annual ASSEMBLY AND thanksgiving mass
We hosted our Annual Assembly and Reception, preceded by a Thanksgiving Mass on Friday 4 November, at Farm Street Church in Mount Street, London, W1.
Michael Forbes Smith, Chair of the trustees, presided on behalf of St Francis Leprosy Guild during the Assembly.
The Right Reverend Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, was Principal Celebrant. During the service, he preached on the life of St Charles Borromeo and how this unlikely saint had influenced the work of St Francis Leprosy Guild.
Bishop Richard also blessed SFLG's Book of Remembrance in memory of the generous donors whose legacies continue to support people affected by leprosy.
Chair of Trustees' Address To St Francis Leprosy Guild Annual Assembly - 4 November 2022
Bishop Richard, friends; welcome. And thank you Bishop Richard for celebrating our 127th Anniversary Mass so beautifully: and for your moving homily drawing our attention to the works of St Charles Borromeo from which we can draw such inspiration and encouragement. And thank you Katharine for saying the bidding prayers.
Lord, we remember the many people around the world afflicted with leprosy. May we follow the example of your Son Jesus and St Francis of Assisi and show them love and compassion. We pray that they may be freed from the disease and its stigma. We give thanks for those who have been cured. We remember those who are permanently marked by the disease and all who care for them. Amen"
Our mission - the alleviation of the suffering caused by leprosy throughout the world – has remained unchanged since our foundation in 1895. But we could not do it without your generous financial support.
Trustees of charities seldom get thanked for the unremitting work they do. It’s no sinecure these days: the Charity Commission’s demands on trustees are ever more onerous. I should like, therefore, to rectify that omission this evening.
In addition to long-standing trustees, Gosia Brykczynski and our spiritual director, Reverend Michael Copps, our Board of Trustees has been bolstered with the arrival of several new and highly qualified trustees: Professor Robin Graham-Brown and Professor Noel Gill who joined in 2018. Since then we have been blessed by the additions of Cecilia Taylor-Camara, Liam Allmark representing the Bishops’ Conference, Clare Barton, Nalini Nathan, Maggie Burgess and Michael Heathcote our new Hon Treasurer. To all of them I cannot say how grateful the Guild is for the commitment you make to our work.
In November 2020 we recruited Clare McIntosh as our full-time Chief Executive Officer. In 2021, Clare devised a new mnemonic to reflect more clearly the different strands of our activities: “TRACE”: training, research, active case-finding, care and emergency support. Some other leprosy organisations have actually told us they wish they had thought of something so simple, concise yet comprehensive themselves to describe their activities – all signs of our growing international recognition.
Clare and our new Programme Manager, Charlotte John, will shortly be on their way to India where they have been invited to give a presentation at the International Leprosy Conference in Hyderabad. We have become, in today’s jargon, a “thought leader” which is a great matter of pride to all of us; more importantly it means we have a voice and greater visibility, which then comes back to our ability to fund our work as it grows.
We may be on the final mile, but there is nothing harder than going the final mile. I don’t need to tell you about the cost of living crisis – one effect will almost certainly be cuts to governments’ international aid budgets. And even if we could cure all those leprosy sufferers today, over four million people would still have to live out their lives with disabilities caused by leprosy. Many are forgotten by their own countries and governments. If organisations like the Guild didn’t care for them and the centres that provide for them – with your help - no one would. We maintain close relationships with the centres we support including many run by religious orders who are heroes in their own right, following the example of St Francis himself.
Your donations have achieved so much for our beneficiaries this year, as we report in the Annual Review – 120,000 people screened for leprosy, 4,000 diagnosed with leprosy and 30,000 receiving direct treatment.
In conclusion, please:
- Keep telling people leprosy is not a thing of the past
- Key praying for our team, our centres and the people we support
- Keep giving what you can
- Think about whether you could mention us in any way in your will
4 November 2022