When I think about “unleashing the Gospel,” it can be tempting to reduce this mission to the verbal declaration of the good news of Jesus. Images of preaching on street corners, hosting evangelistic events and experiences and sharing my testimony with a friend over coffee come to mind. And while none of these activities are bad, just as necessary is the work of evangelical charity: service to the poor and marginalized that is a clear witness to Jesus.
In Unleash the Gospel, Archbishop Vigneron reminds us, “Every Catholic charitable work must also be an authentic expression of Catholic faith. We must be unabashed to speak the name of Jesus and to invite every person to the fullness of life in him. The world needs the light that is in Christ alone.” In addition to the preaching of the Gospel, sharing the light of Christ with others through charitable works is just as critical to the mission that we are on as joyful missionary disciples. This work can attract outsiders to the faith, to an eventual encounter with Jesus!
In anticipation of the more flexible schedules and longer days that summer will bring, now is a great time to start thinking about how we can fit more evangelical charity work into our daily lives, for the sake of unleashing the Gospel. While there are countless ministries and services you can find and be a part of via the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Evangelical Charity Finder, here are a few you can reach out to as you fill your calendar for the summer:
- Better Way Detroit provides dignity to those experiencing homelessness by offering the opportunity to work for pay, through organizations like St. Vincent de Paul, Goodfellows and Detroit Parks. Learn more about how you can volunteer by helping to prepare meals and assist with on-site events.
- The Pope Francis Center welcomes hundreds of guests experiencing homelessness each week to provide them with meals, showers, laundry and access to essential medical and social services. Volunteers are needed to support their meal service, front office and shower support, laundry service and special projects.
- St. Aloysius Neighborhood Services is the community outreach arm of St. Aloysius parish located in the heart of Downtown Detroit. Their Neighborhood Services seek to meet a variety of needs of those in the neighborhood, but throughout the summer you can sign up as a group to support their Saturday morning BBQs or, on every third Saturday of the month, distribute essential items to those in need throughout Downtown through their Backpack Ministry. Learn more and contact them to make a plan to get involved.
*Please note, given the types of services provided by some of these groups, volunteering may not be suitable for a young person. Please inquire directly with the ministry listed for more information.
- Crossroads Care Center located in Auburn Hills, is a Christian nonprofit providing free and confidential medical, educational and support services and resources related to pregnancy and sexual health. They invite people to get involved in several different volunteer roles covering everything from clerical to fundraising to social media needs. Check out their volunteer page for more information.
- The Lennon Center is where women facing an unplanned pregnancy can find support in discovering what she can do, as opposed to what she can’t do. Offering everything from free ultrasounds to parenting classes to continued assistance, the Lennon Center is a great place to live out our pro-life position as Catholics by being Christ’s hands and feet to women in one of the most pivotal moments of their lives. While they don’t list specific volunteer needs, you can consider hosting a baby shower or collect donations to support their important work.
- Walking With Moms in Need, a partnership between Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan and the Archdiocese of Detroit seeks to make each parish in the Archdiocese a place where moms and their babies are welcomed and supported and where the dignity of every human life is upheld and valued. If you and your family feel called to volunteer at a local pregnancy center, learn more about how you can get involved.
- The St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center provides personalized, one-on-one tutoring for children and adults to bridge the education gap. They rely on volunteers to support them in a number of ways including tutoring, administrative assistance and marketing. You can apply to volunteer and express interest and qualification for any of these areas via this form.
- Vista Maria serves the youth in a number of ways including human trafficking survivor support, foster care, residential treatment programs, academic services and more. Volunteers can serve their residents by hosting residential activities, offering one-on-one mentorship, working with the facilities team to beautify their campus and more! Explore their volunteer opportunities and get involved here.
No matter what you and your family have already committed to with your summer plans, consider how you can incorporate evangelical charity into your schedule so that, through your service and sharing your heart for Jesus, more may be drawn into a relationship with him! Learn more about where you can serve on the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Evangelical Charity Finder.