From youth ministry to social justice promotion


With his passion for the outdoors, newly-appointed social justice animator for the Hamilton diocese Alex Bailey is looking forward to working in the area of environmental care.
“We are all called to take personal responsibility for the earth,” Mr Bailey said.

Citing Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, Mr Bailey explained the issue of the environment is not exclusive of other social issues.

“In New Zealand, there are many social issues that appear separate from the environment such as affordable and decent housing, the euthanasia debate, poverty, and the care of refugees and migrants,” he said.

“Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ promotes an integral ecology where care for the earth and care for the poor are inseparably linked,“ he added.

As social justice animator, Mr Bailey defined the mission of the office as “promoting Catholic social teaching to all people of goodwill”, in parishes, schools, among youth groups, chaplaincies, and the wider community.

“[The mission is] a beating heart of mercy for the vulnerable,” he said.

The former head of the Hamilton youth ministry, Mr Bailey said he brings with him the contacts he has made, particularly with young adults.

He said he learned a lot of things from his youth ministry.

“I have learnt that Christ is King. When trying to implement new initiatives, events, and programmes there will be many setbacks. However, victory is always through Jesus,” he said.

In promoting Catholic social teaching, he said his office is establishing two volunteer issue committees: the Committee for Care for our Common Home, and the Committee for Care of Refugees and Migrants.

Other committees will be established later, he said.

He said they will also establish local committees in the diocese’s collegial areas and parishes. “Local committees will work to remedy local social issues,” he explained.

Mr Bailey said his love for the outdoors was instilled in him by his parents.

“Dad taught me to freshwater fish in the Waihou River. I’m now a mad fly fisherman and take advantage of every opportunity to get outside, experience nature in the fresh water of New Zealand, and catch trout! I’m currently dreaming of catching a kingfish on the fly!” he said.

It is this same love that he is hoping to instil in his two-year-old daughter, Felicity.

“I want to pass on a healthy environment, one which she can also enjoy and experience nature in all its beauty and grandeur, and maybe catch a fish, too,” he said.

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Rowena Orejana

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