By Dr. Robbie Lloyd
Knowing where to begin in rebuilding church, school and shared faith community life in 2021 may be daunting for many people. So much has happened, and we have all been literally “locked away” for so long, how and where do we begin finding our way back to community life together?
One way to bring folks together and start is to decide on conducting an Audit. Just like accountants do for businesses and community groups each year, we can all audit our affairs and see what’s working and what may need updating, or removing.
Two activities that will really benefit from an audit approach are Social Justice and Sustainability in your area. But how do you do such things?
Simple, make a list and begin.
Catholic Social Teaching is full of concepts, values and practices that can inform your Social Justice agenda. But some simple starting points may be: (a) who in our parish region is in greatest need? including the homeless, the poor, the aged and infirm etc; (b) how are we contributing to justice for those under direct policies and programs creating suffering, such as asylum seekers and refugees, and young people getting arrested and locked up at far too early an age; and (c) how are we offering local help in response to the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Commission’s Social Justice Statement on Mental Health for 2020-21?
Once you have decided what seem prominent needs in your area, and agreed among you all as priorities, then you can apply the four way assessment criteria for action that the Justice and Peace Office uses: Action, Advocacy, Assembly and Affirming the Faith. So what Actions will you take? How will you Advocate on these issues locally and in the State and Federal political spheres? Who will you bring together to combine forces in this work? And how will you use this work to bring people of faith together remembering and celebrating that we work to serve a higher good?
Likewise, in terms of Sustainability, there are so many areas you can investigate in your own church and school, and then explore links with your local wider community. Such as:
(a) How well do we manage our energy in all our buildings? Could we “go solar” and make savings and reduce emissions? Could we join forces in our local precinct and form an energy sharing network? (b) How much do we do to “green” our local streetscapes? Could we plant gardens on the verge of the footpath and create a better environment for humans and our other neighbours, the birds, lizards and insects, and our pets? (c) What about creating a wider community shared garden for all to grow veggies, herbs and share in the joy of gardening together? (d) Is there room to expand our efforts in Reduce, Repurpose, Recycle across our precinct?
If you would to use such approaches in your plan to revive community life in your parish and or school community, the Justice and Peace Office is happy to provide collaborative, listening support and advice, knowing very well that “local knows best”.