There is a joke that goes something like: “Did you see them? Which way were they going? How fast? I must catch them for I am their leader!” The recently completed round of social action meetings in the six deaneries of the Diocese of Davenport brought a bit of that flavor. At the meetings, held in late August and early September, the staff of the Social Action Office attempted to “catch up” with the parishes.
“I absolutely loved the meetings!” said Kent Ferris, the diocese’s social action director. During the meetings, parish social action or social justice people spoke of their accomplishments and challenges.
“The activities and involvement of so many of the parishes is impressive, and I think parish participants impressed themselves when they started talking about the many different ministries going on within their parishes,” Glenn Leach, a volunteer with the Social Action Office, said. When they discussed all the activities going on in their parishes, putting their faith into action, they realized the full extent of the vitality of their parish ministry, Ferris said.
In addition to Ferris and Leach, the other diocesan representative at the meeting was Loxi Hopkins, volunteer and diocesan director for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
They were impressed by the number of folks who had been working in social action or social justice in their parish communities for anywhere from 10 to 50 years. “There are a lot of very faith-filled and dedicated folks doing an incredible job of reaching out to people,” said Leach. “I learned a lot just listening to what challenges they have faced and what they have done.”
At the meetings, Ferris provided updates on forthcoming events such as the Iowa Institute for Social Action in Elkart, Iowa, on Oct. 9 and the presentation of the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom award to Father John Dear, S.J., at St. Ambrose University on Oct. 31.
Hopkins spoke about the many good things accomplished by the CCHD in helping the poor to help themselves.
“Quad Cities Interfaith, a CCHD-funded local group has been training and working with a Weed and Seed youth group teaching youths to discover the issues that keep them from reaching their full potential. These youth have developed self-confidence and are changing their lives and neighborhoods. Their development has been surprising, even to those of us that understand the power of community organizing,” Hopkins said. She reminded attendees that 25 percent of CCHD and CRS collections remain in the diocese for use on local projects consistent with the intent of the collection.
The next series of deanery meetings is tentatively scheduled for November. To keep in touch, add to the agenda, or get the schedule, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.