Welcome to the Service and Social Concerns webpage.
Please scroll through, click on links, and contact me if I can be of assistance.
Peace of Christ!
– Richard DeBona, Dir., Service and Social Concerns
February is Black History Month!
Watch this video, in which black Catholic leaders discuss the realities of race in society and in the Church.
“We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.”
– Pope Francis, 9/16/13
“Tuesday night, Nov. 8, I stayed awake past midnight, anxious to find out the results of the Presidential Election. Finally, I rested my weary head on a pillow. “O God where are you in the midst of all this?” I sighed. “And what do you want me to do?”
I got an answer a few days later when, out of the blue, an image and a story popped into my mind.”
“According to the story written by St. Bonaventure, ‘St. Francis saw a multitude of demons rejoicing over the city and instigating the angry citizens to destroy each other.’ The people were deeply divided along economic, social, and political fault lines. Many felt disempowered. That disempowerment, in turn, gave rise to fear, resentment and hatred. It bred mistrust, mutual demonization, and even violence.”
“In response to that scene, St. Francis sent Br. Sylvester as his herald to preach a message of peace. On the fresco, you see Br. Sylvester standing in front of the city of Arezzo while St. Francis, down on his knees, is in a deep contemplative prayer. As a result of the intervention of the two friars, ‘the tumult in the city was appeased, and all the citizens, in great tranquility, began to revise the statutes and regulations of the city, so that they might be duly observed. Thus, the fierce pride of the demons, which had enslaved the miserable city, was overcome by the wisdom of the poor.’”
“I hope that, just like St. Francis and Br. Sylvester, our faith communities will continue to inspire and empower people to live out a Gospel that is not truncated but, rather, is inclusive of civic engagement.”
Read the full article here: https://togoforth.org/2016/12/07/finding-god-in-the-aftermath-of-the-presidential-election/
Please take a look at this wonderful resource link from our Bishops:
No matter which party wins, we have much work to do in effectively persuading our elected government leaders on the local, state, and national levels to serve the common good! In addition to voting, here are two quick ways to participate in Faithful citizenship:
- Go to these Catholic websites and sign up to receive ADVOCACY ACTION ALERTS on many and varied issues:
- If you’d be interested in visiting your local or national elected leaders in their offices to discuss one or more issues of concern, please send an e-mail indicating your particular issues of interest and the names of your elected leaders and their congressional or legislative district to: Richard-DeBona@dioceseofscranton.org
We’re looking to connect and organize faithful citizens.
To find your local leaders, visit:
To find your federal elected officials, visit:
If you missed our Advocacy Training 101 webinar last week, you can watch it online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIKHAtGOKgk&t=4s. In the training, we cover the prep work that must happen before a meeting, best practices, and follow-ups.
Click HERE to volunteer with Catholic Social Services in accompanying our sisters and brothers who are suffering/struggling as refugees. There are many and varied opportunities.
PLEASE help us welcome them!
LENTEN OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR PARISH!
Click HERE to read our Bishops’ recent communiqué about their recent trip to the Holy Land, entitled:
Holy Land Coordination 2017 Communiqué: Fifty Years Of Occupation Demands Action
To arrange a parish program exploring our response as USA Catholics, please click HERE .
Please visit this link from the Maryknoll Magazine to read the following articles and photo meditation:
“The Root of War is fear,” by Jim Forest about Thomas Merton;
“Becoming Artisans of Peace” by Gerry Lee in which he recounts Catholic peacemakers from around the world sharing their stories;
“The disturbing peace of Christ” by Joe Veneroso, MM
Would your parish be interested in a Lenten seminar on our Pope’s World Day of Peace message?
Click here to find out more information!
January 1 was the World Day of Peace! It’s not too late to celebrate it!
“The world must be educated to love Peace, to build it up and defend it.”
– Pope Paul VI, 1968
On January 1st 2017, Pope Francis celebrated the 50th anniversary of this message with his proclamation entitled, “Non-Violence: a Style of Politics for Peace.”
Pope Francis urges us to practice active nonviolence and work to prevent conflict by addressing its causes, building relationships, and facilitating healing and restoration.
“Who is selling arms to these people to make war?’ he said. ‘Behold the root of evil!” Pope Francis – article about USA arms trade in 1st place.
The United States again ranked first in global weapons sales last year, signing deals for about $40 billion, or half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar, and far ahead of France, the No. 2 weapons dealer with $15 billion in sales, according to a new congressional study.
Developing nations continued to be the largest buyers of arms in 2015, with Qatar signing deals for more than $17 billion in weapons last year, followed by Egypt, which agreed to buy almost $12 billion in arms, and Saudi Arabia, with over $8 billion in weapons purchases.
Read full story here.
Thomas Merton, in his important essay “Blessed Are the Meek: The Roots of Christian Nonviolence,” observed that “where the powerful believe that only power is efficacious, the nonviolent resister is persuaded by the superior efficacy of love, peaceful negotiation, and, above all, of truth. For power can guarantee the interests of some , but it can never foster the good of all. Power always protects the good of some at the expense of all the others. Any claim to build the security of all on force is a manifest imposture.” 1
- Thomas Merton, “Blessed Are the Meek: The Roots of Christian Nonviolence,” inPeace Is the Way: Writings on Nonviolence from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Walter Wink (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books) 44.
It is the lot of peace to have to battle the headwinds of violence; the province of the peacemaker to find ways to be heard above the din of the warrior, to make the case for nonviolence against the forces, as Pope Francis has pointed out, who choose war not only for ideological reasons but because they profit from it. Peacemaking is an exhausting calling, but one more essential today than perhaps at any other time in human history.
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, has long known that making peace in today’s world requires not only new ways of acting, but also new ways of seeing and thinking.
Her efforts might well lead to a papal encyclical. They have already resulted in a substantial pontifical statement, Francis’ World Day of Peace message for 2017.
For the leadership role she plays in guiding the church to think about just peace and for her personal witness of Christian nonviolence, we name Marie Dennis NCR’s person of the year for 2016.
Read the entire article here: https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/editorial-ncrs-person-year-2016
Contact Richard DeBona, Dir for Service and Social Concerns in the OPL, for more ways to share this message via a one-time workshop/seminar or a six-week Lenten series on FOLLOWING THE NONVIOLENT JESUS!”
Celebrating the Contributions of Black Catholics
From former slaves to founders of religious orders, these men and women helped shape the U.S. Church.
Click HERE to read this fascinating article. “ No national celebration of Black History Month would be complete without including these Catholic stories.”
Beyond the Dream; remembering the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is important to remember celebrate and act on the full vision and mission of MLK. His challenge to racism is VERY important, of course, but he also challenged militarism and materialism – and highlighted the importance of civil disobedience and economic boycotts in his nonviolent response to injustice.
We’re all familiar with his I Have a Dream speech,
but perhaps aren’t as familiar with the Poor People’s Campaign here: https://poorpeoplescampaign.org/poor-peoples-campaign-1968/
his Letter from Birmingham Jail here: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/letter-birmingham-jail
and his Beyond Viet Nam speech here: http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_beyond_vietnam/
Remember! Celebrate! Act!
“March for Life continues”:
As I write, I am a just one day away from marching with and viewing that sea of people once again. It’s always a moral and spiritual shot-in-the-arm for me. But good as they are, the Washington “March for Life” (Jan. 27), the “Walk for Life West Coast” (Jan. 21), the “Midwest March for Life” (Feb. 4) and dozens of similar events at state capitols throughout the U.S., they simply are not enough.
To read the entire article: “A civilized nation does not kill babies” by Tony Magliano, click here.
A conscientious objector who wanted to be a monk; a monk who was maneuvered into being a bishop; a bishop who fought paganism as well as pleaded for mercy to heretics—such was Martin of Tours, one of the most popular of saints and one of the first not to be a martyr. Click here to read more about St. Martin of Tours!
– Pope Francis
POPE FRANCIS ANNOUNCES NEW SOCIAL JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Francis states that “in all her being and actions, the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel. This development takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation.”
WHAT CAN OUR SOCIAL CONCERNS COMMITTEE DO?
Our parish communities are measured by how they serve “the least of these” in our parish and beyond its boundaries – the hungry, the homeless, the sick, those in prison, the stranger.”
-U.S. Catholic Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light
There are many needs of those living within our parish communities. Parish Social Concerns Committees and individuals often feel so overwhelmed, that often they don’t know where to begin as they strive to carry out parish social ministry.
Listed below are some ideas for your worshiping community to consider in order to build up your Parish Social Ministry: charity, justice (education and advocacy), and peacemaking efforts.
WORK OF SOCIAL MINISTRY COMMITTEES
• guiding parishioners in efforts to shape public policy via education and hands-on projects
• assist teenagers as they pursue their endeavors to address that which is detrimental to society
• establish a legislative network to write letters, make phone calls, send e-mails, and to communicate to public officials at all levels of government
• join a congregation-based community organization
• learn more about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
• training teenagers to visit elderly shut-ins or prepare food for soup kitchens
• host the outreach of the Catholic Charities’ Immigrant and Refugee Program
• link parish elderly with Senior Services
• assist at homeless shelters
• volunteer in schools (e.g. literacy programs, tutoring, etc.)
• volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
• visit prisoners
• assist persons recovering from alcohol, drugs, or other addictions
• in the parish bulletin, include “Opportunity of the Week” listing the project and contact information
• provide bereavement ministry to those who grieve
• becoming aware of environmental threats
• help to improve the environment through various means of conservation
• assisting farmers and the farming community in their efforts to maintain their role in the production of sustainable agriculture
Parish Health Ministry
• parish nurse program
• free health screenings
• all life is precious
• caring for women and their families who are in crisis pregnancy situations is imperative
• support and develop healthy family life
• respond to domestic violence
• care for persons who are dying
• changing attitudes regarding abortion
• lobbying to protect unborn persons and those who are on death row
• special ministries for persons with developmental disabilities
For more information and to arrange a parish visit, please contact:
Director for Service and Social Concerns
Phone: 570-207-2213, ext. 1130
Restorative Justice Ministry
• reach out to victims of crime
• insure that prisoners have an opportunity for conversion
• re-orient and welcome prisoners back into the community once they are released
• care for the families of those who have been incarcerated
• coordinating the Rice Bowl Collection
• find a parish within Diocese or in the world to “twin” with
*Special thanks to Rich Fowler and the Diocese of Stockton, CA for granting permission to use the information listed on this page.
Successful Catholic Social Ministry is always rooted in Catholic Social Teaching and Liturgy. Creating a successful Social Concerns Committee will require formation, education, commitment, and prayer. Committees must be prepared to move from discussion and planning to effective implementation of ministerial endeavors.
CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING MAJOR THEMES
Life and Dignity of the Human Person
- The human person is central, the clearest reflection of
- God among us.
- Each person possesses a basic dignity that comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment.
- The test of every human institution or policy is whether it enhances or threatens human life and human dignity.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
• No community is more central than the family; it is the basic cell of society. It is where we learn and act on our values. What happens in the family is at the basis of a truly human life.
• We have the right and responsibility to participate in and contribute to the broader communities in society. The state and other institutions of political and economic life, with both their limitations and obligations, are instruments to protect the life, dignity, and rights of the human person. Catholic social teaching does offer clear guidance on the role of government. When basic human needs are not being met by private initiative, then people must work through their government, at appropriate levels, to meet those needs.
• A central test of political, legal, and economic institutions is what they do to people, what they do for people, and how people participate in them.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Human Person
- Flowing from our God-given dignity, each person has basic rights and responsibilities.
- These include: the rights to freedom of conscience and religious liberty, to raise a family, to immigrate, to live free from unfair discrimination, and to have a share of earthly goods sufficient for oneself and one’s family. People have a fundamental right to life and those things that make life truly human: food, clothing, housing, healthcare, education, security, social services, and employment.
- Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities – to one another, to our families, and to the larger society – to respect the rights of others and work for the common good.
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- Poor and vulnerable people have a special place in Catholic social teaching. A basic moral test of a society is how its most vulnerable members are faring.
- Our tradition calls us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first (Mt. 25: 31-46).
- We must seek creative ways to expand the emphasis of our nation’s founders on the individual rights and freedom by extending democratic ideals to economic life and thus ensure that the basic requirements for life with dignity are accessible to all.
The Dignity of Work & the Rights of Workers
- Work is more than earning a living. It is an expression of our dignity and a form of continuing participation in God’s creation.
- People have a right to decent and productive work, to decent and fair wages, to private property and economic initiative.
- Traditionally, workers have the strong support of the church in forming and joining unions and worker associations of their choosing in the exercise of their dignity and rights.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- Poor and vulnerable people have a special place in Catholic Social Teaching.
- Our Tradition calls us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first (Mt. 25:31-46).
- We must seek creative ways to expand the emphasis of our nations’ founders on the individual rights and freedom by extending democratic ideals to economic life and thus ensure that the basic requirements for life with dignity are accessible to all.
- We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences.
- We are brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. In a limited world, our responsibilities to one another cross national and other boundaries.
- Solidarity is the contemporary expression of the traditional Catholic image of the Mystical Body. “Loving our neighbor” has global dimensions in an interdependent world.
Care for God’s Creation
- Called to be co-creators with God and to have “dominion” over the earth, we are called to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us.
- It is a requirement of our faith that we protect creation and each other from the harm that we can bring.
Taken from Parish Social Ministry: Strategies for Success by Tom Ulrich © 2001.
Permission granted by Ave Maria Press Inc. www.avemariapress.com