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Why putting Mercy in Action is vital to the health of our parish communities Why putting Mercy in Action is vital to the health of our parish communities
Here in Detroit we are all about “Unleashing the Gospel”! Pope Francis, in Joy of the Gospel , writes, “the kerygma has a clear social content: at the very heart of the Gospel is life in community and engagement with others. The content of the first proclamation has an immediate moral implication centered on charity.” What does this mean? It means that, like faith, according to St. James, evangelization without works is dead.

Pope Francis is also clear that there can be no evangelization without the spoken and explicit proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ — we could not agree more! As parish communities we have to keep two things in balance: witness and proclamation. If proclamation is not partnered with demonstrations of fraternal love for our neighbors, we appear to the world out of touch with our own message.

To remind the faithful of our need to practice this kind of evangelization — what Archbishop Vigneron calls “evangelical charity” in his pastoral letter Unleash the Gospel — the Archdiocese of Detroit is sponsoring the fifth annual Mercy in Action Day of Service on Saturday, October 17th.

While preparing for the Day of Service, some of our Christian Service Coordinators reflected upon what Mercy in Action means to them. Take a moment to reflect on their wisdom:

At the Church of the Holy Family, our parish vision states that we seek to live as “Catholic missionary disciples” who “know Jesus personally and live in the power of the Holy Spirit.” As our parishioners grow in missionary discipleship, they become increasingly generous with their time and their gifts, enabling us to serve many people in our community. We offer them prayer and a relationship with Jesus, and also take care of their material needs. This is Mercy in Action!

- Roxanne Hundsrucker, Holy Family, Novi

Just as a body needs a variety of practices such as a healthy diet, exercise, work, recreation, and relaxation to function correctly, a parish needs parishioners to use their gifts and talents to serve the parish and others to remain healthy. St. James tells us that if faith itself does not have works, it is dead.

When people engage in acts of kindness, service, mercy, and love, their faith is enriched as well as the recipient of those acts. We become the hands and feet of God, as Mother Teresa said. Acts of mercy are the hallmark of the Catholic faith. Our salvation depends on them.

- Sue Crudgington, St. Fabian, Farmington Hills

When we share God’s mercy with our neighbors in need, we are sharing in Jesus’ mission of mercy: To “bring good news to the poor, and liberty to the captives”.

According to Pope Francis, when we tend to the wounded in works of mercy, we are also tending to the wounds of Christ. This is what it means to be a missionary disciple: to not only embody Christ by sharing God’s mercy with those in need, but to encounter Christ in the wounds of those he identifies himself with in the Gospel: the stranger, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the imprisoned.

- Sam Jennings, St. Andrew, Rochester

Putting mercy into action – particularly in an organized way – not only helps to highlight the various ministries that a parish offers for its members to become involved in, but it also brings to light in a very tangible way the needs that exist in that parish, the community, and beyond. It gets people thinking about what’s outside the church doors, how they can see Christ in others, and how they can BE Christ to others. It’s sharing the Good News not necessarily with words, but with actions.

- Nancy Steele, St. Daniel, Clarkston

The Mercy in Action Day is a day of service and fellowship. Established during Pope Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy, the day brings together parishioners from parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Detroit to serve those who live on the fringes of our communities. Working side by side with fellow Catholics reminds us that we are part of a larger Church. It is a day to be inspired and encouraged by the good that a community of faithful can achieve in showing mercy and hope to those in need. “Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope.” - Pope Francis

- Mary Kraus, St. Lawrence, Utica