Excellencies, honourable colleagues,
Dear Dr h.c. Feilcke-Dierck
Dear Director Brack,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
St Barbara is one of the saints venerated in all Christian churches both as a martyr and a helper in need. Her feast day falls in fact today, 4th December, as we gathered in this splendid Westin Grand Hotel for what has become traditionally known as the Angel Tree. With this, as we turn our gaze towards the ailing children who will be receiving their gifts before Christmas, we humbly consider ourselves assistants to Barbara, the Helper in Need. As some of her relics have been preserved and devoutly venerated in Kiev for centuries, we pray that St Barbara intercedes with God to reverse the tide of wars that plague our world and to bring about a just and lasting peace – both in Ukraine, as in the Middle East, and wherever war, violence and terror prevail.
There is an ancient custom here of cutting branches from trees on St Barbara’s Day, putting them in water and bringing them home. On Christmas Day, these branches will blossom and give a natural splendour to the Christmas season.
Symbolically, St Barbara’s branches represent the love that resists the hardness and coldness of heart, by bringing out the best in us, and thus helping our frail humanity to blossom in kindness and generosity. For Christians, the birth of Christ is that true bloom of divine love that neither withers nor perishes. Jesus Christ comes as the Prince of Peace and invites us to embrace peace, which begins in every human heart longing for reconciliation instead of hatred, for peace instead of war, for tenderness instead of violence and terror.
This Christmas, as with every year, we wish to remember the ailing children at the HELIOS Paediatric and Adolescent Clinic in Berlin-Buch, where some of them have to stay for a long time. We especially want to remember the chronically ill children and young people as well as their parents, and thereby support the ICKE initiative in Buch.
The gifts are intended to send a warm greeting from all of us, letting them know that they are not alone. To the children and parents, we send our best wishes for getting well soon. Our recognition and heartfelt gratitude go to the doctors, nurses and all those working in the visiting and care services for their commitment and dedication. Thinking of the sick children at the HELIOS Paediatric and Adolescent Clinic, we join their parents in wishing them a speedy recovery and that they are well cared for in their distress.
The Ambassadors Club e.V., chaired by Dr h.c. Feilcke Dierck, has long taken care to ensure that the gifts for the children are promptly and fittingly collected and placed under the Angel Tree and from there handed out to the children.
For this, we would like to express our most sincere thanks to them and to everyone involved, as well as to the Director of this magnificent Westin Grand Hotel for such wonderful hospitality.
The feast of St Barbara reminds us of the countless heavenly helpers in times of need, with the Blessed Virgin Mary leading the way. May she – Mother of God and Mother of all mothers – accompany all children, especially the sick and those suffering in war and crisis zones.
May she be our guide and witness to how beautiful it is, when hope and love, together with the branches of St Barbara, flourish in our hearts at Christmas and keep blooming every day in our lives. May she also strengthen our faith in God, her Son, whose name is Emmanuel, meaning God is with us.
I hereby wish you all a blessed Advent and a very Merry Christmas. May God bless you all abundantly for the new year to come.