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The embodiment of love in the context of a broken creation, shalom is a hint at what was, what should be, and what will one day be again.. Our freedom is found in Christ! Make sure to read this months newsletter to hear the story of how kyledillingham was compelled by a homeless man, Eddie Monarch, and used his sphere of influence to help put on a music festival in OKC. She is faithful leader in her community and passionate about seeing our city experience become whole. She is resilient.

We are thankful that she works to see Oklahoma City flourish. Thanks for all that you do Valerie! Still amazed at the decor from the Flourish OKC event. All the pieces on this table were intentionally bought in order to be reused! Florals by thewildmother. We move at the speed of relationships. By maintaining the unity of the Spirit, we grow together as a unified force in this city.

We can do more together than we can ever do alone to be the solutions to the problems of our city. As we unify all sectors of culture, we spotlight strongholds of our city and cause systemic change together. Lee Roland, a retired principle and current pastor, currently works to consult schools and coach educators on issues of race within public schools. In his experience as a principal, he came to the place of deciding to confront the uncomfortable and ask how he could best serve the needs of his students lives. He continues to work to redefine the odds with different schools in Oklahoma City and in other cities.

Thank you for the leadership and example that you set for us! We pray for the day that Oklahoma City represents a united people sacrificing for something greater. We gather for City Prayer every third Thursday of the month to gather with like minded woman and men to see this happen. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Facilitators Step 2: Mobilized believers learn how to serve as agents of transformation.

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EQUIP provides training materials that churches can use to prepare lay leaders to host and lead roundtables among their peers. When facilitated properly, roundtables are excellent environments for building relationships and learning. Facilitators are equipped to lead with transparency and promote discussion. Roundtables Step 3: Trained facilitators go out and reach into their sphere of influence to add value to non-believers in the marketplace and community. Maxwell shares his faith, describing four pictures of God — three that are misconceptions and one that is true to who God is.

During Sunday liturgies, Fr. Douglas also tries to acknowledges how people's work life is related to ministry. For example, when the readings focus on Jesus as healer, those involved in health care occupations are invited to stand after communion for a special blessing. Serving the "Least of These": Outreach and Charity Parishes are called to reach out to the hurting, the poor, and the vulnerable in our midst in concrete acts of charity.

Just as the gospel tells us our lives will be judged by our response to the "least of these," so too our parishes should be measured by our help for the hungry, the homeless, the troubled, and the alienated-in our own community and beyond. This is an area of creativity and initiative with a wide array of programs, partnerships with Catholic Charities, and common effort with other churches.

Thousands of food pantries; hundreds of shelters; and uncounted outreach programs for poor families, refugees, the elderly, and others in need are an integral part of parish life. The parish is the most significant place where new immigrants and refugees are welcomed into our Church and community. A Church that teaches an option for the poor must reflect that option in our service of those in need.

Parish efforts to meet human needs also provides valuable experience, expertise, and credibility in advocating for public policy to address the forces that leave people in need of our charity. Catholic teaching calls us to serve those in need and to change the structures that deny people their dignity and rights as children of God. Service and action, charity and justice are complementary components of parish social ministry. Neither alone is sufficient; both are essential signs of the gospel at work.

A parish serious about social ministry will offer opportunities to serve those in need and to advocate for justice and peace. These are not competing priorities, but two dimensions of the same fundamental mission to protect the life and dignity of the human person. Augustine's Parish in Spokane, Washington, combines service to those in need in the local community with international outreach.

When Catholic Charities purchased the former Shriners Hospital, the parish social concerns committee mobilized volunteers to sort through the beds, wheelchairs, and other medical equipment that it contained and ship it to West Africa for use in a children's hospital in Ghana. What was not shipped was auctioned, with proceeds of the auction used to convert the hospital structure into apartments for single parents and their children.

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Parish on Long Island, New York, had a well-established outreach program that offered food, clothing, and financial assistance for rent and other needs. Many who sought help wanted to work, but could not find jobs. Many lacked training and education, and some had been in jail. With support from Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, parishioners established a job training and referral service. Volunteers help the unemployed identify training programs and jobs through local papers and other employment services.

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Parishioners identify jobs in their own companies or odd jobs at home. A parishioner with a background in personnel helps with rsums and interviewing skills. Clients with little work experience are offered volunteer opportunities at the parish. Recently, the local Department of Labor set up an outreach site at the parish. Advocating for Justice: Legislative Action Parishes need to promote a revived sense of political responsibility calling Catholics to be informed and active citizens, participating in the debate over the values and vision that guide our communities and nation.

Parishes as local institutions have special opportunities to develop leaders, to promote citizenship, and to provide forums for discussion and action on public issues. Religious leaders need to act in public affairs with a certain modesty, knowing that faith is not a substitute for facts, that values must be applied in real and complex situations, and that people of common faith and good will can disagree on specifics.

But parishioners are called to use their talents, the resources of our faith, and the opportunities of this democracy to shape a society more respectful of the life, dignity, and rights of the human person. Parishes can help lift up the moral and human dimension of public issues, calling people to informed participation in the political process.

The voices of parishioners need to be heard on behalf of vulnerable children-born and unborn-on behalf of those who suffer discrimination and injustice, on behalf of those without health care or housing, on behalf of our land and water, our communities and neighborhoods.

Parishioners need to bring our values and vision into the debates about a changing world and shifting national priorities. Parishes and parishioners are finding diverse ways to be political without being partisan, joining legislative networks, community organizations, and other advocacy groups. In election years, parishes offer nonpartisan voter registration, education, and forums to involve and inform their members. This kind of genuine political responsibility strengthens local communities as it enriches the witness of our parishes.

Parishioners at Corpus Christi Parish in Roseville, Minnesota, are expanding their social ministry to include legislative action. They have set up a parish phone tree with more than thirty members who call or write their elected representative on policy issues affecting children and the poor. As a part of "Voices for Justice," the legislative network of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, they receive regular "action alerts" on state and federal issues.

At each Mass one recent Sunday, the parish advocacy group spoke in support of a proposal to provide state financing and child care for welfare mothers to complete their education. Postcards were made available in the church vestibule, and over parishioners wrote to their legislators in support of the program. We can't just stand back and say we wish it would work. We need to make it work.

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We need to be the voices for those who have no voice in legislation decisions. Creating Community: Organizing for Justice Many parishes are joining with other churches and groups to rebuild a sense of community in their own neighborhoods and towns. Parish leaders are taking the time to listen to the concerns of their members and are organizing to act on those concerns. These kind of church-based and community organizations are making a difference on housing, crime, education, and economic issues in local communities. Parish participation in such community efforts develops leaders, provides concrete handles to deal with key issues, and builds the capacity of the parish to act on our values.

The Campaign for Human Development has provided vital resources to many self-help organizations empowering the poor to seek greater justice. Parish support and participation in these organizations help put Catholic social teaching into action and to revitalize local communities. In the south Phoenix, Arizona, neighborhood where St. Catherine Parish is located, gangs ruled the streets and drive-by shootings were terrorizing the community. Catherine's parishioners decided they had to do something. They contacted an organizer from the Valley Interfaith project, which is funded by the Campaign for Human Development, and conducted a six-month series of meetings focused on the problems in the neighborhood and the need for community leaders and developed a six-point plan with the police and local schools to take back their neighborhood.

Street violence was reduced, and the number of parents participating in school events went from twenty to two hundred. Plans are underway with the city of Phoenix to build a multicultural recreation center in the community. And St. Catherine is now working with other churches in Phoenix on wider issues on justice. Parishes are called to be communities of solidarity. Catholic social teaching more than anything else insists that we are one family; it calls us to overcome barrier of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, economic status, and nationality.

We are one in Christ Jesus cf. Gal beyond our differences and boundaries. Parishes need to be bridge-builders, reminding us that we are part of a Universal Church with ties of faith and humanity to sisters and brothers all over the world. Programs of parish twinning, support for Catholic Relief Services, mission efforts, migration and refugee activities, and other global ministries are signs of solidarity in a shrinking and suffering world.

Advocacy on human rights, development and peace through legislative networks, and other efforts are also signs of a faith without boundaries and a parish serious about its social responsibilities. A key test of a parish's "Catholicity" is its willingness to go beyond its boundaries to serve those in need and work for global justice and peace. Working with others for common goals across religious, racial, ethnic, and other lines is another sign of solidarity in action.

We hope these seven elements of the social mission of parishes can serve as a framework for planning and assessing parish social ministry. The more practical resources that accompany these reflections may offer some help and assistance in meeting these challenges. National and diocesan structures have materials, resources, and personnel to help parishes assess and strengthen their social ministry.

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Throughout their Lenten observances--at Masses, in the bulletin, during their Soup Night--information is provided about the international relief programs funded by Operation Rice Bowl ORB and the importance of support for this program by U. Families are encouraged to use ORB materials in their own Lenten programs of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

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To supplement the money raised through individual gifts, parishioners sell bread from a local "Justice Baker. Many parishes have found their community to integrate more fully the social justice dimensions life enriched and strengthened by a serious effort of our faith. They have also learned some lessons. Rooting Social Ministry in Faith Parish social action should flow clearly from our faith. It is Jesus who calls us to this task. Social ministry is an expression of who we are and what we believe; it must be anchored in the Scriptures and church teaching.

With the eyes of faith, we see every "crack baby" or person with AIDS, every Haitian refugee or Salvadoran immigrant, every victim of unjust discrimination, and every person combatting addiction as a child of God, a sister or brother, as Jesus in disguise. These are not simply social problems, economic troubles, or political issues.

They are moral tragedies and religious tests. Parish social ministry is first and foremost a work of faith.

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The social mission of the parish begins in the gospel's call to conversion; to change our hearts and our lives; to follow in the path of charity, justice, and peace. The parish is the place we should regularly hear the call to conversion and find help in answering the Lord's call to express our faith in concrete acts of charity and justice. Respecting Diversity We are a very diverse community of faithracially, ethnically, economically, and ideologically.

This diversity should be respected, reflected, and celebrated in our social ministry. For example, what works in a predominately African American parish in an urban neighborhood may not be appropriate for a largely white suburban or rural congregation. The issues, approaches, and structures may differ, but our common values unite us.

Social justice coalitions across racial, ethnic, and geographic lines can be an impressive sign of the unity of the Body of Christ. Leadership: Pastors, Councils, Committees, and Educators While pursuing social justice is a task for every believer, strengthening parish social ministry depends on the skill and commitment of particular parish leaders.

Pastors and parish priests have special responsibilities to support integral social ministry. By their preaching, participation, and priorities, they indicate what is important and what is not. They can make it clear that social justice is a mission of the whole parish, not a preoccupation of a few. They are called to teach the authentic social doctrine of the universal Church. Other parish staff members and leaders play crucial roles in shaping the quality of parish social ministry.

Parish councils in their important planning and advisory functions can help place social ministry in the center parish life. Councils can be a means of collaboration and integration, bringing together liturgy, formation, outreach, and action into a sense of common mission. Councils can play a valuable role in assessing current efforts, setting priorities for the future, and building bridges between parish ministries.

Many parishes have special committees focused on social concerns. These structures can play crucial roles in helping the parish community act on the social justice dimensions of its overall mission. Some parishes have staff members who coordinate social ministry efforts. This is a promising development.

These committees and coordinators best serve parishes by facilitating and enabling the participation of the parish community, rather than simply doing the work on behalf of the parish. Educators in parish schools, religious education, and formation efforts have special responsibility to share our tradition of social justice as an integral part of our faith. They shape the leaders of the future and by, their teaching and example share the social dimensions of our Catholic faith. Creative and competent leaders-clerical and lay, professional and volunteer-are indispensable for effective parish social ministry.

They deserve more assistance, encouragement, financial support, and tools to help them fulfill these demanding roles. Leadership development efforts and ongoing training help parishes strengthen their social ministry capacity. Links to Diocesan Structures No parish functions totally by itself. Parish leaders often look to other parishes and diocesan social justice structures for help in fulfilling these responsibilities. Almost all dioceses have social justice structures that offer resources and training for parishes.

These structures are diverse including justice and peace commissions, social action offices, CHD funding and education efforts, rural life offices, and parish social ministry programs of Catholic Charities. Other diocesan groups also offer opportunities for service and action for parishes, for example, Councils of Catholic Women, St. Many dioceses offer specific "handles" for parish action-legislative networks, work on specific issues or needs, convening parish leaders, providing educational programs coordinating outreach, and so forth.

For the most part, parishes cannot go it alone in this area. It is just as clear that diocesan social action can only be effective if it builds parish capacity. Good ties between diocesan and parish efforts are indispensable.