September 14, 2018

Helping those in need is goal of Parish Social Ministry program

More than 200 people attended the inaugural Parish Social Ministry program at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove on Aug. 25. They represented 54 parishes and 24 ministries from across central and southern Indiana. (Photo by Bob Kelly)

More than 200 people attended the inaugural Parish Social Ministry program at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove on Aug. 25. They represented 54 parishes and 24 ministries from across central and southern Indiana. (Photo by Bob Kelly)

By Bob Kelly (Special to The Criterion)

BEECH GROVE—Archbishop Charles C. Thompson shared a defining story about helping people in need during the archdiocese’s inaugural Parish Social Ministry program in Beech Grove on Aug. 25.

He told the more than 200 people in attendance about a time when he was stopped at a red light in Evansville while driving with a teenage passenger in his vehicle. Seeing someone on the corner needing help, the archbishop wanted to set an example for the teenager, so he gave the man $5.

Archbishop Thompson said he felt good about setting an example. Then the teenager mentioned it was too bad that the man did not have a coat. The archbishop said the teen’s remark drove home the point that in all situations, everyone sees things differently, including our ministries.

It is why we need each other, he said.

“We need to minister to everyone, and we need to be aware of various things in our lives that can help teach us about the various aspects of our Catholic social ministry,” Archbishop Thompson said.

That sentiment became part of the focus of the Parish Social Ministry program that drew representatives from 54 parishes and 24 ministries from across central and southern Indiana.

The event, which was held at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove, brought attention to archdiocesan efforts to help people—and their families—struggling with situations that include illness, divorce, poverty and incarceration.

The Parish Social Ministry effort, an initiative of Catholic Charities in the archdiocese, started in the fall of 2017, according to Theresa Chamblee, archdiocesan director of social concerns.

During the Aug. 25 program, Chamblee told the attendees how parish social ministry is the action that the faith community takes to live out the Gospel, with the goal of growing in love with God and neighbor.

She added that by working with parishes, the ministry aims to foster greater outreach and advocacy efforts, to educate parishioners to serve the poor and vulnerable, and to provide opportunities for spiritual growth.

“We are a resource for you and everyone,” she said. “We have some people who are here who are stuck, and we are here to help everyone hone their skills. We need to make sure they see Christ.”

David Bethuram, executive director of Catholic Charities in the archdiocese, shared his perspective on why the ministry is important: “We may have people who go to different parishes, but we serve everyone. The program deals with stuff from parenting, [the] opioid epidemic to education and much more. The forum helps everyone to address these issues.”

Deacon John Hosier of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis attended the program to gain insights for a new effort to stop human trafficking and to help its victims.

“I saw the archdiocese did not have a program dealing with it,” he said, “so me and my wife, Ada, are starting the program.”

Deacon Gary Blackwell, a member of Holy Name Parish, said it is the duty of Catholics to help people and lend them support.

Pete Cava of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis attended the program as part of the Cuba 2000 and Beyond effort. In 2000, Cava organized an archdiocesan trip there. The group works to get medical supplies to Cuba, and hopes to do more in the future.

Chamblee summed up the inaugural program by saying, “This is just the beginning of our message about how we can love our neighbor, but these kinds of things are not done overnight.”
 

(Bob Kelly is a member of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis. Anyone interested in learning more about Parish Social Ministry should visit www.archindy.org/psm or contact Theresa Chamblee at tchamblee@archindy.org.)

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