Pastor’s Page – Social Justice Speaker Series

Never miss a meeting at which they’re assigning work. And never suggest a new ministry to a priest. In both cases, you’ll end up with more responsibility than you expected.

In summer 2020, Chris Coelho pitched a social justice speaker series for Sunday Mass. In fall 2020, he became the chair of our new social justice committee.

For three years, Social Justice Sunday introduced us to Catholic speakers from a variety of organizations – a university, parishes, a youth organization, local charities. The speakers included priests, a university president, nuns, a town planner, attorneys, a youth minister, social workers, and a few of our own parishioners. They shared how their Catholic faith motivated their work for justice. We learned about immigration, youth homelessness, enabling first generation homeownership, protecting our environment, sharing social justice with our children, and serving Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

The fruits of the speaker series were great. Although the intention was only to raise awareness about the struggle for justice, parishioners got involved in new forms of service. An early fruit was the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society Society serving lunch monthly at Joe’s Place, a ministry of Sacred Heart Parish in Camden.

It’s important to be intentional about when to sunset something good – while it’s still good and only when a new adventure beckons. Next Sunday, I look forward to sharing details about our parish’s next adventure in outreach. But now, I thank Chris Coelho for the idea and the execution of Social Justice Sunday. I also thank our speakers over the past three years:

Sr. Helen Cole, SSJ, Guadalupe Family Services
Sarah Gilmore, parishioner
John Green, Ignatian Volunteer Corps
Sherine Green, Christ Our Light Parish, Cherry Hill
Fr. Vince Guest, Sacred Heart Parish, Camden
Pilar Hogan, St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society
Fr. Dan Joyce, Vice President for Mission and Ministry, St. Joseph’s University
Bill Lane, parishioner
Sister Celeste Mokrzycki, SSJ
Kristin Prinn, Lifting Up Camden Youth (LUCY)
Fr. Mike McCue, DeSales Service Works
Joanna McGill-Gardner, Esq., HIAS Pennsylvania
Sr. Veronica Roche, SSJ
Jackie Tomasso, Esq., Camden Center for Law and Justice
Sister Sharon White, SSJ
Jen Williams, Covenant House