Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!” Pope Francis, Oct. 4, 2014

From Isolation to Encounter: Journey with Families in the Texas Foster System

Jennifer Allmon
Executive Director, Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops

Pope Francis has said that our greatest poverty is isolation and our greatest sin is indifference. This poverty and sin meet one another in the foster care crisis in Texas, where 30,000 of God’s precious children, our brothers and sisters, are trapped in painful isolation and tragic abuse and neglect while millions of Texans are indifferent to their pain and deep need for support. The plight of these children has been seen in the headlines, argued in the courts, and confronted in our legislature for years, but the crisis continues. Even as the number of foster families seeking to help these children remains stagnant, we disregard a myriad of smaller ways we can individually make a difference for these families.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus meets a widow who has just lost her only son. The Gospel tells us “When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity,” and raised her son from the dead (Luke 7:12-15).  He saw her loss and her pain and did not causally remark to the disciples, “Oh, that poor woman” and continue with them on his way. Instead, Jesus was moved to act. In this way, he remedies the isolation of the lonely widow through engagement. Because she encountered Jesus that day, her family was restored. As we read the tragic headlines of families torn apart and children dying in our state’s beleaguered foster care system, are we moved with pity, or do we simply remark to our friends in our comfortable homes and parishes, “Oh, those poor children” and continue on our way? Do we shut the door on God’s mercy by failing to encounter mothers who have lost their children to foster care? How can our parishes engage with these mothers to support them in restoring their families?

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops has initiated a St. Joseph’s ministry to assist parishes and families in discerning how they can care for the biological, foster and adoptive families in our state’s child welfare system.  Learn more about the ways you can become missionary disciples by encountering these families. In doing so, we respond to the Holy Father’s call to “become islands of mercy in the sea of indifference.”

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