Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation. Justice in the World, Synod of Bishops 1971.
At St. Mary’s we understand that the Church has a mission to work for justice and mercy in the world. Doing personal and group work for justice is an essential part of being a Catholic Christian. The Bishops called justice “constitutive” of the preaching of the good news. If we have excellent liturgies, a beautiful worship space, developed educational programs but do not act for justice in the world, we are as “tinkling brass and clashing symbols.” St Mary’s Social Justice program provides opportunities for education and advocacy on local and global peace and justice issues. The committee meets the 4th Monday of the month in the Rectory to set a structure for parish activities. Bill Pickett is our temporary Social Justice Coordinator. For more information please call 232-7140 or email.
The links below will take you to the place on this page where a ministry is briefly described.
- Bright Red Bookshelf
- Bethany House
- St. Joseph House of Hospitality
- Tithing Committee
- Vocational Institute for the Children of South Sudan
- Alternative Christmas Fair
- Alternative Christmas Giving
- Coffee Connection
- School Partnership
- Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN)
- Adult Education
- St. Mary’s Homeless Initiative
- Dorothy Day House
- Homeless Funeral Ministry
- Rochester ACTS
The Bright Red Bookshelf program re-circulates gently used children’s books back into the community where they are made available free for families to own. Books are collected in red crates at St. Mary’s Church and other community locations through book drives organized by the Social Justice Committee of St. Mary’s. These books are then sorted, cleaned and affixed with a label, and set out on bright red bookshelves at sites where low-income families will have easy access to them. We currently maintain bookshelves at Mercy Outreach Center, Browns Square Health Center, Strong Pediatric Psychiatric Department, Bethany House, Lincoln Park School #44, Henry Hudson School #28 and St. Joseph Neighborhood Center. Since 2007, more than 24,000 books have been distributed. To learn more about the program, download a PDF document of a quarterly Status Report.
Coordinator: Diane Dailey 385-4129 or email.
On the second Wednesday of every month the St. Mary’s Community brings dinner to share with the house. Parishoners each bring a dish to pass. After an evening prayer service we enjoy a meal with the residents and staff of Bethany House. We also collect clothes and food for Bethany house and deliver the collection on the 4th Sunday of the month.
Coordinator: Sandy Behnke 478-4063 or email.
Three Saturdays a year a group of St. Mary’s Parishioners cook brunch for the clients at St. Joseph House. In addition, parishioners can participate in Bread for All, a Community Supported Bakery sponsored by St. Joseph’s, that offers fresh-baked, organic bread to subscribers in Rochester. Not only do members enjoy 10-weeks of whole wheat bread, they also support a valuable job training program. Please consider signing up for a subscription of whole wheat organic bread. A single $40 payment will provide you with 10 weeks of delicious bread. Your support also allows them to bake fresh, healthy bread for St. Joe’s Soup Kitchen. Bread will be available for pick up at St. Joe’s House of Hospitality, Mondays from 5:00-7:00, and Tuesdays from 2:00-4:00. Click here for more information.
Coordinator: Bill Pickett 732-1832 or email.
Each week 10% of collection is put in tithing fund. This money is used to support ministries and programs other than those directly sponsored by the parish. A committee composed of Katie Kantz, Barbara Englert, Tom Hayley, Bob Hughes and Pat Goonan meet quarterly to review requests and award grants. There is a set of programs and agencies that receive support each quarter: A-Meal & More, Bethany House, Blessed Sacrament Supper Program, House of Mercy, Mercy Outreach Center, Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN), Southeast Ecumenical Ministeries, St. Andrews Food Cupboard, St. Joseph’s House of Hospitatility, St. Joseph Neighborhood Center, St. Martin’s Place, St. Peter’s Kitchen, and SWEM Community Services, Inc. In addition we take requests from a variety of additional agencies and contribute to various other charities depending on the agencies need and our financial resources. For more information on the Tithing Program and to obtain guidelines for submission of requests, contact Bill Pickett 732-1832 or email.
Kuc Majak, a parishioner of St. Mary’s for the past ten years, is a native of South Sudan. He has been an educator all his life with both undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 2009 he decided that he needed to work toward reestablishing an educational system in his home area of Aweil- Northern Bhar El Ghazal State. This region was devastated by the Sudanese civil war which was finally resolved with popular elections creating a separate democratic republic of South Sudan. This was St. Mary’s Lenten project for 2012 and fund raising continues both within and outside the parish. View and like VICSS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VocICSS
View a PowerPoint presentation on the project.
Our annual Christmas sale offers alternative fair trade gifts are available to purchase. Through the fair we support St. Michael’s Woodshop, Woman’s Coffee Connection, Healthy Sisters Soup and Bean Works, and Catholic Relief Services Work of Human Hands. The Fair is typically held on the second Sunday of Advent.
We collect gifts at all of the masses in December to be distributed to local agencies. In 2012 we focused on a single project, The Vocation Institute for the Children of South Sudan, led by our parishioner, Kuc Majak, and described above.
Fair trade coffee provided within an organizational context that employs women and soon men who are in re-entry. The Coffee Connection is a not-for-profit business that sells fair trade, organic coffee to retail and wholesale customers while providing a site for employment training for women in recovery from addiction. In partnership now with Project Empower, we provide comprehensive, continuous support for women in their journey toward sustainable recovery. Representatives sell coffee on the porch every third Sunday after Mass. St. Mary’s parishioner, Joan Smith, is the parish coordinator. You can contact her by email.
St. Mary’s partners with Rochester City School District Schools # 28 and #44. Volunteers provide the following services and resources throughout the year:
Tutor children in Grades K-6
Help with special projects
Hat, boot and mitten collection, school supplies, hygiene supplies
Assist with field trips
Collect new or gently used books for pre-school through 6th grade
Plants at beginning of year
Special treat three times a year
Help to celebrate children’s’ birthdays with a cake each month
Coordinator: Marilyn DeLucia email
RAIHN is a partnership among several Rochester area faith communities to provide temporary housing for families that have become homeless. We partner with First Universalist Church, located across the park from St. Mary’s, to provide housing, meals and support to homeless families in the Rochester area. Families are housed at First Unviersalist and St. Mary’s parishioners join with their members to provide support, fellowship, and breakfast and dinner. You can learn more about RAIHN by visiting their web site: http://www.raihn.org/. RAIHN is aprt of a national Interfaith Hospitality Network. Click here to download the national organization’s brochure. Take a look at RAIHN’s current newsletter.
Coordinator: Rosemarie Horvath email.
We provide several on-site opportunities for our parishioners to learn more about local and world peace and justice issues. Several times throughout the year we offer programs such as JustMatters, Fair Trade education, book discussions, presentations by local social service agencies and films about global issues. The most recent social ministry adult education program was a JustMatters program focusing on immigration. Click here for more information. The next adult education will be announced shortly for Spring 2013.
Several years ago, St. Mary’s Church began working with Nicholas J. Coulter, MSW, Engagement Coordinator, of the Rapid Engagement Demonstration Program, Monroe County Office of Mental Health – Socio-Legal Center Services, to provide overnight housing to chronically homeless men and women in and around downtown Rochester. Supported by a team of two Rochester Police Department officers, a team from St. Mary’s would head out at night with transportation and food to visit areas where homeless men and women were known to gather for shelter. This effort is part of the Community Collaborative for the Homeless.
The team would provide a food and toiletry package along with basic health screening if a health professional was available. They would also offer to provide a hotel room for the night. This was particularly important during the winter with its freezing temperatures and snow. Part of the agreement is that the person would agree to meet in the morning with the DHS representative to begin a process of getting them connected with the services to which they are entitled.
Their continuing choice or necessity for living on the street typically had resulted in a distancing from the available social services. The night in a warm and secure hotel room was important in and of itself but was also a means to begin to make contact with these men and women and begin the process of helping them address important life issues.
St. Mary’s has begun efforts to involve other churches and organizations in this ministry so that the “homeless runs” can take place at least once a month or more frequently. There is a need for volunteers to assist in the acquisition and preparation of the food and toiletry packages as well as opportunities for a limited number to participate directly with the team. For more information, you can contact St. Mary’s parishioner, Diane Procelli, who has been involved from the beginning of this effort. She can be reached at 585-426-3712. You can also contact Bill Pickett by email.
This is a new program that is beginning in 2013. It is a collaborative effort by St. Mary’s Church, St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality (Catholic Worker), and House of Mercy. Named in honor of the founder of The Catholic Worker, this “wet housing” program is an approach to getting homeless people off the street even though they may still be using alcohol. While somewhat controversial, it has proven effective in other cities. St. Joe’s has purchased an apartment building in its neighborhood to provide housing and programming. Volunteers are needed to work on making some of the changes in the building for this new programming Volunteers can provide companionship on shopping trips and other supportive services. St. Mary’s parishioner, Jim Charles, is the lead volunteer for St. Mary’s involvement and can be reached by email. You can also contact Bill Pickett by email.
In cooperation with the House of Mercy, St. Mary’s has provided the site and liturgical support for funerals and memorial services for those who die without a home and family. People interested in supporting this ministry should contact Deacon Tom Driscoll by email.
Rochester Alliance of Communities Transforming Society (ACTS) is a community organizing effort in Rochester, affiliated with Gamaliel, a grassroots network of non-partisan, faith-based organizations in 17 U.S. states, South Africa and the United Kingdom, that organizes to empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives. Gamaliel’s diverse members apply their faith and values to the pursuit of equal opportunity for all, shared abundance, and stronger, more prosperous communities. St. Mary’s one of the founding members of Rochester ACTS which begins its work in Rochester in 2013. For more information, contact Bill Pickett email.