Monthly Catholic Social Teaching

NCEA is pleased to offer a series of service projects, prayers and activities surrounding the series of Catholic Social Teachings each month. The summaries and scripture references were taken from The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

February/March: Rights and Responsibilities

The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities—to one another, to our families, and to the larger society. (USCCB 7 Themes of Catholic Social Teaching)

Explanation/Activity: Rights and Responsibilities provides that every person, no matter where they are living or their circumstance, deserves access to food, water, shelter, and other things that guarantee a person can live with decency and dignity. For these months, there are many things schools can do to highlight this important teaching. High school students could have a town hall type discussion forum to talk about the best way to get food and water to countries/areas in need. Charities like Heifer International work to bring long term, sustainable solutions to poverty based on the needs of the particular place. Individual Classes or an entire school could work sponsor an animal through Heifer. To raise awareness, a school or class could hold a "hunger banquet" to talk about food distribution and hunger awareness. Oxfam has an easy-to-use template that could be readily adapted.

Service Project Tie-in: Schools could connect with Catholic Relief Services and organize a fundraiser that helps distribute needed food, water or other items to communities around the world. Perhaps even a local CRS representative could come to talk to students about the work they do and the help they need. Information about Catholic Relief Services can be found online. As Lent also begins during the month of February, CRS’s Lenten rice bowl collection could be a great way to emphasize the importance of their work. Locally, students could also visit soup kitchens, homeless shelters, to serve and help these places that try to provide basic dignity to people in their own local communities.

Modern Tie-in: Issues of hunger, homelessness, poverty locally, and how elected leaders are working to address it.

Prayer Service Suggestion:

Opening Prayer:
Father God, creator of all people, you have given us all things necessary to live a helpful and quality life. Be with us today as we pray for all people, that we will be able to work to help everyone have what they need. We know you created all people, and desire all people to live a life filled with dignity. Help us bring your kingdom to everyone. Amen.
Tobit 4:5-11. Through all your days, son, keep the Lord in mind, and do not seek to sin or to transgress the commandments. Perform righteous deeds all the days of your life, and do not tread the paths of wickedness. For those who act with fidelity, all who practice righteousness, will prosper in their affairs. Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, so that God’s face will not be turned away from you. Give in proportion to what you own. If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance; if you have but little, do not be afraid to give alms even of that little. You will be storing up a goodly treasure for yourself against the day of adversity. For almsgiving delivers from death and keeps one from entering into Darkness. Almsgiving is a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who practice it.
A speaker could be invited from a local Catholic Charities, or Catholic Relief Services to talk about services they provide and how they help people to not only receive what they need, but move out of poverty. Or, a faculty member or student could share about an organization they volunteer with that helps ensure all people have what they need.
Reflective activity:
Different reflections from scripture and tradition should be read out loud from different parts of the prayer space. Images can accompany these readings if desired. Possible readings can be found online.
Closing prayer:
Creator God, we thank you for the many gifts you give us, and for giving us the ability to help ensure others have what they need. Continue to bless us with generous hearts and the courage to reach out and make sure everyone has what they need. We thank you for watching over us and guiding us, enabling us to walk in your light. Amen.

For Elementary Schools

We begin Lent on St. Valentine's Day. We are asked to "repent and hear the Good News." What better way to do this than to give to others. This activity from Cross Catholic Outreach is an opportunity to learning and giving.

The Prayer Service can be used for all grades.