Living the Heart of Mercy This Year

The following post was contributed by Lisa Orchen, M.Div, Catholic Schools Outreach Coordinator, STEP, University of Notre Dame.

This time of year, Catholic schools around the country often collect food to provide Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holiday meals for people in their local community.  How can you as a Catholic school educators encase this Work of Mercy with education for justice?

Attend to your local community members who receive the food.

  • Who are the people in your local community who will receive the food you collected?
  • Take a field trip to the local agency where you donate your collected food.  Deliver the food and help sort and stock the shelves.  Interview the agency staff about who they serve, how food is distributed and their ongoing needs.

Learn the demographics of your community

  • How many people live in my community?
  • What socio-economic classes make up my community?
  • What is the average annual income for a household in my community?
  • How many households in my community live below the poverty line?
  • How does my community compare to wider U.S. population?
  • Create a report on all that you learn with graphs, charts & statistics.

Advocate on behalf of those who go hungry in your community.

  • Learn the names and contact information for your local legislators.
  • Compose letters telling your local legislators what you have learned about poverty in your local community and asking them to work to end the local causes of poverty.
  • Create a short “video” about local poverty and the works of mercy.

Pray for your local community members who receive food.

  • A novena is a prayer that is said nine times for a specific intention. Commit as a school, class or small group to offer a novena (meet nine times) to say a special prayer (perhaps one that you compose) for those in your local community who will enjoy the food you collected and donated.
  • Create hand-made cards to accompany the collected food donations.
  • Create a prayer card that will go home with every child in your school community to be prayed at their holiday table with their family.