A message from the Office of Respect Life & Social Justice
I was first introduced to the beauty and depth of Catholic Social Teaching as an undergraduate student at Loras College by my history professors Dr. John Eby and Dr. David Salvaterra. At first when I was assigned church documents I remember thinking to myself “I’m a history major, not a theologian! What kind of homework is this?” That objection soon disappeared as I was amazed at how comprehensive and insightful the church had articulated a message for building a society that respected both the intrinsic dignity of the human person and at the same time a profound understanding of the importance of promoting the common good. These two subjects in secular society seemed to be regularly pitted against one another, as if they were necessarily in conflict. It was in the social teaching of the church that, for the first time, I learned they are not opposed to one another but exist in direct relationship to one another; each one flowing into and supporting the other.
Throughout my studies in undergraduate and graduate school I continued to dive deeper and deeper into the social teachings of the church. During and after my studies I also gained a broad experience working in various positions directly related to the church’s social teaching, particularly care for the poor and vulnerable. I have worked as a hospice chaplain, a community organizer, a campus minister, and currently work as a pastoral associate for two parishes in Dubuque. Recently the archbishop hired me to be the new director of the Office of Respect Life and Social Justice for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. This new position is one that I am honored and humbled to take on and I hope, with your help and prayers, to build upon the great work that has been done under my predecessor Steve Schmitz, so that all of the people of this archdiocese may work together to build a Culture of Life in our society.
My hope is that the Office of Respect Life and Social Justice for the Archdiocese of Dubuque will be a voice that breaks through the all-too-often contentious noise in the secular world on the topics related to the respect for human life and the common good and instead present a message of faith, hope, love and mercy. The office exists to inform, animate, advocate, and provide resources for the people of our archdiocese to help each and every person discover how they will personally respond to Christ’s message in this weekend’s Gospel to “feed my sheep.” (John 21,17). The invitation from Christ is an invitation to share in his life, his divinity, his glory and his love. We are invited to do so by taking an active part in building up the society around us to conform to a Culture of Life.
We will work to accomplish this by connecting to and collaborating with parishioners, parish staff, Catholic organizations and others through a variety of means: revising our Respect Life and Social Justice curriculum from a five-year cycle to a three-year cycle that moves with the liturgical year, writing articles in The Witness, developing social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, submitting items to the archdiocesan official bulletin and connecting to social justice groups through the Social Ministry Network that has been developed by Catholic Charities. In addition to these and other means we will continue to develop our website of the archdiocese as a place where people can go to learn about various topics related to respect for the life and dignity of the human person and the promotion of the common good. I invite you to explore and utilize the website for growth and development in your family, the domestic church; in our schools; religious education programs; adult faith formation; social justice committees; and youth ministry.
Whether you are a college student, first encountering Catholic Social Teaching, a lifelong Catholic or recently initiated into the Catholic Church this past Easter, I invite you to dive deeper into the church teaching with me and the Office of Respect Life and Social Justice and discover how God is calling you to live out those teachings in your daily life.
The website to the office of Respect Life and Social Justice is: www.dbqarch.org/rlsj.