Life can get busy. There are increasing work commitments and time pressures, our families and friends need attention and there can seem very little time to just be, and breathe. Within the Catholic tradition, taking time to reflect and connect with oneself is important. It provides an opportunity to stop, breathe and remember what is important. Given the particular strain that can impact those of us working in Catholic social services, we strongly encourage making time and space to stop and reflect on the deeper questions.
An invitation to reflecting during our time of COVID-19
Many of our Catholic social services organisations were set up by women and men who understood that their faith called them to accompany and work with individuals or groups of disadvantaged people — and to move for changes to the conditions that perpetuate this disadvantage. Our organisations’ roots and work come out of the Catholic tradition, and our work today continues to play a key role in the mission of the Church — fulfilling the Gospel imperative to stand and serve people who are placed in situations of disadvantaged, those who are experiencing poverty and hardship.
There has been incredible adaption by every one of our member organisations during this time of COVID. Some work has not been able to continue, some programs have been re-imagined, and the creativity and commitment to finding ways of delivering services and connection in spite of the challenges has been inspirational. Difficult decisions have been made, sometimes on a daily basis, and as the crisis continues this remains a core challenge, especially for you who have particular responsibility to look after the mission of your organisation, staff, and those your seek to assist.
The principles of Catholic social teaching and thought emerge in different ways in our work, and the guidance and wisdom that these principles bring — both explicitly and implicitly — influence and should be at the heart of our decision making and the way in which we ‘do’ things.
The CSSV Catholic Ethos and Identity Committee has prepared a reflection for you, and as you see fit, your staff:‘Remembering Our ‘Why’ in the Midst of COVID-19’.
It is our hope that this reflection will provide an opportunity to think deeply about why and how we ‘do’ social services, and to also reflect upon how we can best move forward from this time. What have our learnings been? The challenges? How has Catholic social teaching been a part of decision making and processes? Has there been a very practical action that your organisation has taken that has been effective in guiding decision making or capturing staff creativity? How have you kept your organisations’ mission and values in front of mind during this difficult and complex time?
As you read and ponder this reflection, and perhaps share it with your staff or board in a group setting, please take note of the responses and email your thoughts, reflections and organisational actions to CSSV’s Catholic Ethos and Identity Committee Member Deacon Mark Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org who will collate these into a coherent document that can be shared within our network.
We hope to create a number of resources that will assist in navigating the future, to share practical and existential learnings from large and small organisations, the highs and the lows, that will help us move forward in a strengthened, collaborative, and deeply informed way, grounded in the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and our collective wisdom to respond to the needs of our time.
I know many of you are time poor and are in the midst of responding to numerous challenges and issues, but moments of reflection are important – I would encourage you to take and use this opportunity to reflect and share with others beyond your organisation. Please be in touch with any questions.
Executive Director, Catholic Social Services Victoria