PORTLAND---“Parish Social Ministry is the Gospel come to life.”
These words of Bishop Robert P. Deeley describe with simplicity and grace a complex and varied network of programs offered by Catholic Charities Maine. Funded by the Catholic Appeal, Parish Social Ministry (PSM) provides guidance and Catholic social teaching education to empower parishioners to serve vulnerable people of all faiths in their communities.
“PSM assists in establishing or enhancing current parish ministries and programs to address unmet community needs,” said Michael Smith, director of mission for Catholic Charities Maine. “We gather and train volunteers, and often help to obtain any additional funding needed to implement these services.”
From Kittery to Madawaska, the size and scope of the program continues to grow one successful initiative at a time through youth camps, case managers at soup kitchens, community fairs promoting strong family life, an educational series for seniors, and hundreds of other initiatives.
In an effort to organize all of the ongoing programs and ministries in Maine parishes, including direct assistance services, Catholic Charities Maine’s Parish Social Ministry has produced the first-ever Parish Directory of Service Ministries.
Organized by cluster, the directory provides parish contact information, lists the worship sites of each parish, and separates service ministries into five categories:
- parish-based ministries run by parishioners that serve others in their local parish or community;
- parish support ministries, which refers to groups supported by parishioners with human resources, food, clothing, or donations;
- social/service, which is a ministry that functions in both capacities;
- venue, which lists groups that use churches for meeting spaces that support and assists individuals;
- and other, referring to an activity not covered by one of the above descriptions that is included in the service portfolio of a parish.
The purpose of the directory is not just to provide parishes and the wider community with a list of available ministries and services, but also to encourage additional assistance.
“We’ve established a wonderful network of activities and services in our communities,” said Smith. “We are called to continue to strive further to engage the interests and skills of even more of our parishioners. We hope that this directory will provide inspiration to parishes and individuals looking to become engaged in their communities.”
“These Parish Social Ministry programs and initiatives help everybody in our parishes to think about the way in which the Gospel can be lived by reaching out and helping each other,” said the bishop. “This directory will help our parishes to further organize and make it possible for them to meet the needs of many.”
The release of the Parish Directory of Service Ministries, comes in the week leading up to the first World Day of the Poor (Sunday, November 19), a day established by Pope Francis "to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them, and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.” A special World Day of the Poor resource section has also been created on the diocesan website. The section includes messages from Bishop Deeley and Pope Francis regarding the World Day of the Poor, prayer and liturgy resources, ways to put faith into action, and prayers.