The Diocese of Brentwood is asking groups and organisations working in social justice at parish, diocesan and national level to contribute to its new Caritas website, in order to celebrate successes and to attract volunteers.
Fr Dominic Howarth, who is working with Director of Development Steven Webb on the project, says: “The website, which will be fully synched in to the Diocesan website, will be a brilliant opportunity for parish, diocesan and national groups to have an online presence to showcase their work. Many small groups cannot afford to run or maintain their own websites, or simply do not have the time, so this will be a chance to celebrate some superb but often hidden charitable work, where the Gospels come alive. The website will be structured in a way that attracts those looking to be volunteers, linking them with those who are seeking volunteers, and it will be well supported by social media. This is truly a chance for us to share Good News – and we want to include the broadest possible range of groups working with the poor and marginalised in a Catholic context. Please make sure that the good work you are doing is featured by giving us website content by 18 October.”
The website is part of the launch of Caritas Diocese of Brentwood, a network to draw together and support organisations and groups involved in social justice, peace and charitable action.
Fr Dominic says: “It is very clear that, across the Diocese, there are thousands of volunteers supporting social justice and charitable projects. Some are very local, some cover part or all of the Diocese, and some have UK and international elements. It is magnificent work; it is often hidden; and it is absolutely part of the fabric and mission of our Church.”
The Caritas project, which will officially launch on the World Day of the Poor on 18 November, is a direct response to parish feedback given through the ongoing Diocesan Stewards of the Gospel renewal and restructuring process, says Fr Dominic. “People want our efforts for the poor and marginalised to be more visible, and want an opportunity to share good practice or network with others doing similar work. This is it! This is how we are responding precisely to those concerns and suggestions.”
Since January people from across the Diocese have been helping to shape Caritas Diocese of Brentwood. There have been three meetings with a wide range of parish-based, diocesan and national groups and a formal affiliation to a national body, CSAN (Catholic Social Action Network). Says Fr Dominic: “We have received a grant and a legacy which means everything we have done so far (and propose to do for at least the next year) has cost parishes nothing at all. We have hosted a conversation which brought more than 70 people interested in social justice, peace, and charitable action in all its forms together for a conversation that spanned the generations. All of this has shaped the next steps for us, and now we particularly need groups and organisations to contribute website content – and parishes to support and publicise the launch at Masses on the day.”
He says the launch will have a focus on the Real Living Wage and its importance in the context of Catholic Social Teaching. “And the proximity of the World Day of the Poor to Advent could also provide a natural focus for any project parishes may be undertaking to help the poor over Christmas.”
Charitable groups can get an idea of what the website (www.caritasbrentwood.org ) will look like, by clicking on https://invis.io/J6O0EBJM7QY to see sample pages. Information can be submitted easily in a Word document and is needed by 18 October. Groups do not have to be registered charities to be featured on the website and those working ecumenically are very welcome.
During 2019 Caritas Diocese of Brentwood is planning to hold a training and resources day for anyone who is working in social justice, peace and all the charitable activities that support those who are poor and marginalised. “The day will help with networking and sharing good practice as well as other topics we know many groups struggle with. Ideas so far include: attracting volunteers aged 25-55; successful grant applications; Catholic Social Teaching; new ideas for parishes. All ideas welcome – and then we will try to attract the best possible speakers and input givers, and create a very vibrant and informative day,” says Fr Dominic.
He concludes: “The formation of Caritas Diocese of Brentwood is part of the Vision for Renewal in the Diocese – a vision that supports and enhances parish ministry that is already good, supports and encourages fresh ideas, ensures succession planning, and celebrates success as we fulfil Christ’s Mission and Mandate to ‘reach to the ends of the earth’ and to feed, clothe, visit and bring the love of Christ to ‘the least’ of our brothers and sisters.”
Download information about submitting material to the website here: Submitting CaritasBrentwood website content – simple steps for groups and charities (2)
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