Harvest Festival occasion to say ‘thank you’ to Portuguese

HARVEST FESTIVAL is one of the happiest occasions within the Church year, when we give thanks to God with traditional hymns, flowers and offerings. In the St. Luke’s congregation of St. Vincent’s Church of England Chaplaincy, we observe all the usual traditions, except that we happily decorate the church like a supermarket. We call it ‘God’s supermarket’, where nobody makes any money and no one pays for any of the items they receive.

At St. Luke’s, we give to the needy among the Portuguese, our hosts. There is considerable poverty among the elderly and families with no wage-earner. State pensions in Portugal are low, the average retirement pension is 225 euros per month and child allowance is 30 euros. On that level of income, the basics become luxuries. Last year, we gave boxes from ‘God’s supermarket’ to 21 households, or a total of 49 people, but please help us to give much more, to many more, this year.

The following items are just a suggestion of what groceries you can give: tinned tuna, oil (quantity before quality), tinned sausages, toucinho, milk (chocolate milk is a favourite with the children), biscuits, honey, tinned fruit and tomatoes, sugar, flour, pasta, rice, dried or tinned beans and pulses, bacalhau for a special treat and Bolero, an instant coffee substitute, preferred to tea and coffee. We like to give food rather than wine. Please don’t feel you have to give luxuries and avoid perishables – there is no chilled section in ‘God’s supermarket’.

If you have difficulty in shopping, or lack time, we are happy to receive money and spend it for you. We are thrifty housekeepers and can make money go a long way! Rest assured that every cent we receive goes in goods to those who need them. We never give money.

How do we identify our recipients? We have a list from the Junta de Freguesia of Santa Bárbara de Nêxe and names are given to us by known and trusted members of the community. We, expatriates, have so much to be grateful for in our adopted country and it is good to say “thank you” to our hosts.

The Harvest Festival of the eastern district of St. Vincent’s Church of England Anglican Church will be held at St. Luke’s Church, in Monte da Palhagueira Retirement Village (Gorjões, Santa Bárbara de Nêxe), at 11.30am, on Sunday, September 17. The church will be decorated on Saturday 16, between 5pm and 7pm, so please, if possible, bring your gifts then, or to the service on Sunday, September 10, at 11.30am. You could also give goods to folk at the door of the church, when you come to the Harvest Festival.

If you would like any information, call Elspeth Flood on 289 999 335 or 967 666 897, or Church Warden on 917 267 948. Contributed