". (Isaiah 1:17)

There are 402,378 children in foster care in the United States, with 101,840 of them waiting to be adopted[1]. An estimated 26,000 children "age out" of the foster care system yearly at age eighteen.[2] Lacking family, emotional and financial support, these children who "age out" are at significantly higher risk for unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse, imprisonment, and trafficking. Many move from foster care to other social programs like welfare, homeless shelters and at worst, prison. This is a failure on the part of our system meant to protect and find families for these children.

lPF9_Cd04rHBccFTZKymhCF9PXRhTQ8c4qt2Nw8XPPM,kt-3B3ffpRdcExDB93OcV4Xzb5BgC6jDPCO5Yk7dqSA copyAround the world, there are approximately millions of children who have lost one parent due to disease, war and poverty. An estimated 17.8 million orphans have lost both parents, increasing their risk for malnutrition, disease, and death.[3] This orphan crisis is increasingly a burden on the hearts of Catholics everywhere.

Pope Francis, in his recent address during a visit to a homeless shelter shared, "To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you are, dear brothers and sisters, the face of Jesus."[4]

There are many ways to care for orphans and children in foster care:

  • Pray - Encourage others to pray also.
  • Advocate - Share pictures/stories of children waiting for adoption or sponsorship.
  • Support caregivers - Provide meals for a foster care family. Host a shower for an adoptive family.
  • Sponsorship - Provide financially for a child’s basic needs and education. Build a meaningful relationship with them.
  • Visit them.   Go on a mission trip. Share with your congregation your experiences.
  • Become a foster care parent. Support local foster care agency through volunteering.
  • Adoption – grow your family by providing a home for a waiting child.

Spiritually speaking, we were all orphans and God adopted us through our Baptism.

"In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will." (Ephesians 1:5). As Catholics devoted to the preservation of the family, we can lead others by demonstrating our commitment to every child being raised in a loving home knowing our Heavenly Father.

"We love, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Susan Scott serves as the volunteer coordinator for the U.S. Midwest Region for Orphan Sunday. She is a lifelong Catholic and Mom to four children, three adopted from Asia.

Jodi Jackson Tucker is the International Director of Orphan Sunday, coordinating the activities of the celebration in 60 nations. She is the proud mother of 6 children, five via adoption.

To learn more about Orphan Sunday visit www.orphansunday.org

[1] (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport20.pdf)

[2] (http://www.jimcaseyyouth.org/about/aging-out)

[3] (http://www.christianalliancefororphans.org/orphanstats/)

[4] (http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2013/may/documents/papa-francesco_20130521_dono-di-maria.html)