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150 lanterns light up the darkness

The 150th anniversary celebrations of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute began on 5 January with a lantern festival. More than a hundred people came to the institute to light up the winter darkness, while many more were there in spirit.

Leading Deaconess Karin Strandberg opened the occasion by recalling the foundation of the Deaconess Institute. “17 December 1867 was a joyous day: the aim of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute was consecrated in prayer and the world of God.”

At its foundation the purpose of the institute was to help our fellow human beings in distress. This basic duty has remained unaltered.
“There is still a need for people and organisations that boldly dare to take a stand and light a light in an increasingly darkening world,” said Karin.

Despite the freezing weather, over a hundred visitors came to light candles, listen to the speeches, and sing together. The atmosphere of the celebration was warm regardless of the icy conditions.

From past to present

In her speech, the Director of International Protection and Integration, Marja Pentikäinen, journeyed from the past to the challenges of today.

“Every day we hear of wars and global problems that have presented our country too with new issues that must be resolved. These include, for instance, matters concerning migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.”

Like Karin, Marja pointed out that courage is needed nowadays, as global problems put a strain on the whole world.

“Last year really showed us that we must to be able to take responsibility for other people and have the courage to defend people’s inalienable dignity. Everyone deserves to be included, and we should remember how valuable and meaningful neighbourly love can be.”

Celebrations elsewhere

People from all over Finland took part in the lantern festival. The branches of the Deaconess Institute and the Deaconess Institute’s Hoiva Ltd, its health and social service provider, such as at its child and family services and at the Kotikallio care home, 150 candles were lit in honour of the anniversary. Many people wrote on the institute’s Facebook page to recall their own times at the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, and to say that they had lit a candle at home in spite of the distance from the institute.

Supporting community regardless how far away

“We are observing the 150th anniversary in the spirit of Working Together, the theme of the Finland 100 celebration. We can’t manage to overcome and eliminate social problems alone. We must seek solutions and deeds in cooperation with others. I urge all of us to boldly care for those close to us, our co-workers, other people and also for people in the most vulnerable situations,” said Marja.
Karin also stressed the importance of community and acting together.

“There’s one light that shines stronger than others. It is the light that has been made together.”


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