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Free lunch for poor on Boxing Day

It was a heartening meal of rice, dal, vegetables, egg curry, tomato chutney and salad.

Hundreds of orphans, rag-pickers, beggars and the homeless — their dresses in tatters and barely enough to beat the biting cold — gathered at the sprawling Loyola grounds near Archbishop House to enjoy a free meal on Thursday.

The occasion was a charity luncheon organised by Society of St Vincent de Paul — an international Catholic voluntary organisation that serves the poor and disadvantaged sections of the society — to mark an annual ritual on Boxing Day.

As nuns from the convents and volunteers of the society made the seating arrangements, more than half a dozen cooks prepared the dishes.

Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo arrived at the venue, which was teeming with people, around 2pm.

Before serving the food with his own hands, Toppo blessed it with a short prayer, asking God to give him strength to continue to feed and clothe the poor.

“Jesus was born in a manger, a feeding trough for the cattle. He could have been born in a palace, with golden spoons to feed himself. But he chose a humble place to set foot on this earth. Through this act, God has sought to teach us to serve the poor, needy and neglected,” Toppo said.

Early in the day, the Cardinal visited the Holy Family Hospital in Mandar to bless the patients and medical staff.

“A patient complained to me that there are excellent facilities at the hospital, but it lacks enough number of doctors. I have assured him that necessary steps would be taken in this regard,” the Cardinal said.

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