About the Peace & Justice Committee
The Roman Catholic communities of Holy Trinity and St. Helen’s in Westfield, NJ, recently examined how they met the challenges of Catholic social teachings. We learned that our parishes play an important role in the life of Westfield and its surrounding communities. We respond to the Gospel message by feeding the hungry, comforting the afflicted and finding shelter for the homeless. We have vigorous social action programs that respond to these and other social needs. But we thought these programs may not be enough!
Social action programs essentially have philanthropy at their core. They manifest themselves through financial donations, contributions of services and products or some combination of the two. These programs frequently include partnerships designed to intensify the impact of the parishes’ commitment to the social issues and the organizations involved. These action programs rarely cure the underlying social issue.
Social justice programs also address many of the same issues as social action programs, such as homelessness, hunger, Fair Trade, the environment, and so forth. However, justice programs seek to change the root causes of social ills. You not only feed the hungry; you also seek ways to change the systems that contribute to hunger.
To encourage such change when needed, parishioners from Holy Trinity and St. Helen’s have organized a committee with the mission to help educate other parishioners about the social relevance of the Gospels and the social teachings of the Church and to provide them with opportunities to engage in social justice activities.
We hope to help parishioners engage in the public forum by advocating the principles of Catholic Social Teaching in the economic, political and social decisions made in our community, state, nation and world. These principles, drawn from the Gospels and explained by the Church, offer Catholics a way to live their faith to the fullest.
"Literally, every human being on the planet now has to enter the struggle for justice and peace if humanity is to survive", Fr. John Dear in "They Will Inherit the Earth" Orbis Books 2018.