Office of Justice and Peace Ministry promotes social mission of Church

October 14, 2014

HOUSTON — The mission of the Office of Justice and Peace Ministry for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is to encourage the faithful to pursue the common good and promote justice and peace throughout society. 

Supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), the office works within the broader community to assure, that on matters of social concern, the Catholic voice is heard in the public square. 

“We seek to provide opportunities for the Catholic faithful to live the gospel call for justice and mercy for the poor and those pushed to the margins,” said Deacon Sam Dunning, current and founding director of the Office of Justice and Peace. “We promote a deeper understanding among the Catholic faithful that this call is an essential component of our being a Eucharistic people. Just as we take in the body and blood of Christ, we are called to take Christ to the world; making holy the temporal order by the way we live morally and socially.”

For the past 12 years, under Deacon Dunning’s guidance, the office serves to advance the social concerns agenda of the U.S. bishops, the Texas Catholic Conference and Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. Deacon Dunning monitors and, when deemed appropriate, expresses the bishops’ positions on matters of public policy and community concerns.

The Office also serves as a resource to Cardinal DiNardo as well as Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz and the Catholic faithful regarding public policy developments, community concerns and justice and peace efforts locally, nationally and globally. 

Topics include immigration, religious liberty, upholding the sanctity of life, lifting up the poor and vulnerable, and helping promote the common good.

Another important program coordinated through the Office of Justice and Peace is the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the domestic, anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. It serves to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and financial support of community-based, self-help organizations, and through transformative justice education. 

During its 30-year history, the campaign has funded more than 3,500 self-help projects developed by grassroots groups of poor persons across the United States. 

“There are many people who are very vulnerable living in our Archdiocese,” Dunning said. “They are not looking for a handout, but an opportunity to live in dignity in spite of their very serious challenges. I am proud the Church through CCHD is helping empower them.”

Deacon Dunning also extended an invitation for those interested in participating in the upcoming Catholic Advocacy Day in March 2015 held during the session of the Texas State Legislature. Bus transportation and details will be available on the Archdiocesan Web site in coming months. 

Also, Deacon Dunning extends an offer to any pastor or parish social minister in organizing social justice efforts at the parish level.