OFFICE FOR SOCIAL MINISTRY
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46)
‘Tis the season of giving and sharing light to others … as seen in the ongoing work of parish social ministries across the diocese. Faith-in-action kicked off as early as October when the first annual Damien and Marianne Catholic Conference at the Hawaii Convention Center where the faithful gathered to reflect on ways to follow in the footsteps of Hawaii’s two saints.
A Saturday afternoon workshop provided the perfect environment to “talk story” with parishioners engaged in various ministries, including the Ohana Mass on Oahu and Kauai for persons with disabilities, the Going Home ministries accompanying women leaving the Women’s Community Correctional Center and Mercy house and families affected by incarceration, and Backpack Projects on Molokai involving St. Damien Parish with the local public school addressing the challenge of childhood hunger.
Then during the first weeks of November, young and old gathered at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa for a homeless veterans housewarming event that brought together Teen Challenge youth to share donations collected for men and women vets entering temporary and permanent housing. Military chaplains joined folks from all around Oahu to celebrate Veterans Day by appreciating and accompanying some of the now vulnerable men and women who have given their lives in military service to this country. It was a great way to kick off Hunger and Homelessness Week in Hawaii and the Thanksgiving holiday when many parishioners served meals to the homeless around Hawaii.
This Thanksgiving spirit carried over to a meeting at St. Stephen Diocesan Center at the end of November for parishioners interested in applying for food ministry mini-grants. These grants were made possible by the generous support of Catholics in Hawaii for the Catholic Relief Services Lenten Rice Bowl collections, 25 percent of which remains in the diocese to support projects that are part of the diocese’s One Ohana: Food and Housing for All campaign. These mini-grants help parishes with ministries such as food pantry senior box programs or programs that connect youth to community gardens.
That same day, the local committee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development gathered at St. Stephen Diocesan Center to discuss how to share the 25 percent of the collection taken on the First World Day for the Poor, Nov. 19. Possible recipients for local grants ranged from a citizenship fair for migrants on Oahu to a project on Maui to help public housing residents organize to address the challenges of their elderly and youth. This Talk Story column will share more about these projects and the mini-food ministry-funded projects in the weeks and months ahead.
These “talk story” gatherings of parish social ministries lead directly into the December Advent season and events such as the annual Star Light, Star Bright celebration where volunteers provide a Christmas celebration for women in the Women’s Community Correctional Center and their children and family caregivers from around the islands.
Hopefully, the verbal snapshots in this column will inspire more participation this holiday season in parish social ministries that express our faith in action and discover sharing and transforming vulnerability as an experience that generates hope, joy, peace, love and light for all. Mahalo and hopeful peaceful holidays for all!
Your friends at the Office for Social Ministry