Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

ocsjm Helping Hands 3 web

BLOOMFIELD – The Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry (OCSJM) has awarded parish grants from the archdiocesan Cooperative Parish Sharing Program, which collects voluntary donations from parishes throughout the archdiocese to support worthy social justice projects in low-income communities.

These grants cover a one-year period from July 2016 through June 2017, and may be renewed for projects that demonstrate positive impacts for vulnerable or under-served communities.

Projects cover a wide range of services, from summer programs for children and youth to family and marriage enrichment to international hunger initiatives, but all aim to address Catholic social teaching and increase awareness of local and global needs.

Several recent projects exemplify these efforts:

The Church of the Assumption in Ansonia recognized that the working poor, the homeless and those in transitional housing in town often experienced food-insecurity and lack of social interaction with others in the community.

To address this need, volunteers provide a buffet breakfast on one Saturday each month, inviting those who are marginalized as well as the church community to gather to share a meal and fellowship. The program has tripled, from 20-25 guests each month to 70-80 in the most current year, and feedback has been positive.

St. Rose of Lima Parish in New Haven has long recognized the importance of supporting family life and marriage. Building on its Family Life Ministry (Pastoral Familiar), the church has created a “Family Life-Marriage Promotion” initiative to enable leaders to address the regular struggles of Christian couples planning for marriage through an intensive weekend retreat experience.

The retreat includes married couples, as well, promoting dialogue and support among couples in various stages of married life, and offering a communal experience often absent in the lives of immigrants separated from family in other countries. The formation experience, including such practical skills as family budgeting and parenting and such spiritual dimensions as family prayer, lays a strong foundation for couples and families who desire to live out the sacrament of marriage in a full and meaningful way.

Sacred Heart-Sagrado Corazon Parish in Waterbury has chosen hunger as a central focus of its project, called “Starving to End World Hunger.” The two-day event, held during Lent and based on materials provided by Catholic Relief Services, offers teens an opportunity to experience hunger first-hand, and then an opportunity to act to address international hunger issues.

The students spend eight hours in fasting, praying and learning about nutrition, waste and food scarcity in many parts of our world, experiencing in a small way what it feels like to be hungry. The second day offers students and other members of the parish community the opportunity to package 20,000 meals for the people of Burkina Faso, Africa, through the CRS “Helping Hands” project. The project promotes empathy and a new understanding and awareness of the reality of hunger.

Information about the Cooperative Parish Sharing program is available at www.catholicsocialjustice.org/cooperative-parish-sharing.html.