Social Ministry Convening
A group of parishioners has begun a process to revitalize our social ministry effort in the parish. In a year of other important changes in our communal life, it seems even more important to keep hold of and deepen our tradition of social ministry and social justice. We think the objective should be strengthening the capacity of St. Mary’s for social ministry. We think that would best be done by a group of parishioners who would become a Small Christian Community or a set of communities that pray and think together about the social ministry of the parish. Go to this webpage to access all the documents related to these convenings.
This process began with a gathering May 6 in the Dugan Center. Forty parishioners attended with several more intensely interested but unable to attend this session. You can read more information by viewing the Mission Statement for this convening and by downloading a summary of the notes and suggestions that participants put forward. The second meeting of this group, which was and is open to all who want to participate, was Wednesday June 20 from 7:00 to 9:00 in the Dugan Center. The group processed the ideas generated at the first session: How to deepen the parish’s capacity for social ministry. Additional ideas were added and then rating procedure was performed to identify the ideas which people found to be the most important. Five ideas attracted the most attention and were eventually combined into three. Rather than begin to work on each of these, the group felt that it was wise to meet again to process the whole and then begin more focused work. Two documents have been prepared as a result of this session.
As a result of the third meeting on July 22, we have four work groups gathering information and ideas and beginning to formulate plans which the entire convening will review early in the fall. Click here to view the pdf document of the July 22 meeting notes. A meeting on August 19 was an opportunity to discuss progress reports from the four groups. Click here to view the pdf documents of the September meeting notes. The October 14 meeting saw the completion of a document on homilies and social justice. Click here to view the pdf document of the October meeting notes. The final meeting was Sunday November 18 at 11:45 in the Dugan Center. Click here to download the notes of the November meeting. The final summary of the work of the four teams is shown below.
1. Pastoral care of the St. Mary’s community:
Although originally identified as an issue during an early Social Ministry Convening, this issue has surfaced in a number of other settings and with other ministries. It has seemed appropriate to Deacon David that this issue be addressed in a fashion similar to that used by social ministry. To this end, there will be a Pastoral Care Summit on Saturday December 7 from 11:30 to 1:30 in the Parish House. This meeting is open to all who see a need to improve our pastoral care initiatives and who would like to become more involved in creating a systematic approach. Deacon Tom Driscoll will be providing staff leadership to this volunteer effort. View a PDF describing the Pastoral Care Summit.
2. Liturgy committee:
The communication between social ministry and the liturgy committee has improved markedly. Two members from social ministry have been involved in the planning of the Advent season. We anticipate that this cooperation will continue as long as there are people from social ministry who will work with the liturgy committee.
The preaching document has been completed and submitted to Deacon David. He has been reviewing the content with the preachers throughout our process. Many have noted a marked increase in the social ministry and justice references in the Sunday preaching. Deacon David does intend to respond to social ministry in a formal way. Download a PDF of the final document.
4. Information and communication:
A ministry review has been completed with basic information on 15 social ministry programs and initiatives. Download a PDF of the latest ministry review. A parish email list has been begun and there are now regular communications with the social ministry interest group (100 people) and an overall parish group (more than 250.) This improved communication has resulted in more people being knowledgeable of social ministry at St. Mary’s and more people becoming directly involved. A survey of the personal ministries of individual parish members had to be postponed till after the first of the year.
Re-institution of Social Ministry Committee
During the convenings, it became clear that an ongoing social ministry committee was key to nurturing social ministry as an essential component of the life of St. Mary’s. The convening discussed a draft document describing such a committtee and its relationship to the parish pastoral council, pastoral leadership, and the members of the assembly of faith. A document was affirmed and has been forwarded to Deacon David for his consideration and recommendation to the parish pastoral council. You can view the document by clicking here. Please review and provide any comments to Bill Pickett or to Deacon David.
As we begin to reform the committee, we need members of the parish who would like to serve in this capacity. The document fully describes the duties and expectations. Meetings would typically be held once a month along with an annual retreat day and possibly three or four all parish convenings. If you are interested in learning more about this service opportunity, please contact Bill Pickett by email or by phone at 585-732-1832.