Parish and Community Engagement Ministries

As Catholics, we believe in the dignity and worth of every human being. At Catholic Charities, we respond to the call to be visible signs of Christ’s love, especially to the most vulnerable among us.

PACEM – the acronym for Parish and Community Engagement Ministries and Latin for “peace” provides support to parishioners in the Jackson diocese to live out their faith through charitable works and advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable. PACEM also collaborates with community organizations to enhance and support parish-based ministries.

“In imitation of Christ, we are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it” Pope Francis

Parish and Community Engagement Ministries (PACEM)

PACEM is comprised of 5 program areas: Parish Social Ministry, Migrant Support Center, Parish Health Ministry, the Vardaman Family Life Center and Disaster Preparedness Ministries.

Here are some practical examples that PACEM can provide support for you and your parish to be Living Signs of Christ to the most vulnerable through direct support and/or through education and advocacy:

DIRECT SUPPORT to vulnerable people through OUTREACH MINISTRY

  • Food or clothing pantries
  • Emergency Assistance
  • Literacy or tutoring projects
  • Makes referrals to the Society of St Vincent de Paul Conferences in the Diocese of Jackson
  • Budget coaching
  • Support group for bereaved, healthy models of living, caregivers
  • Develop specialized skills such as
    • Financial Empowerment training – Helping people move out of poverty
    • Health Ministry training for Faith Community Nurses & Health Advocates – Building healthy lifestyles in your parish
    • Disaster preparedness education – Learn how to protect your parish and help your neighbor in the event of a disaster

(Contact PACEM to see if your parish is eligible for a mini-grant to support outreach ministries).

Address ROOT CAUSES of poverty through EDUCATION & ADVOCACY

  • Host an Education & Awareness workshop:
    • Principles of Catholic Social Teachings
    • Human Trafficking awareness
    • “Welcoming the Stranger” (Immigrants)
    • Basic Advocacy Skills
    • Root Causes of Poverty and our response
  • Strengthen parish-based Youth and Adult Religious Education programs:
    • Gain tools and information that helps you integrate Pro-life and Catholic Social Teaching material into rel. ed. sessions
    • Invite a guest speaker to your class for a special presentation on a social issue
  • Legislative Advocacy
    • Send letters/email or call legislators about social concerns that affect the poor
    • Organize visits to elected officials
    • Sponsor an e-mail legislative alert system
    • Participate in Catholic Day at the Capitol

Monetary donations are also welcome and will be used to support PACEM programs or for the development of parish-based ministries.

“In imitation of Christ, we are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it” Pope Francis

Called to be Visible Signs of Christ

For more information, please contact:
Vicki Smith, Director of Parish and Community Engagement Ministries (PACEM)
Direct: 601-326-3796

Parish Social Ministry

The Office of Parish Social Ministry is a resource for the Jackson Diocese specializing in social justice education and advocacy. Our mission is to promote Catholic social teaching by educating and supporting parishes in their work for social justice and through legislative advocacy.

Program Areas

We provide educational resources to parishes across the Jackson Diocese regarding Catholic social teaching and social justice advocacy through this website and at regional and parish social justice ministry workshops.

Direct Service:
We provide consultation to parishes in developing parish-based ministries such as Faith in Action teams which will promote living the Gospel and building the Kingdom of God through direct service.

We work to engage Catholics in legislative advocacy for public policies on behalf of the common good, especially vulnerable populations.

Empowerment and Rebuilding Coalitions: We help develop a broader base of support and represent the Diocese of Jackson by participating in various community coalitions and legislative hearings regarding social justice issues.

Faith in Action Teams

Poverty Task Force

Catholic Day at the Capitol


Bishop’s Press Releases
Catholic Social Teaching
Church Documents
Educational Resources
Faith in Action Teams
Social Justice Issues

For more information, please contact:
Chamon Williams, Coordinator of Social Justice Ministry
Direct: (601) 326-3738

850 E. River Place
Jackson MS 39202

Office: (601) 355-8634
Fax: (601) 960-8493

Migrant Support Center

The Migrant Support Center provides direct legal representation, community education, and advocacy for immigrants living within the Diocese of Jackson. Some of our services include:

Direct Legal Representation

  • Representation in removal (formerly known as deportation) proceedings for families and unaccompanied children
  • Asylum (affirmative and defensive) for victims of persecution based on personal characteristics such as race, religion, political opinion, and gender
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for abused, neglected, and abandoned children
  • Appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits.
  • U Visas, T Visas, and Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) representation for survivors of crimes and human trafficking
  • Family-based petitions
  • Citizenship

Community Education and Advocacy

  • “Know your rights” trainings and legal clinics throughout the Diocese
  • Continuing Legal Education programs for attorneys on children’s immigration issues, such as asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
  • Pro bono partnerships with area attorneys and firms

Partnership with Mississippi College School of Law

  • Creation of the state’s only law school Immigration Clinic, training law students to become immigration attorneys in a hands-on, service-focused environment, primarily in the area of asylum. Our Clinic has attracted national attention, including a feature in National Jurist’s September 26, 2016 edition (“Mississippi College Clinic Seeks to Assist Immigrant Families”).

We do not deny services because of an inability to pay.

We are located at 850 E. River Pl., Ste. 300; Jackson, MS 39202. Our Jackson office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We also have a satellite office in Northeast Mississippi with varied hours. Meetings with our attorneys are by appointment only. To schedule a consultation for our Jackson or NE Mississippi office, please call 601-948-2635. Our consultation fee is $60.


    Parish Health Ministry

    The Office of Parish Health Ministry strives to cultivate relationships with individual parishes to build and sustain their own health ministries through the efforts of parish/faith community nurses and other volunteers, and may be able to help individuals find resources to medical or social needs that are not easily addressed. Education, advocacy, and empowerment are the key factors to health faith communities.

    Educate pastors, lay ecclesial ministers, and community on faith community nurses and health ministry advocates in order to promote a better understanding and acceptance of how they can support health ministries.Educate health ministry advocates on how to develop or sustain health ministries in the parish congregation.

    Serve as advocate to promote health and wellness and to prevent disease in the body, mind, and spirit for individuals, nurses, families, and communities. Build relationships with other entities that may provide needed services.

    Provide assistance/guidance for nurses to be trained in the four core concepts of faith community and to update nurses on trends in health care and pastoral care.

    “Physical health is not to be ‘our chief end in this life’ only a possible by product of loving God and one’s neighbor as oneself.” Granger Westberg

    For more information click on the following

    What is a parish or faith community health ministry?
    Parish health ministry is a service rendered by an individual or a team to a parish community. Many of these individuals are volunteers and are vital members of the parish community reporting directly to the pastor or the pastor designee.

    Parish health ministers recognize that health can occur in the presence or absence of illness. As a result health minister encourage a healthy lifestyle, disease prevention and spiritual growth.

    A parish or faith community health ministry does not provide a direct model, but rather supports those members who strive to live positive wholistic lives. It can include visiting the sick, organizing educational programs on nutrition, home safety, prayer life, positive living habits, and general health practices. It may involve developing support groups for a particular situation or condition.

    What is a Faith Community Nurse?
    Faith community nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as well as on the promotion of wholistic health and prevention or minimization of illness within the context of a faith community. (Scope and Standards of Practice: Faith Community Nursing, 2nd ed.)

    They are licensed nurses who practice wholistic health for self, individuals and the community using nursing knowledge combined with spiritual care. They function in paid and unpaid positions as members of the pastoral team/health ministry team.

    As an integral part of a healing ministry, faith community nursing is one of the best ways a congregation can promote health and wholeness. Wellness is much more than merely physical health, exercise or nutrition. It is the full integration of states of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. They may be able to help individuals or families find resources to medical or social needs that are not easily addressed.

    Faith Community Nurses embrace four concepts:
    1) Spirituality
    2) Wholistic Health (mind, body, and spirit)
    3) Professionalism
    4) Community resources-incorporating culture and diversity

    While parish/faith community nurses do not provide direct medical care or services, they do provide services consistent with the servant mission of the faith community. This may include visiting the sick, making drug store or grocery store trips for them, being sure they understand their prescription instruction, and assisting them with proper nutrition and cooking methods.

    Article from the Mississippi Catholic

    For more information, please contact:
    Vicki Smith, Director of Compliance
    Direct: 601-355-8634

    850 E. River Place
    Jackson MS 39202

    Vardaman Family Life Center

    The Vardaman Family Life Center is located in Vardaman, MS, a small town in NE Mississippi. The mission of the Vardaman Family Life Center is to be a welcoming presence – showing dignity for all people, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation and to provide support to vulnerable populations. The primary service area of the Center is Calhoun County and neighboring communities. Services are provided in both Spanish and English to ensure inclusion of the immigrant population in the area.

    Embracing the belief that it is more important to affirm people’s potential than to focus on their limitations, our services focus on strengthening and empowering individuals and families with resources and support that will help them overcome barriers they face in daily life.

    Program areas:

    • Parent enrichment session that include topics for nutritional awareness, financial empowerment and health concerns
    • Basic ESL classes
    • GED classes
    • General case management support and community referral services
    • Referral services for immigration legal services through Catholic Charities Migrant Support Center
    • Special projects including Summer children’s camp, National Migration Week activities, cultural awareness events
    • Emergency Assistance (as funding is available)

    Community Partnerships:

    • A dedicated Advisory Board comprised of a diverse group of individuals that reflect the community population
    • Catholic parishes of Deanery 5, Diocese of Jackson
    • Catholic Charities Migrant Support Center
    • McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement – University of Mississippi
    • MS Valley State University
    • Communicare
    • CHANGE Amory
    • City of Vardaman

    Office Hours:
    Tues and Thur: 10am to 8pm
    Wed: 10am to 4pm
    Closed Mondays and Fridays


    For more information, please contact:
    Danna Johnson, Program Specialist
    Direct: 662-682-9992

    210 N. Main Street (P.O. Box 328 for mail)
    Vardaman, MS 38878

    Disaster Preparedness & Response Program

    Disaster Preparedness & Response program provides assistance for individuals and households affected by natural disasters within the 65 counties of Central, Southwest, and North, MS. The goal of the Disaster Preparedness & Response Program is to provide temporary recovery support.

    Services Include:

    • Case Management
    • Rental Assistance
    • Utility Assistance
    • Food Boxes
    • Assistance obtaining Personal Hygiene items.
    • Assistance obtaining cleaning supplies.

    Required for Documentation:

    • Identification
    • Proof of Residency
    • Social Security Cards
    • Documentation of Damages

    For more information, please contact:
    Chamon Williams, Program Director
    Direct: 601-326-3738

    Fax: 601-326-3781