September 17, 2010 – Fr. Bruce Krause, C.M. hosted a discussion with panelists about the applications of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) in their respective ministries. The panelists included Sr. Caroljean Willie, S.C., (NGO at the United Nations), Sr. Elizabeth Greim, D.C. (Family Advancement Ministries in Macon, Georgia), Br. Al Smith, C.M. (Coordinator of numerous ministries in Germantown, Philadelphia), and Mr. John Kinner (Executive Director, The Health Association of Niagara County or HANCI, in Niagara Falls, NY). Niagara University VMCP and VMI attendees were then encouraged to pose questions to the panelists.
Fr. Bruce asks the panel to introduce themselves and talk about their ministries.
Analyzing the Signs of the Times
The panel is asked, “How have you analyzed the signs of the times in the area in which you minister?”
Involving the Poor Themselves
The panel is asked, “In what ways are you able to involve the poor themselves in giving some voice to what are their circumstances, so as to better understand what is happening in their lives?”
Collaboration and Changing Attitudes
The panel is asked, “To be able to do your works has involved getting support from others- to do works that yourselves alone could not possibly accomplish. Being able to change attitudes sometimes, particularly with the poor, can be daunting. How has Catholic Social Teaching helped you begin to change attitudes?” Highlights of the panel’s answers: working at the United Nations, starting a Book Club with staff and clients, changing attitudes in a high school setting, and identifying core values within an agency while respecting persons of different faiths.
Keeping Statistics and Evaluation of Programs
The panel is asked, “Do you have statistics of those you have helped?; what are they doing now?; are they “repeat customers”?; and how are the programs measured?” The panelists describe: Keeping in touch with children & families they have helped, following them through major life changes (a new child, etc.), and at the UN level– influencing the language of UN documents as a way of measuring our efforts.
The panel is asked: “In documents of CST we hear about the call for greater solidarity. Yet there is the attitude: Why am I my brother’s keeper? How do you promote the idea of solidarity, and can you relate this to any of your own practices?” Answers included: the “Give Back” program for helping persons who need the help that you once received; improving solidarity between staff and clients; how our humanity interconnects us; global dimensions of our Christianity; seeing things from someone else’s reality; a Senior Companion program in the Niagara area.
Motivation to Serve
An audience member asked about motivation: What makes a person want to throw their lot in with the poor? Responses included: we have a Gospel mandate to do so; describing ways to help direct volunteers to the right area of work for them as individuals; Core Values and creating a culture; willingness to allow ourselves to be evangelized by the poor.
Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone
An audience member asked for tips on stepping out of our comfort zone when working in another culture, as a missionary. The author Eric Law was recommended as a source of inspiration; the concept of Comfort Zone, Fear Zone, and something in between the two, referred to as the Grace Margin.
Creation of Jobs
An audience member looked back to the economic boom following World War II, and wondered if anything could be done to address the joblessness in the U.S. today. Sr. CJ was asked: What is being done at the UN to increase jobs and how does CST inform that? Sister’s response included topics such as the Summit on Millennium Development Goals, the International Labor Organization’s efforts in this area, and the concept of a “decent work agenda”.
Concluding Comments from Brother Al, Sister Elizabeth, Sister CJ, John, and Father Bruce.