| Motivating people to be involved in social service
For 28 years, Stephen P. Mullin has served in parish ministry, the last half at All Saints Church in Hayward, where he was parish life director. Parish life was satisfying, but Mullin heard the call of Pope Francis to move beyond the walls of the church.
Stephen P. Mullin
Then Catholic Charities of the East Bay asked him not only to put his own parish skills to work well beyond the boundaries of the parish, but to help others do the same.
"Sitting in our pews are tens of thousands of people every Sunday," Mullin said. "How do we motivate them to get involved and how do make it reasonable for them to get involved?"
Catholic Charities, he points out, "is not just another social service agency."
"Everything we do speaks the name of Jesus," he said. "Every act we do needs to incarnate Jesus," he said. Such acts, he said, provide "the opportunity to grow in our faith."
As parish outreach manager, Mullin will be doing a lot of listening. To begin with, he is setting out to visit pastors and parishes.
It begins, he said, with "a dialogue with the pastors and parishes, finding out what the needs are, whether that's employment, immigration, or housing, then begin to strategize with them, whether it is programs or resources we can provide one another."
The goal will be "to respond to the people."
"It's got to first start with dialogue," Mullin said. "That dialogue needs to move beyond staff members, because staff members are already working really hard. We have to get some of the people in the pews involved."
The people in the pews have plenty of inspiration.
"People are hearing from Pope Francis — and also I think Bishop Barber has articulated this quite well — we as a church need to be reaching out to the people and providing them healing. We need to be providing them sources of hope and joy. Catholic Charities can do that, with the people."
"Catholic Charities historically has done many great things for the diocese, and in the counties of Contra Costa and Alameda," he said.
Among the best stories that might have been untold, he said, involve "helping people who have struggled all their lives economically or emotionally to find stability in their lives."
"That's really what church can provide people: stability so they can grow," Mullin said.
Among the ways Catholic Charities has been doing that, he said, is through programs that help the survivors of victims of violent crime.
"You see that in women who have experienced great trauma because of the death of a child. The church is there to walk with them as they struggle with depression, as they struggle with economics. We walk with them, not a handout but as a hand up."
As a result of this relationship building, he said, as the recovery continues, "the church is still there for them."
Such relationships also bear fruit in Catholic Charities' work with refugees. Many of them have come to this country because of political problems in their native lands.
Catholic Charities caseworkers meet them at the airport, and take them to their new home, literally opening the door for them.
"The church is there to welcome them and walk with them, not to provide for them all their financial needs," he said. "We're opening doors for employ
ment. We're opening doors for education. We're opening doors to experience the church."
Caseworkers and participants in Catholic Charities' Family-to-Family program keep coming back. "It's not just the emergency help," he said. "It's sustained relationships to help them become sustainable and hopefully prosperous.
"I think that's important about Catholic Charities," Mullin said. "It needs to be a place of sustainability, not just emergency care."
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