Fall forum focuses on engaging world through eyes of faith

| Marty Roers for The Catholic Spirit | October 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

Some say the “best kept secret” in the Catholic Church is Catholic social teaching. But what can happen when a parish reads, studies, and truly lets the rich teaching of the Church inform the conversations in the faith community?

Members of the social justice commission at St. Patrick in Edina challenged themselves by studying and engaging with Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical, “Charity in Truth.” The text challenged them to look at the world around them through the eyes of faith.  Their conversations about the encyclical raised questions, led to experiential explorations about the reality of poverty and injustices in the local community, and transformed the way they looked at their personal lives, their faith community, and the world around them.

The fruits of this several year process culminated in a special Fall Forum Oct. 16 where the parish community was challenged to discuss the question, “How can I help create a more equitable economy?” in light of our faith and the Church’s social teaching.

More than 200 attended the simple box-dinner forum and were engaged and inspired by the parish social justice commission’s collective pursuit for deeper understanding of our faith and desire to have a community conversation on the teachings of the Church.

“Hopefully, the evening will galvanize some action — we certainly tried to lay out a range of options with our guest presenters,” said Bob Hobbins, chair of the social justice commission.

“Every economic decision has a moral consequence,” said keynote speaker Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA and author of “Think and Act Anew.”

“Our budgets are moral documents because lives will be affected,” he said. The forum encouraged participants to examine how they can create a more ethical and equitable economy as citizens, consumers, investors, entrepreneurs and, most important as people of faith.

Panel respondent Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Amata Miller, professor of economics at St. Catherine University, said, “We know how to get rid of poverty, not just alleviate poverty. But if we know how to do it, then we need to ask why are we not doing it.”

Sister Miller challenged participants to examine priorities by putting the needs of others and the common good first; looking at their lifestyle through a lens if this helps or hinders a more ethical life; changing our priorities as a matter of conversion, and creating a new economic order that strengthens non-profits, and questions who gains or loses in our government budgets by changing laws.

The forum highlighted “what our [Catholic] tradition holds to what is right,” according to Father Snyder. Workshops included “Education as a Hand Up, not a Hand Out” presented by Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Risen Christ School; “Social Entrepreneurship: Doing Business to Do Good” with Finnegans and The Lift Garage; and “Calling our Community to Justice Advocacy,” with Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The Fall Forum at St. Patrick was a reminder that Catholic social teaching invites us all as people of faith to read the signs of the times and to create a future rooted in justice by focusing on the mission of Christ.

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Category: Local