Social service agencies have been stretched to the maximum trying to respond to the needs. Our own Catholic Charities offices throughout the diocese report a 21 percent increase in requests for service just since Jan. 1.
Recent economic news provides us a glimmer of hope with some recent increases in the stock market and some of the data surrounding housing. While this is good news, economists caution us to keep in mind the fact that while there may be some limited increases in the stock market, significant impact on increases in employment, buying power, housing, etc., is still probably a full year away.
In the face of these challenges, we as church cannot sit idly by. This is not a time for our diocesan services or parishes to batten down the hatches or circle the wagons and wait for a brighter day. Now is the time for each and every one of us in the church to be generous stewards of the many gifts that we have been blessed with. Individually and as parish communities we need to take a step back and consider anew how we might make better use of those gifts in service to so many of our neighbors and neighborhoods that are in need.
I want to echo the words of Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who recently issued a pastoral letter wherein he noted, “Our parishes need to serve as centers of hope during these times, and we need to model both understanding and outreach. We will only get through these distressing economic times together – not alone.”
To assist parishes in formulating a response to these challenges, our diocesan departments, with support from the Bishop’s Appeal, recently put together a collection of resource materials titled
“The Parish Responds to the Economic Downturn.” Contained in the packet are suggestions for prayerful responses, thoughts and ideas for organizing a parish group, information on programs and services available from Catholic Charities offices throughout the diocese, “Helping Someone Through Job Loss, The Parish Responds – 10 Ideas,” etc.
Copies were recently mailed to each pastor in our diocese. You can review and download any of the materials contained in the packet by going to this link.
I have also asked that each parish staff and pastoral council schedule some time on the agenda for their meetings to prayerfully review these materials and consider what God might be calling your parish to do to be able to respond to the needs so prevalent around us.
I want to take this opportunity to say a sincere thank you in advance for what I know will be your personal generosity and what I anticipate will also be an enthusiastic and generous response of your parish as a community responding to this economic crisis.
May our God, who continues to bless you with so much, continue to bless and keep you as we take our turn to respond to this economic downturn.