Diana Sims Snider, Special to The Catholic Virginian

Since last spring, the Office of Social Ministry (OSM) has undergone changes in staffing and areas of responsibility and has renewed its focus on its core mission of supporting and providing resources to parish social ministers in their work implementing Catholic Social Teaching within their parish boundaries.

Last spring, Michael F. School, who also directs the Office of Evangelization and the Center for Marriage, Family and Life, was named interim director of OSM by Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo following the March departure of the former director. James Mwangi, OSM regional coordinator, continues to support the work of OSM in this interim period, along with the support from the Office for Evangelization and Center for Marriage, Family and Life.

Prior to his death, Bishop DiLorenzo, who had reached retirement age, decided that he would allow his successor to determine the focus and how to structure and staff OSM. School will continue to serve as interim director until after the new bishop is appointed and installed.

“Bishop DiLorenzo shared with me that he was very encouraged by the strength of our parish social ministry programs across the diocese. He wanted the OSM staff to spend more time focusing on providing resources and supporting parishes, which are closer to and know more precisely the social ministry needs of the local parish communities,” School said.

Following Bishop DiLorenzo’s request, OSM will add resources and tools to support these parish social ministry teams, he said. It will provide a parish social ministry handbook to jumpstart, assess and build strong social ministry committees. In addition, beginning in September, OSM will host monthly webinars called the “Salt and Light” webinar series, for clergy, social ministers, volunteers, campus ministers, lay leadership and others already engaged or interested in the social mission of the Church.

The webinars, coordinated by Mwangi, will explore the various aspects of Catholic Social Teaching. The series will feature different speakers and a variety of topics to help social ministers live out the Gospel and advance the mission of social ministry in their lives, parishes and communities.

Additionally, OSM will offer roving monthly regional gatherings of social ministers to provide professional development. Other resources will be revived, such as OSM’s monthly newsletter, with helpful resources for current ministry issues, and an updated OSM website.

In addition to parish social ministry support – the bulk of OSM’s work – the office will continue to direct and provide more robust support for the diocese’s Haiti ministry, prison ministry, and global solidarity efforts.

“I’m delighted with this new leadership, streamlined structure, and renewed emphasis on direct service to the poorest of the poor in our diocese and beyond,” said Fr. Michael Boehling, delegate for Pastoral Services, who oversees both the Office of Evangelization and the Office of Social Ministries.

OSM has transferred to other offices’ programs that fall more naturally within their area of focus, and it has discontinued other programs. For instance, Migrant Ministries has shifted from OSM to the Office of Hispanic Ministries, under the direction of Sister Inma Cuesta. The Fuel and Hunger Fund has moved to the Office for Propagation of the Faith, which supports diocesan mission parishes and is under the direction of Deacon Robert Griffin.

In order to provide a greater level of support to parishes, OSM has discontinued its one-year-pilot program, Verso L’Alto, as well as the SHINE Conference.

For questions about OSM, please contact osm@richmonddiocese.org; for questions about Migrant Ministries, contact omh@richmonddiocese.org; for questions about the Fuel and Hunger Fund, contact bgriffin@richmonddiocese.org.