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For Christians, Lent is a time of repentance, and of preparation for our special annual commemoration of the heart of the Christian message: that our God, in Christ, became human as we are, that he conquered sin and death, and asks us to love him as he loved us. Repentance requires a change in a person – it requires that they develop a new understanding of their actions and themselves. This change in us should make a difference to the people we encounter, and to the society that we are part of.
Volunteering is a precious free resource made available by generous people for the benefit of others, for the Church and our communities. It is giving one's time and personal resources in the service of others. In this it is close to the heart of the Scriptures, where service runs deeply through the history of God's relationship with his people. Are we making the most of this resource, or can we do better?
Competition and efficiently working markets have their role to play, but collaboration not competition, mission not markets should be the drivers of social service delivery in the 21st century, according to a recent article by Denis Fitzgerald from Catholic Social Services Victoria. Related to this, faith-based bodies can only achieve their potential in service and advocacy and be true to their prophetic calling if they also develop and advance a new vision of a society that would be informed by the needs of all.
Click here for a reflection from Anne Astin on some broader trends and developments - in international development – food supply, affluence and trade – and on challenges and issues for Catholic social services. These were part of a presentation to a planning day for Catholic Social Services Victoria on 9 December 2016.
Welcoming of refugees, loving care for those who are dying,
standing up for rehabilitation of young people in detention, focusing on
our common humanity and not differences in religion or nationality: not
the sort of headlines that we see around the world these days. But that is what Christians are called to do. Catholic social services work to build a society where these values are the norm.
Click here for a reflection from Helen Cooney, who asks who are the vulnerable people in our changing environment. This is based on remarks from Helen, a member of Council at Catholic Social Services Victoria, to a December 2016 planning day.
Click here to listen to Fiona Basile reflecting on photography, faith and life: we are fortunate that, among other things, Fiona assists with communications at Catholic Social Services Victoria
We need to focus on the availability of safe, affordable and secure housing, rather than vilify people who don’t have adequate access to housing. Many of these people need a safe, affordable home in a friendly community, and some need decent regular work. Others need specialist attention. We are not talking about rubbish that needs to be 'cleaned out'.
But comment and media coverage of rough sleepers in Melbourne has tended to focus on the short term. Victorian homelessness, housing and social services organisations have responded.
Denis Fitzgerald reflects on a suggestion from John Allen
that in Pope Francis we have ‘in flesh
and bone, a Magna Carta for Catholic social services.’
Denis Fitzgerald outlines Pope Francis' Message for the 50th World Day of Peace, on 1 January 2017, which focuses on the centrality of non-violence, within the home as well as between nations.
Denis Fitzgerald outlines Pope Paul VI's key contributions towards enshrining working for world peace as a priorityfor the international community.