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Catholic Charities provides updates to the Parish Liaison Network

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It has been a busy year for diocesan Catholic Charities with the addition of several new programs. Catholic Charities shared their updates at a quarterly Parish Liaison Network meeting at St. John Neumann Church in Reston March 14.

Sally O’Dwyer, director of volunteers for Catholic Charities, emphasized the important work of liaisons. “We want you to take this information back to your community to identify the needs and at the same time support Catholic Charities,” she said. “When we come together as a group we can do so much more.”

The liaisons learned about new programs, including the Mother of Mercy Free Clinic in Manassas; the Retreat for People Facing Serious Illness; the Welcome Home Re-Entry program; the Mobile Response Center; and an employment fair partnership with Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria. Progress reports were given on work with Catholic Relief Services, Stephen Ministries at Sacred Heart Church in Manassas and St. John Neumann’s Care for Our Common Home.

Susan Grunder, director of social ministry at Good Shepherd, said the idea of the April 28 employment fair is to bring employees and employers together for on-the-spot interviews at the church. There will be community resources, Catholic Charities counseling and help with writing resumes. “It’s more of a chance to help people looking for jobs and also those who may not know about resources available within our community,” she said. “We are hoping that once this model runs in our parish that other parishes will be interested in doing the same.”

The network meeting, which drew 60 people, began with an opening prayer by Art Bennett, president and CEO of Catholic Charities. The network includes leaders from parishes throughout the diocese who work with staff and agency volunteers. They serve as a link between the parish and Catholic Charities.

Joe Pettit, a parishioner of Nativity Church in Burke, learned about the Small Acts of Mercy weekend at Good Shepherd, where parishioners get to know the different service opportunities available. “That is the kind of thing that could be tried at Nativity,” he said. “I enjoy learning about things I didn’t know were available.”

For Sally Diaz-Wells, social justice and outreach minister at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington, the event brings focus. “It is easy to get lost in all the papers and emails you get from one group or another in the diocese,” she said. “This way, you get an opportunity to see everything at one time, figure out what you’re interested in and things that would work well with the groups at your parish.” 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018