CCUSA Magazine: Working together with Catholic parishes
November 2019 By Tom Costanza, Division Director, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
“The Catholic parishes are on the frontline of helping people who are poor, and Catholic Charities is there to help the parishes.” — Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond
The relationship between Catholic Charities and Catholic parishes has always been vital to addressing the needs of parish and community members. Since 2013, Sister Marjorie Hebert, president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO), has directed CCANO to focus on resources and funds to assist Catholic parishes. Through her leadership, CCANO allocated resources to hire a full-time Parish Outreach Case Manager.
Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond also encouraged the relationship between Catholic Charities and parishes. “The Catholic parishes are on the frontline of helping people who are poor,” the Archbishop said, “and Catholic Charities is there to help the parishes.” He stated that each parish should have an outreach ministry to those struggling with poverty and a Social Justice Coordinator.
CCANO responded to Sister Hebert and the archbishop by structuring its parish social ministry efforts according to the USCCB’s Communities of Salt and Light: “Reflection of the Social Mission of the Parish.” The four areas of ministry in Salt and Light include: CCANO analyzed 105 parishes through this framework and found that 95% had Outreach and Charity Ministries and 65% had Global Solidarity Ministries. More work needed to be done in the areas of Faith Formation and Advocacy and Organizing.
To track its efforts, CCANO’s Planning and Evaluation Department created a survey that asked pastors what Catholic Charities services they are familiar with, whether they have referred parishioners to Catholic Charities, and the types of assistance parishioners need. The direct feedback from pastors helps CCANO to improve its parish outreach. According to the survey, all parishes have received services from Catholic Charities. Seventy-five percent of the parishes received between five to 10 different services. The dollar value of services (including benefit enrollment in SNAP and Medicaid) is $1,380,000.
The work of Parish Social Ministry, through the model of Salt and Light, calls us to make concrete the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. CCANO feeds the hungry and gives drink to the thirsty through our food programs. We counsel the doubtful through our Counseling Solutions programs. We shelter the homeless through a comprehensive homeless services program.
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We have been blessed with an outstanding Parish Outreach Staff that covers all of the bases of our service delivery – including case management, benefit enrollment and direct service. Raphael Velazquez, Doug Kariker, Mary Smith and Marilyn Shraberg work directly with parishioners, pastors and their staffs to meet the needs of the community. Outreach in the form of Faith Formation is directed by Kevin Fitzpatrick, director of the Office of Justice and Peace Program.
CCANO strives to give hope to those who are poor, as Pope Francis urges in his letter based on the Third World Day of the Poor: “… seek in every poor person whom you encounter…his or her true needs…[do] not to stop with their obvious material needs, but… discover their inner goodness, paying heed to their background and way of expressing themselves and in this way initiate a true fraternal dialogue.”
Learn about Parish Community Ministries here.
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