Transformed by prayer, we are called to reach out together. Reaching out begins with encountering one another in our families and faith communities, and expands to our neighborhoods and the wider community. Reaching out involves getting to know and listening to people of different cultures, ethnicities, abilities, and faith traditions; those whose experiences are different than our own; and others who are working to make a difference in our community. Reaching out acknowledges the many parts of the Body of Christ and is necessary to building a foundation from which we can learn and act together.
Encountering God through our life of faith necessarily leads to encounter with the “other.” Who is the “other”? The “other” is someone of a different ethnicity, culture, generation, viewpoint, ability, or faith tradition, a person or group of people whose voices are not often heard, or our neighbor in the pew, across the street, or on the other side of the world. In encountering these “others,” we encounter Christ. This encounter leads to mutual transformation as we expand our understanding of one another’s experiences. This mutual transformation facilitates learning and prepares us for more informed and effective action.
One-to-one relational meetings are a tool that can help us build up the Body Christ by forming relationships among members of our faith community, or with members of a wider community.
These discussion questions can help members of a faith community “encounter” one another by sharing responses to questions around faith, mission, motivation, and issues of concern. Examples of questions include: What inspires you? What does discipleship mean to you and how are we called to live it? What is your vision for your community? What deeply concerns you?
Though written with a specific focus on immigration in mind, this guide is helpful for facilitating dialogue on any issue that is controversial in your community. It includes principles and characteristics of civil dialogue, contrasts dialogue with debate, gives tips for facilitators, and provides a suggested format for a dialogue.
The V National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry is a four-year process of ecclesial reflection and action that invites all Catholics in the United States to intense missionary activity, consultation, leadership development, and identification of best ministerial practices in the spirit of the New Evangelization. The theme is “Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of God’s Love.”
The National Catholic Partnership on Disability website provides excellent resources to ensure meaningful participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of the life of the Church and society. The website includes examples of how faith communities are welcoming and valuing persons with disabilities, as well as resources to help.
Diversity enriches our communities. A diverse community reflects the many faces of the children of God and the universality of the Church, which spans many nations and languages. As Christ’s disciples, we seek to encounter persons of different ethnicities, cultures and abilities who are part of our community. We also seek to be a faith community which welcomes and celebrates diversity, and which forms and nurtures diverse leadership. Building unity in diversity is an essential part of our mission of discipleship.
Forty percent of the U.S. Catholic population, and 54% of Millennial Catholics, are Hispanic. Our communities can become more vibrant, and our efforts more successful, when we listen to, learn from, and form relationships that reflect the diverse faces of the body of Christ. This webinar and an accompanying handout (also en Español) can help diocesan social justice and Hispanic ministry staff build stronger relationships. In addition, the USCCB Dept. of Justice, Peace and Human Development offices of Education & Outreach and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development offer small grants of $1,000 each to “kick start” new collaboration, or strengthen existing collaboration, between social justice and Hispanic ministry staff at the diocesan level. These grants are intended to support collaborative projects around know-your-rights work, leadership and formation efforts, the process of the V National Encuentro, and other important areas. This Spanish-language faith in action resource list is also available to help you.
Pope Francis urges us to replace the “culture of exclusion,” which leads to “discrimination and intolerance,” with a culture of encounter (10/28/14), and to “combat every form of racism” (10/24/13). This webpage from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops can help us build this culture of encounter and equip us to work for racial justice. The page includes links to church statements on this topic, prayer and liturgy resources, teaching materials, and more.
The multicultural reality in which we live allows us to celebrate the coming of the reign of God. When we encourage people to be open and welcoming to all, engage in conversation, and share stories and ideas, we open new doorways to experience conversion, be in solidarity with one another, and recognize our unity as the Body of Christ.
This guide shares knowledge, attitudes, and skills that are essential when working in intercultural and interracial settings. It focuses on developing communication skills, understanding obstacles, fostering integration, mutual invitation, and intercultural sensitivity.
This brief article reflects on diversity, which is "who we are as a community," rooted in Scripture and a central part of the New Evangelization. The article includes several examples of ensuring that those who lead must be culturally, racially, and ethnically representative of the faithful.
In order to live out our mission of being salt and light to the world, our faith communities must invite, develop, and equip leaders for mission. We must form leaders skilled in sharing their faith, welcoming new members, planning, healing, cultivating diversity, and collaborating with others. As the bishops remind us in Communities of Salt and Light, “Creative and competent leaders—clerical and lay, professional and volunteer—are indispensable. . . They deserve more assistance, encouragement, financial support, and tools to help them fulfill these demanding roles.” Here are some tools to help.
This excerpt from the U.S. bishops’ Best Practices for Shared Parishes: So That They May All Be One, describes a process for development of diverse leaders within one parish. A skilled, diverse leadership force is one of the best assets for the development and implementation of pastoral strategies and initiatives. It also builds community and a sense of belonging.
A Catholic Charities USA parish social ministry director reflects on key skill areas for social ministry leaders and offers tips for success.
Get tips about preparation and facilitation for running a meeting effectively.
This article from Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis reminds us that social justice committees should be faith-centered, organized, creative, relational, focused on justice, educating for action, and in for the long haul.
Reaching out involves moving beyond the boundaries of our faith communities to encounter others in our neighborhoods and in the wider community. It involves listening and learning, which may lead to changes in our previous perceptions and understanding, and to mutual growth and transformation. Reaching out also connects us to others in the community who are concerned about and working on the issues that impact our families and neighborhoods, providing fertile soil for possible future cooperation.
The Parish in the Neighborhood: Making the Word Become Flesh (video)
Developing Parish Leaders through Community Development (video)
Meet Mary: An Introduction to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (video)
All across the country, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic bishops, is funding community organizations that fight poverty through community and economic development. Use this map to find out what is happening in your area and how your faith community can get involved. Select “all markers” and then zoom in to your community.
This manual from Catholic Relief Services offers guidance to faith communities in sister parish or twinning relationships with a parish in another country. CRS’ solidarity-based partnership model is rooted in the belief that we all have much to give and receive by being in a relationship with a parish with a reality very different from our own, and that our relationship offers the whole parish an opportunity to grow deeper in faith and solidarity with our sisters and brothers in another country, as a response to the call to be one in Christ.
Journey to Justice is a day-long retreat that facilitates an experience of encounter with persons living in poverty and helps participants grow in understanding of the root causes of poverty in their community and reflect on how the Gospel challenges us to respond.
Reaching out involves encounter with the “other” in faith traditions besides our own. We are called to seek understanding and then cooperate together on “bold projects aimed at changing the world by inculcating respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly and the defenseless” (St. John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, no. 43). This is a witness to our unity as children of God and members of one human family.
The U.S. Catholic bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs offers these videos to help guide our encounter with other faith traditions.
The U.S. Catholic bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs offers these examples of how we can collaborate with other faith traditions to be salt and light in our communities.