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Catholic Charities as the Work of the Church

This past weekend was the first weekend since I came to St. Michael’s that I haven’t preached.  Instead, we welcomed Deacon Peter Dohr who serves as the Executive Director of Catholic Charities Wayne County.  He spoke to us about the important work they do in our area and some new programs they have started to help build up families and relationships.

If you have ever looked at my website you should know that Catholic Social Teaching is very important to me.  It is important for two reasons.  First, I grew up in places where there are people who struggle to make ends meet including my own family members.  Secondly, I see it as an absolutely essential part of our faith.  Some people see Catholic Social Teaching as something new.  I think this comes from knowing that no pope had written a specific document on social teaching until Pope Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum in 1891.  Since then there have been a number of papal documents written (cf. “Catholic Social Encyclicals”.  However, it is not “new” teaching.  There are new documents because the world has undergone huge changes in the last two centuries from the Industrial Revolution as well as the speed of modern transportation and communication changing how we interact with one another.  In this context we need to know how to live out our faith in today’s world.  That’s what these social documents of the Church have been written for.

To show that Catholic Social Teaching did not begin in 1891, we can read Matthew 25:31-46.  Jesus tells us that we will be judged by whether we help or fail to help those in need.  If you watch my second presentation on the Jubilee Year of Mercy, you can see how our social teaching even goes back to the Old Testament.

In every parish I have served in as a priest, there has been a group of parishioners leading the social ministry of the parish. In every parish I have served in I have served on a board of directors from Catholic Charities.  In my first assignment in Elmira, I served both on the local board of Catholic Charities Chemung-Schuyler and Providence Housing.  In my second assignment at Our Lady of the Lakes, I continued on the Providence Housing board.  Moving to my third assignment I continued for a couple of years with Providence Housing and also served on the local board of Catholic Charities Tompkins Tioga.  What I enjoy about Catholic Charities is the strong effort not just to provide a handout but to provide a help up, to help the people become better at caring for their own families.

Now that I am in Newark, NY I am already forming ties and partnering with Catholic Charities Wayne County.  I believe to be the Catholic Church that God calls us to be, we must help those in need.  There are a number of good Catholic groups out there doing this.  In you aren’t already involved in helping those in need, you can start by finding out what efforts your parish has.  You can also check out Catholic Charities.  In our diocese, Catholic Charities, has some presence and ministry in all twelve counties.

I’ve already referred to the Catholic Social Teaching section on my own website including a list of the “Catholic Social Encyclicals”.  If you would like to have a book with the official social teaching of our Church check out the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy ends in three months but the need for mercy will go on (see my videos on mercy).


Fr. Jeff

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