Answering the Gospel call to serve: Extending God’s love, care to vulnerable communities

October 10, 2023

Pope Francis and global activists are pictured in a banner for the new YouTube Originals film on the pope’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” The film is being screened around the Archdiocese during the Month of Creation, which also honors the Oct. 4 feast of St. Francis of Assisi. To watch the film, visit (CNS photo/YouTube Originals)

HOUSTON — Driven by the call of the Gospel, the Office of Justice and Peace strives to extend the love and care of God to all, transcending boundaries and embracing the diverse community it serves within the Archdiocese.

According to Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, the director of the Office of Justice and Peace, the ministry is actively working to fulfill its mission to serve those most in need, including the most vulnerable, those on the periphery, and those who have no voice or who have been silenced.

Along with the Office of Aging, Special Youth Services and the Campaign for Human Development, the Office of Justice and Peace is part of the Archdiocese’s Secretariat for Social Concerns. The ministry collaborates with local agencies serving the most vulnerable in society, including Catholic Charities, San José Clinic, St. Dominic Village and Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

According to Sister O’Connell, as the world struggles with ongoing challenges to reach the most vulnerable, the Office of Justice and Peace remains steadfast in its commitment to support the growing population of immigrants and refugees in the Galveston-Houston area.

“We continue to be challenged by the need to provide care and support for the many immigrants and refugees who come to us because of violence, climate change and corruption,” Sister O’Connell said. “Our mission is clear: To extend the love and care of our God to all.”

Sister O’Connell said the Office of Justice and Peace initiated a committee to encourage and support parishioners in understanding and responding to Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si. This initiative underscores the importance of addressing environmental issues and their impact on marginalized communities. The committee also promotes the screening of “The Letter,” a documentary shedding light on the global climate crisis through the stories of those directly affected.

As one of 64 ministries supported by the annual Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) appeal, Sister O’Connell said the DSF collection allows the faithful to join the Office of Justice and Peace in becoming the hands and feet of Jesus to serve the vulnerable, the homeless, the forgotten and those most in need throughout the Archdiocese.

“Contributions to DSF fund programs and services go beyond the capability of one parish alone,” Sister O’Connell said. “These contributions benefit everyone in the community. They provide services to the vulnerable and give every parishioner the opportunity to participate in the mission of Jesus. The DSF monies help support outreach to formerly incarcerated individuals, uninsured, underinsured, and uninsurable individuals and families in the Archdiocese.”

Sister O’Connell identified areas where additional DSF aid could make a significant difference in the Office of Justice and Peace’s efforts. This includes Casa Juan Diego, an organization dedicated to serving immigrants and refugees, particularly women, children and families in dire need of basic necessities and safe housing.

Sister O’Connell shared a story about a young refugee and her family who recently benefited from the support given through the DSF appeal.

“This young woman and her father came to Houston because their crops had been decimated by climate change,” Sister O’Connell said. “They traveled to Houston in hopes of finding work that would allow them to send money back to her mother and siblings. Thanks to DSF funds, we have been able to provide safe housing and access to legal services for this family.”

Sister O’Connell said the Office of Aging is looking to re-energize its efforts as communities strive to return to normalcy post-COVID-19. An Archdiocesan Conference on Aging, scheduled for Jan. 26 to 27, 2024, promises to be a valuable resource for parish groups and individuals seeking to support seniors in their homes, parishes and communities.

To learn more about how the Office of Justice and Peace continues to make a profound impact on the lives of the most vulnerable across the Archdiocese and how you can get involved, visit

To donate to the DSF, go to The DSF supports each of these ministries, whether direct service or education, which require this critical funding to remain in operation. Out of each gift given to DSF, 100% of every dollar goes directly to supporting these ministries.