Not long ago I met with members of our combined parish Social Ministry Committee for St. Peter and St. Paul. The mission for our Social Ministry Committee is: “To identify, affirm, promote and challenge parishioner’s engagement in direct service, legislative advocacy, community organizing and global solidarity.” As this committee would state, these four pillars are essential to a healthy social ministry program (and I would add a vibrant faith community as well!) Our Catholic Christian Faith must reach out to others if it is to be alive in Christ. Jesus would want it no other way! The four pillars in further detail are as follows:
· Direct Service is the compassionate yet empowering response to the immediate pain and need of those in trouble. Examples would be food shelf, home delivered meals, clothing, Habitat for Humanity, emergency financial assistance, Place of Hope, Anna Marie’s Place, Saturday meals program, Church of the Week, etc.
· Global Solidarity engages social justice efforts on a larger scale advocating awareness for peace, solving world hunger, protecting the environment, helping developing countries meet their needs, etc. Examples of this are Sister Parish program, fair trade coffee, Homa Bay and Maracay Diocesan partnerships, parish mission groups, contributing to Catholic Relief Services, Maryknoll Missions, etc.
· Legislative Advocacy participates in structures to help create change on a state and federal level in regard to just and compassionate social policies. Examples of this would be Minnesota Catholic Conference of Bishops, Catholic Relief Services U.S.A., Immigration Reform, US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
· Community Organizing puts into practice our belief in the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families, and communities to fully participate in decisions and attitudes that affect the local quality of everyday life.
In many ways both our parish communities as well as individual members and volunteers are doing a wonderful job in these areas. You don’t have to look very far to see the good people of St. Peter and St. Paul involved in helping others! Thank you! Of course there is always room for more help and there is always more that could be done. If you haven’t been involved on a social level with your faith, please consider doing so. Social ministry puts our faith into action. This is where we often encounter “Jesus in his distressing disguise” in our midst to quote Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Next week, I would like to discuss just two ways I have personally participated in some of these areas and hopefully encourage others to get involved too!