“…I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us…. in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives and to put them at the centre of the Church’s pilgrim way. We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.” – Evangelii Gaudium #198
Poverty is a Justice and Peace theme that was explored in the diocese of Saskatoon during the 2013-2014 ministry year, with a focus on encouraging, initiating and highlighting projects and enrichment undertaken by parishes.
Here are some of the ways that parishes reported working in charity and in justice to address poverty and the suffering that it causes:
St. Mary Parish, Lanigan:
- Fundraisers for devastated families – when needed – involving CWL, Knights of Columbus and the parish (Charity)
- Operation Christmas Child – annually – preparing boxes of gifts and supplies for children in poor areas of the world – involving the parish (Charity)
- Mass is offered when someone is sick – involving CWL and the parish (Charity)
- Donations to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal – annually – CWL, Knights of Columbus and the parish (Charity & Justice)
- Monetary donations are available for those recovering from addictions(alcohol and/or drugs) – as needed – involving CWL, Knights of Columbus and the parish (Charity)
- Participation in the Red Letter Campaign in Spring 2013, encouraging people to write the provincial government about ending public funding of abortion. (Justice)
- Monthly donation to Development and Peace by the Catholic Women’s League in the parish (Justice and Charity)
- World Day of Prayer was hosted in Spring 2013 with the theme “I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” involving the CWL and the parish (Charity)
- Happy birthday parties are held at seniors’/nursing homes, in addition to regular visits –involving the CWL and the parish (Charity)
- Collect stamps for missions – involving the CWL (Charity)
- Support for foreign missions – involving the CWL and the parish (Justice and Charity)
- Donations to the CWL Clothing Depot – involving the CWL (Charity)
- Volunteering with Meals on Wheels – every six weeks, involving the CWL, the Knights of Columbus and the parish (Charity)
“Our faith in Christ, who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast, is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members.” – Evangelii Gaudium #186
St. Eugene De Mazenod, Luseland
Assumption of Our Lady, Kerrobert
Immaculate Conception, Major
Our Lady of Grace, Dodsland:
- The 5 % Pledge – After the 2013 harvest season, the four parishes decided that five per cent of their combined collection would be directed to a local charity. Each month, one of the Parish Pastoral Councils (PPC) in Luseland / Kerrobert / Dodsland / Major chooses a local charity to support.
- For example, St. Eugene de Mazenod PPC selected the Luseland Food Bank. Parishioners receive information about the work of the organization being supported, and the effort is promoted through verbal announcements at Mass and by ongoing information in church bulletins.
- Prayer for Justice and Peace – In Lent 2014, the parishes at Luseland, Kerrobert, Major and Dodsland began praying a special prayer for justice and peace after the Prayers of the Faithful at Sunday Mass. The reason for the prayer was explained by the pastor and/or members of Parish Pastoral Councils for the four parishes.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Wishart
St. Joseph, Kindersley
- Loose Change for Change – Beginning in January 2014, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Wishart and St. Joseph in Kindersley are taking up a second collection once a month. Money collected will be sent to an orphanage in Nigeria, toward education and school supplies for children. Children in the parish will take up this monthly collection, and serve as welcome ministers at the Saturday liturgy to let people know about the initiative. Individual donations will also be accepted. The local CWL and Knights of Columbus councils are also donating proceeds of brunch events, and helping to increase awareness. The project is being promoted through parish programming, announcements, bulletins and posters.
“Our hope is that this project will heighten awareness in the area of social justice and encourage an attitude of sharing the many resources that God has blessed us with, in the hope that education will increase our realization of the abandoned in our local community.”
The parishes will seek feedback from the orphanage to determine the value of the project and/or if other needs are a greater priority.
St. Gabriel Parish, Biggar
- The Knights put on a breakfast and gave the proceeds to Philippines relief efforts after the flood
- St. Gabriel CWL holds a clothing drive in the fall and spring – proceeds from this go to a local charity such as the food bank or kids sport. Any clothing or articles that are not sold are taken in to the CWL Clothing Depot in Saskatoon
- The local Catholic school held a “We Day” to highlight ways to create a better world
- The annual Share Lent collection is done as one of the designated parish envelopes – and parishioners are encouraged to donate
- The St. Gabriel CWL supports an international family
“…biblical exhortations … summon us so forcefully to brotherly love, to humble and generous service, to justice and mercy towards the poor. Jesus taught us this way of looking at others by his words and his actions. So why cloud something so clear?” – Evangelii Gaudium #194
St. Francis Xavier, Vanscoy
St. Anne, Delisle
St. Theresa, Asquith
Some of the parish justice and charity initiatives include:
- St. Theresa gives a yearly donation of $500 to the Asquith school lunch program
- Share Lent yearly donations to Development and Peace
- Weekly food donations to Saskatoon Friendship Inn
Holy Spirit, Saskatoon
Coffee House at KAP (the Kinsmen Activity Place)
On the third Wednesday of each month from noon to 2 p.m., members of Holy Spirit parish assist McClure United Church in and outreach/ coffee house project at KAP, which is home to a variety of helping organizations and community outreach groups and programs. Coffee and food are served to drop-ins at KAP by the volunteers involved in this parish ecumenical committee project.
Holy Spirit CWL and Knights of Columbus councils are also donating proceeds of brunch monies raised as well as providing education at council and parish levels. Promotion has been undertaken by posters and by word of mouth.
The number of drop-ins varies, depending on the time of year. What began as a coffee house was transformed into a lunch program to meet the need.
This come and go event was held July 31, 2013, organized by the Holy Spirit ecumenical committee in conjunction with McClure United Church. It was a family-focused casual barbecue, with proceeds going to L’Arche. The Knights of Columbus assisted with the event. Holy Spirit CWL and Knights of Columbus councils are also donating proceeds of brunch monies raised, as well as providing education at council and parish levels. Promotion happened through the bulletins.
The event attracted many families and was also attended by members of the Saskatoon L’Arche community. A total of $770 was raised and presented to L’Arche.
St. Thomas More, Saskatoon
- Prison Ministry is undertaken with Service and Justice students and Campus Ministry
- The Development & Peace fall action campaign is highlighted and undertaken with Just Youth (which is the Development and Peace student group at STM) and with Campus Ministry
- Christmas Hampers are assembled with support from staff, faculty and the congregation
- The Share Lent awareness and collection for Development and Peace is promoted and supported by Just Youth, Campus Ministry, and the congregation. This included a Coffee House and Thinkfast
- Peanut Butter Drive for Friendship Inn was undertaken by students, staff, faculty, and the congregation, and included awareness about the needs of the Friendship Inn
- Student Fundraising involves students, staff, and faculty
“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.” Evangelii Gaudium #202
St. Philip Neri, Saskatoon
- Refugee Sponsorship– An active committee has been in place for many years resulting in the placement of several families. The current refugee sponsorship will soon be coming to an end and this opens up the possibility of applying to sponsor a Syrian Christian family in the near future. Needs of the familiy being sponsored by the parish are sometimes met by advertising in the Sunday bulletin. Funds are raised through the weekly collection, using special envelopes, springtime tomato plant sale, sale of Fair Trade goods from Ten Thousand Villages, (held twice per year before Mass in welcome area)
- The Bridge on 20th – receives financial support from St. Philip Neri’s Holy Thursday collection and the parish’s BAA rebate. Presentations scheduled around Mass included speakers explaining the mission and work of The Bridge on 20th, a faith-based outreach program, meeting the needs of the inner city.
- Catholic Family Services – St. Philip Neri partnered with Catholic Family Services to assist a low-income family with monthly housing costs/ rent, with the parish donating $500 per month This is a five-year commitment.
- Food Bank and Friendship Inn – A monthly donation of the most needed food items is collected.
- Christmas Hampers – Families or small groups in the parish prepare and deliver 40 hampers as requested by St. Mary’s parish.
- CWL Clothing Depot – Clothing items are collected and picked up regularly. Members of the parish also help out at the depot as required.
- Extendicare – A weekly lay-liturgy is held when priest is unavailable. The Knights of Columbus also conduct a weekly bingo at Extendicare, coordinate yard work with parish youth, and organize a ‘coffee with the boys’ outing to Market Mall.
- Missionary Work – Outreach at Fort Providence NWT, began as a youth ministry initiative to visit and provide needed assistance. Now in its second year, an annual visit is planned, with supplies taken to a parish in Fort Providence. This is a three-year commitment.
St. Augustine, Saskatoon
Plan: To pause and reflect on all current works of outreach and charity from a justice perspective. Bodies to reflect are Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women’s League members, the Finance Committee, and Pastoral Council.
Holy Family Cathedral, Saskatoon
- Prayer service from diocesan Justice and Peace office – used to open a meeting held at the Friendship Inn and also at Parish Pastoral Council meeting
- Visioning process identified an emphasis on “Making a Difference in Our World” with one global strategy and one local strategy.
- Saskatoon Friendship Inn – The parish’s local strategy is to partner with the Friendship Inn. This year, Holy Family engaged 170 volunteers to serve 12 meals throughout the year at the Friendship Inn. That is more volunteers than are needed, so the parish is working with Friendship Inn to discern how to get more involved.
- Haiti Mission – As its global strategy, Holy Family sent 15 missionaries (10 teens and five adults) to work with Wings of Hope and St. Joseph Home for Boys in Haiti in August 2013. Knights of Columbus in the parish provided 15 wheelchairs for residents of Wings of Hope. Holy Family will continue with mission trips to Haiti in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, the parish hopes to send missionaries to the Diocese of Bunda in Tanzania.
- Chalice sponsorships – Holy Family continues to sponsor children internationally through Chalice.
- CWL Clothing Depot – Holy Family regularly collects items for the CWL Clothing Depot.
- Christmas Hampers – Holy Family gives out 80 hampers at Christmas time.
- A variety of other ongoing efforts, such as supporting inmates in prisons, etc.
* This implies a commitment to “eliminate the structural causes of global economic dysfunction”: Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps (8 January 2007)