Since its onset six months ago the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives of people in the Leeds diocese and elsewhere in countless ways, great and small. At the end of May, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) was able to support the countries’ 22 dioceses and other Catholic charities in responding to some of the social effects of the ‘lock-down’ and all that this entailed, and to some extent still does. The Bishops’ Conference had at its disposal a total of £1 million to distribute within the Catholic communities of England and Wales with the aim of relieving food poverty and family hardship. This was thanks to the generosity of the Albert Gubay Charitable Foundation which donated the £1 million to the CBCEW for this purpose.
The Foundation is named after the late Albert Gubay. He was a Welsh businessman and philanthropist who died in 2016. His charitable activities during his lifetime were recognised by the Catholic Church when he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great in 2011. The Foundation which bears his name continues to support Catholic projects of various kinds and in 2019 it gave a substantial donation towards the cost of restoring St Patrick’s Church in Bradford.
On this occasion in addition to the Diocese itself various local Catholic charities benefited from the Gubay Foundation’s initiative. Catholic Care received £30,000; the Good Shepherd Centre in Keighley was awarded almost £20,000; and St Pio’s Friary (from which the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal run St Patrick’s Mission in Bradford) received £6,000.
The Diocese of Leeds itself was allocated £20,000 to devote to the relief of food poverty and family hardship during the period from early June to the end of October 2020. Within a short period of time after the grant was announced, staff in the Diocesan Curia, in co-operation with Parish Priests, were able to identify a number of food banks, food voucher schemes and crisis funds that were active in addressing poverty and hardship in their local parish communities. Some of these enterprises were organised through the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), some through parish and school volunteers, while in some places they were ecumenical ventures supported by the local Catholic parish. In many cases the grants were particularly welcome as the closure of churches had made local fundraising difficult if not impossible despite the evidence of need in their communities.
Grants were given to eleven different projects in locations across the Diocese:
- Mother of Unfailing Help Parish, Leeds
- Blessed Edmund Sykes, Leeds
- Blessed John Henry Newman, Leeds
- St Patrick’s, Leeds
- Mary Mother of God parish, Bradford
- St Mary’s, Rothwell
- St Aelred & St Robert, Harrogate
- The Good Shepherd, Mytholmroyd
- St Columba & St Malachy, Halifax
- St John the Baptist, Normanton
- St Stephen’s, Skipton
Many individuals and families will have benefited from this development since the funds were distributed earlier in the summer and in October we will be able to provide a more detailed report on how the support of the Albert Gubay Foundation has assisted each of these local charitable efforts.