The call to family comes from our creation in the image and likeness of the Triune God who in Himself is “relationship.” The family is the first natural society where individuals learn to be human, learn to trust, learn to love, learn to care for others and learn to give of self. Marriage is the foundation of family. Family is the place where community first grows. Strong families are essential to strong societies.
Community flows from the communion of family out into the world. Community encompasses fraternal, political, religious communities as well as the local and the international community. Community rightly ordered embraces cooperative efforts that serve the common good.
Individuals, families and parishes are called to be actively engaged in society ordering and transforming society according to God’s principles for the common good, in line with human dignity, the primacy of the family, subsidiarity and with a preferential option for the poor.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? ... You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. ...let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
“A society built on a family scale is the best guarantee against drifting off course into individualism or collectivism, because within the family the person is always at the center of attention as an end and never a means. It is patently clear that the good of persons and the proper functioning of society are closely connected ‘with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.’ Without families that are strong in their communion and stable in their commitment peoples grow weak. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, article 213)
“The goal which believers must put before themselves is that of establishing community relationships among people. The Christian vision of political society places paramount importance on the value of community, both as a model for organizing life in society and as a style of everyday living.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, article 392)See AlsoExamples of call to family, community and participationLograr el equilibrio trabajo-vida sin perder un paso
“The essential characteristic of the lay faithful who work in the Lord’s vineyard is the secular nature of their Christian discipleship, which is carried out precisely in the world. “It belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, article 541)
Story from our St. John Street Campus: The Call to Family, Community and Participation
Humility: We recognize that in our service we must have a willingness to do what is necessary.
We do not seek our own recognition but rejoice in the success of our cooperative efforts.
- CCA Statement of Core Values
Here at CCA we seek to live out the call to family, community and participation in the particular ways in which we serve our clients, active donor engagement, volunteer opportunities that welcome groups and families and also the valuing of family in internal policy.
CCA’s Msgr. Sigur Center demonstrates our response to this theme of social doctrine by recognizing that each of our clients is a member of a nuclear family as a child, a brother, a sister, a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, an aunt, an uncle or a cousin. As such, an important part of the work of the Msgr. Sigur Center is to help our clients build bridges with their main system of support which is generally their family.
Named after Fr. Sigur, the Msgr. Sigur Center was officially established in 1984 to offer resources for individuals and families in financial crisis. An unexpected funeral, a disability, an accident or a major illness among other things can narrow or entirely close the gap between homelessness and housing. Emergency financial assistance helps to enable individuals to provide for urgent needs of their households when forced into a situation that might make them unable to do this.
On occasion, individuals will come to Catholic Charities of Acadiana requesting shelter. However, after further inquiry it is clear that what is needed is not necessarily shelter, but reparation of the relationships that form their natural support system. In these instances, our case workers seek to support the family unit and aid healing in broken relationships which often reduces or entirely eliminates the experience of homelessness.
Again, on occasion, individuals from out of town come seeking shelter. The reasons are varied: perhaps they relocated with the promise of a job and when they relocated, the promised job fell through. Or, perhaps, an individual relocates because of a relationship, but the relationship falls through. If there is little or no “safety net” of material resources in these sorts of situations, homelessness can occur. The best solution to the critical need in these instances is not shelter, but working to get an individual back to home towns and places of natural support. The Msgr. Sigur Center’s Diversion program is crucial here.
Recognizing that homelessness is a trauma that does not only affect singles, the Emily House provides shelter for women and families. Rooms in the Emily House are designed so that family units can stay together during their experience of homelessness. Caseworkers work diligently to re-house individuals and families as quickly as possible, to maintain children in proper schooling and to aid individuals and families in establishing themselves to sufficiently care for their families.
The burial Mass for the unclaimed is another way that we at CCA live out our response to the Gospel and social doctrine of the Church. A number of years ago, CCA was approached with the fact that there were deceased individuals at the local morgue that had never been claimed. Efforts were made, first, to seek out any family that the individuals may have had locally or in another state. For those that remained unclaimed, in response to our Gospel call to bury the dead, CCA established a Burial Mass for the Unclaimed. Taken up now by the Cathedral of St. John and established also at St. Peter Catholic Church in New Iberia and St Mary Magdalene in Abbeville, this charitable work of the Church is a beautiful response to our call to family, community and participation.
Finally, in all of our programs we regularly witness families coming together to serve in our programs. Family units respond in compassion, leveraging their intelligence to creatively and generously meet the needs of our clients: a lemonade drive raising $1,000 for St. Joseph Diner (dreamed up, branded and excellently marketed by a 10 year old and his engaged parents); an annual donation of over 20 smoked-turkeys at Thanksgiving - purchased, prepared, and smoked in personally-owned equipment by a family unit and friends; chore money earned, collected, and given by an 8 year old whose mother set up a system for her success in charity; supply drives organized by family units and community entities that meet the real needs of the clients we serve; church families (Catholic and non-Catholic) committed to giving regular volunteer service and regular monetary donations in support of our programs, “In Memoriam” donations in honor of loved ones who have passed. So, very many stories...
In conclusion, St. Iranaeus said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.” I encourage you today to become fully alive as you seek, with us, to bring our call to family, community and participation into your own life and into the fabric of our society.
Taking It To the World Around You:
● Go for a walk or jog around the block and pray for marriages and families
● For the repair of damaged family relationships
● Fast from social media this week and instead pick up the phone, have a conversation or engage in volunteer service with another at St. Joseph Diner, Stella Maris Hygiene Center, Rebuilding Together, or FoodNet.
● Fast from the couch! Instead of sitting this week, when you want to be passive, choose instead to actively engage in something that will bring life to your relationships, home, parish and community
● Consider giving alms to the Msgr. Sigur Center to aid individuals and families in crisis
● Organize a donation drive within your place of work etc. briefly share with others why you’ve chosen to drive
Hungry for More?
From the Bible:
1 Peter 2:9-10
1 Peter 4:8-11
Make Friends with the Saints: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is a stunning example of family, community, and participation. American, married, wealthy, a mother, widowed, impoverished, a convert to Catholicism, called after widowhood to establish a religious order... check out the life of this remarkable Saint whose motto was “Despite all obstacles, yet go forward.”
Study the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1877-1927, 2196-2400
Read from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church
Chapter 5 (The Family, the vital cell of society)
Chapter 8 (The political community)
Chapter 9 (The International Community)
Chapter 12 (Social Doctrine and Ecclesial Action)
Catholic Relief Services: