“Bishop Ricken is calling every parish to put an agenda item into a meeting to discuss the recession and to consider ways for the parish to respond to the needs of people in the congregation,” he said.
“There are people affected by the recession who are not used to financial struggles,” he added. “Congregations have to open up and let them know about services being offered. When someone from the upper middle class is thrown out of a job, that person may not feel comfortable walking into a food pantry. The faith community can provide information and support.”
Those losing jobs are not the only people affected, said Br. Herro. Pensions for retired people are taking a hit, and college students who spend thousands on their education now fear they may not be able to find a job after graduation.
Some parishes in the diocese have addressed the economic problems. St. Mary and St. Joseph parishes, Appleton, put together a six-week study and created a group. St. Raphael Parish, Oshkosh, is also forming a support group, and the JustFaith group at St. Jude Parish, Oshkosh, held an ecumenical prayer service at Father Carr’s Place 2B for those affected by the recession.
“There are a lot of things parishes can do,” said Br. Herro. “If there is a computer lab at the school, for example, they may be able to open it up for people creating resumes or searching for jobs.”
It’s also important that people in need are aware of the 211 info line, he added. The diocese is offering a day of pilgrimage and prayer for those looking for jobs or facing financial difficulty. A celebration of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker will be held Friday, May 1, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Robinsonville. The day begins with First Friday Devotions and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 8:30 a.m. Adoration begins at 8:45 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. with devotions to St. Joseph and Benediction.