Social ministry gathering in Elmira to focus on poor - Catholic Courier

Social ministry gathering in Elmira to focus on poor

In past years, parish petition-signers on diocesan Public Policy Weekend may have wished they were better aware of the issues to which they lent their names. Folks in the Southern Tier will get an advance opportunity in the form of a Winter Refresher for Social Ministers.

The event will take place Saturday, Jan. 29, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Catholic Charities, 215 E. Church St., Elmira. Those active in parish and school social ministry are especially encouraged to participate, yet attendance is open to anyone who is interested. There is no fee, but a free-will offering will be accepted for lunch. Catholic Charities is wheelchair accessible. Register by Jan. 26 by calling 607-734-9784, ext. 2135; or e-mailing Kathy Dubel, Catholic Charities’ justice-and-peace director for Chemung, Schuyler and Tioga counties, at

"Working Out of Poverty/Option for the Poor" will serve as the meeting’s theme. This also is the diocesan Public Policy Committee’s advocacy priority in 2010-11, as well as the focus for its annual parish petition-signing on Public Policy Weekend, Feb. 12-13.

Among the scheduled Winter Refresher presenters:

  • Andrea Mattoon, grants manager for Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler; and Angela Klopf, director of Tioga Rural Outreach in Waverly. These Catholic Charities staff members will share the experiences of impoverished families who reside in their regions.
  • Scott Rutan, a Public Policy Committee member who has been involved in parish and diocesan ministry for nearly 30 years. He will reflect on the option for the poor in Jesus’ life and ministry.
  • Chris Burger, chair of the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition. He will talk about well-being through jobs as a way out of poverty.

The current Public Policy Committee advocacy effort seeks to minimize state budget cuts for programs serving the needy and supporting low-income workers, such as initiatives that provide access to transportation to jobs, job training and education. According to information provided on the diocesan website (, these types of programs are vital during a time when the rate of child poverty in Rochester is among the highest in the country; rural poverty in the diocese is reflected in a lack of decent housing, services and job opportunities; and our economic recession is so acute that poverty has spread to the suburbs through job loss and home foreclosures.

In addition to protecting services and programs for the economically disadvantaged, the Public Policy Committee is promoting two educational priorities in 2010-11: opposition to the Reproductive Health Act and energy and climate issues.

The Reproductive Health Act stands in stark contrast to Catholic teaching by seeking to ensure legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. It also would make abortion immune to any state regulation or restriction, including parental notification for abortions performed on minors, restrictions on taxpayer funding for abortion and informed-consent requirements for pregnant women.

Energy and climate awareness stems from scientific findings that the earth’s climate is being altered, with human activity being the likely cause and possibly resulting in many dangerous climate changes.The Public Policy Committee also contends that energy production and consumption are strongly related to these concerns.

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