Parish Social Concerns Ministry Program
The diocesan Parish Social Concerns Ministry Program promotes the integration of social concerns ministry efforts in the life of the parish community. The diocesan Office for Social Concerns serves to develop and support parish social concerns committees by providing the necessary tools to bring about social change in light of Catholic social teaching.
If you are interested in starting a parish social concerns committee, please contact the Office for Social Concerns at (614) 241-2540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Catholic Bishops' Statement
"Communities of Salt and Light: Reflections on the Social Mission of the Parish," United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Full Statement | Order a Copy
Available Now - We Are Salt and Light Resources
WeAreSaltAndLight.org is helping communities witness to their faith and responding to Pope Francis’ call to be a Church with “goes forth!” This new website offers many tools for parish ministry in the social mission of the Church: training tools, assessment materials, PowerPoint for Communities of Faith, videos, church teaching, ideas, and much more. Click here.
For Parishes This webpage produced by the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development provides background about parish social ministry. Includes statements, tools to develop social concerns committees, and resources on how to get involved.
Organizing A Parish Social Ministry Coordination Team This document by USCCB highlights elements of building a successful parish-based social ministry effort.
Four Components of Parish Social Concerns Ministry
- Pastoral Outreach
- Advocacy and Organizing for Change
We are called to pray. Prayer supports all efforts. It should be the basis of action. We should keep in our prayers the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society especially the unborn, children, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, the poor and unemployed, the immigrant and the refugee, and those who suffer from hunger, pain, violence, discrimination, abuse, and neglect. Jesus also calls us to pray for those who persecute and hate.
- Organize a "prayer chain" (pray and then call another on a list to pray for a particular intention).
- Write petitions which call for justice and a respect for the dignity and sacredness of human life.
- Celebrate a Mass with the intention for those in most need.
- Spiritually adopt someone in need.
- Pray the Rosary.
- Pray before every meeting and activity.
The Office for Social Concerns provides resources on prayer with references to Catholic social teaching.
We are called to proclaim the Gospel of life and of love. In order to proclaim, we must understand. By reading, researching, analyzing, and studying; we will be better prepared to inform others.
- Read documents on Catholic social teaching. Possibly organize a study group.
- Look deeper into issues of social concern.
- Examine television and radio commercials, news media, magazines, and music. Ask yourself, "Does this message agree with the Gospel message?"
- Discuss issues of social concern with your family and friends.
- Invite a speaker to lead a discussion on issues of social concern.
- Watch a video to deepen your understanding of a particular issue. Conduct a parish video night. Even provide the popcorn.
- Insert simple messages on Catholic social teaching in the parish bulletin.
- Meet with your pastor and parish leaders to plan educational moments for the parish.
- Conduct an essay or poster contest on a topic of social concern.
The Office for Social Concerns has an extensive resource of materials, documents, Church statements, videos, and small group study programs. The department also provides trainings for parish leaders involved in parish social concerns ministry. The diocesan Office of Religious Education & Catechesis also has an extensive audio-visual library.
We are called to give of ourselves to others. We are challenged to find ways to help those who are in most need. Our churches should be known as places where anyone struggling with a life issue can find material and spiritual support from the parish community.
- Encourage others to volunteer at a soup kitchen.
- Provide opportunities for parishioners to tutor or become mentors for low-income students.
- Link GED and adult education centers to parishioners.
- Donate goods to J.O.I.N. (Joint Organization for Inner City Needs), the St. Vincent de Paul Society, or other charity/service organizations in your community.
- Sponsor a "Giving Tree" to assist low-income families.
- Hold a baby shower for your local crisis pregnancy center.
- Promote collections and other programs related to Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
- Organize or support a Christmas toy drive for needy children in your area. See if there are families in area shelters who need Christmas dinner or gifts.
- Visit the elderly (not just during Christmas).
- Put a book on tape for someone with a visual impairment.
The Office for Social Concerns provides consultation on models of service and community outreach. The office also gives referrals to Catholic service agencies and organizations.
Advocacy and Organizing for Change
We are called to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. We must be a voice for the voiceless, the defenseless, and the most vulnerable in society. Charity and justice go hand in hand. In regards to charity, we are obligated to meet the immediate needs of those in most need by providing material and spiritual support. However, charity itself does not change social structures that threaten human life and human dignity. Working for justice requires finding the root causes of poverty, hunger, homelessness, direct threats to human life, oppression, and other forms of injustice and empowering the community to speak out and work for change. As Pope Paul VI said, "If you want peace, work for justice."
- Read the U.S. Bishop's statement, Faithful Citizenship and other statements on political responsibility.
- Register to vote.
- Sponsor a nonpartisan parish voter registration drive or candidates night.
- Learn about the legislative process (obtain a copy of Ways to Relate Your Message to Public Officials from the diocesan Office for Social Concerns).
- Monitor legislation.
- Attend a rally related to an issue of social concern.
- Write, fax, email, and visit legislators and other government officials on issues of social concern.
- Organize a parish phone tree network to advocate on pressing legislative issues.
- Write letters to the editor and op ed articles.
- Participate in Legislative Advocacy Day sponsored by the Catholic Conference of Ohio.
- Go to the annual USCCB Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC.
The Office for Social Concerns coordinates the Information and Response Network which provides a legislative network and disaster relief plan for the diocese. Timely emails are sent to subscribers. For more information, send a information request at email@example.com.
The office also has detailed information on community organizing projects and education through the diocesan Catholic Campaign for Human Development Office.