Church of the Incarnation and the Diocese of Richmond was honored to host one of two regional gatherings for Social Ministry trainings held by Catholic Charities USA. This two day conference offered many great speakers sharing their experiences and resources in social ministries serving in the local parish community and abroad.
Friday evening began with Theology on Tap with Dr. Chris Gross, who is currently teaching at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. Dr. Gross offered a compelling talk about how Social Justice issues and Respect Life issues are linked and should not be separated. Dr. Gross drew close ties between Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium and Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae in making his case that social ministries need to be attentive to all social justice issues facing the modern church. This was a theme that echoed among many speakers including the keynote talk on Sunday from John Carr. John Carr teaches at Georgetown University and writes for America Magazine. Mr. Carr spoke about how he help develop a guidebook for parishes to develop Social Ministries with the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops called Communities of Salt and Light (link below).
USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development uses this document as a lens through which to explore contemporary social ministry today and offers resources, best practices, and other materials to aid social ministry in a variety of settings.
Listen to John Carr’s great talk on how to help social ministries at parishes (MP3)
The Social Ministry conference also offered inspiring talks from Fr. Gerry Creedon, Chair of Peace and Justice Commission (Diocese of Arlington) who spoke about his amazing journey serving around the world in his talk “Pro-Justice, Pro-Life, Pro-Advocate.” Dr. Kimberly Maczyk of Catholic Relief Services spoke about “Partnerships with Catholic Relief Services” and that there are many great resources offered by CRS for parishes (link below)
The Diocese of Richmond now has 53 parishes who are twinned with another parish community in Haiti. The Haiti Committee reported on successes in their programs helping with poverty, healthcare, and education. The Shalom Fund has been established to offer scholarships to students performing well in school, and just awarded funding to 15 students who will keep getting continued support, as long as grades remain in good standing. JustHaiti coffee was served and sold at this event, which offers fair trade coffee supporting funding back to the local growers. The Church of the Incarnation has a twinning project in Haiti with the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Incarnation, and have built a school, health clinic, and now support chicken farming which have enriched the community to help them be self-sustaining.
There was a very good panel discussion on how parishes can help to bridge the divisions between Latino and Anglo parishioners within a parish. Daniel Villar from the Diocese of Richmond’s Hispanic ministry recommended we need to help educate and understand each other’s cultures and to work toward integration not assimilation. The conference offered simultaneous Spanish translations for attendees wearing a radio headset, and a variety of the conference talks were held in Spanish. Fr. John Converset (Comboni missionary priest) also offered a wonderful talk about “Caring for God’s Creation” and his work with both in Latin America and Africa.
Office of Social Ministries – Diocese of Richmond
Haiti Ministry – Office of Social Ministries – Diocese of Richmond
Hispanic Ministry – Diocese of Richmond
Communities of Salt & Light (USCCB)
Parish Social Ministries Handbook – Catholic Charities USA