Our faith inspires us to advocate for our brothers and sisters at home and around the world.
At Xavier University of Louisiana, working to build a more just and humane society is at the heart of our mission. Our CRS Student Ambassadors, who have received training in advocacy, coordinate advocacy visits to help students bring their concerns about issues such as migration to their elected officials. Students also hone their advocacy skills by receiving important training at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering as part of the Young Leaders Initiative. We see global issues as interconnected with local issues as we also seek justice for those who are marginalized and displaced locally—for example, those who are homeless, and immigrants. Our efforts are rooted in prayer. Our vigil for migrant workers, for example, was among the best attended events that our campus ministry has offered. We hope that our efforts together can help to cultivate a global vision of community, in which we stand alongside those nearest to us, and those farthest away.
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We worked for many years to build relationships with law enforcement, which helped us respond immediately after the shootings in Dallas. Our approach to building peace is multi-faceted.
Our parish, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, in Dallas, has been working together with other faith institutions for many years to build relationships with law enforcement and improve policing in our communities. With Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI), which brings together faith leaders to collaborate on areas of common concern, we successfully worked to get several hundred additional officers on the streets who are trained in community policing and de-escalation strategies. Because of our pre-existing relationship with law enforcement, when the July 2016 shooting of police officers occurred at a peaceful march, we were prepared to respond immediately, bringing interfaith leaders and law enforcement together to pray, reflect, and demonstrate their commitment to collaboration. Our efforts on racial justice go beyond our work on policing; we also seek to improve access to healthcare, and end predatory payday loans, for example. Our parish DAI leadership group, which is made up of both Hispanic and Anglo parishioners, previously worked with the Mexican Consulate and Catholic Charities to obtain identification cards, or matriculas, for undocumented parishioners, so their children could attend schools and they could open bank accounts, sign apartment rentals, complete DACA registrations, etc. We are currently working with a predominantly Hispanic parish, San Juan Diego, and other members of Dallas Area Interfaith, to seek modifications to the City of Dallas housing code, which has not been updated in thirty years, in order to improve the unhealthy living environments that characterize many low-income apartment buildings in our city. We see all of these efforts as connected, and each of them essential to giving “legs” to our desire for peace in our communities.
We are helping parishioners install solar panels on their homes, with proceeds benefiting the parish and other Catholic ministries.
We are responding to the call to care for God’s creation! Our Catholic Charities agency, together with several parishes, have launched an initiative to help parishioners install solar panels on their homes. Proceeds from the referral fees are shared by the parish, Catholic Charities, and the Catholic Climate Covenant. Our program is the first of its kind by a Catholic diocese in the U.S. Through it, families lower their carbon footprint, parishes get funding for their ministries, and Catholic Charities of Stockton gets support for its service to those in need.
Our program pairs urban and suburban parishes to provide ministry support and resources that allow parishes in low-income areas to address their communities' needs.
We are living out the call to be one Body in Christ through our Cooperative Parish Sharing program. Our Cooperative Parish Sharing program provides grants to fund social ministry projects in low-income parishes to address their community needs. The funds for the program come from voluntary donations made by parishes throughout the Archdiocese. This program allows us to practice solidarity by pooling our financial resources to make possible charitable and social justice activities such as migrant ministry, women’s health and education, enrichment programs for youth, and social justice and Hispanic ministries.
We believe our faith community is called to share and respond to the struggles of our community--including foreclosure that impacted 120 of our parishioners.
Six years ago, more than 120 people at our parish, Our Lady of Assumption, had homes in foreclosure. With the help of COPA, a local organization that receives funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, we engaged in research and house meetings around the foreclosure issue in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. We learned about how to run foreclosure workshops and met with city, county and state officials about the problem. We also worked with some of the bigger banks to set up face to face meetings between loan officers and homeowners to request loan modification or principal reduction. Finally, our hard work paid off when 74 homeowners were able to keep their homes. We engaged in this work because we believe that our faith community is called to share and respond to the real struggles and challenges of our parishioners.
We discovered that what we throw away can often be recycled or reused. Reducing waste helps care for creation.
Inspired by the call to care for God’s creation, one of our parishioners helped us start a recycling program that aims to reduce the trash that fills our quickly depleting local landfill space. Here’s how our program works: We have a 96-gallon bin that gets filled with trash often considered hard to recycle. Our parish contributions are then sorted—and it often turns out that many items are not trash at all! Resuable or recyclable items get distributed to agencies that accept and reuse these materials. The program has helped educate our parish about items that can be recycled or reused instead of thrown away. It also helps us diminish our waste so we can preserve creation, helping all God’s children enjoy its beauty and live long, healthy lives.
Students who take our advocacy course learn skills and then work on issues during the semester, meeting with legislators to advocate for those who are poor and vulnerable.
As part of our Advocacy Course through the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, we learn advocacy skills, such as selecting winnable issues and how to facilitate a meeting, and then work on a campus, local, national and international issue during the semester, meeting with our legislators to advocate about the issues. For example, during one recent semester the students met with legislators to allow formerly incarcerated individuals in Indiana access to food stamps to overcome food insecurity. We believe that advocating on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are poor and vulnerable is an important way of responding to Jesus’ call to love our neighbors.
We network with other faith communities to help people of faith to act on local, regional and national issues.
We are inspired by our communal faith journey to use our voice in the public arena. At St. Joan of Arc Parish, we participate in a network of over 90 congregations in Minnesota, to pursue community organizing and issue advocacy, empowering people of faith to act on local, regional, and national issues that lie at the heart of building just and healthy communities. We send parish core team members to week long national advocacy trainings. They return and conduct legislative issue briefings and advocacy trainings at our parish. During Lent, we will make several visits to legislators at every level, including city councils, school boards, county commissioners, and state legislators. We feel so blessed to have such a powerful vehicle to organize and express our faith values to bring about economic and racial justice for all God’s children.
Marquette University students engage their university on global issues.
We are students at Marquette University. As Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Student Ambassadors, we respond to the call to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the globe. Most recently, we worked to engage our campus in learning about water issues and acting to ensure that others have access to water, which our faith teaches us is a human right. We held a water simulation event and then sponsored an online petition campaign to support the Water for the World Act, which passed in December! We also engage our campus in other issues: We recently held a fair trade fair, a refugee simulation, and a prayer vigil for victims of war. As CRS Student Ambassadors, we have access to so many great resources to engage our community in global solidarity.
Our religious communities and parish women's group educate and work to prevent local human trafficking.
When we began to learn about the crisis of human trafficking in the U.S., we knew we needed a united effort to prevent cases and assist victims in our Archdiocese. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur partnered with 9 other congregations and a parish women’s group to take action. Since hotels, particularly during sports events, tend to be popular sites for exploitation, we have worked to educate over 70 hotel and motel managers about human trafficking. If they are open to helping, we give them bars of soap with trafficking hotline information. Our ministry has also made presentations to churches and civic groups and created curriculum for Catholic schools to raise awareness of human trafficking. We also extend the mercy and love of Christ to victims of trafficking through financial, emotional, and spiritual support. Our work to educate and prevent the injustice of human trafficking is our response to the Gospel call (Lk. 4:18) to “proclaim liberty to captives” and “let the oppressed go free.”
Our students work to change unjust structures by participating in frequent visits to discuss issues of concern with legislators.
We help our students to live out a commitment to Faith that does Justice. At the Creighton Center for Service and Justice, we help students reflect on their experiences in service and immersion, learn about the root causes of issues, and work to change structures of oppression that perpetuate injustice and suffering. Legislative advocacyprovides an opportunity for students to act. Three times a year, about 65 of our students visit legislators to discuss issues such as migration, sustainability, economic justice, access to education, and peace and non-violence. On these advocacy trips, we rely on the guidance of trusted partners such as the USCCB and the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Currently, we are working to gain support for a state-level bill that would allow for Deferred Action individuals to receive driver's licenses. Such opportunities help our students truly live out their commitment to faith that does justice.
Our Catholic Conference of Bishops and Catholics in parishes across the state of New Mexico played a key role in preserving driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, which are key to the well-being of families and children.
In New Mexico, legislation is regularly introduced to repeal an established law that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. Driver's licenses are essential to the well-being of families, and especially children, 100,000 of whom have at least one parent who is an immigrant. Driver's licenses allow parents to get to work, families to the doctor and grocery store, and children to school. They also serve as state-issued identification, an important tool for immigrant parents. We are proud that the law remains intact, due in no small part to the efforts of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Catholic parishes, and community organizations which receive funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, including Partnership for Community Action. We worked together and with other groups to educate community members and politicians, communicate, advocate, and ultimately, transform the hearts and minds of legislators, allowing 90,000 families in our state to keep their driver's license. Together, we have protected this basic right--and even more importantly, the well-being of families and children.
We support the efforts of Haitian farmers to ensure fair wages and a self-sufficient future for workers in Northwest Haiti.
At St. Thomas University (FL), we are partnering with farmers in the Diocese of Port-de-Paix, Haiti through a fair trade cooperative. Our faculty and students travel regularly to Northwest Haiti to form relationships with farmers and conduct research. Together, we have established a fair-trade program focused on eliminating unjust treatment of workers. Our students assist the cooperative in developing marketing strategies so that the farmers are able to trade directly with the United States, ensuring higher, more just profits, which can be passed on to the workers. So far, over 2,000 Haitians in the Diocese of Port-de-Paix have been employed by the cooperative, and are on their way to a more successful and self-sufficient future. We also sell the cooperative's coffee products on our campus as an expression of solidarity with the farmers that work so hard.
Café COCANOSTU Community Engagement
Our Voice of the Poor committee collaborated with others to witness, testify, and advocate to prevent an expansion of predatory lending in our state.
When our state legislature in Arizona was considering a bill which would have greatly expanded predatory lending in the state and could have cost the poor and vulnerable $350 million in usurious interest, our Voice of the Poor committee mobilized Vincentians and others to defeat this harmful bill. We were involved in every step of the bill’s legislative process, witnessing Legislative Committee actions, testifying, and visiting individual legislators. Our local Vincentian network participated in seven action alerts, ensuring that our voices of faith were heard through phone calls and emails throughout the process. We also collaborated and shared information with over fifty organizations, joining our voices to ensure that the dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable could be protected. We are now exploring how we might work together to provide alternatives to predatory lending in our state.
VOP Vincentians Defeat Predatory Lending in Arizona
We encourage care for creation and sustainable living through our programs and retreats.
As Sisters of Providence, we take seriously the call to care for creation. We seek to live and minister in ways that recognize the interdependence of all of creation and the need for God's providence to bring hope and healing to our communities. We run a community center where we offer classes on sustainable cooking, gardening, and spinning and weaving; retreats; training in organic gardening; and community-supported agriculture. We also raise alpacas!
Our archdiocesan immigration team helps facilitate social ministry in Hispanic parishes and advocates for the dignity of immigrants.
Our Immigration Team helps Catholics participate in transforming their own communities. We founded the team in 2013 to facilitate parish social ministry in parishes with large Hispanic populations, and to advocate for the dignity of all people and their right to participate in their communities. After holding almost 100 one-on-one meetings as well as trainings in organizing, storytelling and leadership skills, we formed our team of over 30 leaders drawn from 15 parishes representing 11 cities throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford. Our team has organized two regional “Pilgrimages for Immigration Reform,” and distributed over 3,000 post cards to our state legislators. The team is currently working with parish social ministry leaders to help undocumented parishioners prepare for the Connecticut driver’s license exam, though the creation of “community schools” in parish settings, serving over 1,500 parishioners. The team also helps to engage parishes around the diocese in local and national immigration issues.
Our school near the U.S.-Mexico border witnesses to the unity of the Body of Christ by serving as a bridge between people on both sides.
Our school, Lourdes Catholic School, is located in Nogales, AZ, near the U.S.-Mexico border, in the area known as “Ambos Nogales,” or “both Nogales.” Our school is a bridge between the people on both sides of the border. Living out our call to be one Body of Christ, we welcome students from both sides at our school. We integrate social justice into our school’s curriculum and do bridge-crossing through service and advocacy: Our older students serve at the Comedor, a soup kitchen on the border for deported migrants, and are also active in the Kino Border Initiative, through which they meet with their Congressional representatives to urge just and comprehensive immigration reform, and organize and participate in events to educate themselves and others about border issues.
We held a series of "encuentros" to reflect and discern about how we could respond to gang violence in our diocese.
To confront the gang violence that was affecting families and neighborhoods in our diocese, we held "encuentros" at parishes to reflect, act and evaluate how we could address this issue. Concerned parishes then gathered together in larger “encuentros” and discerned four areas for response: creating more family activities within the institutional church; providing healthy after school activities in parishes, neighborhoods and cities; building a relationship of trust between communities and police; and making ongoing prayer foundational to our work. With the help of an organization that receives funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, we created a Covenant for Peace and gave public witness to the covenant by organizing a 5,000 person procession through gang territory, led by Bishop Garcia, who stopped to comfort the family of an 8 year old boy who had been shot earlier that week by gang cross-fire. Our prayerful action led to organizing and advocacy and resulted in the creation of several new youth recreation spaces in the community to keep kids safe.
Our network of deacons, lay Catholics, and diocesan staff educate, pray, and advocate for an abolition of capitol punishment in Georgia.
We are a network of deacons, lay people, and diocesan staff who seek to uphold the life and dignity of all people, including those on death row. In response to Church teaching that capital punishment is incompatible with the gospel and can no longer be justified in modern society, we work to educate Catholic parishes, schools, and faith groups and invite them to join our work to end the use of the death penalty in Georgia. Working closely with the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Georgia Catholic Conference, we also serve as a Catholic presence at prayer vigils and legislative actions aimed at awareness, moratorium, and abolition of the death penalty and the promotion of a culture of life.
We conducted a listening campaign in the neighborhood surrounding our parish to learn about concerns and engage the community.
After our parish, St. Vincent de Paul, in Germantown, PA, experienced a merger of 3 parishes, we knew we needed a way to get to know one another and unite our community of faith. A group we are involved with called Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER), which receives funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, helped us conduct a listening campaign that taught us to listen to each other. We also found that getting engaged in a living wage campaign with other congregations in POWER took us out into the neighborhood to listen to their concerns and inform them about an upcoming legislative bill. Our role in door-knocking and phone-banking with often-discouraged local voters helped get out the vote and pass that living wage bill, with 76% voter approval! Our parish’s work to listen and engage has helped us to live out the Gospel and make “the Word become flesh” in our neighborhood and community.
We teach our children to care for creation through a Zero Waste Day, a recycling and compost program, and education about our responsibility as stewards of God's creation.
Our school, St. Columban School, in Loveland, OH, teaches our children that caring for God’s creation is an important part of living the values of Catholic social teaching. As “first teachers” and models for their children, a group of parents, concerned by the amount of daily trash generated by our 650 students, formed “The Green Team” a few years ago. Their first undertaking was to begin recycling of paper in all the classrooms. Our 7th grade teacher helped implement this endeavor by supervising the 7th grade students each Friday in collecting paper from every classroom and school office. Next they took on the issue of cafeteria waste, developing a recycling line where students can recycle or compost everything from juice pouches to meal trays. Children from each grade serve as “green keepers” to monitor and help their classmates recycle and compost correctly. After the annual Zero Waste Day, students who have fully participated are eligible to be crowned as King and Queen of the Green. Through the Green Team activities, students faithfully live out the Catholic social teaching principle of Care for God’s creation and reflect on their responsibility to society.
Our parish helps sponsor community development projects which empower the people in poverty all over the world.
We encourage all of our parishioners at St. Charles Borromeo Parish to support and work for the Option for the Poor through our Communities Rising Program. Communities Rising helps communities across the world take development into their own hands by supporting indigenous, community-initiated-and-led efforts to address local social, educational, health and economic needs. We strive to assist and empower communities around the world to achieve their own locally led development efforts through one-time grants. Communities Rising also encourages parishioners to contribute their prayers and financial resources to the Loyola Jesuit Secondary School currently under construction in Kasungu, Malawi. We live our Gospel mission by working to remove obstacles to development through community-led solutions.
We have committeed to paying all our employees a self-sufficient wage so they can meet their families' needs without assistance.
We live out core moral and spiritual values from Catholic Social Teaching by paying a just wage to our employees. Responding to new guidelines from the St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Voice of the Poor Committee, our Altanta branch of SVdP has committed to pay all our employees a”self-sufficient wage”—which is a wage which provides the income necessary to meet basic needs without public subsidies or private assistance. Our just wage policy helps us to send a tangible message to all of our employees about how much we value their work and contribution to the mission of our organization, and recognize our responsibility to ensure that they can adequately provide for their families' needs. Our workers feel more dedicated and committed, a feeling of goodwill and value has spread in the workplace, and they are better able to care for their families. We made this change because we recognize the dignity of every human being and the dignity of work.
We responded to the reality of domestic violence through preaching, education, training, and advocacy.
After learning that some members of our faith community, St. Pius V Parish, were victims of domestic violence, we decided to take action to address this serious issue. Through Sunday homilies, our pastor began raising awareness on this issue and called for volunteers to come together and create a domestic violence ministry. With the help of Catholic Charities, we developed support groups and counseling services for victims and offenders. We educated younger members of our parish community about the elements of healthy and unhealthy relationships. Our domestic violence ministry has expanded throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago, which now has a Domestic Violence Outreach Ministry active in 50 parishes. We are currently working to develop a state-wide coalition that will advocate for public policy to better serve victims of domestic violence.
We wrote more than 3,500 letters to advocate for an end to child hunger in the U.S.
Because of our concern about child nutrition in the state of New York, and in response to Jesus’s call to feed the hungry, our Catholic Charities agency partnered with Bread for the World to engage parishes and other Catholic institutions in our state in a letter-writing campaign in support of the Child Nutrition Act. There are nearly 325,000 children in the ten counties of the New York Archdiocese who do not have access to healthy and nutritious food, so we created an Offering of Letters at prominent Catholic parishes. We wrote more than 3,500 letters, which were than blessed by Pope Francis and hand-delivered to members of Congress during in-district meetings. This campaign is part of our continuing advocacy efforts to promote solidarity with and justice for the children of New York.
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