Growing up in the South Valley of Albuquerque, NM, I was blessed to have been able to incorporate my Catholic faith into everyday life due to the extensive Catholic community in my neighborhood. My parents taught me at a very young age about Catholicism, and I practiced best as I could. As I grew up I became more involved with my parish’s youth group and Confirmation leadership team. Since beginning to pursue my masters in social work, I’ve learned that my Catholic faith and social work ethics tie had in hand, so it has become clear that my faith has drawn me towards social justice.
When I decided to apply for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) internship, I was nervous because I applied once before and to no avail, I wasn’t picked, but I still knew that it was in my best interest to try again. In the spring of 2018, my best friend sent me the internship description, and the same day, my mom sent me the same intern job announcement that was posted in our Archdiocese’s magazine, the People of God, so it definitely felt like God was speaking to me through those around me.
As you might be able to tell, I was chosen to be the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s office of Social Justice and Respect Life’s CCHD intern, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. Through the office I am working out of, I have been able to meet and work with Pastors, priests, deacons, CCHD funded groups, community organizations, youth ministers, Confirmation teachers, Catholic school superintendents, Catholic school teachers, and many Catholic individuals and families that are a part of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. I have made many great contacts here in the Archdiocese, and I have been able to contact these groups through email, phone call, and even local community meetings, which has given me a great step up in starting to get the word out about CCHD, the annual national collection, as well as giving informative presentations. The topics I have been presenting on are Catholic social teaching, the two feet of love in action, sacraments and social mission, living the gospel through being disciples, an overview of CCHD, Catholic charities, and poverty awareness.
As the CCHD intern, I have been able to promote the CCHD collection and teach youth, and adults about what the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is and what it stands for, Catholic Social Teaching, and poverty awareness. So far, I have given presentations to youth groups, youth conferences, Confirmation groups, and to adult faith formation groups. I have seen a growing impact in the Archdiocese and a growing awareness of social justice that affects each group to whom I present. As the CCHD collection approaches (November 17-18, 2018), I have been active in outreach and giving presentations to ensure that not only priests are aware of the collection and important work of CCHD, but Catholic parishes as a whole, including the youth, are informed and given the opportunity to could learn more about those living in poverty, as well as ways they can help if they are unable to donate to the collection.
A hope of mine as I continue my presentations and outreach to parishes, schools, and faith formation groups is to educate my fellow Catholics on why and how our faith ties hand in hand with social justice. Catholic Social teaching is the epitome of who Jesus Christ calls us to be. If I could have people understand this, I would be thankful to God for giving me a hand in molding His people to become socially aware to help those who are vulnerable and living in poverty.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has offered me a great opportunity to continue growing in my own faith and to help people learn, grow, and act in their Catholic faith so they can also become stewards and advocates for those living and overcoming poverty. What makes my job a tad bit easier is knowing that I can rely on my fellow CCHD interns in dioceses throughout the country, as well as the resources that CCHD and USCCB provide me to ensure that my presentations and outreach are productive and are making a difference.
If I can offer one piece of advice for anyone considering being a part of CCHD, whether by becoming an intern, donating, participating in a CCHD funded group, or supporting CCHD on social media, I would say DO IT! As Pope Francis stated in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), “The poor person, when loved, ‘is esteemed as of great value’, and this is what makes the authentic option for the poor differ from any other ideology, from any attempt to exploit the poor for one’s own personal or political interest. Only on the basis of this real and sincere closeness can we properly accompany the poor on their path of liberation” (no. 199).
This weekend, November 17-18, is the CCHD Collection! Be part of the effort to break the cycle of poverty in the United States. Learn more about how to give!
Rachel Baca is a masters of social work student currently fulfilling an internship in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe's Office of Social Justice and Respect Life as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development intern.