Parishes regularly serve as the heart of Christ, such as Sacred Heart Parish in Valley Park building relationships and seeking to understand the struggles of others while guided by the corporal works of mercy. That story is in the Living Our Faith section this week.
An encouraging sign of the Gospel at work in our midst is the vitality and quality of social justice ministries in our parishes, the bishops wrote in “Communities of Salt and Light.” Though the document was written 25 years ago, it remains true. The social justice dimensions of our faith are integral parts of local Catholic life.
Our society appears to be decreasing its respect for human life and human dignity. Violence, injustice and moral confusion are all around us. Lives are destroyed before birth by abortion. Poverty affects a large portion of our population. Violence destroys hopes and dreams.
In a time of rampant individualism, parishes are a haven for families and communities. They support marriages, see children as blessings and welcome immigrants and refugees. The bishops, in their document, stressed that “we insist the moral test of our society is how we treat and care for the weakest among us.”
None of this is accomplished without a focus on our Creator. In Lent, we turn to our parishes for grace-filled opportunities to draw us closer to Christ. Prayer is the foundation of our relationship with God and one another. When we pray together, God transforms us individually and as members of the Body of Christ who are sent on mission in the world.
Parishes play a crucial role in the Church’s social ministry. We affirm and support pastors and parish leaders in this essential task of the social mission of the parish and encourage all parishes to take up this challenge with renewed commitment, creativity and urgency.
So go ahead and sing the praises of your parish. Tell everyone you meet, as is stated in the “Communities of Salt and Light” document, that “in urban neighborhoods, in suburban communities and in rural areas, parishes serve as anchors of hope and communities of caring, help families meet their own needs and reach out to others, and serve as centers of community life and networks of assistance.”