Vision and Mission Statement
Church of St. Augustine
Ossining, New York 10562
Fr. Brian T. McSweeney, Pastor
“The Eucharist moves Christians to a commitment for justice in today’s world: The Eucharist not only provides the interior strength needed for this mission, but is also --in some places-- its plan. For the Eucharist is a mode of being, which passes from Jesus into each Christian, through whose testimony it is meant to spread throughout society and culture”.
Instrumentum Laboris, World Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, No. 78.
“Parish Communities must show by their deeds of love and justice that the Gospel they proclaim is fulfilled in their actions. This tradition is not empty theory; it challenges our priorities as a nation, our choice of Church, our values as Parishes. It has led the Church to stand with the poor and vulnerable against the strong and the powerful. It brings occasional controversy and conflict, but it also brings life and vitality to the People of God. It is a sign of our faithfulness to the Gospel”.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light
Statement of Vision
The Parish Social Ministry activities of the Church of St. Augustine shall be rooted in and informed by the Sacred Scriptures, by the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church and by the source and summit of our prayer, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
As a community of faithful believers, our prayer has a primary role in shaping our belief and in the authentic living out of the Gospel. Therefore, our motto for Parish Social Ministry at St. Augustine Parish shall be:
Lex Orandi, Lex credenti, Lex Vivendi!
Statement of Mission
The Church as the Body of Christ is in faith and action the embodiment of God’s commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). As in Christ’s time, this calls us to “hunger and thirst for justice” (Dt. 8,16) and to be peacemakers in a world of injustice, oppression and poverty. As the Body of Christ, we must reach out into our communities to serve the “least among us” (Luke 9:48)- the poor and the vulnerable. This is the work of Parish Social Ministry. This is the challenge before the faith community of St. Augustine’s Church, to live out the call each of us received at Baptism to actively participate in bringing about the reign of God.
Parish Social Ministry is informed by the great and vast tradition of Catholic social teaching. It recognizes the core principals of Catholic social teaching:
I. Life and dignity of the human person
II. Call to family, community and full and active participation
III. Rights and responsibilities of the human person
IV. Option for the poor and vulnerable
V. The Dignity of work and the rights of workers
VII. Care for God’s creation
The Parish Social Ministry activities of St. Augustine’s Church will address in concrete expressions the following:
I. Provide direct human service to individuals and families, especially persons in our Parish and/or local community who are vulnerable, sick and/or poor
II. Seek formal ways to join with those individuals, families and groups who are working for change in the conditions that cause and/or exacerbate poverty in our community and in the world
III. Through the clergy, initiate planned efforts to identify, train and develop Parish leaders to build working and effective teams around specific Parish Social Ministry activities
IV. Create and invite participation in catechesis and formation opportunities, to ensure that the Parish community understands the social teaching of our Church and that Parish Social Ministry activities remain rooted in Sacred Scripture and our Church’s teaching and tradition
V. Establish good communication systems that keep Social Ministry activities organized and the entire Parish and community connected
Description of Services/Activities
Parish Social Ministry activities at St. Augustine Church can be divided into four core areas. Each area presents an array of potential activities, which will require organization and supervision of volunteers. These activities represent the new possibilities and/or an opportunity to enhance existing Parish-sponsored outreach.
I. Works of Charity (direct assistance to the needy)
i. Food pantry program, loaves and fish soup kitchen, Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets, clothing drives, raising funds for "Birthright", participation in the "Midnight Run" homeless assistance program, sending cook teams to the St. Pio homeless shelter in the South Bronx, home visitation of the sick and elders for socialization and informal prayer; structured visitation to local Nursing Care facilities (Communion Services, supportive visitation), etc. Works of charity could also be integrated with sacramental community service requirements (e.g., Confirmation) and activities of the St. Augustine Youth Group.
i. This area of Parish Social Ministry concerns itself with the implementation of new programs (or the refocusing of existing programs) that will invite Parishioners into greater dialogue with their faith and with each other. Examples of such programs include, but are not limited to, Baptismal Preparation Program and post-Baptismal family outreach; Youth Group; Senior Center; Bereavement Support Group; Bible study/Adult Faith Formation gatherings; structured outreach to new parishioners. Parish-sponsored retreats or days/evenings of recollection, training and retreats for Lectors, Commentators, Eucharistic Ministers and Altar Servers.
III. Legislative Advocacy
i. Interested parishioners would join existing advocacy networks and engage in efforts to create or change state or federal legislation to reflect just and compassionate social policy impacting people who are vulnerable or living in poverty. This is best done in partnership with our New York State Catholic Conference and/or national Catholic organizations such as Catholic Charities USA (Social Policy Division), Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and the Department of Social Development and World Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
IV. Global Solidarity
i. Parishioners interested in peace and justice efforts, such as environmental stewardship projects, world hunger relief, healthcare for the poor to combat HIV/AIDS, TB, etc., would link with organizations such as Catholic Relief Services. Parish-based teams could be formed and report periodically to the Parish (during Mass) regarding their activities.
The continued development and implementation of the Parish Social Ministry program at St. Augustine’s will require a significant effort of time, expertise and coordination of communication. It is an ambitious project, yet a necessary endeavor for the faith development of the Parish Community.
Let us pray for success, then, through the intercession of our model of faith and witness, Blessed Mother, and through the intercession of our parish patron, St. Augustine.
Article written by: Rev. Deacon Steven A. DeMartino