November 21, 2014

That All May Be One / Fr. Rick Ginther

Where the rubber meets the road in our outreach to others

Being a singer, I have always been fascinated by commercial jingles. How do those men and women come up with the lingo and the jingo?

One which sticks with me was an old tire commercial: “…where the rubber meets the road.” Yes, rubber tires do meet the road, we hope!

But the lingo here can be a metaphor in other instances. It speaks of theory meeting reality. In the world of ecumenism, the theory of “that all may be one” must meet the road of daily life, and human needs.

And the theory is only as good as the reality.

November and December are months in our culture which are punctuated by holidays and holy days. Our nation celebrates Thanksgiving with feasting and family—and providing feasts for the hungry, the homeless and first responders.

Christians celebrate Advent and Christmas with feasting and family—and gift-giving beyond our own.

Throughout the archdiocese, parishes team up with other Christian churches—as well as civic organizations and other faiths—in attending to the many who live with want and need, especially in the approaching season of abundance.

A 2013 survey of the parishes of the archdiocese conducted by the Office of Ecumenism bears this out. More than 75 percent of responding parishes stated that they participate in annual or ongoing ecumenical and civic-based outreach programs. In addition, a number of other respondents noted their active involvement in Society of St. Vincent de Paul outreach.

The moments where Christians work together to meet human needs are moments of the oneness to which Christ calls us. How we differ does not matter when it comes to meeting human needs.

I know from experience that Christians working together at any form of outreach exposes the lives of the workers to each other. We rub up against one another. Our conversations inevitably turn to the Lord, who made it so abundantly clear that he was one with those in need through food, meals, cures and compassion.

We experience his work through our hands. We know what he meant when we see his face on the faces whom we serve. For he is hungry, and we give him food. Together. He is thirsty, and we give him drink. Together. He is lonely, and we sit with him. Together, in his many guises and circumstances.

In our archdiocese, we have a wonderful resource called the Catholic Help Network. The archdiocese has created this searchable database for those needing help and for those who provide help. We have more than 200 parishes, schools, agencies and organizations that offer a variety of resources. They range from social services to housing to fellowship to global disaster relief. While this database contains only those organizations directly affiliated with our archdiocese within our 39-county geographic boundaries, its purpose is to serve whomever is in need.

Other Christian churches may access it on the archdiocesan website at And our work with other Christian churches in our areas can raise our awareness of other resources not our own—but available, nonetheless.

Whenever we Christians jointly share our time, our talents, our resources, the rubber meets the road.

(Father Rick Ginther is director of the archdiocesan Office of Ecumenism. He is also dean of the Terre Haute deanery and pastor of St. Patrick and St. Margaret Mary parishes, both in Terre Haute. E-mail him at

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