• The Skoda cars used during Pope Francis’ trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of the Families are to be given to Irish charities, one aiding the homeless in Dublin and the other a search and rescue charity in Derry.

    Two Skoda ‘Rapid’ cars were used to assist the Holy Father during his intensive two-day programme involving different locations in the Archdiocese of Dublin, and separately in the Archdiocese of Tuam. Skoda was the official car partner to the World Meeting of Families 2018.

    One of the two cars has been given, on the recommendation of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, to Crosscare, the social care agency of the Archdiocese of Dublin, for use by staff in their Mater Dei homeless hub. 

    Each week, Crosscare staff assist homeless families in trying to move on from the temporary facility in the hub to more secure, long-term accommodation.

    The Skoda Rapid will be used by Crosscare staff to take homeless families seeking housing to view their next accommodation and will be in daily use. 

    Conor Hickey, Director of Crosscare services, said they were delighted with the gift from the Pope and he hoped that families who were struggling in this way would find this gesture from the Pope of some comfort in that they were constantly remembered by him.

    Speaking at the World Meeting of Families in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) last week, Conor Hickey said the homeless crisis in the city has reached huge proportions and was now at a level that was unheard of three years ago. 

    Mr Hickey said at the Pastoral Congress in the RDS that the crisis was now defined by families, “people very much like you or I who, because of economic factors beyond their control, have found themselves in a housing market where there are no available houses.”

    The other Skoda car used by Pope Francis has been offered to the Derry-based volunteer charity, Foyle Search and Rescue.

    On welcoming the donation to Foyle Search and Rescue Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “I am most appreciative to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for this generosity regarding this gift of a car used by Pope Francis during his wonderful visit to our country.  This Skoda ‘Rapid’ will be of great practical help to the volunteers of Foyle Search and Rescue as they undertake their brave and vital life-saving work.”

    Foyle Search and Rescue was set up in 1993 by local people in Derry in response to the high number of people drowned in the River Foyle.  The service now includes suicide prevention and supporting families in the city.

    The chairman of Foyle Search and Rescue, Mr Stephen Twells, said: “I was speechless when I heard the good news!  Foyle Search volunteers are very honoured and most appreciative to be the recipients of this very kind gift.  Pope Francis’ car will provide a moral boost to our volunteers at this time, during what has been a very tough year for all of us in the city.   I also aware that this gift will be a great comfort to many families here in Derry knowing that we have been recognised by the Holy Father, and by Archbishop Martin, for the work that we do.”

    Archbishop Eamon Martin continued: “From my time as a priest ministering in Derry, I know well at first-hand how the local Foyle Search and Rescue volunteers work selflessly, and of their own free time, each week to help those who are vulnerable and in need.  The volunteers patrol the river at peak times on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, from 9.30pm to 3.00am, and engage with people in distress, maintain lifebelts and, critically, the volunteers save human lives.

    “I also wish to avail of this opportunity to commend the exemplary volunteers who provide an educational programme on water safety and suicide awareness to local schools, workplaces and community groups.  In addition, Foyle Search and Rescue facilitates the North West Bereaved by Suicide Support Group, which assists families and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide.  May God continue to bless these local heroes in their work,” he continued. 

    The cars will be are to be donated in the near future, but will not possess their current number plate ‘SCV 1’ which represents the designation Stato della Citta del Vaticano, or ‘Vatican City’.

    Source: The Tablet