Start a Justice & Peace group

If you are thinking of starting a Justice & Peace group in your parish or church, take a look at the following guidelines. There are four different phases to go through.

First Steps

• Check out what existing groups are in place in your Parish or Church
• Find others who share your concerns
• Talk to your Parish Priest or parish secretary and enlist your interest and support
• Numbers are not important: it’s amazing how three or four committed people working together can make an enormous impact
• Organise a venue
• Set up a meeting and publicise it in your parish newsletter
• Create an advertisement poster, display it on your notice board and in the newsletter
• Ask your Parish Priest to make the parish aware of your notice while reading out announcements after mass
• Contact the diocesan J&P Adviser/fieldworker or commission to discuss your ideas and to obtain support resources

Justice & Peace mottoNext Steps

• Keep yourself in touch by signing up to diocesan J&P mailings
• Collect resources and display them during your first meeting
• Welcome everyone and provide hospitality (Fairtrade tea & coffee) if possible
• Start with a Prayer, choose a piece of scripture
• Invite the Parish Priest or Deacon to introduce the meeting if he is available
• Remember to take notes or ask someone to take minutes or action points
• Ask everyone to introduce themselves and state their interest
• Discuss J&P issues and find 2 or 3 areas the group are passionate about
• Try and ascertain the skills and interests within the group eg. IT, facilitation, networking, presentation, art etc
• Pass around a piece of paper or prepare a registration form for attendees to write down their contact details, include email
• Decide how you are going to progress and what issues you are going to address first
• You may find it helpful to refer to J&P Event Calendar
• If necessary refer to “Making Things Happen” checklist, see below
• Think who else you might need to involve
• Thank everyone and set up a date for your next meeting
• Circulate minutes/notes to group

Things to remember

• Be prepared to work with others
• Try to involve the Parish/Pastoral Area as a whole in what you are doing rather than becoming an exclusive group
• Invite the diocesan J&P Adviser/fieldworker/member of commission to speak at one of your meetings or parish masses
• Group dynamics are very important. How you work (the process) is as important as what you do (action)
• Celebrate and appreciate differences, people’s personalities, skills and abilities
• Be prepared to let other people shine
• Support other groups where possible
• Don’t feel guilty if you cannot respond to every issue you are asked to campaign on
• Always be on the look out for new contacts and allies
• Don’t despair if all your efforts seem to be having little impact
• Focus on obtaining a positive outcome

Making it Happen

Click on the link to check out a guide to organising an event.

In this field, enthusiasm and perseverance are fundamental virtues. Be happy with what you have achieved – it may have weakened the structures of injustices more than you realise.

“Let justice flow like water”

Amos 5:24

Catherine Waters-Clark, Project Manager, livesimply