Home / Stories / Worlds Colliding: Catholic Social Teaching & Social Work

Worlds Colliding: Catholic Social Teaching & Social Work

Airianna header

Editor’s note: DC Service Corps volunteer, Arianna Beitler, takes a closer look at two ideologies: Catholic Social Teaching and the ideals of Social Work. Each learned from very different points in her life, from her studies in college to the lessons of our FMS Formation sessions. She shares her experiences and their overarching similarities with the two.

We go formation sessions every week on Tuesday afternoons as part of DC Service Corps. In one of the sessions, we learned about Catholic Social Teaching and why it is important for us as volunteers and missioners. During the session, a former missioner “zoomed in” to talk to us about Catholic Social Teaching. To understand what we are talking about, I have included a picture of what Catholic Social Teaching is.

When reviewing the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching, I recognized them. However,  I put them in slightly different words because I learned of these principles in the context of my social work studies.  Specifically, the principles reminded me of social work “core values” from the Code of Ethics that social workers follow. For reference, I have added a picture capturing those values.

During our discussion about Catholic Social Teaching, I pointed out the intersection with social work and shared these two graphics to illustrate where I was coming from. Having a social work background along with a Catholic education helped me better understand this lesson and how important it can be when navigating mission work. This helped put in perspective how we are supposed to act and what is guiding our work during this year of service.

Throughout the session, others talked about how they knew Catholic Social Teaching and why they think it is important. Someone brought up the connection with Laudato Si’, written by Pope Francis in 2015. I thought that was interesting because I had to read Laudato Si’ for school and I didn’t remember an explicit connection with Catholic Social Teaching. However, I looked it up, and they were correct! 

I enjoy our meetings on Tuesdays because we learn from a speaker and each other. We all struggle at times to complete the reading or homework for that session but we work together to understand what we are learning and how to apply that within our lives and community. This session really touched my heart because it helped me better understand why the expectations for a year of service are the way they are and how to go about supporting others in a way that is actually helpful. 

A couple of the principles that we practice regularly in our Casa community are “Care for our Common Home” and “Solidarity.” We practice these in many ways in our house by recycling, composting, not eating meat every day, by volunteering, working at our different sites and living within an intentional community. Catholic Social Teaching has also been woven into my service at United States Catholic Mission Association, where I am working on a newsletter that mentions Catholic Social Teaching. It’s amazing how these principles keep showing up in my life and in day-to-day things my community members and I hear about in the news! 

For readers out there, I hope this blog helps explain the lens through which we, as the FMS family, view our service for this year and beyond.

Airianna recently graduated from University of St. Thomas where she studied Social Work with minors in education. She is excited to apply her social work, education and interfaith background in the service for and with others as the US Catholic Mission Service Publication and Communication Associate.