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Social Ministry - New social ministry director eager to serve

New social ministry director eager to serve

By Anne Severes
Social Ministry

On June 21, 2005, I became the newest director of social ministry for the Archdiocese of Omaha. I couldn't be more honored or excited to fill the formidable shoes of my predecessors.

I come to this position with experience as a supervisor with Nebraska Health and Human Services, working with low-income families who qualify for public benefits. After nearly nine years of this work, I came to know that so much more than money was needed to help people. When the position of director of social ministry opened, I jumped at the chance to put my ideas into action.

I am married to Ian Severes and we have one beautiful and smart four-year-old daughter, Sarah Indira. Both Ian and I are in graduate school and working full-time, so our days and nights are packed with a variety of activities. Ian will graduate in January of 2006 from Bellevue University, and I plan to graduate from Creighton University in May 2007 with a Master of Arts in Ministry.

As I look forward to the coming year in my new position as director of social ministry, I have some goals to share. In the coming months I will be working with Omaha parishes on the implementation of the "JustFaith" Program. This is an extensive program designed to bring Catholic social teaching into the forefront of parish life. Through books, videos, retreats and "border-crossing" experiences participants learn about the issues in their community and around the world that challenge the dignity of life. These issues include poverty, sweatshops, nonviolence, racism, simple lifestyles, environmental concerns, the relationship between war/military and poverty, and several other issues rooted in Catholic social teaching.

Additionally, I will be doing more work in the area of immigration education and working with our public officials to ensure a just approach to immigration.

We also have an exciting conference at the end of October involving the Restorative Justice Coalition, a faith-based group of community leaders responding to criminal offenders and victims of crime, and the Nebraska Department of Corrections. This is an historic opportunity for us to network with the public institutions that are charged with the rehabilitation and detention of criminal offenders.

As Catholics, we have a duty to ensure that persons who are incarcerated have a chance to restore justice in their own lives, as well as the lives of the victims, through retraining, access to mental health services, and employment post-incarceration.

As I move forward, I know that more issues will present themselves in an environment of learning and growth. I am eager to serve the social ministry commission in whatever way I can and to serve the Omaha community to the best of my ability.

Please pray for me as I take up this service.

Anne Severes is director of the archdiocese's social ministry.

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