“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16.
The vision of Mercy in Action Day has always been that parishes would engage volunteers to meet a need in their local community with a work of mercy. This is still the vision, but there are many tragedies happening on a larger scale right now that have also captured our hearts and captivated our attention.
This year for Mercy in Action Day, you might consider gathering the members of your community to extend the Mercy of God beyond your local community. You may pray about getting involved with the refugee crisis in Afghanistan, the natural disasters in Haiti, the wildfires affecting the western United States and the hurricanes in the Gulf states, or the pandemic response in foreign countries.
What does it look like to show long-distance mercy? Here are some ideas you may consider:
Raise awareness in your community. Starting a conversation is a great way to begin. Ensure that your parishioners are aware of the crises unfolding across the globe and within our own communities. Perhaps add some of these intentions to your Universal Prayer on Sundays to begin raising awareness within your parish.
Host a Prayer Service. Consider which global intention or intentions around which you can gather in prayer at your parish church or grotto. Encourage parishioners to invite friends and family to join and both offer prayers and get to know your community.
Collect emergency supplies. Host a drive for food and material goods that can be donated to victims of natural disasters or refugee centers.
Raise money. There are numerous organizations internationally, nationally, state-wide, and within the Archdiocese of Detroit that accept financial donations and provide aid to crises unfolding across the country and globe. Host a fundraiser or additional collection to raise money within your parish, and contact Catholic Charities or use Evangelical Charity Finder for guidance on where to donate.
Host a blood drive. Donated blood could save lives, especially in areas affected by natural disasters. Contact the Red Cross to host a blood drive at your parish; if you provide the space and publicize the event, they’ll provide everything else.
Create care packages. Organize your parishioners to build and deploy care packages to areas in need. Whatever you include in your packages, be sure to consider adding essentials like water or hygiene products.
Write letters of support for emergency workers. In a season of particular weight for emergency workers, a kind word can go a long way. Write letters of support or encourage your youth ministry or school students to decorate cards for those working directly in the field of many of these issues.
Showing Mercy to people in a far-away place doesn’t mean that your Mercy in Action Day cannot still be a community event. Make sure to recruit volunteers from outside of your parish — from another faith tradition even! If you host an event like a prayer service or a donation drive make sure to publicize within the larger community to allow others to get involved as well. Finally, reach out to any local branches of organizations that are addressing these issues and see if there are other initiatives happening in your community that you can support.
The beauty of Mercy in Action Day is that the project your parishes chooses is entirely up to you. Last year there were over 72 different projects taking place across the Archdiocese of Detroit. This means that it’s up to your community to pray about what God is calling you to do! It’s not too late to begin making a plan for Mercy in Action Day—view the parish toolkit here!