Coming up on October 17th, Mercy in Action Day is a great opportunity to put the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy into play in your parish community.
This year, however, we’re faced with a new challenge, as some of our more hands-on acts of service are hard to execute. While we’re always able to give alms to the poor and pray for the living and the dead, we may not easily be able to host events or there are more ways to expand our charitable reach, even during a pandemic.
We recently discussed why it’s crucial to put mercy in action in your parish , but now let’s talk about how. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Set up an outdoor prayer space and invite community members to come and pray for a specific cause
Organize an outdoor space and dedicate an evening to praying for a particular cause, like homelessness, health and safety during the pandemic, an end to racial injustice, or the right to life, and invite those in your parish and surrounding community to come be part of the event. Encourage those who attend to wear masks and properly social distance.
Organize a phone tree to check on vulnerable members of your community
Recruit a handful of members of your parish community to assemble a phone tree and contact those in your neighborhood who may be elderly, quarantined alone, without a job, have lost someone during the pandemic, or are struggling in other ways. Check in on them, see if they have any prayer intentions, and be a listening ear for them.
Make get well or greeting cards for people in hospitals or nursing homes
Get youth involved! Encourage them to make ‘get well’ or greeting cards for those in hospitals, and thank you cards for the essential health care workers who have been serving on the frontlines during the pandemic. This can bring some encouragement to those who’ve been ill or stressed over the past months.
Partner with your City Clerk to conduct a voter registration drive
As the election nears , it is our responsibility as Catholics to participate in political life, and it is in good faith to ensure that all those around us do as well. Contact your local officials to determine how you can conduct a voter registration drive and help those in your community act as responsible citizens.
Clean up vacant lots in the community
While the weather is still temperate, visit some parking lots or empty spaces in your community that may accumulate rubbish. Help beautify these areas and care for God’s creation by disposing of this trash and litter. Be sure to equip yourselves with bags, gloves, and sanitizer to remain safe.
Create holiday decorations for a senior center
Just like the greeting cards, holiday decorations may bring joy to a setting that has been filled with uncertainty and anxiety. Work ahead and craft decorations for Christmas and Easter to bring some love and joy into the lives of those who may be lonely, ill, or exhausted.
Write inspirational messages in key places in sidewalk chalk
Many individuals have used their changed routines and increased time at home to get outside and walk around their neighborhoods. Find key places in the area, like the sidewalk outside your parish office, near schools, and other prominent places to write notes of encouragement and spread the joy of Christ.
Rake and clean up a cemetery
Changing weather and busier schedules can cause cemeteries to need a little more attention to stay clean and prayerful. Mobilize some individuals to rake and clean areas of a cemetery and say a prayer for those who have entered eternal life.
Organize a donation drop-off
Mark a central location in your parish community where people can bring bulk donations like clothing, coats, or a St. Vincent de Paul Bundle Drive. You can also consider hosting a virtual food drive to keep supporting food banks from a distance.