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Justice in Action Ministry

Practices Catholic Social Teaching in action by serving those in need within our family of faith and beyond and by advocating for issues of social justice

 JAM developed in response to parishioners’ suggestions that surfaced at the 2014 Parish Forum. Our logo includes the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching as our framework for action. Catholic Social Teaching is a central and essential element of our faith that is based in scripture and has been articulated in documents by popes, councils and bishops, beginning with Pope Leo XIII in 1891. CST calls us to build relationships of love and justice, because every person has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. JAM aims to identify and plan opportunities to use our time, talent, and treasure to reach out to our fellow parishioners in need, and to those in our local community and beyond who struggle to maintain their life and dignity.

 JAM strives to:

  • answer the Gospel call to follow the way Christ
  • open our hearts and minds to others with love
  • share wisdom
  • be aware of those who are marginalized and powerless
  • be a voice for the vulnerable
  • look within ourselves to reach beyond our circle of comfort
  • discover how to make our community a more just place to live.

Monthly meetings
include education on aspects of Catholic Social Teaching, discussion of local, national, or global social justice issues and the planning of opportunities to serve the needs of others.

Projects Under Construction
In conjunction with the local Berks County office for Catholic Charities we have identified four local issues in need of advocacy and financial support. On a seasonal basis we will solicit financial donations, suggest advocacy and legislative alerts, and/or recruit volunteers to serve on projects.

Service Opportunities

  • Mifflin Court Visitation
  • Habitat for Humanity Saturday workday
  • Tutoring at St. Peter School
  • Meal Preparation at Opportunity House
  • Parish Recycling
  • Decoration of a room at Mary’s Shelter new location
  • Advocacy for issues of justice

All Are Welcome to join this ministry and/or participate in our outreach programs as they develop.  Look for the JAM Column in the parish bulletin for educational information as well as announcements of meeting dates and location, programs, and projects.

Contact person: Arlene Seeber 484-794-8027 or arleneseeber@icloud.com

“An authentic faith always implies a deep desire to change the world”
–Pope Francis, Homily on March 1, 2014 in Church of Gesu


  • Catholic Social Teaching Series- Call to Family, Community and Participation

    A Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching

    Over the next several weeks Justice in Action Ministry will offer a brief overview of the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). CST is a rich treasure of wisdom derived from the Gospels, and the words of Christ, papal statements and encyclicals, and Catholic bishops’ statements and pastoral letters. CST is central to our faith and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and dignity. We invite you to read, to ponder and to respond.

    Theme: Call to Family, Community and Participation
    The human person is not only sacred, but also social. How we organize our society- in economics, in politics, in law and policy- directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and family are the central institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and wellbeing of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. (“Catholic Teaching and Principles”, USCCB)

    Scripture: For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. (Romans 12: 4-5)

    Tradition: The first and fundamental structure for a “human ecology” is the family . . . founded on marriage, in which the mutual gift of self as husband and wife creates an environment in which children can be born and develop their potentialities, become aware of their dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny.
    (On the Hundredth Year # 39, Pope St. John II, 1991)

    To learn more go to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org).

    Pope Francis: “How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage, which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogues, especially within the context of the family.”
    (World Youth Day, July 26, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro)

    Statistical Data: According to the 2010 census married couple households now account for 48.2 percent of the state’s total households. Unmarried-partner households represented 6.6 percent of all Pennsylvania households in 2010 up from 5.0 percent in 2000. Berks County experienced a 29.9 percent increase in single parent families raising their own children.
    (Pennsylvania State Data Center)

  • Catholic Social Teaching Series- Rights and Responsibilities

    A Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
    CST is central to our faith and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and dignity. We invite you to read, to ponder and to respond.

    Theme: Rights and Responsibilities
    The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities- to one another, to our families, and to the larger society (“Catholic Teaching and Principles”, USCCB)

    Scripture: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25: 35-36)

    Tradition: A link has often been noted between claims to a “right to excess”, and even to transgression and vice, in affluent societies, and the lack of food, drinkable water, basic instruction and elementary health care in areas of the underdeveloped world and on the outskirts of large metropolitan centers. The link consists in this: individual rights, when detached from a framework of duties which grants them their full meaning, can run wild, leading to an escalation of demand which is effectively unlimited and indiscriminate.
    (Charity in Truth #43. Pope Benedict XVI, 2009)

    To learn more go to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org).

    Pope Francis: “Men and women of our postmodern world run the risk of rampant individualism, and many problems of society are connected with today’s self-centered culture of instant gratification. We see this in the crisis of family, and social ties and the difficulties of recognizing the other”. (On Care for our Common Home #162 Pope Francis, 2015)

    Statistics: 14½% of the world population (1 billion people) live in poverty- $1.25 a day
    (Development Research Group of the World Bank 2015)

    45.3 million people live in poverty in the United States, 1/3 are children
    (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014)

    13.9% of Berks County residents live below the poverty level and 38.7% of the city of Reading residents live below the poverty level. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013)

    1% of the global population owns 48% of global wealth while the least well off (80%) own just 5.5% (Oxfam report at Davos 2015).

  • Catholic Social Teaching Series- Options for the Poor and the Vulnerable

    A Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
    CST is central to our faith and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and dignity. We invite you to read, to ponder and to respond.

    Theme: Options for the Poor and the Vulnerable
    A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Matt 25: 31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
    (“Catholic Teaching and Principles”, USCCB)

    Scripture: Open your mouth in behalf of the dumb, and for the rights of the destitute; Open your mouth, decree what is just, defend the needy and the poor! (Proverbs 31: 8-9)

    Tradition: The premier purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. It is to enable all persons to share in and contribute to the common good. The “option for the poor,” therefore, is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons. These wounds will be healed only by greater solidarity with the poor and among the poor themselves.
    (Economic Justice for All #88, USCCB, 1986)

    Pope Francis: This is why I want a Church, which is poor for the poor. They have much to teach us. Not only do they share in the sensus fidei, but also in their difficulties they know the suffering of Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them. The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in their lives and to put them at the center of the Church’s pilgrim way. We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom, which God wishes to share with us through them. (The Joy of The Gospel #198, 2013)

    Statiscal Data: About 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Almost all the hungry people; 791 million, live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing countries. There are 11 million people undernourished in developed countries (The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2015)

    86.0 percent (106.6 million) of U.S. households were food secure throughout 2014. 14.0 percent (17.4 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some time during 2014.
    (US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, 2015)

    Berks County experienced 11.3% food insecurity rate or 46,680 individuals 2012-2014.
    (Feeding America, 2015)

  • Catholic Social Teaching Series – Care for Creation

    A Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
    CST is central to our faith and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and dignity. We invite you to read, to ponder and to respond.


    Theme: Care for Creation
    We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.
    (“Catholic Teaching and Principles”, USCCB)

    Scripture: The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. (Genesis 2: 15) Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens, belong to the Lord, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it. (Deuteronomy 10:14)

    Tradition: Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism and which is closely connected to it. In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way . . . . Man, who discovers his capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through his own work, forgets that this is always based on God’s prior and original gift of the things that are. Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray. Instead of carrying out his role as a co-operator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him.
    (On the Hundredth Year #37, St. John Paul II, 1991

    To learn more go to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org).

    Pope Francis: All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.
    (On Care for Our Common Home #10, 2015)

    Statistical Data: In 2013 Americans generated 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted over 87 million tons of material, equivalent to a 34.3% recycling rate.
    (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2015)

    The recyclable materials in the U.S. waste stream would generate over $7 billion if they were recycled. That’s equivalent to Donald Trump’s net worth. Used aluminum cans are recycled and back on the shelf as new cans in as few as 60 days. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours. (Keep America Beautiful, 2009)

  • Catholic Social Teaching Series – Solidarity

    A Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
    CST is central to our faith and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and dignity. We invite you to read, to ponder and to respond

    Theme: Solidarity

    We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace. Pope Paul VI taught that “if you want peace, work for justice.” The Gospel calls us to be peacemakers. Our love for all our sisters and brothers demands that we promote peace in a world surrounded by violence and conflict.
    (“Catholic Teaching and Principles”, USCCB)

    Scripture: But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. (1Corinthians 12: 24b-26)

    Tradition: Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all. (On Social Concern #38, St. John Paul 11, 1987)

    To learn more go to the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org).

    Pope Francis: With due respect for the autonomy and culture of every nation, we must never forget that the planet belongs to all mankind and is meant for all mankind; the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity. . . . To speak properly of our own rights, we need to broaden our perspective and to hear the pleas of other peoples and other regions than those of our own country. We need to grow in a solidarity, which would allow all peoples to become the artisans of their destiny, since, every person is called to self-fulfillment. (The Joy of the Gospel # 190, 2013)

    Statistical Data: Most recent available figures include 15.4 million internationally displaced refugees and 937,000 asylum seekers, as well as 28.8 million people forced to flee their homes within their own countries. As many as 55% of these refugees come from only five countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan. Pakistan hosts the most refugees with 1.7 million. The second and third leading countries to host refugees at the end of 2011 were Iran and Syria. The 2011 report is the most recent one available and may not reflect the current crisis in Syria. More than 4 million refugees have fled Syria since the war there began in 2011. Almost 1.8 million have gone to Turkey, more than 600,000 to Jordan and 1 million to Lebanon – a country whose population is just 4 million. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)

    The U.S. President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, the ceiling is 70,000. (American Immigration Council, 2015)

  • Catholic Social Teaching Series – Life and Dignity of the Human Person

    A Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
    CST is central to our faith and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and dignity. We invite you to read, to ponder and to respond

    Theme: Life and Dignity of the Human Person
    The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or terrorist attacks is always wrong. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war. Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. (“Catholic Teaching and Principles”, USCCB)

    My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him, revile him not in the fullness of your strength. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten. (Sirach 3: 122-14a)

    Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are.
    (On the Hundredth Year # 11, Pope St. John II, 1991)

    Pope Francis:
    “In a frail human being, each one of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh experienced the indifference and solitude to which we so often condemn the poorest of the poor, whether in developing countries or in wealthy societies. Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection. And every elderly person – I spoke of children: let us move to the elderly, another point! And every elderly person, even if he is ill or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the “culture of waste” suggests! They cannot be thrown away!” (Address to Meeting of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations 9/20/13)

    Statistical Data: For most nations, regardless of their geographic location or developmental stage, the 80 or over age group is growing faster than any younger segment of the older population. (Population Division, DESA, United Nations) More than 900,000 people nationwide live in assisted living settings. (National Center for Assisted Living 2008). In the U.S physician assisted death (PAD) has been legalized in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont. PAD has been approved but not yet implemented in California.

  • Catholic Social Teaching Series- The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

    A Brief Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
    CST is central to our faith and is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and dignity. We invite you to read, to ponder and to respond

    Theme: The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
    The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected – the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative. (“Catholic Teaching and Principles”, USCCB)

     Scripture: You shall not defraud a poor and needy hired servant, whether he be one of your own countrymen or one of the aliens who live in your communities. You shall pay him each day’s wages before sundown on the day itself, since he is poor and looks forward to them. Otherwise he will cry to the Lord against you, and you will be held guilty. (Deuteronomy 24: 14-15)

     Tradition: In many cases, poverty results from a violation of the dignity of human work, either because work opportunities are limited (through unemployment or underemployment), or because a low value is put on work and the rights that flow from it, especially the right to a just wage and to the personal security of the worker and his or her family.” (Charity in Truth, #63, Benedict XVI, 2009)
    To learn more go to www.usccb.org

    Pope Francis: Work — I repeat, in its many forms — is proper to the human person. It expresses the dignity of being created in the image of God. Thus, it is said that work is sacred. And thus, managing one’s occupation is a great human and social responsibility, which cannot be left in the hands of the few or unladen onto some divinized “market”. Causing the loss of jobs means causing serious harm to society. It makes me sad to see people without work, who don’t find work and don’t have the dignity of bringing bread home. And I rejoice greatly when I see governments go to great lengths to find jobs and try to see to it that everyone has work. Work is sacred; work gives dignity to a family. We have to pray that no family is left without work.(General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 19 August 2015)

     Statistical Data: Qatar has the lowest unemployment rate at .3% and Mauritania has the highest unemployment rate at 30.9% (International Labor Organization)

    USA unemployment rate for September 2015: 5.1% (US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics).

    Commonwealth of Pennsylvania unemployment rate for August 2015: 5.4% (PA Department of Labor and Industry).

    Berks County unemployment rate for August 2015: 5.1% (US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics).

    City of Reading unemployment rate for August 2015: 5.1% (US Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Justice in Action Ministry: Focus on Homlessness

    Justice in Action Ministry: Focus on Homelessness
     National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness campaign occurs this month, November 14-22. Throughout November JAM will focus on homelessness and how we as a parish might respond to this social problem in our local community.

     How many people are homeless?
    Today, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate shelter around the world; 1 billion of those live in informal settlements. More than 100 million people worldwide are homeless.

    About one in four people live in conditions that harm their health, safety, prosperity and opportunities. (Habitat for Humanity, 2015)

    The Point in Time Count (PIT) is conducted on the last Wednesday of January. It is a HUD initiative that attempts to capture a snapshot of homelessness on a single night every year. In the United States on a single night in January 2014, 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness—meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2015)

    On the last Wednesday in January, this past year, Berks County had 600 individuals and families staying in emergency shelter, transitional housing, or unsheltered. (Berks Coalition to End Homelessness, 2015)

    What are the causes of homelessness?
    For those living in poverty or close to the poverty line, an “everyday” life issue that may be manageable for individuals with a higher income can be the final factor in placing them on the street. A broken down vehicle, a lack of vehicle insurance, or even unpaid tickets might be just enough to render someone homeless. Causes of homelessness can include: a life altering event or series of events such as, loss of a loved one, job loss, domestic violence, divorce and family disputes, depression, untreated mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder physical disabilities, disabling accident or serious illness that depletes funds, foreclosures, natural disasters, war and civil unrest.

  • Catholic Social Teaching on Refugees

    Catholic Social Teaching on Refugees

    A refugee is a person forced to flee his or her country who cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on that individual’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
    (UN High Commissioner for Refugees)

    Our Savior himself lived as a refugee because his own land was not safe. “The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’” (Matthew 2: 13)

    “This atmosphere of welcoming is increasingly necessary in confronting today’s diverse forms of distancing ourselves from others. This is profoundly evidenced in the problem of millions of refugees and exiles, in the phenomenon of racial intolerance as well as intolerance toward the person whose only “fault” is a search for work and better living conditions outside his own country, and in the fear of all who are different and thus seen as a threat. “
    (John Paul II, Welcoming the Poor: Reigniting Hope, Origins 27:36 (February 26, 1998): p. 605)

     Pope Francis
    “Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions . . . . We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12). (9/24/15 Visit to the Congress of the United States of America)

    More than 800,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean so far this year, fleeing war, persecution and violence in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries. (UN High Commissioner for Refugees)