Engaging Chicago Catholics in International Relief Work

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) promotes human development by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty and nurturing peaceful and just societies.  It also strives to help American Catholics “live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.”

Millennia Consulting recently helped the CRS Midwest Office develop and implement a strategy for engaging with Chicago area Catholics.  Senior Consultant Tom Lenz worked with Madeleine Philbin of CRS and leaders from the Archdiocese Office for Peace and Justice on a two-part engagement plan.  Drawing on the approaches of community organizing, Lenz, Philbin and others first undertook several rounds of face to face meetings with priests and lay leaders with an interest in international relief.  

Those with a passion for global solidarity were invited to “Hope in the Hotspots,” an evening event featuring stories of CRS work in Iraq, Syria and other conflict zones along with an invitation to play a role as a CRS liaison in their local parish.  Over 50 people participated in this initial session and CRS now plans to use the same approach in other parts of the Archdiocese.  

Shaping and implementing strategies for civic engagement is a passion for Tom Lenz who brings over 30 years of community organizing and development experience to his work at Millennia Consulting.