Parish Social Ministry

Program Details

What is Parish Social Ministry?

Parish Social Ministry is the coordinated effort within a parish to:

  • Anchor the work of charity, peace and justice in prayer and worship experiences;
  • Educate on social issues in the community and the church’s position on these issues;
  • Encourage a variety of ways to respond to social needs and call for the whole community to get involved as their gifts and talents allow;
  • Set up a structure that fosters partnerships between these various responses both within the parish and in the wider community.

Parish Social Ministry is about the transformation of both the individual and society. It is not the work of a committee or a specific ministry, rather it is the work of all God’s people as a response to God’s love. It is an interaction with the world that requires us to reach beyond our families, communities, parishes, our state and national boundaries and take up the task set before us by Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est.

Catholic Charities West Virginia’s Parish Social Ministry Coordinator works with regional directors to empower local parishes to serve the most vulnerable in their communities and live out the Church’s social mission.

We provide:

  • Education
  • Leadership Training
  • Networking
  • Resource Materials

What is the Goal of PSM?

The goal of Parish Social Ministry (PSM) is to assist the Catholic faithful to better understand the principles of Catholic social teaching and seek ways to put these principles into concrete action in their daily lives. Since the parish is the place “where the gospel is proclaimed and where believers are formed and sent to renew the earth,” PSM seeks to build effective partnerships with parishes, CCWVa and the diocese in order to help organize and then carry out works of charity and justice in local communities.

What do you offer to parishes?

Catechetical trainings, youth ministry presentations, religious education and RCIA materials, evenings or days of reflection… Parish Social Ministry can help strengthen your community in a number of ways. Please call or email Kate to talk about specific programs that your parish needs or wants. Here are some general ideas:

  • Workshops
  • Retreats
  • Educational sessions on social justice
  • Advocacy
  • Leadership training
  • Resources

    How can my parish participate?

    Use the Contact Us box at the bottom of this page, or contact your Regional Director.

    How Can We Help?

    Put your faith into action!

    Learn about Catholic Social Teaching and how your faith can change the world!  Educate and engage your parishioners on the topics that affect your local community the most, as well as our global family.

    Foster social ministries!

    Help form volunteers for ministry through education, workshops, days of reflection, and celebrations of achievements.

    Build Community in your parish!

    Create small faith communities of justice and peace.  We can help train a core group using nationally recognized programs such as Communities of Salt and Light, and Good News People [external link]

    Catholic Social Teaching

    What is it?

    Where did it come from?

    What are the principals?

    Catholic Social Teaching is a collection of principles that have been identified from various aspects of our Catholic tradition (including scripture and letters written by popes and bishops). The principles guide us in our personal decision-making, and help us recognize and address injustices in our society.
    The foundational principle (Life and Dignity of the Human Person) acknowledges that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God – and for this reason alone we are all called to love and serve one another. The other principles (see below) comment specifically on aspects of life and how we all deserve to live, based on our relationship with God. Since economically disadvantaged people are most likely to experience injustice, many of the principles address different aspects of poverty.

    There are several encyclicals (letters or documents written by Popes) that are often associated with Catholic Social Teaching. Pastoral letters (written by bishops) give us reflections that are particularly relevant in a geographic location or cultural context. Along with the Bible – both Old and New Testaments – these letters clarify the Church’s position on many issues related to life in society. You can download and read any of these letters for free at the following links.

    Bishop Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has written these pastoral letters:

    Collectively, the Bishops of the 25 dioceses of Appalachia have signed the following pastoral letters:

    • At Home in the Web of Life (1995 – on sustainable communities)
    • This Land is Home to Me (1975 – on poverty and powerlessness)
      (The Catholic Committee of Appalachia has made both letters available in one volume/file here.)

      And for a comprehensive list of encyclicals and pastorals that have to do with CST, check out this link.

    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops defines 7 principles. You can read descriptions of each of the principles and get more information at the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Or, contact Kate.

    • The Dignity of the Human Person – All people are a reflection of the image of God, and thus all human life, at all stages from conception through natural death is sacred. The basic dignity that each person possesses comes from God. People take precedence over things and structures. Systems are meant to serve people, not the other way around.
    • Community and the Common Good – The mystery of the trinity involves the relationship of complete love among the three divine persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — in one God. As persons made in God’s image, we are fundamentally social. In community we realize the fulfillment of our dignity and rights in relationship with and to others.
    • Rights and Responsibilities – People have basic rights and responsibilities because of our human dignity that reflects the fact that we have been created in God’s image. Catholic teaching emphasizes that people have a right to life and to the basic necessities that provide quality to life: food, shelter, health care, education, and employment. We are called to respect the rights of others and to seek the common good.
    • Option for the Poor – The Gospel calls Christians to put the needs of the poor first. A common moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable people. Wherever there is structural injustice, Christians are called to oppose it. Those with the greatest need require the greatest response.
    • The Dignity of Work – Work is an expression of our dignity and our involvement in God’s creation. People have a right to decent work, fair wages, and private property. The economy exists to serve people.
    • Solidarity – We are all one human family in the world. Because we realize our dignity, rights and responsibilities in relationship with others, we need to continue to build a community that empowers people to attain their full human potential. By working for justice, we fulfill our mandate to build the body of Christ.
    • Care for God’s Creation – On a planet conflicted over environmental issues we are called to respect our Creator by our stewardship of creation. We are to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship will all of God’s creation.

    Ready to get your parish involved?

    Call to make appointment at the convenience of the group.
    John Catone, Chief Advancement Officer
    2000 Main St.
    Wheeling WV 26003
    (304) 905-9860 x 2023

    Parish Social Ministry Updates

    “…love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word.”
    – Deus Caritas Est para 22