“Dear Brothers and Sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present will become islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.” ~Pope Francis
The Corporal Works of Mercy are charitable actions by which we help our neighbors in their bodily needs. They respond to the basic needs of humanity as we journey together through this life. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, find out how you can put mercy into motion in your own life. Each month, a new corporal work and ideas will be added to this page.
Give Alms to the Poor
Among all the works of mercy, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity and also a work of justice in that we who have received blessings, willingly share. Consider partnering with us to give alms to the poor:
- Make a monthly gift to Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler to help us help neighbors-in-need in a variety of ways, especially needs that have no other source of funding.
- Honor someone on a happy occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc.), by making a gift in their name for a specific program, such as the Elmira Community Kitchen, the Samaritan Center, or Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry.
- Help Catholic Relief Services (CRS) help the poorest people worldwide. Select a project from the CRS Gift Catalogue and make a regular contribution toward that need.
- Let your elected state and federal representatives know that you support using our tax dollars to increase funding for programs that invest in/help poor and low-income children and families (i.e. public funding to help families afford quality child care, “wheels to work” or public transportation)
- Support increases in the minimum wage so that low-wage workers receive a living wage.
Visit the Prisoners
People in prison are still human persons, made in the image and likeness of God. No matter what someone has done, they deserve the opportunity to hear the Word of God and the message of forgiveness and restoration. Consider how you might visit the prisoners by partnering with us:
- Help us help ex-offenders return successfully to the community from state prison. Assemble personal care kits for the men in our residential program.
- Help us find jobs for those ready/able to work.
- Join with the New York State Catholic Conference to support efforts to ensure that disciplinary options within the correctional system are designed in a way that respects the dignity of the human person, guarantees access to religious counsel and worship and ensures no further harm will come to the disciplined individual; and, Reform the New York State Juvenile Justice System to provide increased resourcing and capacity for community-based strategies for young people designed to keep families intact and address the public safety needs of communities.
- Provide Christmas gifts for the children and families of those incarcerated in the local New York State correctional facilities.
- Contact the chaplains at the local state correctional facilities. Ask how you/your faith community can help them care for the incarcerated men.
Care for the Sick
Those who are sick or recovering from illness are often forgotten or avoided. In spite of their illness or situation, these brothers and sisters have dignity and much to offer to those who take the time to visit and comfort them. Consider how you might visit the sick by partnering with us:
- Could your faith community or group plan a monthly social activity (for example, movie night, music lessons, bingo) for participants of our programs?
- Learn about how poor housing affects health, especially the permanent impact of lead poisoning on young children.
- Find out about health care coverage – are people left out, is it unaffordable? Contact elected representatives with the information.
- Offer to assist friends or neighbors who are caregivers by allowing them a little time off.
- Give blood during blood drives.
- Check with your faith community about visiting those who are homebound or in nursing homes.
- Donate to Catholic Relief Services to help establish maternal and child health programs in poor countries.
Shelter the Homeless
There are many circumstances that could lead to someone becoming a person without a home. Our faith and our mission encourage us to go out and meet those without homes, affirming their dignity and helping them seek a resolution to the challenges they face. Consider how you might partner with us to shelter the homeless:
- Donate new blankets, sheets, towels to our homeless shelter program or assemble personal care kits for our shelter residents.
- Donate funds to help with a variety of local housing assistance needs (security deposits, rent assistance, utilities etc).
- Tell people yearning for homeownership opportunities about our First Time Homebuyer Program or those worried about mortgage foreclosure about our Foreclosure Prevention Services.
- Be alert to the quality of housing in your community. Ask elected leaders what they are doing to make safe, affordable housing available in the community.
- If you own rental property, assess the condition and take steps to make it safer and healthier for your tenants – especially where lead paint may pose a hazard for little children.
- Learn about why there are millions of families and children uprooted and on the move globally, fleeing from war, hunger, impossible living conditions, environmental disasters and searching for peace and safety – and how you might help.
Give Drink to the Thirsty
Many of our brothers and sisters do not have access to clean water and suffer from the lack of this basic necessity, even in the United States. Let’s support the efforts of those working towards greater accessibility and safety of this essential resource and also strive to conserve the water we use. Consider how you might give drink to the thirsty by partnering with us:
- Donate funds to help purchase 100% real fruit juice to serve at Elmira Community Kitchen meals or stock the food pantries at our Samaritan Center and Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry.
- Carry your own reusable water bottle and avoid one-way plastic bottles of water.
- Fill pitchers with cold tap water for use at meetings/events.
- Make an effort not to waste water. Be aware of the regions in our world suffering from drought or flooding and learn about the causes, especially global climate change.
- Purchase Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade coffee/tea to help small-scale growers in developing countries support themselves and their families. CRS Fair Trade Program helps growers conserve water and generate funds to build community wells/water systems. CRS Fair Trade coffee/tea is available for purchase at our main office.
- Donate to Catholic Relief Services to help build wells in developing countries.
Feed the Hungry
There are many people in our local community and in our world who go without the food needed for a healthy, happy life. When so much of our food goes to waste, let’s consider how good stewardship practices and our own food habits can benefit others and the environment. Consider how you might feed the hungry by partnering with us:
- Donate food or funds to help stock the shelves at our Catholic Charities Food Pantries (The Samaritan Center and Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry).
- Donate your time or funds to help Elmira Community Kitchen welcome and nourish neighbors-in-need.
- Shop at local farmers’ markets for fruits/vegetables in season
- Be aware of how much food you throw away and adjust your purchases
- Compost food scraps and recycle packaging/cans
- Reduce meat consumption
- Use reusable bags to carry home food purchases
- Donate to Catholic Relief Services to help respond to hunger around the world
Social Ministry leaders from Saint Mary Our Mother Parish, Blessed Sacrament and Christ the Redeemer Parishes, along with members of the Chemung County Ladies of Charity and the Knights of Columbus partnered with Catholic Charities during the summer to host free lunches at Thorne Street Park, Horseheads. 30-40 local children participated daily.
Summer Meals were available for children at parks and other locations across Chemung County during the summer months. The meals helped assure that children could eat adequate, nutritious meals during the summer when school is out and school lunch is not available. Administered nationwide by USDA, Summer Meals are funded through the federal Child Nutrition Program. The Elmira School District sponsors the Summer Meal Program and prepares the picnic lunches served at Thorne Street Park.