Bishop John Noonan is bringing a message of Catholic Social Teaching to high school seniors in the five Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Orlando. His message is based on the “Signs of the Times” video, part of the bishop’s “The Way, The Truth, The Life” video series, an educational initiative to help the faithful understand the teachings of the Catholic Church as they relate to the important issues of our time.
On Oct. 31, Bishop Noonan, along with Deborah Shearer, director of the Diocese of Orlando Office of Advocacy and Justice, and Stephanie Bosse, coordinator for Catholic Relief Services, visited Santa Fe Catholic High School in Lakeland.
“One of the most important things about society and culture today is that we are becoming individualistic,” Bishop Noonan said. “The Church says we are to live as citizens of the world. We are called to be responsible. In other words, if someone is hungry in another part of the world, do we just ignore it? We have a moral responsibility to respond to that. That is what Catholic Social Teaching is talking about.”
During the one-hour, interactive session, students explored the many injustices of the world today– from abortion, to starvation, slave labor and even human trafficking taking place right in their backyards – through videos, talks, and small group and whole group discussions.
“The signs of the times are the things that we see and then use Catholic Social Teaching to interpret so that we can make our world a better place,” Bosse said.
The students brainstormed on how they could make a difference, and while their ideas were plentiful, Shearer said one of the greatest impacts they could make was to vote.
“You need to register when you are of age and then you have to vote,” Shearer said. “Without us getting engaged, slavery continues, homelessness continues. We have to be the advocate for those people who cannot vote– the undocumented, the homeless, the unborn child, the elderly, people with disabilities. We have to be their voice and we have to advocate on their behalf. That is our responsibility.”
“Christ calls us to be participants in the world,” Bishop Noonan said. “You need to ask yourself, ‘What can I do? Can I do something better? Can I truly bring some hope, love, appreciation, justice? Can I bring what it truly needed at this point into this world?’ You can be the movers and shakers of society. You can make a difference.”
The visits are also part of Bishop Noonan’s quest to meet with upperclassmen throughout the school year, an initiative he began last year. Earlier, he visited Melbourne Central Catholic High School in Melbourne. In the days and weeks to come, he will meet with students from Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando, Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala and Father Lopez Catholic High School in Daytona Beach. To view a video on the “Signs of the Times,” visit www.orlandodiocese.org/wtl-sign-of-the-times.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Church’s social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. The key themes that are at the heart of our Catholic social tradition are:
- Life and Dignity of the Human Person
- Call to Family, Community, and Participation
- Rights and Responsibilities
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
- Care for God’s Creation
To learn more, visit www.usccb.org and search “Catholic Social Teachings.”