Bi-Annual Archdiocesan Social Justice Gatherings
As part of our work supporting social justice ministries and groups, every year, we organise two Archdiocesan Social Justice Gatherings, which bring together people who are interested in social justice. The gathering provides a space for people from across Sydney to come together to share their work for justice as well to participate in workshops and talks on specific social justice issues. It is a great place for new and established social justice groups to meet others, get new skills and learn about current issues or campaigns. They are usually held in April and October each year. Subscribe to our newsletter or keep an eye on our Facebook page to receive updates and an invitation.
Starting or reinvigorating a social justice ministry?
Have a look at our Toward a Social Justice Group which is a booklet to assist you in establishing a social justice group in a parish, school or wherever people of goodwill gather. It is designed to be a helpful introductory resource in response to the question “What can I do and how?”
If you are interested in starting a Social Justice ministry, contact us! We’ve provided a basic introduction below but we run training workshops, can speak at Mass or other parish gathering and can provide support and advice. We can come to you and tailor our training and support to your needs. We’d love to hear from you and to explore ways in which we can work together and support you and your parish in this mission to serve God and His people.
Getting started or continuing on: a basic how-to guide
It is foundational to the Gospel message that to be a Christian, to follow Jesus, is to be concerned for our brothers and sisters and the world in which we live. We live in a world where people often experience a great injustice and lack of peace. The distribution of wealth continues to polarize to fewer and fewer people. Nations and militant minorities continue to make war, fuelled by the free sale of armaments around the world. We continue to treat our planet in a way that utilises its resources without concern for future generations. A social justice group is a step towards responding to these challengesAny group requires a driving force and commitment. Who are those in our midst who are;
- Passionate about justice
- Committed to working with others
- Connected within our community
- Prayerful and thoughtful
- Prophetic (attentive to the signs of the times)
Having identified leaders it is then necessary to build our group which is best achieved through personal invitation. Community leaders can often help identify those who would be willing to join over the long term or those with special interest or skill in a particular issue that the group is working on. This connects our social justice work to our parish and helps make the group dynamic as well as building community in the parish. The model we see in the Gospel is Jesus identifying with those in need. He embraced the poor and the marginalised, he listened to their stories, he healed them with his touch.
It is important that our groups are relational; that is to say we need to take the time to get to know each other. Genuine sharing can only take place when we are prepared to listen with our hearts as well as with our ears. It is vital to spend time together in prayer and in building your relationships within the group.
Too often we live in a world of “doing” and we become task oriented. A social justice group may not effect dramatic change on the outside but sometimes the biggest changes come in the participants. We become more enlightened, we become more understanding and we become more tolerant. Raising consciousness of justice issues is itself an action.
All work for justice needs to be responsive to the needs of people. Therefore listening is core business for any social justice ministry. Listen to your parish, involve your parish priest and listen to your broader communities. This means we will need to go outside our Catholic community and meet with groups like the local council, the neighbourhood drop-in centre, land care group.
If you would like a training workshop, contact the Justice and Peace Office and we will come to you. In doing so we can look at strategies and ways to establish, reinvigorate or support your group
The information below should provide a guide on how to organise an effective meeting, especially for new groups.
Before the First Meeting
- Organise a venue, time (generally no more than 1 hour) and if needed, catering.
- Send out invitations to members and people interested in joining.
- Prepare the agenda for the evening
- If working with a team, delegate roles for the meeting including, time keeper, note taker, chair
- A sample agenda may look like this:
- Opening Prayer/Reflection
- Relationship building question e.g Share a time when you witnessed/experience in injustice in the last week.
- Justice News e.g opportunity to share about current
- Reading/Exploring an Issue
- Next Steps
- Final Comments
- Updates/Events/Whats going on local in this area?
- Confirm next meeting date/actions
- Closing Prayer
At the Meeting
- Stick to the times allocated for each agenda item (Good meetings start on time and end on time)
- Facilitate discussion to ensure that discussion remain on topic
- Remind people that this is a safe space to share
- Provide an outline of the agenda
- Note taking/minutes
After the Meeting
- Spend time to debrief the session
- Be accountable to any actions which need to be carried out before the next meeting
Finding an issue or problem to work on
- Identify the issue
- What is the cause?
- Who is affected?
- Why is it important?
- The most important part of the research process is to involve your parish and/or local community. You can’t know what problems your community is experiencing or passionate about working on unless you engage them. Consider hosting an evening of ‘table talks’ – contact us and we can help you do this; or run a series of surveys at Masses over a few weeks to ask people what they care about, what are the pressures and problems they’re facing in their everyday lives.
- It is often important to gather information around our concerns. This may mean contacting organisations working in the area, gathering statistics or searching reliable internet sites. It will also mean listening to people – people who work in the area you’re interested in; and most importantly the people affected by the problem or issue you’re seeking to address. Our research pages are a good place to start.
- What light do the Scriptures bring?
- How do the principles of Catholic Social Teaching influence the view we have?
- Is there anything we can do as a group to have a positive influence?
- What is a realistic action and what would success look like?
- How can we call on the skills and passions of people in the parish?
- Who else is working in this space? How can we contribute and connect?
Some of the broad issues a social justice group may address include:
- Homelessness and housing issues
- Domestic Violence
- Work opportunities and working conditions
- Peace and conflict
- Human slavery and trafficking
- Gender equality
- Access to healthcare
- Caring for creation and ecological issues
- Indigenous peoples
- Quality of life and fairness for people living with disability
- Quality and equitable access to education