On Sunday 19 September the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne marks Social Services Sunday. On this day the Catholic community of Melbourne are invited to give thanks and pray for all who stand with and provide support to those who are marginalised and vulnerable within our communities.

The Archdiocese recognises with deep gratitude, those working within Catholic Social Services Victoria’s 43 member organisations, the 7,000 staff and 17,000 volunteers, who together, serve more than 200,000 people in need each year. The Archdiocese also gives thanks to all those in our parishes, who are so often at the forefront of providing practical support and care to those in need within their local communities, and beyond.

Calling to mind the recent 2021/22 Social Justice StatementCry of the Earth Cry of the Poor – released by the Australian Catholic Bishops, we are reminded of the social mission of the Church and which urges us to reflect on ‘the bigger picture’ and to act together on social, economic and ecological issues.

Some shining examples of Catholic Social Services include their work standing in solidarity with local Afghan communities, addressing the impact of COVID-19 on already vulnerable communities, and the provision of material aid and food for the homeless during Melbourne lockdown periods. Together with a variety of organisations and missions such as Bishops of Victoria, Wellsprings for Women, St Mary’s House of Welcome, Sacred Heart Mission, Jesuit Social Services, St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria and more, volunteers and workers have provided for the greater community through their social services.

Social Services Sunday is also a time to acknowledge that parishes are often at the forefront of providing practical support, care and service to those in need within their local communities, and beyond. Each parish has a role to play, and each is uniquely placed to ‘shed on the whole world the radiance of … God’s love for all, and our commitment to love of neighbour.’ (Gaudium et Spes, #92). When parish communities and social service organisations are connected and able to work together, great work is both done and is possible.