Joan Rosenhauer
Joan Rosenhauer
An upcoming training conference will draw Catholics interested in parish social ministry from around Oregon and Washington.

“Opening a Horizon of Hope: Transformed by Christ to Love All,” will be held Friday and Saturday, April 4-5, at Resurrection Church in Tualatin.

The Archdioceses of Portland and Seattle, Catholic Charities of Oregon and Catholic Charities USA are collaborating to offer the regional training.

The training is not just for people who are already active in ministry, said Matt Cato, director of the Archdiocese of Portland’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace.
“It is also meant for individuals who have shown interest in social ministry but may not know where to start or what to do,” Cato said. “It is for anyone involved in parish social ministry or committed to Catholic Social Teaching. It is also ideal for anyone who simply wants to learn more.”

The training has local presenters – Father John Kerns, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego, and Pia de Leon, pastoral associate at St. Clare Church in Portland – and national presenters from Catholic Charities, USA, Catholic Relief Services and the National Council of St. Vincent de Paul.

Cato has created a leadership team of representatives from the various organizations, as well as local volunteers, to plan the conference. The theme that will run throughout is “community,” Cato said. He hopes to help social ministry leaders learn how to build community not only within in their own parish, but in their vicariates and neighborhoods. With more people involved in projects, parish ministries can have a bigger impact.

Social ministries at parishes should be structured in a way so they are not dependent on one person. That way, when a volunteer retires, the ministry carries on.

Leaders will also learn how to engage people in their own parishes.

“We’re not just committees,” he said. “When the choir gets together, they lead the congregation in song. If we just meet and don’t engage the parish, we’re just a committee, not a ministry.”

Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of Catholic Relief Services United States operations, will offer the opening keynote speech after an opening prayer led by Archbishop Alexander Sample.

On Saturday, speakers include Portland resident Jesús Huerta, national coordinator of diversity for Catholic Relief Services. He will talk about how participants can create a vibrant intercultural parish by fostering inclusion and integration.

All of the workshops and keynote addresses will be simultaneously interpreted.