Social Justice: We are called to ‘Live the Good News’
By DeKarlos Blackmon
Recently I reflected on Jesus teaching the “Our Father” to his disciples when they asked him to “teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1-13). If we close our eyes, we can see Jesus is teaching us how to grow in prayer by emphasizing the priorities of the heart and by acknowledging God as the one to whom we owe our daily nourishment, forgiveness and deliverance. Our prayer and worship reflect what we believe and determine how we live our lives. We, the people of God, also possess a marvelous charge to become visible coworkers with Christ –– we are called to live more evidently the Good News of Jesus Christ in our world!
On Nov. 5, our diocese will host the Living the Good News Conference at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin. The goal of this conference is to empower people of faith to develop a passion for life, charity and justice, and to express this passion in concrete acts of social ministry within the many local ministries and apostolates throughout the diocese. Emphasizing the Gospel message of life, peace, charity and justice, the conference is rooted not only in the beatitudes (Mt 5: 1-12), but also in the laity’s sharing in the mission of the church in the world (Lumen Gentium, 31). The conference will celebrate the culmination of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and encourage people to go forth extending Christ’s mercy on a daily basis.
There will be three major presentations, with English and Spanish offerings. The keynote speakers will focus on evangelization and ministry in terms of right relationship — building relationships between people that reflect God’s dream for us — relationships marked by mercy, compassion and mutual kinship.
In light of the Jubilee of Mercy and “Amoris Lætitia,” the speakers will articulate the call to share the Good News with new vigor in a world where so many people are searching for meaning. Keynote speakers include Joe Paprocki of Loyola Press, Ralph McCloud of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Luisa De Poo of the diocesan Pro-Life Activities Office. Paprocki, a prolific author who has more than three decades of experience in catechetical ministry, is the national consultant for faith formation at Loyola Press. McCloud, a Texas native, is the director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which aims to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives.
De Poo, the point person in the diocese for matters concerning the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, helps parishes to effectively build a culture of life and civilization of love.
The conference workshops are designed to offer meaningful formation, providing both inspirational and practical content to persons engaged in a variety of ministerial efforts and settings throughout the diocese. The day will culminate with participants gathering for Mass with Bishop Joe Vásquez, who will send forth the participants to live the Good News and “to bring glad tidings to the poor … to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and to let the oppressed go free” (Lk 4:18).
While the Living the Good News Conference is intended for catechists, Catholic school teachers, homeschool parents, and those involved in parish social ministries, Black and Hispanic ministries, pro-life ministries, criminal justice ministries, and mission awareness, we invite all to delve into what it means to serve the least among us. Catechist and teacher certification credit will be available. For more information visit www.austindiocese.org or call (512) 949-2486.