Fr. Raymond is the Catholic chaplain at Ulster University, Coleraine as well as serving as part of the clergy team in St. Patrick’s, Portrush. Raymond’s involvement with Habitat stretches nearly 20 years – integral to the Ethiopia partnership having led multiple University teams as part of this link. Raymond has also fundraised thousands in support of Habitat’s work here at home and across the world.
“And this is the name the city will be called: The-Lord-our-integrity.” (Jeremiah 33:16)
My last trip to Ethiopia with Habitat for Humanity was part of a special Legacy Build in memory of Danny Burns, an esteemed colleague and friend. The team led by Fancea included Danny’s children Stacey and Gary as well as Rab, his Habitat workmate and friends from the USA. Little did we know it would be HFHNI’s last Global Village trip before the current pandemic, but it was full of emotional memories. We cried, laughed and shared our experiences of working with Danny at home and abroad. He is fondly remembered by Habitat’s family in Ethiopia and that did bring real comfort, solidarity and hope. On our last day on site we dedicated a house to Danny, a fitting tribute to a man who had a big Habitat heart.
It was yet another reminder of how Habitat for Humanity brings people together to share the gift of hope. This lies at the very heart of Advent as we seek an eternal city where there is room for everyone and where integrity finds a lasting home. But as we left Addis Ababa back in February 2020, I was convinced that the work of Habitat does have a lasting impact because of people like Danny. No pandemic can disrupt or diminish the work of the Lord, who first came into our world as a defenceless, homeless baby. We have here no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come by building God’s Kingdom on earth.
May Habitat for Humanity continue to build people up by sharing the gift of hope. This Advent may we make Christ present now by witnessing to his love in our broken world, mindful of the promise that is to come.