SICKLERVILLE — “We must be ministers of mercy, above all.”
Here at Saint Charles Borromeo Parish Hall on Oct. 10, the young author and magazine editor inspired the crowd of over 100 — comprising priests, religious sisters, respect life and social justice volunteers, directors of religious education, youth and campus ministers — to follow Jesus’ call to aid their brothers and sisters on the edge of society.
Attendees came from more than 60 parishes, schools, and community organizations in the Diocese of Camden.
“We have to commit to a lifetime of mercy,” said Kerry Weber, managing editor of Jesuit magazine “America” and author of “Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job.”
The inspiration for her book, she noted, came to her after she decided to learn and practice the corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.
“How do I do these works, make them meaningful, and foster true relationships with people, and with God?” she asked herself. “How do I love authentically?”
In preparation for the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, Weber’s visit was part of an all-day event, sponsored by the Camden Diocesan Office of Life and Justice, that included workshops, networking and a Eucharistic celebration.
“She provided the bridge between Pope Francis’ recent visit to Philadelphia and the Year of Mercy,” said Michael Jordan Laskey, director of the Office of Life and Justice Ministries.
“Her personal story challenged us to understand how we can incorporate mercy into our own lives, and offered practical tips for our parishes and schools,” he said.
Amanda Dupras, one of the day’s attendees, is a sophomore at Stockton University in Galloway Township, and service chair for the executive board of the school’s Catholic Campus Ministry. No stranger to helping others, she frequently volunteers with the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, which aids the homeless and, last spring, was one of a group of eight from the Diocese of Camden who went on a solidarity pilgrimage to West Virginia.
“It’s great to hear from somebody like Weber, who challenges you,” she said.
Lois Dark, director of Catholic Campus Ministry for Stockton, traveled with Dupras to hear Weber.
“Directing students to mercy is something our ministry is called to do,” she said. “Stockton’s students are out there on campus, making a difference.”
Weber called last Saturday’s visit one of faith-sharing, and community, among believers.
“It was good to share my story, and hear those of others,’” she said.
The day before, on Friday night, Weber visited the Catholic Campus Ministry at Rowan University in Glassboro, and was happy to see “engaged, interested students taking God, and their faith, seriously.”
After the morning address, attendees found out more information on service organizations throughout the diocese; went to Mass in the church, celebrated by Father Kevin Mohan from Our Lady of Peace Parish in Williamstown; and sat in on educational workshops on such topics as conducting pro-life activities in parishes; offering service opportunities in parishes; and speaking up for life and justice through legislative advocacy.