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Office for Human Dignity

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Learn about our ministry...

The Office for Human Dignity serves as an umbrella agency integrating the diocesan efforts in the areas of Respect Life Missions, Justice and Peace, and Laudato Si' Ministries.
 

“I have come that they might have Life and life more abundantly.” John 10:10

We chose John 10:10 as our guiding verse as it speaks to the all-encompassing vision of this ministry. We work to ensure the fundamental right to life itself. And at the same time, we advocate and seek to secure all those things necessary to provide for the full dignity of the human person and to protect this planet, our common home. Without this carefully woven approach, no single part can be fulfilled.

This verse, of course, has an original context, declaring our wellspring of life in Jesus the Messiah who is Lord. We, as Church, root and anchor ourselves in this Gospel. Our movements are not guided by ideologies or winds of political doctrine. We proclaim first the call to a personal relationship with Jesus. It is this conversion that begins the path to the revolution which is the Reign of God. The designation of Messiah reveals the next important and immediate aspect, that is, this salvation must always be seen in the context of our link to the covenant promise of the deliverance and creation of a People, the Community of Believers. It is within this salvation community, this new family, that we first learn to love, to serve, and care for each other without favor, distinction, status, or division. The announcement that Jesus the Messiah is now Lord, Lord of All, moves this transformation out into the world around us. Through our love of neighbor (and even more radically our enemies), by way of advocacy and action, we participate in the breaking forth of the Reign of God. We live in the “already/not yet”, and therefore face many obstacles, yet we buoy ourselves in the sure hope of the fullness of that Reign when the Messiah returns in Glory.

“Social justice is an integral part of evangelization, a constitutive dimension of preaching the Gospel, and an essential part of the Church's mission.” Communities of Salt and Life – U.S. Catholic Bishops

And so, we ask the priests, deacons, religious, and laity of this diocese to prayerfully participate (for all work must flow from prayer) in this part of the evangelization mission of the Church, and for each individual and every parish to discern how they might actively engage in this vision. We recognize that for each individual the heart might beat faster for one engagement as compared to another. That is a method of discerning God’s will, or in the counsel of St. Francis, “What is mine to do?” Yet with each individual vitally connected to the gathered Christian family, all with hearts responding to the various and many needs around them, working together in witness, the full expression of God’s love is made manifest to the world around us.

Let us journey together. We recognize the wonderful Gospel work taking place in many of our parishes. Others may be looking for assistance. Of course, we all have room for growth. The Office for Human Dignity can work with you to discover that calling and to craft a fuller vision of the Gospel for your parish. Whether it’s through advocacy in defense of the unborn, prayerfully witnessing at abortion clinics, promoting the welfare of women and children, caring for those wounded by abortion, resisting attempts to legalize physician assisted suicide, or working to ensure accessibility and full participation of the disabled in the life of our parishes and communities, we can accompany you. Or perhaps there is the need for growth in standing with our immigrant brothers and sisters, helping to welcome refugees, advocating for greater attention to the hungry and impoverished, or working to dismantle longstanding structures of racism, we can provide resourcing. Some may hear the cries of the lonely in jail and prison. Opportunities exist to visit, as well as to work for a new vision of restorative justice. And then there is the call to mission. Whether it is an opportunity for mission education, or inviting missionaries to share in your parish, thus increasing the understanding of the rich diversity of this Universal Church, or traveling with us on one of our own global mission trips, we can help make this happen. Many, and perhaps especially our young people, are aware, and even alarmed, by the climate crisis. Join us, as we make real in our diocese the vision set forth by Pope Francis in Laudato Si – Care for our Common Home.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, and our diocese is vast and varied, there are needs particular to each parish and community. We can help your parish see those needs, judge them in the light of scripture and church teaching, and act upon those needs from a faith-based vision.

In closing, I want to add that we all deeply feel, you and we in this office, the desire to be pastorally present to our youth and young adults. We know that the younger generations have a strong interest in service and social justice. Make opportunities for them and then provide theological reflection afterward to make the faith connection. Or if you cannot find them in your pews to invite them to these opportunities, go out and find them where they are already serving and active. Stand alongside them. Listen to them. And share the Word as you can.


Foundational scriptures:

Matthew 25:31-46. What does a missionary disciple, a follower of Jesus, look like?

 Luke 4:18. Jesus’ Inaugural Address – Launching the Reign of God.



Thomas L. Garlitz, Director

Contact:
815-221-6251
tgarlitz@dioceseofjoliet.org