Father John Devine’s decision to grow a beard for charity has paid off in style after he raised almost £10,000 – a total ‘far, far more than I ever dreamt of’, as he admits.
Father John, one of our monthly columnists, received sponsorship from his three parishes on the Isle of Man – St Mary of the Isle, Douglas; St Joseph’s, Willaston; and St Anthony’s, Onchan – after he pledged to grow a beard in time for Christmas, with the money to be divided equally between the Manx Salvation Army Christmas Appeal and the relief effort for the Rohingya Refugees in Myanmar (formerly Burma).
CAFOD in collaboration with other aid agencies such as Oxfam and Christian Aid will ensure that these funds reach the refugee camps where they are most needed.
Father John – pictured presenting cheques to Captain Simon Clampton of the Salvation Army and Damian Peter, the Isle of Man’s representative for CAFOD – explained why these two causes had been chosen as the recipients of Catholic charity.
‘Good ecumenical relations between the Christian churches have developed to the point where we can support each other in what we do best,’ he said. ‘The Salvation Army do a fantastic job serving the vulnerable and most needy in our community, not just at Christmas but all the year round. They reach the people many of us cannot reach and do so on behalf of us all. The Catholic community is happy to support them.
‘The Rohingya people are a persecuted Moslem minority in a Buddhist majority country. Six hundred thousand have fled an officially orchestrated campaign of murder, terror and rape and are now living in terrible conditions in camps in neighbouring Bangladesh. As Catholics we express our solidarity with the oppressed, whatever their faith background. Parishioners have responded so generously. Money raised has been divided between these two worthwhile causes. Donations are still coming in. When people are confronted with genuine need their response is amazing.’
As for the future of his beard, he added that it would continue to adorn his face ‘for the time being, yes … unless I get fed up with it!’