Parish Social Ministry is an extension of the public ministry of Christ. Social Ministry is not only the right, but the responsibility of all parishioners, and the calling comes directly from Christ’s teachings. He frequently reminds his followers to care for one another, to support those in need, and to give preference to the poor.
The American Bishops emphasize this point in their document titled “Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish”. It states, “Parish Social Ministry” is first and foremost a work of faith. Social Ministry is an expression of who we are and what we believe; it is anchored in the Scriptures and Church Teaching. It is part of what keeps a parish alive and makes it truly Catholic. Social Ministry helps the parish not only to do more, but to be more – more a reflection of the Gospel, more a worshipping and evangelizing people, more of a faithful community. It is an essential part of parish life. ”
John Carr, the Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, US Council of Catholic Bishops, writes “This social mission of the parish is not optional, but essential. The mission is not new, but as old as the Scriptures. It is not something for a few parishes, but for every parish. It is not a function of where the parish is or whom it serves. It is not trendy, but traditional, founded on the fundamentals of our faith. It didn’t come from Vatican II or recent papal encyclicals, though they advanced and strengthened our understanding of how we carry out this mission in our own times. It is not a product of a particular ideology or ecclesiology, but rather a defining element of what makes a parish truly Catholic.”
Pope Benedict XVI, in his powerful first encyclical, Deus caritas est, God is Love, placed love of the poor at the center of Catholic life. He could not have been more clear or direct:
-“Love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind is as essential to her [the Church] as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.”
-“The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the sacraments and the Word.”
-“[The Church] cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.”
In James 2:14-26 it is said that, “If a brother or sister is naked and lacks food, and one of you says to them, ‘go in peace, keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply these bodily needs, what is the good of that?” James is a strong witness to the fact that faith alone does not change our hearts and behavior. Belief must be accompanied by deed. “Intellectual” love of God counts for little. This is what is expected — required — of us to be disciples of Christ. We must work on behalf of our faith. Jesus requires more than an intellectual agreement, a “Yes, I do believe.” Jesus calls us to show Him our belief. James’ words continue to challenge us with the words, “Faith without works is dead.” He does not say that faith without works is less meaningful, or faith without works is empty, but he speaks boldly and courageously when he says that “Faith without works is dead.” Social Ministry is the heartbeat of a living faith. It provides our parish with the opportunity to live our faith, and radiate the love and light of our Lord Jesus Christ on the altar of our lives. It is what St. Augustine succinctly stated when he said, “We are called to be what we receive,” — the tangible love of Christ. Social Ministry in our Parish provides you with myriad opportunities to do just this. We invite you to explore the ministries listed by clicking on each one. Take some time to read, reflect and pray about where the Lord is calling you to serve and be served.
“I had been a member of ICC for a number of years before I contacted the Parish to find out if there were any mothers’ groups I could join. With the birth of our third son, I had left work and was looking for ways to meet people in the parish and in the community. Little did I know what was in store for me! Immediately, I was invited to become a member of the Mothers’ Retreat Team. This led to my involvement in the Elizabeth Ministry, the Pregnancy Aid Center, organizing Days of Reflection, facilitating a Ministry of Mothers Sharing group, helping with the Food Collection, attending Bible Studies, and helping with Baptism preparations. Simply put, each activity led me closer to God in a way I could never have anticipated. I met wonderful friends who I can best describe as God’s angels. With their examples of faith and service to follow, I developed new strengths and courage, enabling me to do things in service of others that I would never have dreamed of previously (such as public speaking!). I was truly showered with God’s blessings and received far more than I contributed. Though I have since moved out of the area, I will always be grateful for the invitation to be involved in the various activities the Parish offers, and for the unbelievable gifts I’ve received as a result.”