Reaching Out to Your Parish

Reaching Out to Your Parish: Hearing Each Other, Transforming Hearts for Action

At our conference on “Justice, Advocacy, and the Social Teaching of the Church” we asked our panel discussion members Father Kenneth Mich, Eileen Ciezki, Kari Hanson and Tom Hunt to address the topic “Transforming Hearts: Incorporating Justice into the Life of the Parish.”

They shared with us the goals of their ministry and how their parish has engaged in approaching issues of justice, what has worked well for them and what challenges they have faced. Through this discussion we hope that all of might gain ideas and encouragement on how we might begin or enhance ministries within our own parishes or organizations.

Here is what they shared

Develop a mission statement through parish council that can be incorporated into the life of the parish

Liturgy is the center of parish life thus if the church has a mission for justice that mission should be a part of the coming together of the parish. Ideas presented were skits, readings, songs, prayer, preaching, or speakers before, during, or after liturgy

A social justice mission for your parish can be based on the Jesuit mission, Ignatian spirituality, your parish patron saint or another spiritual tradition such as Benedictine, Franciscan, or Dominican

Create awareness of the social teachings of the church through readings or a “justice corner” in the bulletin

Create an off shoot of your human concerns group that focuses on and educates the parish on issues of justice and social teaching

Start a “Just Faith” discussion group in your parish

Create opportunities for learning and discussion on social issues. Discussion is about listening to what each person has to say as opposed to telling people how to vote. Don’t be afraid to let everyone express their opinion.

Create an ongoing relationship with a parish or organization/ministry from another country

Provide direct service opportunities for adults that give personal first hand awareness and association with people affected by poverty and injustice. Include prayer and discussion about the possible root causes of the situation.

Provide opportunities for people to hear about all sides of a current issue along with opportunity for discussion and questions - pick topics that are timely and of concern.

Don’t be afraid to think “outside the box” or outside the walls of your parish. Invite the community to speaker events and book and film discussions. Consider holding these events at a community location outside of your parish. Collaborate with other organizations and churches. Invite people from around the area, not just your own parish.