SPC C and I were back at the Church of the Black Madonna recently, and spoke with the pastor (through our interpreter, Mr. A, of course) about Christmas activities in his parish. It was pretty eye-opening.
For one thing, though this didn't come up in that particular conversation, but in another I had last week, the average Kosovar adult -- who has a job -- earns 242 Euros per month. That's under $400 US.
The parish pastor told us that he's been busy bringing gifts to the neediest of his parishioners: a cooked chicken, some firewood, and some small toys if there are children in the household. There are twenty families who are so poor they're squatting in bombed-out houses from the war that ended more than ten years ago.
More than that, though, there are scores of Muslim refugees from other parts of the Balkans who have moved into the geographical area of his parish, and many of them are so poor, he and his parish have been helping them out, too.
When our interpreter heard this, he was visibly moved.
As we were taking our leave of the place, Mr. A leaned over to me and whispered, "Sir, is there any way you could help him out the way you helped out those other two priests?" I was surprised by the angst in his voice, and the tentativeness of his request.
I told Mr. A I'd see what I could do.
I'd been to the ATM the day before, so I later slipped the priest the Euros I had in my pocket.
Blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ