How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
1 John 3:17
In Philadelphia and surrounding communities, poverty remains a heartbreaking and intractable reality for far too many. One in four families in Philadelphia live in poverty—the highest rate among the 10 most populous cities in the U.S. And in communities throughout our diocese, pockets of poverty endure. Research links poverty to exposure to violent crime, inadequate access to education and health care, and increased incidence of physical and emotional traumas. Poverty also is intrinsically linked to homelessness, which is driven by the opioid epidemic, domestic violence, mental illness, young people aging out of foster care, and lack of affordable housing.
As Christians, we are called to confront both the pain and root causes of poverty and homelessness. We preach the Good News to the poor, and stand with those seeking justice and righteousness. We should also bear in mind that Jesus never sought after wealth. Instead, as he told a scribe who vowed to follow him, “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
In response to this calling, we have created wellness centers that provide free medical and social services to communities across the diocese; we provide support to veterans who lack housing and medical care; we provide counseling through the Differently Abled Committee; we organize mental health first aid trainings for youth, adults and veterans; we address the issue of worldwide poverty through the Global Mission Committee; and we have organized a Health Committee to help parishes in promoting health.
What can one person do in the face of the enormously complex and interrelated challenges posed by poverty and homelessness in our communities? With God’s help, probably far more than you would think. Our Diocese has a range of ministries that help alleviate pain and suffering by addressing various aspects of poverty, including food, housing, medical care, social services, and more. Whether you feel called to begin a ministry in your parish or help with an existing one, we’re here to help.