Love in Action

3.3 Get Ready for Phase 2!

Solidifying a Love in Action Leadership Team and centralized coordinating structure will be more formally pursued in Phase 2 and beyond. To get a sense of what will be involved, the following information is a sneak preview of what a fully developed Love in Action ministry might look like in a Family of Parishes.

Every Family will define for itself what is most effective in organizing its parishioners’ talents toward advancing life and human dignity. Yet, it’s also important to imagine where the Family could be in a few years, always focused on growth in its promotion of the Gospel in the world.

There are two primary documents from the U.S. Catholic bishops to draw from for building what we envision as a successful Love in Action ministry:

  1. Communities of Salt and Light
  2. USCCB Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities.

While parish respect life and social action teams often rely on just a few individuals to organize baby bottle collections or volunteer at a homeless shelter, both of these documents require tapping into every Catholic’s baptismal call to serve.

Three Basic Messages

Communities of Salt and Light and Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities can be summarized with three key messages to help any Family of Parishes formulate a team for this important work:

  1. Parish Love in Action ministry should be integrated throughout parish life. As Matthew 25:31-46 reminds us, we will all be judged by how we have cared for the least among us. This means a parish’s social mission will be woven into its education programs, reflected in its prayer and worship and include a variety of opportunities so everyone can participate.
  2. Love in Action leadership should organize the work, not do the work. The primary role of these leaders is to provide opportunities and invite all members of the faith community to become involved in whatever ways they can. Organizers need not be present for everything they plan, and volunteers need not plan in order to serve.
  3. Parish Love in Action ministry should include both efforts to provide direct service or outreach to people in need and efforts to work for justice by shaping the policies, programs and structures of society. These two dimensions of the Catholic social mission are essential and complementary.

Basic Structure

The two aforementioned documents touch on two similar but slightly different ways to organize this ministry. The following is a synthesis of the ministry areas they propose (please refer to the documents themselves for more detail):

  • Prayer and Worship
  • Education and Formation
  • Family, Work, and Citizenship
  • Outreach, Charity, and Pastoral Care
  • Legislative Advocacy and Public Policy
  • Community Organizing
  • Global Solidarity

Love in Action Leadership Team

Parishes that seek to realize this vision will structure their Love in Action ministry so that someone or some group is responsible for making sure each element comes to life in the Family of Parishes. For those Families who have the ability, it could be quite complex. For others, especially when starting, it could be very simple. A more complex team could have a team leader for each of the seven areas noted above, ensuring various types of outreach are being done in that area. Others might choose a simpler model, covering only a few components.

Thinking of this differently, one might organize a few issue-specific teams in ministry areas (such as leaders for pregnancy care ministry, St. Vincent de Paul and visitation ministries). Then each of those three leaders would be aware that there is a need to think of opportunities in that area for not only direct pastoral care but also parish education, public policy advocacy and prayer and worship. Families of Parishes may realize that a member parish wants to spearhead action around a particular concern (e.g. organizing respect life activities), while another parish specializes in something else (e.g. assisting refugee resettlement).

Possibilities are nearly endless for how simple or complex a team can be. The important things are to start, remain aware of the goal and be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Begin to think about what this team might look like as you prepare for Phase 2.

3.1 Understand What’s Happening

During Phase I, your Transitional Team should take an opportunity to allow representatives from each of the member parishes in your new Family of Parishes to share their inventories. A Love in Action Combined Inventory Tool will assist you in this work.

If it helps, members of the archdiocesan Love in Action Team are happy to facilitate a conversation on the inventories. If your are interested in this, please contact Mary Anne Bressler at Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio at (513) 672-3714.  An opportunity to compare inventories is also included in the Love in Action Retreat in Module 2.

Do not make judgements about what each member parish is doing or not doing. Rather, this is an initial conversation intended to identify the existing strengths and potential overlaps in the new combined Family.  

To-do: Upload your completed Combined Inventory Tool.


It’s also important that everyone involved is familiar with the Love in Action principle, the parameters and vision points. Here are the parameters:

“Every Family of Parishes must offer support to their communities through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and promote a culture of life, charity and justice.”

“Every Family of Parishes will incorporate principles of Catholic Social Teaching into faith formation efforts for youth and adults.”

“Every Family of Parishes will promote intercultural competence and facilitate the participation of all people in the life of the Church.”

To learn what these parameters mean and why they matter, click the button below.

2.1 Get to Know Each Other

One of the greatest outcomes of Beacons of Light is the intentional joining together of disciples in order to advance God’s kingdom. In Phase 1, the parishes in your Family of Parishes should be focused on getting to know one another and each other’s ministries. The Transitional Team helps make this happen. 

Here are some suggestions for getting to know each other:

Suggestion A: Hold a Love in Action Retreat

The archdiocesan Love in Action Design Team has created a retreat experience to allow parishioners involved in service, social justice and respect life ministries to gather, pray, share and dream about their work together. 

To utilize this resource, contact Mary Anne Bressler at Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio at (513) 672-3714.

Members of the archdiocesan team will work with your Family Transitional Team to pull together the retreat. Retreat options include a three-hour or a six-hour version that could include a shared service project or guest speaker. 

Suggestion B: Organize a Potluck

Your Transitional Team can host a potluck that includes an opportunity for those involved in service, social justice and respect life ministries to meet and connect with each other.

Suggestion C: Share in a Joint Service Project

Your Transitional Team can pull together those involved in service, social justice and respect life ministries for a common service project opportunity. Examples of activities include serving at a Catholic Charities food pantry, working on a Habitat for Humanity house or participating together in a respect life prayer event.  Whatever the activity may be, there should be an opportunity for interaction among participants so that people get to meet each other.

After completing a getting-to-know-you event, let us know how it goes. Be sure to also report to your parishioners.

1.2 Form a Love in Action Transitional Team

As Phase 1 begins, the individual parishes within your Family of Parishes will still be mostly autonomous. People will mostly worship, learn and serve in their own parishes, and parish staff will mostly serve their own parishes. This is, to start, a Family of Parishes, not yet one completely unified faith community.

As your Family of Parishes progresses down the Pastoral Planning Pathway, ministries will become more and more unified in service to your Family of Parishes. One way of coordinating Love in Action is to form a Love in Action Transitional Team.

To ensure that your Transitional Team is a good representation of your new Family, your coordinator should accomplish the following two things:

  1. Make sure the team includes at least one staff member or parishioner from each parish in your Family.
  2. Make certain that there is some diversity of ministries represented. For instance, if one or more member parishes have very active St. Vincent de Paul conferences, then at least one team member may want to be affiliated with that ministry.  Similarly, if there is a respect life ministry, mission twinning, care for creation or other active ministry, then the coordinator should attempt to have such voices at the table. Note that the goal is not for the Transitional Team to reflect every ministry but to ensure that there is a general representation of the diversity of good works taking place across the new Family.

The work of the Love in Action Transitional Team will be to jumpstart overall conversations, review inventories and imagine potential cooperation among the member parishes in the new Family. The team, whether through the coordinator or some other mechanism, should be prepared to report to the pastor and pastoral councils its efforts, however, it does not need to consider itself a permanent entity of the new Family structure. The ultimate structure that emerges, such as a Family-wide Love in Action commission, can be organized in later phases. Your Family of Parishes may or may not decide to include the same people in the permanent, coordinating structure. In the early phases of your new Family’s life, the point is to make sure that there is a core group of people ensuring that Love in Action ministries continue and are getting to know each other.

For Families with few Love in Action ministries, the Transitional Team can be just a few people. For Families with greater infrastructure already in place, it is recommended that your Transitional Team be capped at 12 people so as to ensure productive discussions.

Let us know the names of your team member and announce their names throughout the parishes.

1.1 Identify a Coordinator

Leadership is the first phase of the Pastoral Planning Pathway.  Having the right leaders in place is foundational to any successful initiative, and Beacons of Light is no exception. Love in Action leaders for your Family of Parishes are critical and even called for in Parameter 13:

Love in Action Reversed

“Competent and qualified staff are necessary to serve the Family of Parishes, especially in the areas of worship, evangelization (including love in action) and administration. As is possible, staff will be unified to serve the entire Family.”

The first thing to do is to have your pastor appoint (or approve) someone to start pulling people together. This person could be a parish staff member or a key volunteer. What is important is that this person is someone who has demonstrated a concern for the Church’s work to promote life and dignity and who appreciates the need to have several representative voices involved in the work.

If your parish is in the position to hire a Love in Action Director or Coordinator, please see the sample job descriptions in the “Materials” tab above.

Once the coordinator is identified, we would love to know and meet him or her. Announce this person’s name to the parishioners as well.