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As executions continue, youth pray for life and dignity

Our youth pro-life team organizes prayer for our parish community when an execution takes place.At St. Catherine of Siena, our Youth Pro-Life team meets monthly to engage in pro-life issues from “womb to tomb,” including abortion, human trafficking, euthanasia, and the death penalty. Our youth team takes the lead in organizing prayer for our parish community whenever an execution is taking place in the state of Texas. The youth lead all who gather in praying the Rosary for Mercy. Praying together helps our community reflect and act on our Catholic commitment to protecting the life and dignity of all God’s children, no matter who they are or what they have done. Our prayer together leads to challenging but respectful conversation about human life and dignity and our call as Catholics.

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Praying and acting to fight racism and division

As the nation faced unrest after the Ferguson and New York City court decisions, we held a candlelight vigil and mass to pray for peace, justice and an end to racism. Our students care about promoting unity by embracing cultural and ethnic diversity on our campus and in our nation. Following the national unrest after the court decisions in Ferguson, MO and New York City, The Black Students’ Alliance of The Catholic University of America led an effort, in partnership with Campus Ministry to hold a candlelight prayer vigil and Mass for peace and justice. Student leaders spoke about the need to fight racism and division on our campus and in our nation. We sang hymns and walked in silent procession across campus to honor the victims of violence. Our campus chapel was standing room only for our Mass in honor of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of our country. We were called to recognize the way our individual action or inaction contributes to or hinders peace and respect for human dignity in our communities. Our university continues to promote unity and cultural diversity through our language and cultural student organizations, Campus Ministry, and the Office of Campus Activities. OCA produces intercultural programming, multi-cultural leadership training, culture and justice discussions, an intercultural speaker series, and educational opportunities on developing critical consciousness to avoid cultural stereotypes and assumptions.

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Seminarians follow the path of migrant workers

Our seminarians follow the path of migrant workers from south Florida to Virginia's outer banks, accompanying them and hearing their stories.Over the past twenty years, several dozen of our seminarians have followed the path of migrant workers, traveling from south Florida to the Virginia outer banks. They accompany migrant workers who spend 12-hour days doing back-breaking work in the fields.  Our vocations office partners with the Richmond Diocese’s Office of Justice and Peace to find volunteer placements for the seminarians, who spend the summer accompanying the migrants, getting to know them and their families, hearing their stories, and providing assistance. The experience is so impactful that our seminarians often come back saying that they received more than they gave!

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Homilies inspire our parish to be missionary disciples

Our pastor uses the Sunday homily to reflect on the ways Scripture calls us to live our faith by loving God and neighbor. Our pastor uses the Sunday homily as an opportunity to reflect on the ways that Scripture calls us to live our faith in our community. Father writes his homilies influenced by the social teachings of the Church and issues that our Social Justice Ministry and other ministries are involved in at our parish. This approach ensures that the social mission of the Church permeates our parish life, even our worship. Topics range from Faithful Citizenship to immigration reform and global solidarity. The homilies are true teaching moments and ground us in prayer and the scriptural call to do justice.

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Our faith called us to address foreclosure

We believe our faith community is called to share and respond to the struggles of our community--including foreclosure that impacted 120 of our parishioners.Six years ago, more than 120 people at our parish, Our Lady of Assumption, had homes in foreclosure. With the help of COPA, a local organization that receives funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, we engaged in research and house meetings around the foreclosure issue in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. We learned about how to run foreclosure workshops and met with city, county and state officials about the problem. We also worked with some of the bigger banks to set up face to face meetings between loan officers and homeowners to request loan modification or principal reduction. Finally, our hard work paid off when 74 homeowners were able to keep their homes. We engaged in this work because we believe that our faith community is called to share and respond to the real struggles and challenges of our parishioners.

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Catholic groups mobilize to end the death penalty in Georgia

Our network of deacons, lay Catholics, and diocesan staff educate, pray, and advocate for an abolition of capitol punishment in Georgia. We are a network of deacons, lay people, and diocesan staff who seek to uphold the life and dignity of all people, including those on death row. In response to Church teaching that capital punishment is incompatible with the gospel and can no longer be justified in modern society, we work to educate Catholic parishes, schools, and faith groups and invite them to join our work to end the use of the death penalty in Georgia. Working closely with the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Georgia Catholic Conference, we also serve as a Catholic presence at prayer vigils and legislative actions aimed at awareness, moratorium, and abolition of the death penalty and the promotion of a culture of life.

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Sister parishes create joyful international friendships

Our parish partners with a parish in an impoverished region of El Salvador and forms bonds of friendship and solidarity.
Our parish, St. Ignatius Parish in San Francisco, experiences the joy of friendship and solidarity through our joint social ministry with Parroquia San Antonio in Soyapango, a poor suburb of San Salvador.  Through our joint ministry, Las Vecinas de El Salvador, we pray together, share ideas, advocate for peace and social justice, and serve those in need. We share the life of the Holy Spirit through material support (such as scholarships, disaster relief, and support for a job training program), learning and advocacy about issues that impact our brothers and sisters, and the friendship, understanding and love we cultivate through visits, prayer and ongoing communication.

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Discovering solidarity through mutual encounter in Guatemala

Our parish and our sister parish in Guatemala mutually encounter, support, and pray for each other. Our parish, Queenship of Mary, has built up an ongoing friendship with the parish of Santa Cruz in Chiquimulilla, Guatemala. Through discernment by representatives of both communities, we decided together to develop a microfinance program in the village of La Morena, which is part of the parish of Santa Cruz. We send parishioners on bi-annual delegations to Santa Cruz and La Morena, and their pastor and some parishioners have visited our parish, leading to lasting friendships. In between visits, we strengthen our unity through correspondence and Skype gatherings, observing each community’s special feast days, intercessions, bilingual songs, and by using palm branches from Guatemala on Palm Sunday. In the words of one of our parishioners, “I did not understand what solidarity really means until I went to Guatemala.”

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Caring for God's creation, going solar

We are helping parishioners install solar panels on their homes, with proceeds benefiting the parish and other Catholic ministries.We are responding to the call to care for God’s creation! Our Catholic Charities agency, together with several parishes, have launched an initiative to help parishioners install solar panels on their homes. Proceeds from the referral fees are shared by the parish, Catholic Charities, and the Catholic Climate Covenant.  Our program is the first of its kind by a Catholic diocese in the U.S. Through it, families lower their carbon footprint, parishes get funding for their ministries, and Catholic Charities of Stockton gets support for its service to those in need.

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Sisters help others care for creation, live sustainably

We encourage care for creation and sustainable living through our programs and retreats. As Sisters of Providence, we take seriously the call to care for creation. We seek to live and minister in ways that recognize the interdependence of all of creation and the need for God's providence to bring hope and healing to our communities.  We run a community center where we offer classes on sustainable cooking, gardening, and spinning and weaving; retreats; training in organic gardening; and community-supported agriculture. We also raise alpacas!

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Uniting a community through reaching out

We live the unity of the Body of Christ through reaching out in the community that surrounds our parish.Our parish created Aquinas Center, a ministry of Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Community in Philadelphia, PA, as a way to be a living example of the unity of the Body of Christ. We opened in January 2013 with a mission to build unity in diversity, support learning, and inspire thoughtful action. Our center is home to urban immersion experiences, counseling services, a legal clinic to help immigrants (regardless of documents), community organizing and advocacy efforts, English and literacy classes, and urban revitalization projects, such as a community garden. We are passionate about engaging people of all ages in overcoming the cultural barriers and injustices which can often divide our communities.

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Parishes share resources to build stronger communities

Our program pairs urban and suburban parishes to provide ministry support and resources that allow parishes in low-income areas to address their communities' needs. We are living out the call to be one Body in Christ through our Cooperative Parish Sharing program. Our Cooperative Parish Sharing program provides grants to fund social ministry projects in low-income parishes to address their community needs. The funds for the program come from voluntary donations made by parishes throughout the Archdiocese.  This program allows us to practice solidarity by pooling our financial resources to make possible charitable and social justice activities such as migrant ministry, women’s health and education, enrichment programs for youth, and social justice and Hispanic ministries.

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We fight poverty in Nicaragua as parish partners

We learned an important lesson in solidarity when our partner parish in Nicaragua raised $300 to help us rebuild our own parish after Hurricane Katrina.Our parish has encountered Jesus Christ through its global partnership program. We have a partner parish in Nicaragua and tithe a percentage of our monthly collections to help reduce poverty there. A group from our parish has visited Nicaragua several times to strengthen relationships face-to-face. We learned a powerful lesson in solidarity in 2005 when our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters raised $300 to help us rebuild our own parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This program also has fueled our interest in other issues such as immigration reform and taught us to act with Christ’s love as our guide.

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Art in action! Youth use art to fight landmines

Inspired by Pslam 34:15, we created a student club that works to end the use of landmines and cluster bombs.In 1999, our art teacher gave students an assignment to create an art project which educates about a global issue.  Inspired by Psalm 34:15 (“Seek peace and pursue it.”) the students chose “landmines” and learned about how children—often the most vulnerable in society—are victims of landmines and cluster bombs. The students created a student group called PSALM: Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs. Over 15 years later, students at our school are still working to educate other students and the larger community about the dangers of landmines and cluster bombs and prevent future casualties. We make posters, hold awareness days and do presentations in our school, community and state on this issue. We believe that our faith calls us to seek peace and to advocate on behalf of children who suffer around the world because of landmines.

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Seminarians work for human life, peace and social justice

I'm Fr. Desmond Drummer. During my priestly formation, I participated in the Peace and Justice/Gospel of Life Apostolate.I’m Fr. Desmond Drummer and I’m a recently ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. I completed my formation at Mundelein Seminary, where I was active in the Peace and Justice/Gospel of Life Apostolate. The Apostolate engages the seminary community in work for human life and the dignity of the human person through educational lectures, service events, and advocacy opportunities.  The Apostolate encourages seminarians to follow Christ’s example of care and concern for those who are vulnerable and to overcome the misconception that there is a gap between life issues and social justice.

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Practicing solidarity and sustainability through CRS Rice Bowl

We used CRS Rice Bowl to pray and learn about global poverty, and a Rice Bowl grant to create a parish garden.Our parish uses CRS Rice Bowl during Lent to engage our community—including our youth group, religious education programs, and families—in praying and learning about global poverty and then practicing almsgiving as an expression of our solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.  And in praying, learning, and giving, we were also able to act. We used a grant from the CRS Rice Bowl program to create a parish garden which produces fresh, organic vegetables. Our parishioners work in the garden and share the harvest with St. Vincent de Paul programs which help those in need.

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Yakima seminarians take on "the smell of their sheep"

Our seminarians learn to take on "the smell of the sheep" through a ministry to accompany migrant workers in the fields. In the Diocese of Yakima in Central Washington, we respond to Pope Francis' call to take on "the smell of the sheep" through a special ministry with migrant workers. Throughout the season when migrants are laboring in the fields, our seminarians accompany them, working beside them in the fields six days a week and nine to ten hours a day, earning money for their own living expenses. On Sundays, they celebrate Mass with them. Not only does this provide seminarians an opportunity to live and experience daily life with those whom they will one day serve, it also has a deep impact on the seminarians as they experience the migrants’ deep faith, learn about their way of life and the challenges they face, and expand their sense of the community of the Body of Christ.

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Parish celebrates diversity, forms leaders of many ethnicities

We ensure that leadership of our parish mirrors the diversity of our community, and coordinate opportunities for everyone to pray, learn and act together.
St. Katharine Drexel Parish is rich with cultural and ethnic diversity, largely because of a parish merger in 2001. Since then, our parish has worked tirelessly to forge one community united in Christ. Our parish and finance councils have a special nomination process so that the leadership of our parish mirrors the diversity in our community. We offer training for all of our parishioners to identify and prevent racism and the systematic ways it keeps people poor. Several dozen parishioners have participated in this training. Through our local CCHD-funded group, our parishioners also receive leadership training around organizing. Besides leadership and training, we coordinate many opportunities for our diverse parishioners to pray, learn and act together. We participate together in our social ministry and faith formation program, which teaches how social justice is grounded in our faith tradition. We also celebrate our unique cultures at social and liturgical events such as our intercultural fiestas where parishioners from over 12 countries share their native dishes and discuss needs and concerns as members of the parish. Finally, members of the Hispanic Legion of Mary at the parish lead important outreach efforts to help their fellow immigrants get driver’s licenses, make doctor’s appointments, get legal assistance, and feel welcomed into the community. Our experiences together witness to our unity as brothers and sisters in the family of God. 

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Immigration team fosters participation and respect for human dignity

Our archdiocesan immigration team helps facilitate social ministry in Hispanic parishes and advocates for the dignity of immigrants. Our Immigration Team helps Catholics participate in transforming their own communities.  We founded the team in 2013 to facilitate parish social ministry in parishes with large Hispanic populations, and to advocate for the dignity of all people and their right to participate in their communities. After holding almost 100 one-on-one meetings as well as trainings in organizing, storytelling and leadership skills, we formed our team of over 30 leaders drawn from 15 parishes representing 11 cities throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford.  Our team has organized two regional “Pilgrimages for Immigration Reform,” and distributed over 3,000 post cards to our state legislators. The team is currently working with parish social ministry leaders to help undocumented parishioners prepare for the Connecticut driver’s license exam, though the creation of “community schools” in parish settings, serving over 1,500 parishioners.  The team also helps to engage parishes around the diocese in local and national immigration issues.

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A school that builds bridges

Our school near the U.S.-Mexico border witnesses to the unity of the Body of Christ by serving as a bridge between people on both sides. Our school is located in Nogales, AZ, near the U.S.-Mexico border, in the area known as “Ambos Nogales,” or “both Nogales.” Our school is a bridge between the people on both sides of the border. Living out our call to be one Body of Christ, we welcome students from both sides at our school.  We integrate social justice into our school’s curriculum and do bridge-crossing through service and advocacy: Our older students serve at the Comedor, a soup kitchen on the border for deported migrants, and are also active in the Kino Border Initiative, through which they meet with their Congressional representatives to urge just and comprehensive immigration reform, and organize and participate in events to educate themselves and others about border issues.

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Teens put Catholic social teaching into action at youth retreat

Teens in our diocese gather at a retreat to do service and explore the root causes of problems facing the community.The Catholics in Action retreat program in the Diocese of Davenport helps our youth share God’s love with others. During three-day retreats, teams of high school students from parishes in our Diocese pray, learn, and reflect on the Church’s social mission. We explore the root causes of social issues, learn what is happening in our own communities, and participate in service projects. For example, participants learned how one local agency assists workers who have been victims of wage theft. The retreats help us get to know teenagers in other parishes as we put our faith into action.


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