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Social Justice

The purpose of the Diocesan Social Justice Ministry Office is to equip and support parishioners in understanding the call we each have toward the work of Social Justice. To see the fulfillment of our Baptismal call closely intertwined with the conditions of the poor, the workers and the destitute. To bring about a society where it is "easier for people to do good." We do this by creating spaces for better understanding, fostering opportunities for people to encounter the poor among them and respond, and subsequently making the voice of the Church more present in the severe situations of our communities, representing our values through word and deed in the public discourse.

The Fort Wayne Solidarity Network: "So that No One Stands Alone"

“Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble. For Christians, the migrant is not merely an individual to be respected in accordance with the norms established by law, but a person whose presence challenges them and whose needs become an obligation for their responsibility. ‘What have you done to your brother? (cf. Gn 4:9)’ The answer should not be limited to what is imposed by law, but should be made in the manner of solidarity.” 

- Saint John Paul II

The Diocese of Fort Wayne South Bend, in collaboration with the Northeast Indiana Congregation Action Network (NE-ICAN), is building a “ministry of presence” through which people of faith can stand in solidarity with their neighbors facing fear, intimidation, and uncertainty in their moments of greatest vulnerability. 

By the end of this summer, individuals and families in Fort Wayne who are confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or who have difficult encounters with local law enforcement will be able to call an emergency number for on-site support from trained Solidarity Network leaders within five minutes of the call. The Network hopes to prepare 125 leaders in multiple roles to work the hotline, including bi-lingual dispatchers, rapid responders, accompaniment teams, and more. Rapid responders will act as moral and legal observers, while accompaniment teams will connect impacted families to legal and social services and work with them to determine an appropriate public response.

The Fort Wayne region will be the first to pilot the hotline and rapid response system, but parishes and faith leaders from communities throughout Northeast Indiana who would like to launch this resource in their community are also invited. Over time, this hotline will enable the Diocese and the “Northeast Congregation Action Network” to better document practices of ICE agents and law enforcement across the state. Rapid responders will capture incident data, record video stories and document real-time reports that will be used to identify patterns over time and equip communities that would otherwise remain isolated with the evidence needed to encourage policy change among public officials.
Join us on for "Solidarity Night" on Wednesday, October 4th for a final introduction to a the “Solidarity Network," a re-cap training, and some time together with food and fun to prepare for taking this momentous step together.  (From 6:30-8pm at St. Joseph Parish-- 2213 Brooklyn Ave, Fort Wayne) 

Then, come and bring others to stand with us to Publicly Launch the initiative on Sunday, October 8th, at 2pm (also at St. Joseph Parish). The launch will include testimonials, statements from the faith community and a blessing and commissioning of volunteer rapid responders.

Becoming an "Inn-Keeper Church": What does it look like to be Shepherds of the Common Good today?

If we believe that God is present in all things, we know he is present in the tumultuous times in which we live. We know that out of great struggle his most profound works are born, and that through the sacraments he gives us everything we need to be healed so that we may go out to be “healers” in the world. If we take on this new sight, this new identity, we may even begin to realize how God is calling us to be at this time. As individuals and communities, we may even realize we’ve been created precisely for this time. We may gain the courage to ask what it looks like to be shepherds of the common good during a time that Pope Francis has called a “historic turning point?” “Who is our neighbor?” and how do we “Go, and do likewise”?

Introducing...
 A Parish "Encounter Session" Guide  
meant to build bridges across differences, and form the foundation for collective action
 
Includes:
* Easy-to use reflection outline over a key Gospel parable 
* Bi-Lingual Handouts to build relationship across race and socio-economic status
* Northeast-Indiana Analysis to guide discussions around neighborhood and parish pain
* Pope Francis message to the World Meeting of Popular Movements 

Discern where the Spirit is calling your parish today.
(Pilot Parishes will be beginning this session this Lent in a variety of formats. To learn more on how your parish can get started, and the opportunities for training and Catholic social teaching formation down the road, contact Audrey Davis ).


Jail Ministry

Jail Ministry  follows the law of subsidiarity -- each county has a jail, and the parishioners closest to that jail will be those uniquely suited to visit those jails, learn about the people affected by incarceration in their area, and take steps to make our parishes more welcoming to them and their families so that they know they are not alone, but that the church community wants to walk alongside them during their time of intense need. Currently, parishes in 4 counties (Kosciusko, Huntington, Allen, and St. Joseph) have tried to respond to the call of "visiting the imprisoned" as part of a supported team that are together praying for the men and women they encounter.

Each county team meets regularly, and is supported by the diocese in seeking the best response to the needs they see, for this reason it is an effort that takes a lot of patience, and emphasizes relationship built over time. Because this ministry is an expression of the Church's concern for social justice, we also are constantly challenging ourselves to see the underlying social dynamics that keep incarceration on the rise (Indiana's prison population grew 40% this decade, now 17th highest incarceration rate on the globe), preys on the poor (Indiana has a stark racial disparity among its jail/prison population, with 1 in 4 being African American; 1 in 10 Latinos; 1 in 173 whites), and continues cycles of poverty (Indiana ranks 2ND IN THE UNITED STATES for the number of children with incarcerated parents. 3% of general population in Indiana suffer from mental illness, compared to 40% of Hoosier inmates).


Economic Justice and the Treatment of Workers

The 14 counties of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend are home to many disenfranchised workers, who daily face issues of workplace discrimination, job insecurity, wage theft, withheld medical benefits, inhumane working conditions and cultural unfamiliarity. A group of workers from downtown Fort Wayne parishes are pursuing the creation of  a "Workers' Center†with the Northeast Indiana Central Labor Council. The project has received a $10,000 "Technical Assistance†grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and is currently undergoing a period of board formation and leadership development. The purpose of this initiative will not only be to foster a greater sense of community and common humanity among those for whom the economy seems to be "working†and those who find themselves excluded from the economy, but to grow the voice of the individuals and families most impacted to become leaders in creating a culture of solidarity. 


If you are interested in learning more about Social Justice Ministries, Contact Audrey Davis (adavis@diocesefwsb.org, (260)-969-9146).


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