Quarterly Review – Fall 2015 Issue

WELCOME to the first edition of “Salt & Light,” SJV’s Social Service Ministry’s Quarterly Review. Unlike our weekly e-newsletters which include updates and information about upcoming SJV events, our Quarterly Review is meant to be more educational in nature. We invite you to join us in our Quarterly Reviews as we explore contemporary issues that are relevant to the Catholic Church’s social doctrine and the Corporal Works of Mercy, and to review our Church’s rich history in both words and actions in the arena of social justice. In addition to articles on these topics, we will share with you links to additional resources, prayers, action steps, and upcoming events. At the same time, we will share with you our Quarterly Reports which address the facts and figures of our own social justice efforts and how we are reaching out to and serving the poor and the vulnerable here at SJV.

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It is most unfortunate that the term “social justice” in recent years has become so highly politicized. It is difficult to speak of any issue or concern these days without the fear of being labeled left or right, liberal or conservative, capitalist or socialist, etc. Pope Francis has warned us, though, against this “simplistic reductionism.” In his address to Congress last week, Pope Francis said, “The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps…. Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.” As Catholics, we must allow ourselves to follow Christ and speak up for the most vulnerable in our world today—the poor, the immigrants, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, and the imprisoned. Although Catholics (and Americans, in general) may disagree about how we should tackle and solve the problems of poverty, violence, migration, etc. that we face in our world today, as Pope Francis instructed us, “We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.” It will, therefore, be instructive and timely to bring a discussion of social justice back into the spotlight and reclaim the rich history and beauty of our Church’s social doctrine.
There is so much to be excited about this week for Catholics all over the U.S. We are still basking in the excitement of Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. and attempting to digest all that our Holy Father shared with us in his visit.  Here at SJV, we are also excited in anticipation of Jeff Cavins’ presentation Walking Toward Eternity this coming weekend, and our annual Parish Bazaar benefitting our charities the following weekend. In the midst of all of this excitement, though, we should not forget that October is Respect Life Month. Any discussion about social justice or Catholic social teaching would be impossible without the proper focus on the life and dignity of the human person. This is the foundation Social Justice.  As St. John Paul II famously entreated our nation, “And so America: If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. It you want life, embrace the truth, the truth revealed by God.” When we speak of justice, we cannot forget those who are most vulnerable, the unborn. For more about the sanctity of human life, please visit the Respect Life page on our website, and we hope that you will join us for some of our Respect Life activities this month as outlined there.
As you open this first review (and subsequent reviews), we ask that you open your hearts and minds and prayerfully consider the teachings of our Church. The Catholic Church is neither on the left nor on the right.   Today, our Church, as it always has, transcends issues of politics, nationalism, science, economics, and other interests. In the doctrine of the Catholic Church, we encounter more than two thousand years of wisdom and reflection on the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Now, more than ever, we must work together, relying upon the teachings of our Church, to help us combat the culture of death and its incumbent violence and injustice that exist in our world today. We are called upon to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world now more than ever.
In addition to our Quarterly Report, in this edition of our review, we will share information about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, “Laudato Si,” and a discussion of the refugee crisis in Europe.  However, first we would like to draw your attention back to the basics.  Please see the presentation that we have created below, and take a moment to review and reflect on what Jesus taught us in the Works of Mercy.  You may also want to refer to the Reflection and Study Guide on the Corporal Works of Mercy created by Maryknoll.
In our next issue we will begin our discussion of the basic themes of Catholic Social Teaching, with a focus on the first theme: “Life and dignity of the human person.”   In the meantime, we hope that you enjoy this first edition, and stay tuned for much more to come!
Peace & Blessings,
Deborah Montez
Director of Social Services

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5: 13-16).

2015 The Corporal Works of Mercy from SJV on Vimeo.


Quarterly Report from the Social Service Ministries

SJV’s Social Service Ministries Department, through its Emergency Assistance Ministry, provides food, clothes, financial, and other types of assistance to those in need. Working in conjunction with the Food Pantry, Joseph’s Coat Resale Shop, our Employment Ministry, the Gabriel Project, other ministries within Social Services, and partnering with ministries such as Memorial Assistance Ministries and Catholic Charities, our volunteer interviewers meet with those in our neighborhood who are facing financial crises. These difficulties are often due to unemployment, low income, medical costs, or unforeseen family crises. Acting on their commitment to the Corporal Works of Mercy and through the donations of our very generous parishioners, the volunteers are able to compassionately respond to the needs of our clients and help them overcome the “bumps in the road.”

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