Catholic Social Services is changing the way it responds to the needs of the community, says its new director, Karen Holland, who was appointed in September last year.

Karen said a review of the service was carried out in 2019 to explore ways in which CSS could better carry out the aspirations of Synod 2017.

‘Out of the review came the difficult realisation that while the work being carried out at CSS was important and effective, it was only the case for the few people who could access the CBD in Wellington.

‘So the decision was made to realign ourselves to the call of Go you are sent. This means moving out into parish communities to learn about the needs and pressures they face and to work collaboratively with them.’

The new direction for the service will see the CSS team moving out and working directly with parishes, particularly those on the edges of the Archdiocese. Beginning with the North Island in 2020, this will be followed by conversations with South Island communities about how CSS can be a presence supporting their mission beginning in 2021.

The CSS team draws together peole with a range of professional and pastoral skills and experiences, says Karen. It has two registered social workers and a therapeutic social worker is being recruited to support people’s holistic wellbeing. A very committed and passionate team of four hospital chaplains and one prison chaplain will continue to operate within the Archdiocese to meet the pastoral and spiritual needs of those they visit. The hospital chaplains are supported by priests on call who provide for the sacramental needs of Catholic patients.

CSS also offers a Seasons for Growth programme to support young people, and adults who have experienced significant loss and change. This programme has been very successful in schools and will be offered in parish communities across the Archdiocese in 2020.

Karen said a new community facilitator has been added to the team to strengthen ties between CSS and the community.

This is achieved through collaboration with other church organisations and community agencies to support vulnerable groups such as former refugees, beneficiaries and those living in precarious housing conditions.

‘As part of the change in focus for CSS,’ says Karen ‘the community facilitator will work with parishes to help them reach out to those on the peripheries of their own communities. This might mean supporting local people with issues such as poor housing, unemployment and poverty.’

Catholic Social Services steers a new course

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