Social Justice Committee

Purpose & Responsibilities/Activities

The Social Justice Committee is one of the standing committees of the Parish Pastoral Council. The Social Justice Committee continues the ministry of Jesus by service to marginalized persons and persons with special needs. The Social Justice Committee bridges the gap between the Gospel and the world. 

The committee’s purpose and responsibilities are specified more completely in official guidance provided by the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Please see page 38 and page 39 (see below) of the MANUAL FOR PARISH PASTORAL COUNCILS.

Section A. Purpose

1. To continue the ministry of Jesus by service to marginalized persons and persons with special needs.

2. To promote and coordinate programs which will promote justice and charity in full measure to all of God’s children.

3. To provide opportunities for parishioners to respond to the social needs of today.

Section B. Membership

1. Appointed and/or volunteer according to the bylaws of the local pastoral council constitution.

2. Demonstrated interest in justice, in serving the needy, and in promoting respect for all persons.

Section C. Functions

1. To study the papal encyclicals and statements of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and of the Iowa Catholic Conference which: (1.8)

a. Describe our Catholic social teachings.

b. Assist us in advocating for just public policies by discerning the questions and

 the viable options.

2. To educate toward the realization that baptism calls each person to care for the needs of the universal Church and the world. (1.8, 4.1)

3. To educate and motivate parishioners about issues relating to justice, peace, hunger, the marginalized. (1.8)

4. To organize avenues for parishioners to respond directly to local needs. (1.8)

5. To coordinate and advocate for parish service programs and mission projects, e.g., parish twinning or partnership programs which promote solidarity, Thanksgiving clothing drive, local food collections for the poor, special collections for the poor and for emergency disaster relief, the semiannual 3-in-1 collections for national and international organizations sponsored by the USCCB, etc. (1.8, 4.1)

6. To be apprised of programs and resources available through Catholic Charities, the Archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, the Rural Life Conference, as well as Internet connections which can assist in education and networking, and also of the efforts for legislative advocacy coordinated by the Iowa Catholic Conference and the offices of the USCCB. (1.8)

7. To promote systemic change by informing and empowering parishioners to use principles of community organizing. These principles promote awareness of poverty, social analysis, and grassroots organizing so that the dignity and rights of each person may be preserved by social and religious institutions. (1.8) 38

8. To practice social justice through direct service, through policy formation, advocacy, and any other means which promote justice and peace. (1.8)

9. To communicate the work of the committee to the pastoral council via written report or liaison.


In accord with Catholic Social Justice teaching, the Social Justice Committee addresses these goals.  The committee’s goal is to promote and coordinate programs that strive and guarantee to provide justice and charity in full measure to all of God’s people in local and world communities, especially the poor, lonely, aged, oppressed, homeless, and minority groups.  It promotes and coordinates programs that strive to provide justice and charity in full measure to all of God’s people. The committee seeks to realize these goals by direct service, policy formation, and advocacy.

  • Through official encouragement of Committee members and St. Cecilia parish members to support and involve themselves in the conduct of worthy activities sponsored by the Parish and other organizations in the Ames and larger community which include:
    • Alternative Gift Market (Advent activity)
    • Ames Interfaith Refugee Alliance (AIRA)
    • Ames Sanctuary Interfaith Partners (ASIP)
    • Ames Catholic Creation Care Team (in partnership with St. Thomas Aquinas)
    • Food at First (free meal and market opportunities)
    • Mid Iowa Community Action Food Pantry Collection (monthly)
    • Operation Rice Bowl (Lenten activity)
    • Prison Ministry
    • Sanctity of Human Life committee
    • St. Cecilia Parish Christmas Giving Tree
    • St. Cecilia Parish Christmas Market
  • Help support the activities of other organizations that are active in social justice areas.  On Good Samaritan weekend (the 3rd full weekend of the month), we ask these organizations provide a narthex display highlighting the purpose and works of its organization as well as interact with students of St. Cecilia Parish during that month.
  • Share monthly donations of funds provided by the parish through the Good Samaritan black bag collections with these examples of these organizations:
  • Ames Catholic Worker “Mustard Seed” Community Farm

Mustard Seed Community Farm is dedicated to sustainable, simple living, love of our neighbor, and creating a community in which everyone can participate in growing and eating delicious, healthy, locally produced food. Our farm is a part of the Catholic Worker movement, which is an interfaith, inclusive, social justice movement. We welcome persons of all backgrounds, spiritual beliefs, genders and sexualities.

  • Ames Catholic Worker “Romero” House

We invite those transitioning from homelessness, incarceration, or inadequate/unstable housing to stay with us and be part of a safe, stable home. There is no rent, judgement, and no expectations; only love, acceptance, and peace. Our mission stems from the encounter with the human person and our belief that the intrinsic dignity Jesus preaches is a love for each person in action.

  • Assault Care Extending Shelter & Support (ACCESS)

Access provides services and support to victims of domestic and sexual violence. Their mission is to address the roots and impact of domestic and sexual violence through services that enhance safety, empower survivors, and promote understanding.

  • Butterfly Freedom House

A home for women transitioning from incarceration.  This home works to encourage residents to pursue their faith as they rebuild their lives in Ames and transition back into the community.

  • Catholic Charities

The mission of Catholic Charities is to reduce poverty, strengthen families, and empower communities in the 30 most northeast counties of Iowa.   Our mission is deeply rooted in Catholic Social Teaching.

  • Food at First

Food At First is a local non-profit organization consisting of a daily Free Meal program and perishable food distribution known to the community as the Food at First Free Market. FAF is dedicated to providing meals to anyone who is struggling with hunger and food insecurity, no questions asked.

  • Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance, Inc.

Provides emergency rent and utility assistance to prevent homelessness or disconnection. Helps with the purchase of healthy foods and gas vouchers to address transportation needs.

  • Haiti Fund

St. Cecilia Parish partners with Holy Family Cluster in Iowa to help support Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Anse Rouge, Haiti.  There are 5 schools and about 500 students.  St. Cecilia donates $920 per year.  This covers one teacher’s salary ($70 per month for 9 months) and tuition and hot meals for three students ($120) per year.

  • Home For Awhile

An organization that seeks to reduce homelessness in our community. Families who have been recently evicted or are nearing homelessness are eligible for three months of subsidized housing through Home for Awhile. Various local relief agencies refer families, and qualifying families are selected by the Home for Awhile leadership team.

  • Martha’s House of Hope

A home for expecting mothers.  Here they are committed to providing shelter, life skills and hope to pregnant mothers and their babies; to strive for lives of self-reliance, a sense of service and the realization of their God-given dignity, regardless of their beliefs.

  • Matthew 25 House

Matthew 25 House, Inc. provides a Christian family environment to former male inmates. It establishes a warm and wholesome atmosphere which most of the residents have never experienced. Scripture study, regular worship services, and daily prayers are an important rhythm of the men’s twelve- month tenure, helping foster stability and positive values.

  • Obria Medical Clinics of Iowa

Obria Medical Clinic of Ames offers faith-based life-affirming services including: Pregnancy verification – pregnancy test, ultrasound, and early prenatal care from 6 to 12 weeks Pre-termination evaluations – no-coercion decision.

  • One Heart Catholic Mission

One Heart Catholic Missions is a local nonprofit run by St. Cecilia parishioner, Dawn Aitchison. The purpose of OHCM is to do mission work, mainly in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Relief will be given to the poor in various forms including but not limited to: food, clothing, improving shelter conditions, improving school facilities, helping with medical needs and funeral expenses.  For several years, OHCM has been sponsoring two meals a month to be made for the children and families living in the dump in Chinandega. Each mission trip includes participation in some type of construction (helping build or repair a home, church, or school), visits to an orphanage, visits to at least one elementary school, in-home visits to the sick/elderly in a local community in Chinandega, Nicaragua and various other relational ministries with the people Dawn has come to know.

  • Save the Rain

Instead of drilling wells, we construct rainwater harvesting systems and sustainable gardens.  By doing so, we create consistent access to clean water and food security for communities right at their doorsteps.  With no dependency on electricity, pumping or western additives our rainwater collection systems are engineered to US standards to stand the test of time.

  • Sister Water Project

The Dubuque Franciscan Sisters founded the Sister Water Project in 2004 to bring potable water to the people of Honduras and Tanzania.  They are committed to protecting the precious resource of water, to advocate for everyone’s right to clean water, and to do their part to making it accessible to the most vulnerable.  Together they are God’s hands and feet working to provide the basic necessity of water while improving the quality of life where water was once scarce. www.sisterwaterproject

  • St. Cecilia Parish Individual Assistance

St. Cecilia Individual Assistance provides help to parishioners and others in Story County who find themselves in need of assistance with rent, utilities, gas or food due to unexpected situations in their life. We work closely with other agencies, especially Story County Community Services and Good Neighbor as primary contacts. All requests are reviewed to validate need. Funds for Individual Assistance come from the St. Cecilia Social Justice committee and from individuals or groups who choose to contribute. Thank you very much for your prayers and support for those in need! Deacon Ron Smith

  • St. Cecilia Parish Giving Tree

The Giving Tree tradition at St. Cecilia began in the late 1970’s when parishioner, the late Peg Buchanan, persuaded Fr. Arnold Dearing of the need in the parish and community during the holiday season. In the beginning gifts were provided to patients at the hospital and home bound parishioners. The program soon grew to include nursing homes, various mental health facilities and organizations.

Through the years, the organizations we have served has changed as other groups in the community recognized the need and began to provide the service.  In 2009 parish families requesting assistance during the holiday season were added to the list.  Deacon Ron works with individual families requesting or needing assistance.  Because clothing sizes vary too much and if there is a great need the parent will request the correct size and it will be marked on the gift tag.  Some parishioners like to purchase toys for children and other like the simplicity of giving gift cards.

  • The Bridge Home

Our mission is to walk with those who have fallen on hard times to help them find hope and a home.  Founded in 1985, The Bridge Home is devoted to bridging the gap between homelessness and housing by providing shelter, support, and inspiring a pathway forward to individuals and families experiencing or on the verge of homelessness.

  • Wings of Refuge

Wings of Refuge helps survivors of sex trafficking by providing them with opportunities, a safe home, healing, and restoration. A Christ-centered organization.

Examples of organizations doing Works of Mercy and receiving annual donations are:

  • Ames Ecumenical Housing (affordable housing)
  • Ames Sewing Team – Kits for Girls (personal menstruation kits)
  • A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy – AMOS (advocacy)
  • Finca International (micro-financing)
  • Friendship Ark (mental illness)
  • Habitat for Humanity (affordable housing)
  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (mental illness)

The committee meets monthly on the 3rd Monday of the month at 7:00 in the Oscar Romero Room.  All are welcome.

Additional Information

Want to know more about Catholic Social Teaching? See: Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions.


Please click here for current members.


Please click here to go to the contact page, then select Social Justice Committee from the dropdown.


Please click here to view the meeting minutes.

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Mass & Reconciliation

Mass & Reconciliation