By Kathy Shaw, SPARK Outreach & Engagement Manager
The Catholic Church has a history of social teaching. It goes back centuries – impacting on all aspects of our work and family life. In 1892 Pope Leo XIII outlined a ‘just social order’ in response to a lack of basic employee rights and an increasing tendency towards class warfare. What we learn from this today is that every person is valued. They have the right to participate and benefit from living in a society that promotes the common good, and the wellbeing of the whole community.
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is an essential part of our faith; St. Augustine described the common good as ‘one which is not diminished by being shared with others’. Our social doctrine sets out the principles of social justice as they appear in the Gospel. It works for change and defines the values we need to live in a just and loving society.
SPARK is a social justice project for young adults from 18 to 30 years. It is part of the Leeds Diocese Justice and Peace Commission. We have talked to many young people who have passionate views about the issues of social justice such as Black Lives Matter, homelessness, UK poverty and the climate emergency. They tell us they do not often engage with the institutional Church or connect their faith to the principles of CST.
“Millennials question everything, and maybe that’s to our detriment, we think we have all the answers so maybe we think we don’t need faith?” male aged 29.
We believe that the measure of every institution can be seen by how it responds to the complex challenges in the world today. This does not make the Church part of any political system; but although we are independent of each other we share a common purpose, to be at the service of the personal and social vocation of humanity.
SPARK aims to establish small groups, online or face to face, to support young adults to define a social justice agenda for action, rooted in CST. Our funding includes payments for the key person or SPARK “Animator” to plan and lead a group, and funds for creative arts professionals to contribute to sessions as required. Training and support is provided, and the opportunity to develop relevant skills which are transferable to the workplace.
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For more information, or to get involved, contact Kathy by emailing: