Spring Newsletter 2014

Department of Social Concerns 
Catholic Charities  
In This Issue
Rural Life Celebration
Rural Poverty
Media Update
Intern Reflection
Muslim-Christian Dialogue
Global Reflection
Human Trafficking Panel
Quick Links

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CCHD Website 


Justice For Immigrants Website 

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The next local
24-25th, 2014
St. Francis Center Little Falls, MN
Check-in begins at 5:30PM on Friday and ends at 5:30PM on Saturday

Registration details coming soon!

Be sure to mark your calendar now!
"Living our Baptism to the full . . . also means
not accustoming ourselves to the situations of degradation and misery that we encounter as we walk along the streets of our cities and towns. . . . We become accustomed to brothers and sisters sleeping on the streets, who have no roof to shelter them. We become accustomed to refugees seeking freedom and dignity, who are not received as they ought to be. . .Lent comes to us as a providential time to change course, to recover the ability to react to the reality of evil which always challenges us. Lent is to be lived as a time of conversion, as a time of renewal for individuals and communities, by drawing close to God and by trustfully adhering to the Gospel. In this way, it also allows us to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters and their needs."

- Pope Francis, General Audience, March 5, 2014

Pope Francis Mania!



I always enjoy having a chance to talk with you in our newsletters.  Listening to you is an important part of the conversation, so please call and let us know how you are doing in your parish and in your life.  We love hearing from you!

We also love hearing from Pope Francis.  In the opening of this newsletter you see a message from Pope Francis referencing Lent, but I believe it can be a message for any season.  He speaks about "recovering the ability to react to evil" and I believe that message says a lot about the work we do.

Recently I was speaking with someone about human trafficking and she said, "That is just not something I think about.  It's just not part of my world at all."  Many of us find ourselves very grateful for what we have and the gift of our lives.  If we stop at being grateful for our privilege, without letting injustice make us uncomfortable enough to act, we have missed just what Pope Francis is talking about.  Being grateful for discomfort in the face of inequity and marginalization is a grace we all need to pray for.

It seems to be the buzz around the diocese that reading the Pope's second encyclical, The Joy of the Gospel, is the latest fad.  Everywhere I go I hear someone saying, "Oh, you just have to read it!".  I won't be saying that to you, but you get the message!  In case you are interested in a best read for the summer months, you can find it online here or order your own copy here.  Happy summer reading!



Rural Life Celebration
Princeton, MN
Sunday, August 17th
10:00 a.m.

Come and join us in this Diocesan Celebration of rural life at the family farm of Brenda & Mark Winkelman.  We will begin with an outdoor Mass at
11:00 a.m. with Bishop Kettler presiding. A guest speaker, free lunch and local entertainment will round out the day. The theme this year is 'Care for God's Creation: Celebrating the International Year of the Family Farmer'. 

Much of our Diocese is made up of people living in rural communities and on farms, so it is only right that we take time to celebrate the gift that rural life is and this Diocese.

Mark you calendars and join in the festivities!  Watch for more information coming soon in the St. Cloud Visitor or on our website.
Rural Life Leadership Initiative

Living our Faith in the World
Participants Complete Their Instruction



       Over twenty individuals representing 10 parishes recently completed 9 months of instruction on Catholic Social Teaching and parish social ministry.  Living our Faith in the World combined skills like the core competencies for effective community work and Servant Leadership along with personal reflection and discernment to instruct and inspire participants to work more effectively in their parishes.

       Teams held parish-wide listening sessions to generate input from the congregations that would be used in future strategic planning.  Social Concerns staff will meet with each team this summer to plan how to act on the information gathered in the listening session and to assist bringing additional members to the team.

       Even before the last session was completed the Spirit already was at work!  The team from Holy Cross parish in Onamia applied what they learned from the sessions to create a short survey.  Pastors will hand out this survey to those individuals who are looking for financial assistance from the parish.  This voluntary survey will gather important information on additional needs or services the team might be able to provide. 

       In this pontificate of Pope Francis, serving others and acting mercifully have gained new momentum.  Catholics have always been called to live their faith sacramentally, prophetically and in service to others, especially to those living on the margins of society.  Today, perhaps more than any time in recent memory, Catholics are reinventing themselves in the image of Christ the humble servant.  Living our Faith in the World seeks to tap into this growing awareness of the need for charity and justice, in the diocese and around the world.

       As Bishop Kinney pointed out in his pastoral letter "As I Have Done For You, So You Also Should Do," the Social Concerns department of Catholic Charities is capable and willing to assist parishes in the diocese to set up and maintain effective social ministry teams. 

With the appointment of Bishop Kettler to lead the Diocese of St. Cloud, the Living our Faith in the World effort is certain to continue in our rural parishes.      


If your parish desires to form a social ministry team or if your current team could use help planning or organizing, please send us an email at dscott@ccstcloud.org or klanger@ccstcloud.org.   We are here to serve.


Doug Scott

Rural Life Coordinator

Catholic Charities, St. Cloud 

Rural Poverty


 Widening Gap with 

Urban Areas


 The USDA Economic Research Service has issued a report on the latest information about the rural economy and continuing poverty.


In 2012, 15 percent of the nation's population lived in poverty, and poverty rates were higher in rural than in urban areas. The metropolitan area poverty rate was 14.5 percent, but non-metro areas showed an increase to 17.7 percent of the population, or about 8.5 million people.


The numbers and percentages present the hard data; we also must look at the faces of poverty and wonder why it persists in many parts of the country. These include various parts of the South, Appalachia (particularly eastern Kentucky), the Ozarks, border areas from California to Texas, and Indian reservations in the Plains and West.


The Church takes special concern about the least among us. Learn more at the Poverty USA website hosted by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.


*Taken from Catholic Rural Life Bulletin 

Media Update!
We have entered the new age of Social Concerns!!! 
In recent months the Department of Social Concerns (and Catholic Charities as a whole) has updated their communications portals.  We now have a new website and our very own Facebook page.  Click on the links below to check us out!  Don't forget to 'like' our Facebook page!  See you there!

Social Concerns Webpage

Like us on Facebook

Intern Reflection
What a Year! 
When I first arrived at Catholic Charities to work with the department of social concerns, my plan was unknown.  The uncertainty was in what God's plan was, where it would go, and what I was meant to learn.  Reflecting on the last nine months I realize that this internship was a gateway for me; a way for me to connect with a community of people who want to make a difference with those suffering on the margins.

After all this time I found myself to be extremely thankful; thankful to my coworkers who have walked me through this journey; thankful to the wonderful people who have opened themselves up to share their stories; and thankful to have had such a wonderful opportunity.  There is also an overwhelming sense of gratefulness; so very grateful to God for showing me that in order to inspire the world, we must all get involved, pray, and believe that His saving grace will reflect through our work.  Finally, this experience has left me feeling blessed.  Working with people in need has always been a passion of mine, and it is a true honor to be able to continue that work.  God has shown me that my many blessings can in turn be a blessing to those around me.  It is my duty as a christian woman to share my gifts with the world.

Thank you for all the love and support over the past nine months!  May God bless you all!

Ruth Knowles
Social Concerns Intern 
Catholic Charities, St. Cloud
Muslim-Christian Dialogue

CAIR Brings Dialogue on Tolerance to
Little Falls

On April 30 the Morrison Country Record published an article about an event that was hosted by the Franciscan Sisters in Little Falls.  It was a presentation by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), aiming at creating an ongoing dialogue between Christians and Muslims.  The Director of the Center for Learning Services and Social Change, and also the moderator for the event, Kevin LaNave, stated that "the purpose of the event was to learn about each other and build relationships through mutual respect. It was not about conversion."

Speaker Abd Alla notes that since September 11, 2001 many Americans have been afraid of Muslims, despite the fact that they have been here for hundreds of years.  The hatred that has formed around this faith, according to Abd Alla, is "McCarthyism: making accusations of disloyalty, subversion or treason without proper regard of evidence."  This type of hatred ultimately leads to many of the same actions we see whenever a particular group is being persecuted; mistreatment and discrimination.

As the event proceeded the Five Pillars of the Islamic faith were introduced and then questions were taken.  A participant responded by saing, "All we see is violence.  How can we be tolerant?" The response was "There are violent people in every culture. It doesn't necessarily have to do with religion...Religion is not the cause of the violence, it's the violent people."

At the end of the event the point was made that Christians and Muslims need to come to a place where we can work together.  We need be able to influence our society together and "keep each other in check."

To view the full article and learn more about Islam use the following link:
Out of the Ordinary - Reflection
Apology to My Brothers and Sisters in Developing Countries
                                           by Joyce Rupp
"To my brothers and sisters in developing countries:

While I was deciding which oat bran cereal to eat this morning, you were searching the ground for leftover grains from the passing wheat truck.

While i was jogging at the health center, you were working in the wealthy landowner's field under a scorching sun.

While I was choosing between diet and regular soda, your parched lips were yearning for a sip of clean water.

While I complained about the poor service in the gourmet restaurant, you were gratefully eating a bowl of rice.

While I poured my "fresh and better" detergent into the washing machine, you stood in the river with your bundle of clothes.

While I watched the evening news on my wide-screen television set, you were being terrorized and taunted by a dictatorial government.

While I read the newspaper and drank my cup of steaming coffee, you walked the long, dusty miles to a crowded schoolroom to learn how to read.

While I scanned the ads for a bargain on an extra piece of clothing, you woke up and put on the same shirt and pants that you have worn for many months.

While I built a fourteen-room house for the three of us, your family of ten found shelter in a one-room hut.

While I went to church last Sunday and felt more than slightly bored, you stood on the land with those around you and felt gratitude to God for being alive for one more day.

My brothers and sisters, forgive me for my arrogance and my indifference.  Forgive me for my greed of always wanting newer, bigger, and better things.  Forgive me for not doing my part to change the unjust systems that keep you suffering and impoverished.  I offer you my promise to become more aware of your situation and to change my lifestyle as I work for the transformation of our world."

*Taken from Out of the Ordinary: Prayers, Poems, and Reflections for Every Season, p. 102.
...a journey to freedom...
Prevention Campaign on Human Trafficking 
...a journey to freedom...

Organized by: Hands Across the World & the Central MN Sexual Assault Center

On Thursday, May 8th, 2014 over fifty people joined together to talk about the issue of human trafficking in the Central MN area.

The event was introduced by Jim Rothsteing (Advocate against Human Trafficking and Mayor of St. Martin), who spoke of the urgency for us to be active in the fight to address the evil of human trafficking in our area. 
The event also featured a panel of guest speakers to talk about what their organizations are doing to help this cause.  The City of St. Cloud Police Chief, Blair Anderson, was on the panel, along with Kathy Langer (Director of Social Concerns Catholic Charities), Gracemarie Thellon Brown (Founder & President of Gracemarie's Song & Chair of Central MN Human Trafficking Task Force), Rebecca Kotz (Founder of Students Against Trafficking and Sexploitation, SCSU), and Peggy LaDue (Central MN Sexual Assault Center, ED).  After brief introductions from the panel the audience members were able to ask questions.

To read the SC Times article on this event follow this link:
To learn more about Human Trafficking in Minnesota follow this link:
Happy Spring!

                            Kathy Langer                                                                                 Doug Scott
Director of Social Concerns                                                      Rural Life Coordinator
klanger@ccstcloud.org                                                                    dscott@ccstcloud.org
(320)229-6020                                                                                      (320)293-8975

Ruth Knowles
Social Concerns Intern
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN