A SCOTTISH charity is marking 50 years of helping people in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) held a special Mass at St Columbkilles Church in Rutherglen, where the organisation began its work in 1965.
SCIAF now provides emergency aid and assistance in at least 15 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, while raising awareness about the causes of poverty back in Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy attended the service which opened with a procession of flags from countries SCIAF has worked in, and featured African drummers and an Indian choir.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS
The Mass was led by Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Toal, retired Bishop of Aberdeen Peter Moran and Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley.
SCIAF director Alistair Dutton said: “Thanks to the passion, commitment and support of the Scottish public to SCIAF over the last 50 years, millions of people have a much better chance in life and greater hope for the future. It’s great to return to our roots at St Columbkilles in Rutherglen where our work first began in 1965.
“We really appreciate the time the First Minister, the Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire, Provost of South Lanarkshire, Mr Murphy, our bishops, clergy, parishioners, volunteers and supporters have taken to join us for this special occasion.
“It’s only with their support, and the generosity of the wider Scottish public, that we will be able to continue our work helping some of the poorest people in the world.”
The charity was founded by Monsignor John Rooney and teacher John McKee with just £8,000.
It now supports almost 100 projects aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable people.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland can be proud that we have a fantastic international aid charity in SCIAF which helps millions of people to recover from natural disasters and war - and work their way out of poverty in the long term.
“I’m delighted to have been able to attend this 50th anniversary Mass and join with parishioners and SCIAF volunteers and staff and wish the charity the very best for the next 50 years.”
Mr Murphy said: “For generations of Scots Catholics and many others, SCIAF has always been a big part of our lives. It’s a good example of putting the Catholic Church’s social teaching into often life-saving practice.
“I have seen first-hand the difference that faith based organisations can make in some of the most troubled parts of the world. Last year I saw the efforts of Catholic agencies rebuilding communities and hope after a natural disaster in the Philippines.
“SCIAF has changed and saved so many thousands of lives but the world remains an unfair place and the need for SCIAF’s work is as necessary now as it was five decades ago.”