Social Justice Ministry
Social Justice Ministry is the main Social Justice group at Saint Sebastian Parish. The group meets the third Sunday of every month (except December) following the 9:00AM Mass in Byrider Hall. All are welcome.
As members of the St. Sebastian Parish social justice committee, "… And Justice for All," we pledge to raise awareness in our parish community of today’s issues relating to the teachings that reflect the Church's social mission. Rooted in the Gospel message and Christian tradition, these teachings call on us to work to eliminate the causes and effects of poverty, to speak out against injustice, and to shape a more caring society and a more peaceful world.
Through prayer, education, advocacy, and steps to action — shared with our community — we strive to lead a parish-wide effort that responds to the call of Jesus.
Respect Life Ministry
On Respect Life Sunday (the first Sunday in October), St. Sebastian parishioners are invited to join Akron area citizens, standing together in silence and prayer as a visible statement of solidarity with the unborn. Participants hold uniform signs stating "Abortion Kills Children," "Adoption: The Loving Option," "Jesus Heals and Forgives." Life Chain is approved by the Cleveland Diocese and is endorsed by the Catholic Commission, Southern Region. This past October (2004), Life Chain started in front of the abortion clinic at 839 East Market St. and extended westward to 714 West Market St. (near Key Bank), where signs were available beginning at 2:00 p.m. Participants stood at various points along the route from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Cemetery of Crosses (Monument to the Unborn)
For two weeks during October (Respect Life Month), our parish displays a field of white crosses to symbolize the fact that almost 4000 children per day are aborted in the United States. Our parish joins many others in the Akron area which have been presenting this display during October. We prayerfully remember the victims of abortion (the babies, their mothers and fathers), as well as women having problems conceiving or carrying a child, women considering an abortion, and women suffering from post-abortion syndrome.
Parish volunteers collect signatures in early January after all Masses for publication in Right to Life of Summit County's newspaper ads, which are featured in the Akron Beacon Journal coinciding with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22nd. Last year's theme (2004) was "Babies Deserve Life. Women Deserve Better." A $5.00 donation per signature line (individual/couple/family) is appreciated, to defray the expense of the ads. The Right to Life signature campaign provides our parishioners with an efficient and direct way to publicly express their support for this cause each year.
Mother's Day Carnation Sale
Parish volunteers offer beautiful carnations for sale after all Masses on Mother's Day. Proceeds benefit Summit County Right to Life.
Prayer for Life
O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life. Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the creator and lover of life.
Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, 1995
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
The St. Sebastian Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society is affiliated with other St. Vincent de Paul Parish Conferences within the Diocese of Cleveland and follows nationally written bylaws. The organization, composed of lay persons, is international in scope, was founded by Blessed Frederic Ozanum and follows a Vincentian service model. At St. Sebastian Parish, the Society serves needy persons who reside within the Parish’s boundaries and is supported by parishioner donations and poor box offerings. Members of the Society interview families/individuals who seek assistance in order to assess needs. The Society’s mission is to address emergency or immediate short-term needs. The type and level of assistance depends upon the circumstances. Types of assistance provided include, but are not limited to, a rent payment, a utility payment, a used appliance (such as a refrigerator, a stove, washers and dryers) and food in the form of gift cards redeemable at a local grocery store chain. The Society also refers persons needing furniture to the CORE furniture bank, which serves all of Summit County. Assistance provided to clients is tracked in a permanent database.
Members of the Society meet weekly in Byrider Hall for approximately 30-45 minutes on Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m., at which time reports on client contacts and assistance are provided, new client assignments are distributed and other resources available to clients, as identified, are discussed. While individual members of the Society are not expected to attend each and every meeting, they are asked to prioritize attendance as much as possible, consistent with family and work obligations. Persons interested in becoming members of the Society and personally serving the needy within the Parish’s boundaries should contact the Rectory, which will notify the Society’s president of that person’s interest.
Knights of Columbus Council 14255
Please visit your Knights of Columbus Council
Key Principles of Catholic Social Teaching
In a world warped by materialism and declining respect for human life, the Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred, and that the dignity of the person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.
Today, this value is threatened by abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, the death penalty, and the many ways in which people are treated with disregard for their human dignity.
Each human is the clearest reflection of God's presence in the world; all of the Church's work in pursuit of both justice and peace is designed to protect and promote the dignity of every person. For each person not only reflects God, but is the expression of God's creative work and the meaning of Christ's redemptive ministry. From The Challenge of Peace, U.S. Bishops, 1983.
Call to Family, Community and Participation
The human person is both sacred and social. We realize our dignity and rights in relationship with others, in community. Human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community. Human dignity can only be realized and protected in the context of relationships with the wider society.
How we organize our society — in economics and politics, in law and policy — directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The obligation to "love our neighbor" has an individual dimension, but it also requires a broader commitment. Everyone has a responsibility to contribute to the good of the whole society, to the common good.
Rights and Responsibilities
People have a fundamental right to life and to those things necessary for human decency, such as food, shelter, health care, education and employment. People have a right to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities — to one another, to our families and to the larger society. When people lack the basic necessities to live a life of dignity, their fundamental rights are being denied.
In the world where some speak mostly of "rights" and others mostly of "responsibilities," Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met.
The Poor and the Vulnerable
Catholic teaching proclaims that the moral test of society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. This calls on us to look at public policy decisions as they relate to the poor. The "option for the poor" is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wound the whole community. Today in our society, only 20 percent of the people control more than 80 percent of the resources, leaving few resources to be shared by a majority of the people.
In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt. 25: 31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
In a marketplace where too often the quarterly bottom line takes precedence over the rights of workers, we believe that the economy must serve people, not the other way around. From 1988 to 1998, the salaries of corporate executives grew 15 times faster than the salaries of low level workers, not enough to even meet the increased cost of living.
If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected – the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and to join unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of ongoing participation in God's creation.
Catholic social teaching proclaims that we are sisters' and brothers' keepers, wherever they live. We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Solidarity means that "loving our neighbor" has global dimensions in an interdependent world.
Care for God's Creation
All of creation is a gift from God and should be respected as such. We show our respect by the way we care for the earth as stewards of all that has been entrusted in us. We need to examine how our excessive consumerism and poor environmental practices are exploiting the earth. Finally, we must take measures to correct our destructive patterns.
Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all God's creation.
Promotion of Peace
Catholic teaching promotes peace as a positive, action-oriented concept. In the words of Pope John Paul II, "Peace is not just the absence of war. It involves mutual respect and confidence between peoples and nations. It involves collaboration and binding agreements.”
There is a close relationship in Catholic teaching between peace and justice. Peace is the fruit of justice and is dependent on right order among human beings.
Social Justice Prayers
We beseech You, Lord, to be our helper and protector.
Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly;
raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly;
restore the wanderers of thy people;
feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners;
raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.
Almighty God, who has created us in Your own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of Thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Social Justice Links
Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Office for Social Justice. Social Teaching Documents, Major Themes, and Reading Lists.
Nov 5, 2010 presentation on "Reflections on Modern Catholic Social Teaching."
Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions. Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops
Resouces for Catholic Educators