I’m excited to announce a special event coming up in the diocese this October. It’s called Mercy Ministry: Best Practices for Reaching Out to a Wounded World. The gathering will bring together people from Catholic parishes, schools, and other organizations across the diocese for a day of education, prayer, and networking. It’s meant to help parishes and schools more effectively engage in respect life and social justice ministries. It’d be great if you could join us.
- If you’re already convinced and you want to attend, you can register online by clicking here and filling out the form.
- If you want to know more about the event before signing up, read on! Here’s some information in a fun Q&A format.
Q: Who’s this gathering for?
A: Anyone with a heart for our faith’s call to protect human life and promote social justice! More specifically, the gathering is for:
- Respect Life and Social Justice volunteers at parishes or schools, whether working already or aspiring to get started
- Directors of Religious Education
- Youth/Campus Ministers
- Pastoral Associates
- Clergy and religious
Q: Why is it happening?
A: The gathering is meant to help parishes and schools start or deepen their commitment to respect life and social justice ministries. It’ll be a practical day and provide you with tools you can use with your own ministry context. The gathering is being called “Mercy Ministry” because it’s inspired by the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis announced a few months ago. The Jubilee is set to begin in December. As the Holy Father is calling us to recommit ourselves and our faith communities to acting with mercy, especially reaching out to those living on society’s margins, this theme is timely!
Q: So what will happen during the gathering?
A: The day will have three main parts:
- Keynote address
- A display hall featuring community social service organizations that your parish/school could connect with.
- Two rounds of educational workshops.
We’ll also have communal prayer and breakfast and lunch together.
Q: Who’s the keynote speaker?
A: Her name is Kerry Weber, author of the great book Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job. She’s also the managing editor of America Magazine. The Jesuit author Fr. Jim Martin has called Kerry “one of the liveliest, brightest, most provocative and most articulate voices on the Catholic scene today.”
She’ll be talking about her own story of living out mercy – in particular, when she spent one Lent trying to participate in all the Corporal Works of Mercy.
Get to know the wonderful Kerry a bit with this two-minute YouTube video:
And take a look at her most recent article for America, on why Pope Francis’ new encyclical is perfect for Millennials.
And finally, check out this recent profile of her from NJ.com.
Q: Tell me more about the display hall. What’s that going to be like?
A: Have you ever been to an open-air market with a lot of different stalls offering different items? Or have you attended a convention with a big exhibition area? Well, then you have a sense of what our display hall will be like.
A bunch of different community organizations from all over South Jersey will be there. You’ll have time set apart to visit them and learn about how your parish or school might connect with them. Each organization invited to the event offers life & justice volunteer and educational opportunities. Who knows – maybe some neat new relationships will be sparked! Here’s a list of organizations that have RSVP-d so far, with several more from Cumberland, Gloucester, and Atlantic Counties in the works:
- Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden (all counties)
- 40 Days for Life prayer vigil (Cherry Hill)
- Joseph’s House of Camden (Camden)
- Atlantic City Rescue Mission (Atlantic City)
- Romero Center Ministries (Camden)
- Community FoodBank of New Jersey (Egg Harbor Township)
- Food Bank of South Jersey (Pennsauken)
- Cathedral Kitchen (Camden)
- Catholic Relief Services (official humanitarian relief organization of US Catholic Church)
- Center for Environmental Transformation (Camden)
- Spirit and Truth soup kitchen (Vineland)
Q: Sounds good. How about the workshops? What will they be about?
A: There will be two rounds of workshops, and five total workshops offered. They’ll all be offered in both rounds. So you’ll be able to pick two that sound most interesting to you. A quick rundown of the subject matter:
- Doing effective respect life ministry
- Presenter: Jennifer Ruggiero, director of respect life ministries for the Diocese of Metuchen
- How to engage your parish/school in learning about and acting on international issues and poverty relief efforts
- Presenter: Katie Kernich, Catholic Relief Services
- Preparing for and reflecting on community service experiences
- Presenter: Patrick Cashio, Romero Center Ministries
- Life & Justice legislative update and how your faith community can effectively advocate for the poor and vulnerable
- Presenter: James King, New Jersey Catholic Conference
- Social justice tips from a Diocese of Camden parish
- Presenter: Pat Slater, pastoral associate for justice and community outreach, Catholic Community of Christ Our Light.
A: Fantastic. Anything else I should know?
Q: That’s more than enough to get you started! Space is limited, so be sure to register soon. You can sign up by clicking here. Looking forward to seeing you!