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“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)

2020 is not only a brand new year, but also the start of a new decade that will need, more than ever, the clarity of “20/20” vision. This January, the Office for Social Ministry (OSM) was asked to contribute a concise account for the 2019 Diocesan Stewardship Report of how OSM helps parishioners use their gifts to Witness to Jesus and encounter Christ through social ministries.

Let’s take time in this “Talk story” to reflect on that brief report in light of the Scripture passage above from St. Peter by looking more clearly at how we use the gifts we have received to serve one another as good stewards of God’s grace.

Through the diocese-wide “One ‘Ohana: Food and Housing for All” initiative, OSM helps parishes use their time, talent and treasure to help heal hunger in Hawaii and address the housing needs of homeless persons through collaborating with community partners in social ministries such as:

  • Providing needed nutrition through various year-round parish food ministries on all islands.
  • Organizing senior food box programs and Kupuna Kokua as special parish social ministries.
  • Engaging youth and elders in providing hungry keiki with backpacks full of healthy food in coordination with local schools, food banks and community gardens.
  • Collaborating with HOPE Services Hawaii which provides parish pantries on the Big Island with food and recruits volunteers serve at transitional and housing to eliminate family homelessness.
  • Partnering with Family Promise on Oahu inviting to support formerly homeless families in temporary shelter on church properties so they can secure jobs and permanent housing.
  • Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to build housing for low-income families on Hawaiian homelands.

Other examples of parish social ministries include:

  • The Oahu Going Home Consortium engaging persons from more than a dozen parishes and Catholic schools in assisting formerly incarcerated persons to secure food, housing, clothing, transportation and jobs as well as holding “Keiki Days” that reunite kids with their moms in prison.
  • Special Ohana Masses for families and persons with disabilities on Oahu and on Kauai.
  • Parish cancer support and wellness groups on Oahu and Maui accompanying persons and their families facing the challenge of terminal illness.
  • Visiting persons who are sick in hospitals or hospice care, and their families.
  • Sponsoring citizenship workshops for migrant families in parishes on Oahu (and soon on other islands).
  • Participating in Lenten Rice Bowl activities helping families fleeing violence, poverty and climate change around the world.

This description of parish social ministries is only a partial list of actions which clearly “Witness to Jesus.” Parish social ministries provide an encounter with Christ through the gift of sharing and transforming vulnerability with “others” such as the mom who, in prison, survived cancer, found healing and was able to reunite with her family at Christmas; the blind Hansen’s disease survivor who, in the hospital, shared his deep joy in listening to visitors read poetry that he wrote and singing with him his favorite songs; or the migrant youth and elder who were finally able to achieve their dream of being U.S. citizens and participate fully in building a better future not only for their family, but for the whole community.

These are clear examples of how social ministry involves parishioners in not only sharing their gifts but also the gifts of the persons with whom they are serving — an experience of being good stewards of God’s amazing grace working in all.

For more information on parish social ministries, please visit


Your friends at the Office for Social Ministry

Read the article  direct through the Hawaii Catholic Herald here.