February 14, 2007
Presenters: Fr. Gerry Creedon and Deacon Tom Lambert
Facilitator: Janice Benton
Ideas shared by the presenters:
- Connect Eucharist to feeding the poor—always bring your efforts back to worship.
- We are enriched by Eucharist and by the people we feed.
- Everything should begin with prayer.
- Consider together what needs to be done—pray together and listen to one another.
- Work with allies.
- When you are trying to engage a person in ministry, know where his or her interests and passions lie.
- A key role of deacons is to serve poor people.
- There is a tension between the prophet and others, including priests. Not everyone is called to be prophetic.
- The Church is all of God’s people, and everyone needs to do their share according to their gifts.
- Sometimes all you need to do is ask permission of bishops, priests, or deacons to let things happen. They don’t need to be responsible for carrying out the event, program, etc.
- Share information at pastoral meetings of clergy. Also offer training opportunities, such as the one sponsored by the USCCB with partner organizations entitled “Refocusing on Mission: Sessions for Pastors and Preachers and Seminaries on The Role of Catholics in Public Life.” (A three-page handout was distributed describing the program).
- Form teams to carry out programs.
- Link action for justice with social teaching, Gospel and especially with sacrament and ritual.
- CRS Operation Rice Bowl provides an excellent opportunity to renew the ancient practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving through support for sustainable development—“live simply that others may simply live.” Clergy may then integrate the action with their liturgical preaching and ritual roles and interests.
- Create monthly packets based on the Liturgical season and feast days. For example, in January using the theme “If You Want Peace Work for Justice,” share information on the Holy Father’s World Day of Peace statement, immigration week, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, and respect for life on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
- Ask priests to host and to offer prayer. These are roles with which they are comfortable.
- Emphasize papal teaching on consistent ethic of life and human dignity as much as possible.
- Likewise, combine pro-life and social justice efforts where possible.
- In one diocese deacons are required to successfully complete an 18-month social justice internship. They serve in a ministry organization for approximately 3-4 hours per week.
- In the Diocese of Stockton deacons are assigned for a designated period of time to a parish other than the one to which they are permanently assigned. At this new parish they are to set up a peace and justice ministry.
- It was suggested that clergy personnel participate in a mandatory orientation on social justice issues.
- It was noted that it is helpful to have bishops ask their priests to attend or send representatives to meetings and trainings on social justice.
- In the Diocese of Columbus the seminarians attend a one-day retreat on the Compendium. This resource and training can also be used for deacons during their discernment process.
- In one diocese deacons and their wives participate in an overseas immersion trip focused on fair trade. Afterwards they speak to various groups about their experience.
- In the Diocese of Phoenix deacons must complete a two-year course of study in Sacred Scripture, theology, morality and spirituality at the Kino Institute.
- The textbook Introduction to Old Testament: A Liberation Perspective by Fr. Anthony Ceresko, published by Orbis Books was highly recommended.
- In the Diocese of Phoenix, deacons must focus on social justice during their first year of the deaconate aspirancy. One option they have is to participate in a Just Faith group.
- One suggestion for working with pastors was to build the trust factor. A pastor needs to know that he can trust you if he gives his permission to move forward on a new program or event.
- One diocese provides seed grants to fund a parish social ministry coordinator for a limited time. Generally, the parish continues to cover the cost once the grant funds have been expended.
- Deacons can educate couples and parents about social justice concerns during the preparation process for marriage and baptism.
- When establishing programs, use existing networks and get to know community groups. Also utilize parish organizations such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
- Use people’s skills and comfort levels. For example, if the deacon is more comfortable than the pastor to speak about justice issues, then he should be encouraged to do so. His preaching may impact the parish, and help the pastor to feel more comfortable to speak out as well.
- It is important to be present to parishes through personal visits.