October 9, 2009


Let our faith as Catholics continue to SHINE in all we do

Caring about our neighbors. As Catholics, we realize what that means.

In his encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” (“God is Love”), Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “within the community of believers, there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.”

Our faith demands that we reach out to the least of our brothers and sisters and, here in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, so many of us have embraced that Gospel mandate in different ways.

Pick any parish, school, agency or institution in the 39-county region that makes up our archdiocese, and you will undoubtedly find people and ministries that see the face of Jesus in others, and respond as the hand of Christ to others.

The poor, the oppressed, the unemployed, the homeless … even before the current economic crisis that has affected so many people throughout our country, including close to home in Indiana, we were reaching out as a Church community to assist those in need.

Unfortunately, those challenges have only grown dramatically in the last several months as the rising unemployment rate and other factors continue to make it difficult for some people, including many families, to make ends meet.

From Terre Haute to Richmond, from New Albany back up to Indianapolis, staff members and volunteers have stepped up their efforts where the ministry of charity is concerned.

You have read stories in The Criterion during the last several months about SHINE, an acronym for “Spreading Hope in Neighborhoods Everywhere.” In those articles, we highlighted how the ministry of charity is taking place throughout the archdiocese.

Teenagers and young adults performing chores for older members of a Bloomington parish, community gardens at Indianapolis-area parishes providing much-needed produce to families in need, Catholic Charities in Tell City collaborating with a local library to provide computer services for the unemployed. These are only a few examples of how our family of faith is responding to our call to action as Catholics to spread the hope of Christ.

On Oct. 1, a SHINE kickoff day was held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with more than 600 people in attendance.

The event, according to David Siler, executive director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries, was the beginning of a yearlong ministry in social renewal in the archdiocese.

“It is our opportunity to shine a light on this one aspect of the life of our Church,” Siler said.

The day also offered a chance “to seek new ways to collaborate, to refine our response to those in poverty and to seek ways to involve more of the faithful in the ministry of charity,” Siler said.

As nearly every speaker reiterated during the day, the social mission of the Church is at the heart of who we are as Catholics.

Through workshops, training, collaboration and via other resources, archdiocesan leaders hope the next year is a time of social ministry renewal for the thousands of us who already minister in the archdiocese. It also presents the chance to get more people to embrace our ministry of charity.

In conjunction with the yearlong ministry in social renewal, the Web site www.spreadinghopeeverywhere.com will serve as an excellent resource for those interested in getting more information about SHINE.

The archdiocesan yearlong ministry of social renewal will culminate on Sept. 25-26, 2010, the same weekend that Catholic Charities USA celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Though we will encounter challenges in our charitable outreach to others, sometimes it is best to let our actions, not words, speak for us.

As keynote speaker Jesuit Father Fred Kammer, former president of Catholic Charities USA and current director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University of New Orleans, said: “Say nothing and let love speak.”

Through our compassionate response, we pray that we indeed do just that.

—Mike Krokos

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