Last week I mentioned the four essential pillars of a healthy, comprehensive Social Ministry program of which our combined Parish Social Ministry promotes and is involved. These are Direct Service, Global Solidarity, Legislative Advocacy, and Community Organizing. I would like to recall just two ways that I participated in these pillars. I write this in hopes of encouraging others to do so as well.
The first concrete example of these four pillars is when I participated last month in Bishop Kettler’s Prayer Service for Central Minnesota Latino Immigrants at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Represented at this service were members of the Latino community throughout Central Minnesota as well as members of our various religious orders i.e., Franciscan Sisters, Benedictines, Crosier Fathers, Diocesan clergy and many other members from our diocesan church parishes. We had good representation of our own parishes as well, of which I was proud of! Here, we prayed for change in immigration reform and we heard witnesses talks of hardworking Latino families and their struggle not only to get into the United States to find a better life, but their need to be recognized and supported by our government. These individuals and families want to contribute in healthy ways to our state and national economy, but are prevented from doing so because of certain social structures. One reform that was discussed (and which Bishop Kettler also agrees,) is a call for a new driver’s license policy/legislation which would enable Latinos and others avail themselves better travel and so better education, careers and jobs. The current legislation prevents them from doing so. The Minnesota Catholic Conference currently supports measures to change some of these laws. I see this event as a means to two Social Ministry Pillars: “Legislative Advocacy” and possibly “Community Organizing,” both of which are designed to move forward on a more comprehensive level for social change.
A second example I experience in my own life, one or more of these four pillars of Social Ministry, is that I recently participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Pope Francis Build. Apparently an anonymous person (outside our state) donated some $60,000 toward a new affordable house in the St. Cloud area to be built is in honor of Pope Francis’ commitment to the poor and social equality. The donor only asks that some additional financial help and labor come from our own local Catholic Churches to make this happen. Not long ago we had a “Wall Bashing” prayer service and ceremony in an old house located at 157 24th Avenue South. This old building will be demolished and then rebuilt for a new family who will be required to not only help build the structure, but be required to make low interest, affordable payments toward their new home. This new house will not only dress up the neighborhood, but also be a welcoming place for a new family to grow! On June 16th, Bishop Kettler himself plans to participate in the “Wall Raising” ceremony. If you are interested in actually helping with the construction, feel free to call Kris Boyle, our parish liaison for Habitat for Humanity. I myself have worked on several of these structures and I know some members from both parishes who have also help build. It is both a physical and spiritual rewarding experience, so don’t be afraid to get involved in some way if you are able to help. Again, this is just one example of putting one or more of our four pillars into practice. This is a clear case of “Direct Service” in Social Ministry!
As I mentioned in my letter last week, our Catholic Christian Faith must take on some kind of concrete reality in order to be alive and well. It is part of our mission as Jesus might say in Mark’s Gospel on this Feast of the Ascension Sunday. “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature…” Sometimes it all begins with a hammer and some nails!