View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Deacon update: Social ministry

The epitaph of English novelist Winifred Hotlby reads:

God give me work
Till my life shall end
And life
Till my work is done.

That seems to me an apt motto for any Christian – and in particular, for permanent deacons.

I’ve been thinking about “work” in terms of the diaconate after our first foray in the realm of social ministry.

As I mentioned, at my meeting with Father Steve, he had suggested that I try to help get the social ministry committee started again at our parish.

I contacted a man (Rob) who was trying to get the committee going again, and he told me about a regional meeting for social ministry committees (i.e. for the five parishes in Gates and Chili, two suburbs of Rochester.). Rob, my wife and I attended that meeting last Thursday.

Many of the other parishes have social ministry groups, but they are small and looking for ways to get more active. We floated a bunch of ideas, but made no decisions.

Among the ideas I raised was that all the parishes share their social ministry activities for inclusion in all the local bulletins. This way we would know what is going on all around us, and can get involved in things that may not exist at our individual parishes.

I also noted that several of the parishes already have some ongoing social ministry activities (mine has a food pantry, for example). I suggested that rather than duplicating efforts, we work cooperatively to support the already existing ministries. Thus our parish might house the food pantry, and the other parishes would collect for that pantry, and that another parish might specialize in collecting clothing, etc.

I also suggested joint retreats/workshops concerning social ministry. During a five-day retreat, for example, the speaker(s) could be at one parish one night, another parish the next night, and so on. That way each parish would have a chance to host the retreat, and the people from other parishes could take turns traveling.

As the meeting was coming to an end, people began planning to meet again in September or October. Rob jumped in and suggested a gathering later this summer, just to stay in contact. We agreed to host a night at our church at which we will view a movie with a social justice focus (Entertaining Angels – the Dorothy day film) and a have barbecue. The date will be in early August.

One idea we did not really discuss is one that is close to my heart.

I believe that as Catholics, the Mass is central to our lives and all our actions. So I plan to propose that we have a monthly Mass for Life. The Mass would include prayers for various life concerns – abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, economic justice, etc. The priests of the parishes could take turns celebrating the Mass. We could also have guest celebrants, and the preaching could be done by people who are involved with the various issues. The night could also include a rosary, and perpetual adoration.

Such a monthly Mass would give us a consistent focus, and help us to grow spiritually, intellectually, and as a community.


Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Good luck. I co-chair our parish Peace & Justice Commission. We started small and are now active and vibrant. What worked for us was to focus on one issue/project at a time rather than being all over the map. Just a thought.

Blessings on your efforts to get this up and running.

11:20 AM  

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