Social Concerns

Point of Contact – Stephen St. Hilaire – svsthilaire@yahoo.com – 973-338-5371

Brief Description – MISSION STATEMENT:

We are a new ministry, started in 2021. Our goal is to build on the STA Parish Mission Statement which reads in part: “[E]ncouraging a commitment to justice and to service of those in need…[and] building a community of hospitality and support in the daily living out of Christian ideals by nourishing mutual respect and understanding within our Church, our families, our communities, and other faith traditions.” The Social Concerns Ministry at STA will draw upon the rich resources through the Archdiocese of Newark’s Social Concerns Office, the Archdiocesan Commission on Peace and Justice and Communities of Salt and Light and others that help form us in living out the principles of Catholic Social Teachings (https://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching .)       

PRIMARY OBJECTIVES:

•        To fulfill our mission as Disciples through engaging our faith community in understanding how prayer, learning and action contribute to greater justice the world. 

•        To encourage prayerful action by parishioners in the spirit of the Seven Key Themes of Catholic Social Teachings.

•        To collaborate and foster relationship with other parishes in our deanery in prayer and learning that leads to collective community action.

We can help fulfill our mission with the following illustrative activities:

PRAYER:

•        Leverage current ministries to engage in prayers that lift up the Seven Key Themes of Catholic Social Teachings, the Prayers of the Faithful at the weekly liturgies, notices in the bulletin*, and via the STA social media channels.

*Recent Examples:  the Spring 2021 bulletin & website reflections & call to social justice action on “Celebration of Cultures of to Asian-American & Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) & Abatement of Violence and Harassment”  as well as calls for the “Commemoration and Celebration of ‘Juneteenth’ with African Americans: Marking the End of Slavery in the U.S.”

REACH OUT/LEARNING:

•        Engage in understanding core issues of justice that are appropriate to context and timely (over the course of the year or take a new issue/concern at each part of the Liturgical Calendar).  This could include a purposeful parish reflection on Gaudium et Spes, Open Wide Our Hearts, Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si, Fratelli Tutti and other pastorals that will guide us in our journey toward understanding systemic and social challenges that will lead toward action.

•        Offer a morning/evening of Reflection during Advent and Lent that focuses on a principle of Catholic Social Teaching and social analysis (potentially aligned with an action). **

•        Develop/publish a quarterly social justice newsletter to be included as part of the parish bulletin and promote the offering of a series of reflections as part of Pastor’s letter to the parish community that highlight an area of Catholic Social Teaching.

•        Connect with other parishes in our deanery to bring collective learning opportunities together, as appropriate. ***

**Recent examples:  “Reflections on the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes””–our initial offering during Lent in March 2021; Upcoming pre-Advent “Reflection Series on the Seven Key Themes of Catholic Social Teachings (CSTs)”: Thursdays, Oct. 14, 21, 28, 2021 and Mar. 24, 31 & Apr. 2, 2020.

***Upcoming Examples: 2021-2022 deanery collaboration with St. Peter Claver parishioners in multicultural and racial diverse celebration of 6 African-American candidates for canonization as saints and periodic provision of dinners—through M.E.S.H.–to homeless and other food insecure persons and families.

ACTION:

•        Engage in legislative advocacy that uplifts core Catholic Social Teaching principles in collaboration with efforts aligned with Catholics Confront Global Poverty, and issues of concern in our local community as promoted by the Archdiocese of Newark’s Social Concerns Office, the Archdiocesan Commission on Peace and Justice and efforts at the Deanery Level.  ****

•        Align charitable activity that already occurs through the parish with a legislative action (i.e., connect the St. Augustine Ministry, Giving Tree and Food Pantry efforts to an action around homelessness, housing or hunger).

•        Encourage direct action in solidarity with those in need, guided by the principles of Catholic Social teachings.

Current Examples:  See our Ministry’s ongoing contribution to the STA website page, “Around the Community”, to promote COVID-19 legislative advocacy for legal protections and financial assistance for N.J. tenants & landlords facing hardship; & 2021 call for federal legislative advocacy for AAPIs on bill S. 937, the “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act” which became law.

Meeting Dates – We currently meet via Zoom on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m., as needed. Our next meeting is scheduled for September 2nd at 7 p.m. Once COVID-19 restrictions allow, we will meet in person in the Parish Center.

How can someone join? – Anyone interested should contact our Ministry contact person.  We welcome those prayerfully concerned about God’s merciful love being part of their life’s journey and who are open to share reflections on, and to evangelize with, other STA parishioners about Scripture’s call to mercy and justice and the Catholic Church’s Seven Key Themes of Catholic Social Teaching (CST).


Below contains historical information about this ministry.


On this page

  • Mission Statement
  • Celebration/Action:  Multicultural Diversity
  • Recent Events
  • Resources, including Catholic Social Teaching from USCCB

Mission of Social Concerns Ministry of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Bloomfield, NJ

Primary Objectives:

  • To fulfill our mission as Disciples through engaging our faith community in understanding how prayer, learning and action contribute to greater justice the world. 
  • To collaborate and foster relationships with other parishes in our deanery in  prayer and learning that leads to collective community action.

We can help fulfill our mission with the following illustrative activities:

Prayer:

  • Leverage current ministries to engage in prayers that lift up key themes from the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching through prayer groups, the Prayers of the Faithful at the weekly liturgies, in the bulletin and via the STA social media channels.
  • Offer a morning/evening of Reflection during Advent and Lent that focuses on a principle of Catholic Social Teaching and social analysis (potentially aligned with an action).
  • Develop/publish a quarterly social justice newsletter to be included as part of the parish bulletin and have Fr. Larry offer a series of reflections as part of his letter to the parish community that highlight an area of Catholic Social Teaching.

Reach Out/Learning:

  • Engage in understanding core issues of justice that are appropriate to context and timely (over the course of the year or take a new issue/concern at each part of the Liturgical Calendar).  This could include a purposeful parish reflection on Gaudium et Spes, Open Wide Our Hearts, Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si, Fratelli Tutti and other pastorals that will guide us in our journey toward understanding systemic and social challenges that will lead toward action.
  • Connect with other parishes in our deanery to bring collective learning opportunities together, as appropriate.
  • After conferring with other parishes in the deanery, ascertain what social concerns ministries or actions—service and/or justice–that STA parishioners might collaborate, rather than “reinventing the wheel” by duplicating.

Action:

  • Engage in legislative advocacy that uplifts core Catholic Social Teaching principles in collaboration with efforts aligned with Catholics Confront Global Poverty and issues of concern in our local community as promoted by the Archdiocese of Newark’s Social Concerns Office, the Archdiocesan Commission on Peace and Justice and efforts at the Deanery Level.
  • Align charitable activity that already occurs through the parish with a legislative action (i.e. connect the St. Augustine Ministry, Giving Tree and Food Pantry efforts to an action around homelessness, housing or hunger).

The Social Concerns Ministry at STA would draw upon the rich resources through the Archdiocese of Newark’s Social Concerns Office, the Archdiocesan Commission on Peace and Justice and Communities of Salt and Light and others that help form us in living out the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

Contact persons:  mggilfillan@yahoo.com  or svsthilaire@yahoo.com|


New Jersey Catholic Conference’s Faith in Action Page – Notify Legislators about Important Topics.

This link gets updated periodically by New Jersey Catholic Conference

https://njcatholic.org/faith-in-action


Celebration/Action:  Multicultural Diversity


Recent Events

Reflections on the Sermon on the Mount.

The St. Thomas Social Concerns Ministry will host these discussions on three consecutive Thursday nights: March 11th, March 18th, and March 25th from 7:30pm to 9pm, via the Zoom platform. You may register for all three sessions at once; or up to the day before an individual session via https://forms.gle/WGikoLjTj4RthvPS8 Click the button below for more details.










Catholic Social Teaching YouTube Playlist Courtesy of USCCB:

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/campus-ministry/tools-for-action/campus-service.cfm

Related Pages:

Care for Our Common Home

Beyond Cornerstone Gallery 1, Gallery 2 and Gallery 3

Related Websites and Links:


The Catholic Church believes and teaches that all human life is sacred from conception to natural death. For that reason, we, the Bishops of each of the dioceses in New Jersey, join in voicing the strongest possible opposition to the “Reproductive Freedom Act.” Click the button below to read more and additional resources to contact state legislators.





Pope Francis gave his latest encyclical in Assisi on the vigil of the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on October 3rd, 2020. The Encyclical entitled ‘Fratelli Tutti’ translates to ‘On Fraternity and Social Friendship.’ From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website “This greatly welcomed encyclical is a beautiful reflection on humanity’s path forward to a deeply desired and sought-after peace. Pope Francis addresses his renewed call to universal fraternity ‘to all people of good will, regardless of their religious convictions.’ ”


The button below is a link to the USCCB website that provides a two page PDF summary of Fratelli Tutti and also a twenty-one page chapter by chapter overview of the encyclical.

Cardinal Tobin in his October 30, 2020 “Rejoice in the Lord” reflects on Fratelli Tutti.