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The Big Picture

August 22nd, 2012by Mary Anne Bressler

Even though we are part of a universal church, our outlook is usually local simply because that is our most direct experience of Catholicism. We experience the parochial more than the universal Church. Taking the effort to expand our horizon is well worth the effort, as I realized anew last week at the Social Action Summer Institute at Bellarmine College in Louisville.

Because the Social Action Summer Institute took place in Kentucky, there were many participants from the Midwest. But I also met people from New York, Florida, Arizona and Oregon. The presenters were largely from agencies the US Conferences of Catholic Bishops—Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Charities USA, the Conference’s Department of Peace, Justice and Human Development. Their work reaches to all corners of the globe. It was an impressive array of individuals who are devoting their energy and talent to spreading the social teaching of the Catholic Church, and the work they do is truly the Gospel in action.

Catholic Social Teaching is often referred to as the Church’s best-kept secret (especially from Catholics themselves, I fear). When I left after just two days, I realized anew that while the actual teaching may be a secret, the implementation of it is felt in every part of the world. Catholics are in the nations’ capital lobbying on behalf of the hungry here and abroad as Congress considers the Farm Bill. They are working in places like Burkina Faso to eliminate instead of merely alleviating hunger. They are working to empower citizens to vote.  They are aiding the victims of human trafficking—modern day slavery—in the United States. The work is unfortunately vast, but attending this conference makes one feel that the challenges are not insurmountable.

Margaret Mead  is reputed to have said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” As Christians, our entire faith is based on the fact that a small group of believers can change the world. What began with one man and his twelve followers continues on today. Your kingdom come, your will be done.

Mary Anne Bressler

Mary Anne Bressler is a parishioner and Pastoral Associate at St. Anthony Church in Madisonville and an adjunct faculty member at Xavier University.