Social ministers will discuss issues, renew spirits in Geneva - Catholic Courier

Social ministers will discuss issues, renew spirits in Geneva

Global solidarity, immigration, peacebuilding and faithful citizenship are just a few of the issues that will be discussed during an upcoming diocesanwide social-ministry conference.

“Renewing Our Spirits: Social Ministry Gathering 2008” is cosponsored by Catholic Relief Services and diocesan Catholic Charities, and it will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 5 at DeSales High School, 90 Pulteney St. in Geneva. The conference will feature issue-related and skill-development workshops on a variety of topics as well as a reflection and keynote presentation by the National Pastoral Life Center’s Jeffry Odell Korgen, author of the recent books, My Lord and My God: Engaging Catholics in Social Ministry and Solidarity Will Transform the World: Stories of Hope from Catholic Relief Services.

“We’re really excited. We thought it would be good to bring social-ministry folks together from all over the diocese. It’s always good to hear other voices,” said Ruth Putnam Marchetti, justice-and-peace coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes and Catholic Charities of Livingston and Wayne counties.

Putnam Marchetti planned the conference with Brigit Hurley, parish social-ministry coordinator for Rochester’s Catholic Family Center, and Kathy Dubel, justice-and-peace coordinator for Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler counties. The conference, which is partially funded by a small grant from Catholic Relief Services, is the first of its kind in this diocese, but organizers hope it will become an annual event, Putnam Marchetti said.

“It’s going to be both inspiring and empowering,” Hurley added.

Korgen, a well-known speaker in social-ministry circles, seemed like an appropriate choice for a keynote speaker, said Hurley, who recently read My Lord and My God.

“I read it and immediately thought, ‘We need to have him come to Rochester,'” Hurley said. “It (the book) sort of starts with Scripture and spirituality and … kind of looks at how our desire to work on justice issues come from that. We need to keep in touch with the roots of that.”

Korgen will open the conference with prayer and a reflection on Solidarity Will Transform the World. Then the group will separate for six morning workshops, which will focus on the issues of immigration and migrant ministry; the spirituality of social ministry; the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act proposed by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer; faithful citizenship; care for creation; and community building in rural parishes.

After a short lunch break, Korgen will give a keynote presentation related to his social-ministry book. Then participants will head to their skill-development workshops, which will focus on living wages; peacebuilding; implementing Public Policy Sunday; building parish social ministry; seeking global solidarity; and prison and ex-offender ministries.

Putnam Marchetti, Hurley and Dubel tried to base all of the workshops around topics that both social-ministry committees and members of the general public seem to be interested in right now, as well as topics Catholic Charities’ justice-and-peace staff have been involved with, Putnam Marchetti said. She noted that these staff members will lead the workshops with help from members of parish social-ministry committees. A few of the workshops might be cut from the final program if there is not enough interest, she added.

The conference is open to any interested individual, regardless of whether he or she is actively involved in a social-ministry committee. The conference is free, although donations to offset its costs would be gratefully accepted. Space is limited, so anyone interested in attending must register by Wednesday, March 26.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To register and learn more about “Renewing Our Spirits: Social Ministry Gathering 2008,” visit and click on the link for upcoming events or e-mail Ruth Putnam Marchetti at

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