Join ’91 Days’ email journey into Catholic social teaching

By: By Tom Dermody

A lot can happen in 91 days.

A central Illinois winter can begin and (please) end. The construction phase of a new home might be completed. The planet Mercury will completely orbit the sun.

And now, thanks to the Catholic Conference of Illinois, a Catholic can come to better understand and appreciate an often overlooked treasure of our faith — the church’s social teaching.

“91 Days” is the theme of a CCI program of daily, emailed readings set to begin on Ash Wednesday, March 5, and continue through June 8.

Those who sign up for the service at ilcatholic.orgwill begin a three-month journey through the church’s go-to reference on matters relating to building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. Each day, participants will receive several paragraphs from the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,” published in 2004 at the request of Pope John Paul II.

By the time the 91 days are through, the entire compendium will be covered.

“It’s a chance to learn what Pope Francis has been talking about since his election last March,” says the CCI on its website introduction to “91 Days.” As of Feb. 21, more than 2,400 people from throughout the state had signed up for the service after invitations appeared in parish bulletins.

Topics to be explored include the human dignity of each person, the importance of marriage and the family, the dignity of work, the morality of the economy, the church and the political community, international relations, safeguarding the environment, and the promotion of peace. About a chapter of the compendium is covered each week.

“It’s not something you can skim through,” said Marilou Gervacio, director of social services and social justice for the Catholic Conference of Illinois. She said participants will “need to dedicate some time each day” for the reading and study.

“The hope is to have people stick with it and become more informed about what the church’s social teachings are and to become more involved in the ministries of the church in some way,” said Gervacio. If participants also become more aware of the mission and activities of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, the church’s public policy arm in the state, that would be welcomed as well.

Gervacio said “91 Days” — which is available in both English and Spanish — was developed by the Justice and Peace Ministry of the Diocese of Joliet and piloted there last summer. The bishops of Illinois approved it for statewide use.

To sign up for “91 Days,” visit ilcatholic.org.

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