Staff members in the Diocese of Rochester’s Catholic Relief Services office are encouraging parishes to form global-solidarity teams to help parishioners embrace their call to global solidarity and the preferential option for the poor. Local CRS staffers will be offering several orientation sessions in the next few months for parishioners interested in coordinating such teams in their own parishes.
Each global-solidarity coordinator would chair his or her parish’s team, which would function as a task force or committee of the parish’s social-ministry committee, explained Kathy Dubel, diocesan coordinator for CRS, the official humanitarian relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic Church.
“The team is part of the parish social ministry with a focus on global (solidarity), specifically helping the parish become more aware of Catholic Relief Services programs and priorities and promoting participation in the parish community,” Dubel told the Catholic Courier in an e-mail interview.
Many parishes already participate in CRS projects, such as the Work of Human Hands sale of fair-trade products made in Third World countries or Lenten Operation Rice bowl projects, Dubel noted. The formation of a global-solidarity team in a parish would serve to bring these efforts together and encourage the parish to try out other CRS initiatives. The teams may provide the perfect opportunities for individuals who are looking for ways to become more involved in their parishes and who are passionate about the church’s global-solidarity mission or have experienced other cultures, she added.
“The global-solidarity team in the parish is a vehicle for these persons to bring their experience and concern and their gifts to the service of the parish community and to the benefit of brothers and sisters in the 99 countries served on behalf of the U.S. Catholic community by Catholic Relief Services,” Dubel said.
Team coordinators will have a lot of support, she noted. Catholic Relief Services has made available a number of educational materials about Catholic social teaching, global poverty, peace in the Middle East, African development, immigration and refugees, and a number of other issues, and diocesan CRS staff will be leading several orientation sessions for people interested in forming global-solidarity teams.
At the orientation sessions, parishioners will learn how the global-solidarity-team concept fits into parish social ministry, how to invite others to serve on the team and how to develop a global-solidarity plan for 2009. They’ll also receive an overview of CRS’ programs and priorities and an update on Bishop Matthew H. Clark’s Solidarity with Africa initiative.
So far three parishes have signed up for an Aug. 20 orientation session in Geneva, and two others have signed up for a session in Tompkins County at a later date, Dubel said.
“We will schedule others as parishes express an interest,” she said. “Our hope is that each parish global-solidarity team will have the encouragement of their pastor and social-ministry chairperson and will draft a global-solidarity plan for the parish for 2009.”
Parishes who send representatives to the orientation sessions each will receive a $200 mini-grant, which can be used to carry out the activities mentioned in each parish’s 2009 global-solidarity plan.
“For example, they could purchase a case of CRS fair-trade coffee to serve at a parish coffee hour where they might share information on fair-trade issues and also make the CRS fair-trade coffee available for purchase by parishioners,” Dubel said. “Catholic Relief Services has resources to help with … these ideas. We provide the funds to help make it happen.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: To register for or learn more about the global-solidarity orientation sessions, contact Kathy Dubel at firstname.lastname@example.org.