“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

—Matthew 5:9

One of my favorite songs is Let There Be Peace on Earth, especially the line “and let it begin with me.”  This Year of the Saints wraps up with our Vermont Catholic winter social justice issue and explores the saints who embody the compassion of Christ in their service to the poor, the oppressed and the homeless in their midst. I imagine their path to sainthood was not intentional and filled with many challenges but driven by a desire to heal the suffering around them and be God’s peacemakers on Earth.

St. Damien moved into a leprosy colony where he cared for the community until he died from the disease. St. Vincent de Paul established hospitals for the poor, ministered to the imprisoned and established the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in 1844 that continues to help the poor throughout the world. Compassion for the poor and downtrodden was also a hallmark of St. Brigid. St. Oscar Romero, a Salvadoran archbishop, was martyred for being a critic of the violent activities and human rights violations of the government. And Dorothy Day, who was named a “Servant of God” by the Vatican and is in the process of sainthood, is remembered for her “loving kindness” and faith-based pacificism on behalf of the poor and homeless.

We see this same compassion for the poor in our own parishes throughout our Diocese.  Each year we survey our 69 parishes regarding their engagement in social ministries in the following categories: hunger, poverty, homelessness, illness and prison. More than 90 percent of our parishes are engaged in hunger and poverty related ministries from operating food pantries and thrift stores to partnering with local community nonprofits to staff and support these ministries. You will find the full results of the social ministry survey in this issue as well as inspirational stories of parishioners who resemble the saints in their drive to heal the suffering around them.

Now more than ever, the world needs more peacemakers. May we all answer the call to be God’s peacemakers on Earth.

—Originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.