Office of Faith Formation to offer social justice workshop

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

On Thursday, March 25 at the Bishop Harrison Center in Syracuse, the diocesan Office of Faith Formation will present a workshop which will explore four components of justice and how they relate to the world and church today.

“We’re hoping to expand people’s understanding of what social justice is,” said Office of Faith Formation Western Region director Theresa May. “We are encouraging everyone to come — priests, people in formation in social justice ministry, and all others. I think everyone will benefit from it.”

Father Fred Daley, pastor of All Saints Parish in Syracuse, will conduct the workshop. “I hope the workshop will be a sharing of experiences of how justice can be developed in parishes,” he said. “The work for justice can be a lively component for parish life. It brings new life, energy and fire to parish communities, as well as helping those in need.” 

Father Daley said that the Gospel mandates that every parish be called to have a concern for the poor — locally and globally. “Everyone has a right to the necessities of life,” he said. “ They have the right to be treated with dignity and a right to use their talents to promote their destiny.”

Father Daley said the first step for a parish to take in working for social justice is to get involved in the corporal works of mercy — supplying those in need with shelter, food, clothing and also visiting them in prison.

“If people know there is a need, they will respond,” he said. “Where we find it more difficult as Catholic Christians is to look upstream — to look at the cause of the problem and to critique the systems, institutions and values that are the root of the problem. It’s hard, but it’s central to the fullness of justice.”

Another step in promoting the human rights of others, Father Daley said, is to examine one’s own lifestyle.

Father Daley believes that there is much work to be done as parishes struggle with the issues of the current times, such as universal health care and abortion. “The church has called us to develop a universal health care plan — every American has a right to health care,” Father Daley said. “Most parishes have not significantly reflected on this issue from a Gospel perspective because that makes them feel uncomfortable.

“With these sensitive issues, we need to seek common ground with those people of good will from other congregations and perspectives. We can be more effective if we work together,” he said.

Father Daley cited the example of the establishment of New Horizons, a residential facility in Utica that provides shelter, support, services and counseling to female youth ages 16 to 21 that are unable to live at home. Father Daley was instrumental during the formation of the facility when he served as pastor at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Utica. New Horizons grew out of St. Francis de Sales’ ministry of providing short-term shelter to inner city young women. Before long, they realized that the women needed a long-term place to reside.

New Horizons was established in 1992 in the St. Francis de Sales’ former rectory by a group of residents, clergy and business people. “The people who created and supported New Horizons were people from all spectrums of the community, but we were on common ground,” said Father Daley.

“Today, New Horizons is flourishing,” he stated. “Many of the women have arrived there pregnant. They have been assured of the best in medical care and have been given an apartment.” He added that 75 percent of the young women have gone on to attend college.

“That’s an example of what we as Catholics need to do more of, instead of ostracizing and condemning people,” Father Daley said. “We need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we come together and help one another?’ What a wonderful world it would be if every parish took the Gospel mandate seriously.”

To make reservations for this workshop, contact the Office of Faith Formation at (315) 472-6752 or email

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