Domestic Violence Awareness
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “When Home is Unsafe: Recognizing the Reality of Domestic Violence Today.” As an initiative focused on education and prayer, Catholics for Family Peace has developed resources, organized events, created social media posts, and offers prayers for you to use and share in the month of October.
Catholics for Family Peace “aims to inform everyone on ways the Catholic community can promote family peace and to prevent and respond to domestic abuse and to provide resources [Domestic Violence Awareness Toolkit] and promote prayer for all families. Our initiative provides education, resources, and research that help pastoral leaders, clergy, and parishioners recognize domestic abuse and respond with compassion.”
As shared in last week’s blog, October is also Respect Life Month, a time to recall and reflect on the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every human life matters; it is all of humanity’s responsibility to watch over our neighbor, as this Sunday’s Gospel reminds us, to love our neighbor as ourselves. If you are in a domestic abuse situation, know there are people who care. If you are in an emergency or dangerous situation, call 911, your local domestic violence hotline, or the National Domestic Violence 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
If you are looking to support families, review the educational materials and resources provided on the Catholics for Family Peace website. You are also invited to join them in a moment of prayer at 3:00 pm, wherever you are, for those suffering from violence and abuse and for those who use violence to control others. We pray in solidarity with them and with all who work to end domestic violence. “Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to pray at 3:00 pm each day.”
What Can I Do to be Helpful if an Abusive Situation is Revealed?
- Listen, Believe, and Refer. Share that the abuse is not God’s will. Say that help is available 24/7 at the National Domestic Violence Hotline:1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-324 (TTY), or at www.ndvh.org.
- Let them know that without intervention, abuse often escalates in frequency and severity over time.
- Seek expert assistance by calling the NDVH. Refer them only to specialized domestic violence counseling programs, not to couples counseling.
- If possible, encourage the abusive person to seek help. Attending an appropriate 12-step recovery group has been a source of recovery for many people.
Collaborative Efforts for Good
Pope Francis has shared his belief that prayer for those in need of help needs to be followed by action to offer that help. Said the Pope in 2013, “Yes, you pray for the hungry. But then, you feed them. This is how prayer works.”
The Catholic Community of Central Fall River is doing just that. The community, a collaborative of three parishes in the city, opened the Pope Francis Outreach Center on October 6 to help those in need. The center provides three services: a food pantry, a thrift shop, and a soup kitchen.
It is located at Good Shepherd Parish at 1598 South Main Street in Fall River. The thrift shop and food pantry are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. [*masks are required]. The soup kitchen provides “Grab & Go” meals every Wednesday and Friday, beginning at 4 p.m. Proceeds raised through thrift shop sales will help fund the other outreach efforts.
Volunteers from the three parishes that make up the Catholic Community of Central Fall River, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Good Shepherd and St. Stanislaus, work with Center Director Leanne Nelson to handle all of the many tasks required to make these services available. The community is led by Father Thomas Washburn, who serves as rector and pastor of the collaborative parishes.
In announcing the Pope Francis Outreach Center ministry, the community described its intention like this: “We seek to be active members of our community, inspired by our deep faith in Jesus Christ, reaching out to those in need.”
The “Grab & Go” meals program was launched last spring by the community in response to the economic hardship created by the coronavirus pandemic. You can learn more about the good work of the Pope Francis Outreach Center on their website.
Goodies and Goodness
On October 12, Pope Francis beatified a 15-year old boy from Italy, named Carlo Acutis. Carlo, in his short life, showed heroic virtue and tremendous faith. “To always be close to JESUS, that’s my life plan,” while he did ordinary teen activities such as playing video games, he also created a website to catalog Church-approved Eucharistic miracles. This display tours the world, and we’ve been blessed to have it here in several parishes in our diocese.
Here is a wonderful story from this summer that shows one of the many good works being done among young people right here in our diocese. Charlotte Finn and her generous “Flourpower” cousins (ages 13-20) felt compelled to do something that would make a difference for those families who were being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Finn cousins love to bake; they put their passion for baking, combined with their compassion for others, to work and formed Nonquitt Flourpower. The group began holding bake sales, with all the proceeds going to the Solanus Casey Food Pantry in New Bedford.
The Finn Family stated that they have spent their summers for many years in South Dartmouth but are actually from West Chester, N.Y., and Washington, D.C. This fact made the Nonquitt Flourpower donation all the more extraordinary and meaningful to Catholic Social Services of Fall River’s Solanus Casey Food Pantry. How amazing that a group of young people, who are not local to the area, would spend their summer baking to help raise money to feed people in need.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha