Two Feet of Love in Action

By: Christine Dragonette

“I was recently talking with a volunteer who had been stuck on the phone for over an hour trying to get through to a Louisiana Department of Health representative. She shared her frustration that the person she was sitting with had no clear route to get the birth certificate he so desperately needed in order to obtain a Missouri state government-issued photo ID. Meanwhile, he had a secure job offer, provided he could present two forms of identification.

Here at St. Francis Xavier College Church, our main social ministry program facilitates access to Missouri State IDs and birth certificates from any state, mostly for people experiencing homelessness, poverty, significant barriers to securing good jobs, safe housing, health care, and more. Getting their official government documents is just one hurdle to overcome. I am fortunate to work with dedicated volunteers, mostly parishioners of College Church, who are called to action each week by the injustices they catch a glimpse of every day. Each time volunteers are stuck on the phone or frustrated by how difficult it is to help a program guest find a safe place to stay that night, they are galvanized into action. Our new parish advocacy committee grew from volunteers who are fired up to find solutions to many of the injustices faced by guests of our direct program.

Our Church is called to put “two feet of love in action,” as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops term it. We meet direct needs through charitable works and seek systemic change through social justice advocacy. Catholic parishes and organizations in St. Louis offer food pantries, shelter, and rental assistance, while other groups fight to combat hunger, homelessness, and poverty. In my own experience, I find that my or others’ direct experience is often a motivator for seeking large scale, systemic change.

Right now, many of us throughout the Archdiocese feel worried and grief-stricken by a future that seems so uncertain. While it’s true that many of the changes in store will be painful, the Gospel call to put our faith into action by charitable works and social justice remains. How might we acknowledge our pain, while also taking this opportunity of great change to create the Church and wider community that we want to see? Times of turmoil can be an impetus for moving into action if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.”

All Things New is an initiative that will evaluate the effectiveness of the Church in St. Louis in proclaiming the Gospel and will identify opportunities for improvement and renewal within all parishes, schools and curia offices and agencies. When we become better stewards of God’s gifts, we can improve our social outreach efforts with help from people like Christine.

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