St. Olaf Social Outreach Program carries out the social mission of the church and the parish. This social mission is best articulated in the words of Isaiah and of Jesus as recorded in chapter four of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus life and ministry of serving, healing, justice and compassionate presence to those on the margins is our best example of living out our faith in the world. Through our baptism we are called to live out Jesus’ mission on earth. This social mission of the parish is neither optional nor trendy, but a fundamental part of our church’s mission and our lives.
St. Olaf’s social mission is especially defined by our sense of place in the city and the needs and gifts that are in our midst as part of a large, urban downtown parish community. St. Olaf has a particular responsibility and graced opportunity to respond to the needs of those who are poor or on the margins of our community, to engage those with resources of time, talent and treasure and to form more just communities for all.
Through its volunteer ministries, SOSOP strives to be the “living sign of Christ’s saving presence in the heart of the city” through its works of charity, justice and solidarity and spiritual presence, especially to those in crisis, suffering and on the margins. We invite all parishioners to share in the social mission of the church in their daily lives, their work, their community service, and the ministries of St. Olaf Social Outreach.
The Outreach office is open Monday through Wednesday from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm. Volunteer ministers and staff offer a listening presence, support, referrals to social service agencies, and direct assistance with material needs:
- An opportunity to speak about concerns, needs, hopes and goals;
- Referrals for gently-used furniture, mental health support, employment training and job search, immigration assistance, affordable housing, and utility assistance;
- Food pantry to supplement food shelf use;
- Clothing for women and children;
- Small household goods;
- Layettes for pregnant women;
- Birthday Bags for children ages 1 – 6;
- Financial assistance for limited rental or utility assistance, bus tokens for new employment, medical co-pays;
- School supplies for families with limited income;
- Christmas ‘Shop’ for parents to choose gifts for children up to age 12
Every Wednesday from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm parish volunteers and friends make blankets, baby gowns, and girls’ clothes size 3 – 6, and mittens and scarves. These homemade items are shared through our clothing closet, and distributed to St. Anne’s Shelter and Incarnation House shelter in north and south Minneapolis. Blankets are also shared with guests of the Exodus Residence located next to St. Olaf.
Bread and Clothing Donations
Parish volunteers pick up bread donations received from Rainbow and distribute them to Social Outreach, Exodus, and other outreach sites. Clothing donations are also distributed to St. Anne’s Shelter, Incarnation House and Sabathani Community Center, and Sharing and Caring Hands.
A basic moral test of a society is how its most vulnerable members are faring. This is not a new insight; it is a lesson of the parable of the Last Judgement. (Matthew 25) “A Century of Social Teaching” – U.S. Catholic Bishops
To learn more about the St. Olaf Social Outreach Program, or to make a donation, contact Joan Miltenberger at 612-332-7471, ext. 247 or email jmiltenberger@SaintOlaf.org.