The Caring Neighbors Ministry promotes a more caring parish community by providing a platform for members to become more connected to the needs of our neighbors and to express care through specific actions.
Contact Person: Alex Benyo: 330-518-7207.
What is a caring neighbor? Let us inspire you!
The Caring Neighbors initiative developed from a parish-wide survey conducted by the St. Joseph Parish Planning team in 2018. Parishioners in the survey expressed strong opinions about the need to live Christian values on a daily basis.
St. Joseph parishioners are good and caring for their neighbors, and we want to build on that strength. We believe we can become even more caring by organizing our efforts to identify and meet needs in our neighborhoods. Caring is a way that our parishioners express their faith. One parishioner put it this way, “[God is calling me] to help others by giving rides, cooking; just even listening to their problems.” Serving others is not just a way to solve a problem for someone else, it also is a faith builder for the person who does the serving. When we serve, we encounter the presence of God not only in the act of serving, but also in the person we serve. Christ’s face is especially visible in those who are in need.
We serve Christ by serving others!
Think about your neighbors. The ones in need are the ones who are Christ calling to you in your neighborhood. Is there someone living close to you who might need a ride to church on Sunday or to the grocery store? It is Christ in them calling to you for that ride. You are responding to Christ’s call by offering the ride to your neighbor. Imagine what it is like to be in their shoes. Imagine the relief to know that you have a neighbor who is willing to take the time to care and share a ride now and then.
Some neighbors who are elderly may still enjoy working in their yard or garden but may not be able to accomplish as much as they used to. In their need, Christ is calling to you. Perhaps you and your family can get to know these neighbors better and offer some help during gardening season, leaf-raking season, and/or snow-shoveling season. In this way, you are responding to Christ’s call.
A number of parishioners mentioned in the survey that phone calls, greeting cards, and hand-written notes to neighbors who are sick or elderly can be a tremendous blessing. These kinds of simple actions add up over time to build a more caring community. When neighbors help each other, they experience the bonds of love and their lives become more meaningful and joy-filled. Blessings flow when we respond to God’s call.
How & Why have neighbors lost touch?
How did we get to the point where we’ve lost the skill of being good neighbors to each other? This is a complex question, but we are learning more about it all the time. Before we had radios, cars, televisions, telephones, and now the internet, we only had each other. Our human interactions were with family members and neighbors who lived relatively close to us. In the video above, Marc Dunkelman talks about how important it is to bring back these “middle ring” relationships. They are the ones where we are most likely to interact with people who are different from us. These interactions stretch our thinking and help all of us grow. We grow less or more slowly when we spend our time primarily with people who think like us and agree with us.
According to sociologist, Robin Dunbar, most people throughout history interacted with about 150 other people on a regular basis. That was the way it was for tens of thousands of years. Our brains became well trained at being able to manage about 150 relationships.
Then when telephones and cars were invented, we had the ability to widen our reach for relationships. We could build and sustain relationships with people several towns away, but we didn’t get any better at managing more than 150 relationships. We found that when we invested in relationships with people a few towns away, we gave up some of the relationships in our own town because it was too draining to sustain all of them. We now invest our time with family members and close friends (that’s Dunkelman’s inner ring from the above video). We also invest time with people who think like us politically or socially through social media and other digital tools whether we know them well or not (that’s Dunkelman’s outer ring from the above video). It’s easy to get to 150 people with the inner and outer rings. That leaves the middle ring, the neighborhood, empty. We don’t have enough energy left for our neighbors.
If our neighborhoods are going to thrive, we may have to cut back some time from the outer ring. Maybe a little less time on social media with people who think like us would leave us with just enough relationship energy to reach out to one neighbor in need. Will you respond to the call to care for your neighbors?
- To build a stronger sense of community among parishioners by increasing personal interactions and building friendships in our neighborhoods
- To honor the dignity of those within our neighborhoods by listening to them and understanding their needs
- To respond to needs of our neighbors by volunteering our time for our neighbors and/or by connecting those in need with agencies that can effectively address their needs
- To grow in our faith by learning and articulating what it means to be a servant according to the seven themes of Catholic social teaching
- To facilitate spiritual growth and the spreading of faith in our neighborhoods through our purposeful actions that meet needs
- To address the social problems within our neighborhoods through identifying and addressing needs
- To honor and practice Jesus’ commandment “Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15: 12-17
Find Your Neighborhood!
The Caring Neighbors project seeks to make it easier to get to know your neighbors. We’re starting by dividing our large parish into smaller neighborhood units. We’ve created 9 neighborhood units illustrated in the map below. We plan to provide opportunities for neighbors to get to know each other better and to look out for each other more effectively.
Responding to Needs
There are many people in need in our own neighborhoods. There are also many resources available in our parish and in our community that are designed to meet needs. Another aspect of Caring Neighbors is to match needs with resources. The better our parishioners know their neighbors, the more effectively we’ll be able to assess and address needs in our neighborhoods.
Do you know a neighbor in need?
Here are two places where they can find the assistance they need: