Belfast clergy who asked for charitable donations in lieu of Christmas gifts admitted that they underestimated the generosity of the people of Northern Ireland.
Father Martin Magill and the Reverend Steve Stockman set a goal of £ 1,000 to coincide with his 60th birthday.
However, this goal was exceeded on the first day, Monday, September 13, Father Martín’s birthday.
On Thursday evening, the Reverend Steve Stockman announced a new target of £ 2,000 to appeal during a visit to Father Magil’s church, St John, on Falls Road in West Belfast.
Rather than asking people to move heaven and earth, the fundraising duo said they are eager to set an “achievable” goal.
Father Magill also told the Belfast Telegraph that his main objective was “to shed light on the refugee crisis”.
“We would also like to highlight what Embrace NI is doing to provide resources to churches and others to help with this crisis at the local level,” he said.
“We have been doing nightly prayers since the lockdown began.
“Steve joined me for this and as part of it, we wanted to thank everyone for supporting him thus far.
“We couldn’t believe we got to £ 1,000 so quickly – we are so grateful and honored for that.”
The cloth men chose Embrace NI, a multi-denominational Christian group that helps asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers.
It is a timely gesture in the wake of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Afghanistan.
The fundraiser was officially launched on the 60th birthday of Father Magill, who became one of Northern Ireland’s most famous priests in April 2019 after his emotional speech to local politicians at the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra. McKee.
It will run until October 10, which is when Reverend Stockman will celebrate his historic birthday.
Both are well-known figures in Northern Ireland, especially for their pioneering work at the Four Corners Festival.
“We often found it interesting that although we didn’t meet until we were 50, our birthdays are very close,” said Reverend Stockman.
“We have had an incredible decade working together and we both feel that God has truly blessed us with our friendship, our lives and our prayers.
“We also feel that they have been blessed enough with things. So instead of giving gifts to celebrate our 60th birthday, we would like people to donate to Embrace NI.”
Reverend Stockman said Embrace NI was his charity of choice because it is “interfaith and helps us fulfill a clear written mandate to care for the refugee.”
“Watching the news from Afghanistan reminds us that people around the world are fleeing terrible wars, oppression and poverty to find a better and safer life for their families,” he added.
“Of course, we are aware that Jesus was also a refugee. We see the work that Embrace is doing, not only in its emergency response to refugees, but also in its role in teaching and providing resources for the church, as fundamental “.
“Therefore, we encourage him, if he has in any way benefited from our individual ministries or has worked together to make a contribution to Embrace NI.”