Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates





CCHD Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest (ongoing, through March 1)      

Schools and parishes are encouraged to use the Youth Arts contest as a way to engage youth in grades 7 through 12 in awareness about the causes of poverty, Catholic social teaching, the two feet of social action, and the work and witness of groups funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The 2011 contest theme is: Put Faith in Action! Uproot Poverty Together. All types of art (e.g. video, song, painting, acting, writing, etc.) are welcome. Entries must be turned into the Office of Advocacy and Justice by March 1, 2011.

The Arts Contest Program offers dozens of pages of lesson plans and activities that can be used across disciplines—by theology, art, English, social studies, government, music, and other teachers—as well as in youth ministry and catechetical programs.  The spring semester is an excellent time for parishes and schools to begin implementing the contest/program. For more information contact or call 407-246-4819.  We hope many new schools will participate in 2011 and check our website for past winning entries.


Feast of St. Francis

Los Angeles Links Life and Pledge in Celebration of Feast of St. Francis

In preparation of the Feast of St. Francis on Tuesday, the Creation Sustainability Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is offering suggestions for individuals and parishes to integrate into their lives the five commitments of the St Francis Pledge – PRAY, LEARN, ASSESS, ACT, ADVOCATE –and to see the relevance of caring for God’s creation as a precept of faith.

The Ministry is also connecting caring for God’s Creation and the St. Francis Pledge to October’s designation as Respect Life Month: Grounded in Scriptures and Catholic Social Teaching, we are called to witness to the interconnectedness and sacredness of all life.  As our parishes observe Respect Life Month, the legacy of St Francis and words of the St Francis Pledge state our resolve to preserve creation with responsible energy use and consumption of resources today, while protecting the earth from degradation for the unborn that will inherit the planet in the future.

To learn more about the Creation Sustainability Ministry, access resources, research ideas for a green team at your parish visit their website.


University of Notre Dame Uses Toolkit to Celebrate Feast of St. Francis

On Tuesday October 4th, the Notre Dame community will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment. The celebration, which has recently become a tradition at Notre Dame, will be marked by a special Mass, festivities, thought-provoking discussion, and opportunities to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis, who was known for his love for nature and the poor.

This year’s Feast of St. Francis comes at a time of increasing concern for the health of the planet but also of increased awareness and activism, including in the American Catholic community. Notre Dame’s Office of Sustainability recently collaborated with the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and six other national organizations of Catholic higher education to publish Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education: A Toolkit for Mission Integration. This toolkit has been disseminated to Catholic colleges and universities across the country to provide guidance and resources that will help them further integrate sustainability into the fabric of campus life.

Read more about Notre Dame’s Feast of St. Francis celebration here.


Churches Call for “A Time for Creation”

Six years ago, Dr. Gregg Stoner’s wife invited him to join a class on social issues at their church. He figured he’d go to six or seven meetings, then volunteer at a homeless shelter for a day. The classes changed his life – and his views on poverty and health care.

“I feel like it transformed my life,” Stoner said. “I started doing some things I might not have done. I probably thought, like a lot of people, that if poor people studied harder, worked harder, they could get out of it.”

But the JustFaith classes helped him understand the broader structural impediments that make it difficult for many people to work their way out of poverty.  Sister Rachel Bergschneider also experienced that transformation: “It [JustFaith] gave me a much more in-depth understanding and sensitivity to difficult issues throughout the world.”

Learn more about the experience of Dr. Stoner and Sister Bergshneider here.

The Coalition recently helped JustFaith revise the JustFaith Matters Module: Creation Cries for Justice: Climate Change Impacts & Faithful Response.  The resource is an eight session study on Catholic teaching, current science, stories of impacts on real people, and how to take action on climate change.

Find out more about the Module here.

At a time when the impact of climate change remains a major global concern, churches around the world are calling for a renewed commitment towards the environment and ecosystems.


Interfaith Power & Light Cool Congregations Challenge

The Cool Congregations Challenge recognizes houses of worship that are becoming energy efficient and are seen as role models of sustainability.  The contest is promoted by Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit organization working to inspire and support a religious response to global warming.

Top cash prizes of $1,000, plus additional prizes will go to winning contestants in each category:

•    Energy Efficiency (incl. heating and cooling)

•    Renewable Energy

•    Grounds and Water Conservation

•    Helping Congregants Lower Household Energy Use

By competing, parishes can practically and publicly live out their commitments to mission-based sustainability. Parishes and other congregations will also likely lower their utility bills, be less dependent on polluting fossil fuels, more engaged members, and a lower carbon footprint.  Project descriptions and photos will also be shared on IPL’s website to provide inspiration to others interested in creating a better future. All participants will receive a 2011 Cool Congregations Challenge certificate suitable for framing.  More details are available here.


Energy Stewardship Webinars

GreenFaith, with US EPA’s ENERGY STAR for Congregations Office, is pleased to offer a free three-part webinar series – Energy Stewardship for Religious Facilities.  The series will take place on October 10th, 17th and 24th from 8:30-9:30 pm ET.  It’s open to leaders, members and managers of religious institutions across the country.  Your community is welcome to participate in one or all three webinars.

Most parishes, schools and other religious institutions can reduce their energy use and costs substantially, but don’t know what steps to take or how to measure their progress.  This webinar series will teach you the best practices that have saved religious facilities thousands of dollars.  The webinars cover a range of topics, including:

The sessions will focus on: temperature control and space usage; lighting, appliances, weather stripping and insulation; and benchmarking and monitoring a facility’s energy use.  Learn more and register here.


Aging Resources

Programs for those in Need – This website summarizes many of the assistance programs offered through the state of Florida, including Medicaid assistance.  Visit   

Aging in Place Seminar – This year’s event is on “Healthy Homes Make Healthy Communities”.  It’s October 13 at the Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando from 8:30 am-3:30 pm. It’s $20 and includes breakfast and lunch.  Learn about how you can stay in your home!  Visit  or call 407-247-7190. 

Living Well Expo– Learn about eating right, spending smart and living well at this Cooperative Extension expo on October 22, 8:30 am–3:00 pm, 6021 S. Conway Rd, Orlando. Registration is $25. Visit    

Free Driver Safety Classes – AARP’s Driver Safety Program is offering free classroom courses to all veterans – regardless of age from Nov. 1 –30.  Visit for classes in Central Florida.

Communicating w/ People w/ Dementia – Naomi Feil, the founder of “validation therapy”, is visiting Central Florida on November 5 at the Winter Park Towers.  $25 fee.  8:30 am (for professionals) or 12:30 (caregivers).  Visit or call 407-843-1910. 


Other News

Updated Caregiver Website—AARP has updated their caregiving website.  Visit

Long Term Care Scorecard – Visit to find out how Florida ranks on services for elders and caregivers. 

New Fact Sheets – The Family Caregiver Alliance has several new fact sheets.  Get them at under “what’s new”. 

Value of Caregiving – This AARP report shows the growing economic value of family caregiving.  Visit