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Love in Action

2.2 Love in Action – Formation of Parish Leaders

To best form your Love In Action lay parish leadership, we recommend that they participate in a three-part program called “A Vision for Love in Action: Building Families of Salt and Light.”  

This series will be offered once in each of the 12 deaneries, and every Family of Parishes within each deanery will be encouraged to send a Love in Action cohort to participate. Staff from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Department of Life, Human Dignity and Charity will facilitate the program for each deanery. 

See the Materials tab for a current flyer.  

To schedule for your sub-deanery or for more information, contact Mary Anne Bressler at [email protected]

2.3 Love in Action – Create Prayer and Discernment Opportunities

Now that you are bringing together your Love in Action Team, it is important to also form team members as disciples. We recommend that every parish family holds 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 six-hour version that could include a shared service project or guest speaker.

1.3 Love in Action – Vision Impact for Principle

A vision statement is a short, aspirational statement of direction for your Family of Parishes — the where we are going, and why we do what we do to get there.   

Once you have drafted a vision statement, it is important to validate that the vision statement provides aspirational direction and inspiration to all components of a vital parish. The Beacons of Light principles and vision points concisely define parish vitality. Thus, comparing your draft vision statement with the principles provides a sounding board to confirm the appropriateness of your proposed vision statement. The Principle Vision Impact Form is used during the Family Visioning Process and allows your Family staff and lay leadership to confirm the draft vision statement and understand what changes will need to come about as your Family begins to live out your vision.  

You can find the Family Visioning Process and Principle Vision Impact Form in the Leadership 1.2 materials.

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.

3.2 Report Back to the Parishes

Your Love in Action Transitional Team should communicate with parishioners in your Family of Parishes about the progress being made. This could be done through bulletins or newsletters, announcements, websites or whatever means of communication are most effective for reaching parishioners throughout your Family.

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.