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From the Chaplain

A blessed Octave day and Feast of the Circumcision and Secular New Year 2024.

A lot has happened in the Iria Foundation in 2023.

Adventus30 was a wonderful success once more, and so many lives are changed (and improved) by these wonderful little programmes.

Septuagesima comes early this year, and a quite early Easter, so please sign up for the website for notice about when Septuagesima70 will begin (mark the date: Sunday 28 January 2024 is Septuagesima Sunday)

Iria Foundation has great plans for the coming year, with God’s help. In light of recent developments, and an increasing “cancellation” of priests, it becomes increasingly necessary to have means and ways to support our priests, and the faithful too who are struggling to make ends meet in these difficult times. It would be wonderful, for example, if we could develop a programme to assist young Catholic families who have lots of children and are finding it difficult to make ends meet, especially when it comes to the education of their children. Iria Foundation has this as one of its primary objectives, yet to be fulfilled in any realistic way.

Ideally, too, we need to set up a proper governance structure, which will include a, paid, CEO/Managing Director, and a small minimally necessary staff. The idea, too, is to make Iria into a charity, with tax-deductibility status, but the costs involved are substantial, so until and unless we have some serious benefactors, many plans like this must necessarily be put on hold. Without doubt, the Foundation offers a wonderful vehicle for your donations to traditional causes to go further. Iria Foundation is a non-profit organisation so most of your donations go straight to where they are needed. There is, however without doubt, still need for greater accountability and recording of donations, all of which is beyond the ability of our small group of volunteers to achieve. Please keep this in your prayers and thoughts and don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like more information, or to share ideas.  We would very much like to set up a system for the reception of bequests.

One of the big projects that is more than necessary is to assist priests who are the subject of (often false or malicious) allegations that see them sidelined as cumbersome investigations procedures roll on. Not only is there a need for canonical, civil and criminal assistance for priests (who have no private funds often or very little) to receive justice - ideally in a timely manner - but there is a need for advocacy too to ensure that those with abilities to affect change, and ensure justice, do in fact do so. We have a range of canonical and civil lawyers at the ready to help, and there are plans for a more substantive consultative body and structure to be put in place this year. Stay tuned and keep this wonderful initiative in your prayers.

Finally our flying priests continue their wonderful efforts to reach the far-flung peripheries of our great country. Training is expensive, and any assistance you can provide is very much welcomed. Moreover while Iria Foundation has one small plane, there is a need to upgrade and maintain this and to purchase other planes, to reach those who have need of the sacraments. Please continue to give generously. The coming year will see the establishment of a fund for the purchase of another plane for the Foundation.

The Christmas Octave and the coming new secular year was a reminder to thank, most particularly, our loving Trinitarian God who provides so much to us, materially and spiritually. Our Blessed Mother is never far behind in looking after, month by month, all of our needs. Behind the scenes, moreover, are a plethora of “little people” who, by their prayers and sacrifices, and by their contributions, keeps this fledgling effort alive and slowly, but surely, growing. A special thank you goes to our tireless bookkeeper Simone Gehringer who keeps our books in order. To all of you who contribute in your own way, a very much heartfelt thanks from me on behalf of the Foundation.

May the Holy Innocents, and all of the Saints of the Octave, intercede for us all so that we may make it, out of enemy territory, to our heavenly home.

In the newborn Babe of Bethlehem,

Fr. Withoos

Chaplain and Chairperson

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