|World & Nation|
|George Weigel Column|
|The Good News on Youth|
|Fall Bridal: The Sacramental Vow|
|Breaking Open The Word|
|Arts and Entertainment|
|Letters to the Editor|
|DCR Submission Guidelines|
|DCR Advertising Rates|
September 3, 2008
Faithful Citizenship group helps Catholics take faith into the public square
Church group educating its parishioners on social issues, Catholic teaching
By Erika Palma
Last year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a document titled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”
This call to political responsibility encourages Catholics to use the values of their faith to shape their participation in political life.
The Colorado Catholic Conference, the state-level, public policy arm of the Catholic community, introduced a Faithful Citizenship campaign to provide parishioners the opportunity to engage the major themes and concepts of Catholic social teaching and the impact those teachings have on society.
At St. Vincent de Paul Church parishioners are taking the call of faithful citizenship to heart and have formed a Faithful Citizenship committee. Deacon Robert Finan said the idea for such a committee had been a while in the making.
“I was approached by our pastor, Father (Daniel) Zimmer-schied, about trying to organize some social justice ministry for the parish,” Deacon Finan said. “We already had several things in place: a Right to Life committee, outreach to the poor in Fort Lupton and a sandwich program for the poor among other things. But he wanted to expand that.”
Faithful citizenship wasn’t something being addressed by the parish, according to Deacon Finan, and following the publication of the USCCB document, discussion was held for the purpose of organizing such a group under the umbrella of social justice ministry.
“We came up with several areas of concern—addressing the needs of the poor locally and internationally, the needs of the elderly, political awareness needs, family issues, the right to life and so forth.”
A flowchart was created listing topics that should be addressed and in the first part of 2008 parishioners were asked to sign up and be part of one of these committees.
“Essentially it’s a lay movement, a lay activity,” Deacon Finan said. “The mission statement says they are to present for the people of the parish to provide information on the Catholic position on various issues. We’re not promoting a particular party platform but we look at what the Church is saying on significant issues.”
Each committee researched a specific topic, everything from immigration to the right to life. Once completed, the findings are published as flyers in the Sunday bulletin, which the deacon said is the best way of getting the information into the hands of parishioners.
“The choices for the different subjects came from the committee,” he said. “They wanted to (address) things that were very topical. But we don’t want to stop at just published information.”
Other activities on the ministries to-do list include an upcoming voter registration drive and on Oct. 8, Denver Auxiliary Bishop James Conley will be speaking on the right to life. Committee members hope the prelate’s talk will be the start of a series featuring speakers who can offer insight into various issues and the position the Church takes on them. There are also plans to expand the committee’s Web site and to attract new members.
The Colorado Catholic Conference encourages Catholics to participate in the political and social process through information, participation and leadership, said Executive Director Jenny Kraska.