The Christian Service Commission exists as a model and resource of Catholic Social Teaching to enable the entire parish communion to put the social teaching of the Church into action. The Commission empowers the members of the parish to fulfill the Church's mission of love, justice, freedom and peace by communally responding, in an organized way, to societal and individual needs. The commission creates and/ or promotes programs which strive to address human needs and achieve justice whether locally or in the broader communities of Vicariate, Archdiocese, state, nation and world.
The Christian Service Commission actualizes the social teaching of the Church by fulfilling specific administrative, educational and ministerial responsibilities.
A.The Commission's administrative responsibilities include:
B.The Commission's educational responsibilities include:
- maintain a close working relationship with, and coordinate the efforts of all parish social ministry organizations to maintain the strength of individual organizations within the effectiveness of the whole;
- engage Catholic Social Service agencies and other Archdiocesan charities, organizations and institutions, as well as other local community resources when appropriate and, when necessary , after consultation with Pastor/Vicar;
- coordinate parish response to national Catholic action for justice programs, e.g. , Catholic Relief Services, Campaign for Human Development and others designated by the Archdiocesan Department of Christian Service;
- provide within the Christian Service budget a model of good stewardship and, within the Social Ministry Goals and Objectives, a functional model which takes into account parish communion and global outreach.
C.The Commission's ministerial responsibilities include:
- educate the members of the Commission regarding Catholic Social Teaching;
- gather and share accurate information about human needs in the parish and total community;
- gather and share accurate information about service and service providers in the area;
- evaluate and report on Christian Service in response to changing community needs;
- bring the parish communion to an awareness of action needed to resolve human needs and achieve justice and human dignity;
- provide to members of the parish information concerning opportunities for involvement in advocacy for societal structural change which addresses justice and life issues.
- maintain effective communication and strong working relationships with the Pastoral Staff, Parish Pastoral Council Commissions and the Department of Christian Service;
- continually increase the number and variety of parishioners involved directly with Christian Service;
- work with the parish pastoral leadership in discerning how to respond to the needs of the poor and vulnerable throughout the area and, especially, within the parish boundaries;
- support existing social ministry programs which adequately meet the needs of the parish and community, linking with other parishes and/ or community groups whenever possible;
- develop and implement parish social ministry programs to address needs not met by parish or community programs;
- develop and help implement, in concert with community service providers, necessary programs which are beyond the resources of the individual parish;
- provide training for volunteers in social ministry activities; 8.develop new social ministry leadership among lay people of the parish communion.
Membership criteria for the Christian Service Commission should model inclusivity , solidarity and collaboration to give witness to Gospel values. The Commission will include Pastoral Staff person(s) as resource, interested members of the parish and a spokesperson from each Christian Service Committee. Members from various ethnic, cultural, socio-economic and minority groups present in the parish communion should comprise the membership of the Commission.While the needs of parishes will differ, the Christian Service Commission should include standing committees to address these issues:
Justice and Peace CommitteePURPOSEThe Justice and Peace Committee is charged with fostering and promoting a faith-based social action agenda through the life of the parish relying on the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.FUNCTIONS
- To promote the infusion of the social gospel throughout the parish
- To develop action steps/programs that flow from the mission statement of the parish.
- To promote, through goals, objectives and action steps the themes of Catholic Social Teaching by infusing them into the parish Mission Statement, Pastoral Council and its committees.
- To infuse justice concepts into and through all aspects of parish life.
- To network with those responsible for promoting and fostering justice and peace in the Archdiocese as a resource and support system.
- To network with social justice groups in the community.
- To promote occasions for the parish to participate in celebrations of peace as reflected in encyclicals and pastoral letters, i.e., Papal annual message for the World Day of Peace.
The Justice and Peace Committee will consist of members who are focused on social justice as it flows from Catholic Social Teaching. The participation of a parish staff member is desirable. One member of the Justice and Peace Committee will sit on each of the parish Commissions as well as the Evangelization Committee.
Disability Concerns CommitteePURPOSEThe Disability Concerns Representative (DCR) and/ or Disability Concerns Committee for the parish serve as advocates for full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the life of the parish.FUNCTIONS
- To assist the pastor, pastoral staff, leadership of the parish and members of the parish in their ministry with persons with disabilities and their families.
- To identify persons with disabilities in the parish.
- To sensitize the parish to the gifts and needs of persons with disabilities.
- To develop action steps flowing from the mission statement of the parish through its goals and objectives.
- To welcome and include persons with disabilities and their families into parish worship and activities.
- To make referrals to appropriate agencies or Archdiocesan offices.
STRUCTURE One member of the Disability Concerns Committee will also be a member of the Christian Service Commission offering regular reports and recommendations to the parish through this commission.Life Issues CommitteePURPOSEThe Life Issues Committee is charged with enlivening the parish response to the universal respect and dignity appropriate to all human life.FUNCTIONS
- To develop action steps flowing from the parish mission statement through goals and objectives, mindful of the dignity of the human person.
- To provide background information to the parish and its leadership groups on the full range of life issues.
- To address those issues which have an impact on the dignity of human life.
- To educate members of the parish and encourage them to become involved in pro-life legislative issues.
- To network with the Department of Christian Service and local pro-life groups as resources and support systems.
The Life Issues Committee should have members representative of the various issues in the pro-life spectrum. Sub-committees should be formed to address any single-issue focus. One member of the Life Issues Committee will sit on the Christian Service Commission.
Parish Service CommitteePURPOSE
The Parish Services Committee exists to facilitate the parish response of supPort, hospitality, resource and/or condolence for people in need.
- To sustain local outreach programs for the poor, homeless and vulnerable people within the parish.
- To provide a support service for members of the parish in times of joy and sorrow.
- To network with other parishes and vicariates to provide service beyond the parish.
- To develop action steps that flow from the parish mission statement and through the goals and objectives of the parish.
The Parish Services Committee may include individuals, groups and sub-groupings of other organizations and committees who provide support for people in need. Those activities include, but are not limited to: home and hospital visitors, funeral lunch providers, St. Vincent de Paul Society, meals for home-bound, food pantry, clothes closet, elder-care, etc. This committee may range from 10 to 20 members of the parish and at least one member of this committee will have membership on the Christian Service Commission.
Legislative Concerns CommitteePURPOSE
The Legislative Concerns Committee will encourage the total parish to respond within the local, state and national public policy debate using Catholic Social Teaching as the basis for legislative critique.
- To remain current on important legislative issues.
- To develop and maintain a bank of current information (legislative names, addresses and phone numbers) for rapid response in times of need.
- To stand ready to inform members of the parish on a broad range of legislative issues which have moral implications.
- To network with other parishes, vicariates and other legislative service groups to coordinate information and responses.
- To create and maintain a communication network, both within and beyond the parish to generate grassroots information, response and advocacy activities.
- To work with parish staff and volunteers to prepare appropriate responses to legislation of concern.
- To develop action steps that flow from the parish mission statement through goals and objectives.
The Legislative Concerns Committee should have members representing various concerns within the legislative spectrum. Broad representation should be the norm, rather than a narrow single-interest focus. At least one member should serve on the Christian Service Commission.
Health Advocacy CommitteePURPOSE
The Health Advocacy Committee is organized to search out health resources in the local community, seek out information regarding the health needs of the members of the parish and mobilize parish resources to care for those health.FUNCTIONS
- To identify various area health service centers (hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, group homes, clinics, adult day care or activities, etc.).
- To determine areas of assistance/cooperation with the area health care facilities.
- To provide informed and accurate referrals to appropriate service providers when needed.
- To inform members of the parish about service providers (e.g., Catholic Social Services) through bulletin articles, guest speakers, etc.
- To consult with and offer support to the Parish or Vicariate Nurse.
- To organize and train volunteers to transport, visit, provide respite or other services for those in need.
- To develop action steps that flow from the parish mission statement through goals and objectives.STRUCTURE
The Health Advocacy Committee would include: the parish nurse; parishioners involved in serving persons who are sick, homebound, elderly or otherwise in need; and individuals interested in health concerns. There should be close liaison with the Disabilities Concerns and Parish Services Committees. At least one member of the Health Advocacy Committee will serve on the Christian Service Commission.