Parish Social Ministry

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Parish Social Ministry2021-02-01T19:52:13+00:00

Parish Social Ministry

Parish Social Ministry collaborates with parishes to incorporate Catholic Social Teaching and social justice into Catholic parish life through education, encounter and engagement.

Contact Us

Sarah McIlvried
Social Ministry Coordinator
320 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

“Parish social ministry is the empowerment of the parish as the people of God to fulfill the Church’s mission of love, justice, freedom, and peace by communally responding in an organized way to societal and individual human needs.” –Parish Social Ministry: A Vision and Resource; A Catholic Charities Perspective, Catholic Charities USA

Click here to read our Parish Social Ministry Guidebook.

Social justice must become a way of life for all parishes. Social justice is not about political party affiliation, picking up on the latest hot-button issue, or turning Mass into a political rally. Rather, social justice is an expression of our love for God and one another. It transforms us interiorly so we can transform communities.

Parish social ministry (PSM) is a mechanism for the entire community to genuinely love and serve God and others, and for us to be in the world but not of the world. The primary goals of PSM are to help people hear and discern their call, find concrete ways to serve those in need, and build better communities. These goals are carried out through prayer, education, direct service, and advocacy, and with a focus on promoting the consistent ethic of life rather than whatever the current hot-button issues are in the news.

Aspects of Parish Social Ministry

Catholic Social Teaching (CST) provides the foundation for parish social ministry because it offers sound, faith-filled guidance on dealing with the social issues of our day. Parish social ministry is one way for us to build a society that most resembles God’s kingdom on earth because social justice is the work of every baptized Christian. As James 2:14-17 so explicitly states:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

CST is a constant call for our deeds to be an extension of our faith in order to bring justice and peace to society.

A Brief History

Catholic Social Teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society for all and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. It is rooted in Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, as well as a 100+ year history of papal encyclicals, bishops’ letters, and other official documents, all focused on the economic, political, and social concerns of humanity. In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued Rerum Nevarum,” On the Condition of Labor, which is the foundational encyclical for CST. In all, CST is organized into seven main principles:

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
  • Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
  • Solidarity
  • Care for Creation

For more information, click here.

Catholic Charities’ Parish Social Ministry (CC PSM) works to help parishes realize the vision and action of an integrated model of social ministry and how Catholic Charities plays a role in that model through education, encounter, and engagement.

We strive for every social ministry to be grounded in prayer and worship in order to foster the spiritual growth and development of its members, and for all social ministry work to include education, outreach, and advocacy. We’re happy to discuss your parish’s needs and possibilities to help you start and grow your social justice ministry.


Grounded in our Catholic beliefs, we work with parishes and other partners to cultivate their social justice, outreach, and advocacy work. CC PSM offers a variety of educational materials for parishes whether they are just starting a PSM or have had one for years. 

  • Starting a New Social Justice Ministry
  • Parish Social Ministry Guidebook
  • Maintaining and Expanding an Existing Social Justice Ministry
  • Topic-Based Workshops
    • Poverty
    • Just Neighbors (An interactive program that puts a human face on poverty and Catholic Social Teaching.)
    • Immigration
    • Advocacy
    • What is Parish Social Ministry?
    • Catholic Social Teaching
  • Homily helps/bulletin inserts


Social ministry is a constant invitation for all people of good will to be part of the culture of encounter.

Pope Francis said, “The only way for individuals, families and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress, is via the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return.”

Catholic Charities offers a variety of opportunities for encounter. We go out into the peripheries to serve those in need and invite you to join in our mission to provide care and services to improve the lives of Marylanders in need.


We want to keep the relationship going! There are many opportunities for ongoing engagement between Catholic Charities and your parish. Invite us to your events (and come to ours!). Collaborate with us on community initiatives. Allow us to be involved in the life of your church. Be a part of our mission. 

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Parish Social Ministry in the News, Stories & Testimonials

A single, sparking truth

April 21st, 2021|

William J. McCarthy Jr. Executive Director “They saw his humanity.” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison made this simple statement so powerful after the verdict against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday. Ellison was [...]

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