Social Justice

Work for social justice is central to the identity of the Paulist Center.

Our history is filled with brave and gritty work in social justice that has deeply impacted our community and the Boston area. We believe, as Christians, that part of our call is to live a life dedicated to working alongside God in making this world a better, more just, and more vibrant place. We have many groups dedicated to different issues and projects here at the Center. All are open groups that would love to have new people involved!

Social Justice Groups

  • Creation Care

    Creation Care

    Giving Witness. Taking action.

    Mission Statement

    Ecological sustainability is an issue of global social justice, disproportionately affecting the poor and marginalized. It requires an approach to “questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si, #49).


    To live out this approach,

    • We will learn and embrace a Christian spirituality of environmental justice and stewardship. We will assist other ministries of the Paulist Center to incorporate this spirituality into the community’s consciousness and works.
    • We will take actions that demonstrate our collective commitment to environmental sustainability and justice. In partnership with the Paulist Center staff and members of the community, we will seek and implement ways to manage our personal and communal use of energy and materials to achieve sustainable patterns of consumption.
    • We will collaborate with other communities of faith and people of good will in advocacy and action to establish environmentally responsible policies in corporate and civic institutions.
    • Online resources resources about Laudato Si’, music, spirituality and the Catholic Climate Movement can be found here.

    To contact the Creation Care team email

    To see a list of our team members, click here

  • Food Pantry
    Paulist Center Emergency Food Pantry

    “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.” — Matthew 25:35

    As you have probably noticed, the appeal for food is a weekly affair. The reason: the demand is constant. In earlier years, the pantry could be stocked by an occasional bulletin notice, but no longer. Even when the food donated on Sunday has been augmented by collections taken up by schools, universities, and other groups, the supply usually does not meet the demand. As a result, The Paulist Center has teamed up with the Greater Boston Food Bank to collect additional food for a nominal fee. Three volunteer shoppers make weekly visits.

    The food pantry is located on the first floor, two doors down from the reception area. There, four volunteers spend one and one-half hours on Tuesday afternoons (1:30-3:00 pm) distributing food that three different volunteers have previously shelved. One visit for one grocery bag a month is the operating guideline. We are now giving out bags of groceries that feed over 400 people a month.

    The people who need the pantry come for a variety of reasons. They work for minimum wages or live on some governmental assistance that may have been reduced. Some on minimum wages feed children as well as themselves. Money runs out before the month runs out. They are formerly homeless persons getting back on their feet. Some are unemployed. Others are elderly or disabled with fixed and limited resources such as Social Security. Some just don’t make enough to pay rent and buy food.

    Many people learn of the pantry from friends.  Some are referred by neighboring churches and social service agencies; we are one of the few food pantries around that is open to anyone. The Wednesday Night Supper volunteers tell our guests about it.

    We have a pretty good idea of what people can use.  It is almost impossible to have too much:

    • rice
    • tuna and mayonnaise
    • canned fruit and vegetables
    • peanut butter and jelly/jam
    • dry milk, and juice boxes
    • beef stew, ravioli, chili
    • spaghetti sauce
    • boxed cereal
    • canned beans and baked beans
    • soup and packaged macaroni and cheese (in winter especially)

    Pasta products move rather slowly.  Surprisingly, there is almost no demand for baby food, dried beans, clear broths and “cooking soups” such as mushroom soup. Cranberry sauce, pumpkin and similar seasonal products, and uncommon foods sit on the shelf for a very long time as well.

    One basic rule: the less cooking required, the better   Another: the more familiar, the better.  We are restricted to using non-perishable and pre-packaged food because of health concerns.

    The Pantry is important as we work to live out the Biblical call to feed the hungry and reach out to our neighbors.

    Sincere thanks to all who keep the food pantry supplied.  Without you, there would be empty shelves and more hungry people seeking food.

    Opened every non-holiday Tuesday afternoon for those with an immediate, critical need for food. Donations of non-perishable items are always needed and can be left by the Mary Altar after the weekend liturgies.

    For more information or to get involved, contact Susan Rutkowski.

  • Immigration Advocacy Group

    Paulist Center Immigrant Advocacy Group

     Mission Statement

    The work of the Immigration Advocacy Group is grounded in our Catholic faith which calls us to welcome the stranger among us.  In welcoming the immigrant, migrant, and refugee, we encounter Christ.   The Catholic Church has consistently upheld our moral obligation to treat the stranger as we could Christ.   Catholic Social Teaching on immigration recognizes that 1) people have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families; 2) a country has the right to regulate its borders and to control immigration; but 3) a country must regulate its border with justice and mercy.   This teaching is grounded in the equality of all people and the commitment to the common good.

    We  seek to accomplish this mission through:

    1. Providing direct assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants.
    2. Advocating for just and merciful public policy locally and nationally
    3. Educating ourselves and the Paulist Center Community issues of relevance

    For more information, contact us at:

    Updates and Activities

     August 2023 Summer Update

    Dear Friends,

    As always, many thanks for your attention and support. The “friends of IAG” at the Paulist Center number about 150 and have been a powerful collective voice on behalf of asylees and other newcomers to the U.S. and Massachusetts.

    A steering committee of about 10 people have been meeting over the last few months to reflect on our ministry and plan our activities for the remainder of 2023 and going forward. This note is to bring you all up to speed and invite your engagement in whatever ways you may feel called to participate.

    Recent Accomplishments


    Charity is critical, but achieving justice for immigrants requires us to change federal, state and local policy to be more hospitable and compassionate to newcomers. This has been a very active year on the policy front, with some significant victories. Our calls, petition signatures and emails have achieved significant results:

    • Work and Family Mobility Act (WFMA, aka Driver’s License Bill) passed the legislature, overriding a gubernatorial veto, and survived a ballot challenge in Nov 2022. Implementation of the law began on July 1. WFMA will make our roads safer and greatly reduce the anxiety and stress endured by immigrant families.
    • Tuition Equity. As part of the FY2024 budget signed by governor Healey, all students who reside in Massachusetts will be eligible for in-state tuition rates, regardless of immigration status. This is a major win for myriad young people who have grown up here.
    • MA FY2024 Budget. The newly approved state budget contains increased funding for a number of programs serving immigrants, addressing housing, employment and other needs. Our advocacy has helped to create a more supportive climate for these investments

     Direct Assistance to Individuals and Families

    This has been a core component of this ministry. In the past we have helped provide sanctuary to people facing the threat of deportation. More recently, we have worked with St. Cecilia’s and Catholic Charities to support two families who have fled Afghanistan through the POWIR (Parishes Organized to Welcome Immigrants and Refugees) program. We are currently investigating the possibility of working with Welcome Circles (for Ukrainian families), the RIAN Center (whose founding executive director, Sr. Leena Davy, received the Paulist Center’s Isaac Hecker Award in 1996).

    Immediate Needs

    Accompaniment for Afghan families we’re helping through the POWIR program. Includes providing transportation to appointments.

    Conversation Partners. Working with our 2 families

    Public Policy Advocates. In addition to our occasional requests to contact officials, we need volunteers to track issues, develop relationships with policy makers and help prioritize activities.

    Steering Committee members.  Quarterly and occasional ad hoc meetings to reflect on our work and make plans.

    Interested? Let us know at


    Upcoming Projects

    Messaging and Communications. Our spiritual values as Catholic Christians are key to everything that we do,and it’s what makes us different from other people of good will working on behalf of immigrants. In addition to keeping the larger Paulist Center community up-to-date on our work and the issues we are addressing, we will be seeking to improve how we articulate our values by creating templates for communications with policy makers, letters to the editor, etc.

    Direct Assistance to Individuals and Families. We have learned a lot about the complexities (and often frustrations) of this work from our POWIR experience. Our goal now is to develop a simple menu of volunteer opportunities with partners who have the capacity to manage volunteer groups like ours. We are currently looking at these organizations and projects. We will update you as we move forward

    2023-24 Policy Priorities

    State (based on the legislative agenda of the MA Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition)

    1. Language Access and Inclusion Act to ensure that state agencies provide information and services in the primary languages of its limited English-proficient state residents
    2. Upstream RAFT Act, to  protect all low-income state residents from eviction or foreclosure by codifying and streamlining access to DHCD’s homelessness prevention programs and restoring critical COVID-era protections.
    3. Safe Communities Act. This bill would end state and local involvement in immigration enforcement
    4. Cover All Kids Act, to expand comprehensive MassHealth coverage to children and young adults whose only barrier to eligibility is their immigration status.
    5. Physician Pathway Act to marshall the skills of seasoned, internationally-trained physicians to address acute physician shortages in Massachusetts by creating a streamlined pathway to full licensure.


    1. The Dignity Act, a bipartisan effort to strengthen border security in the United States, provide undocumented individuals with an opportunity to obtain legal status if they meet certain requirements, and update aspects of the U.S. legal immigration system.
    2. Public comment on executive actions and regulations as they arise

    Our strategy will be to develop relationships with elected officials (and their staffs), and seek their guidance on how we can advocate effectively. We believe that the geographic dispersion of Paulist Center members will make us especially effective and powerful as advocates.

    How you can help

    1. Keep doing what you’ve been doing.  Your calls, emails and volunteer participation have made a huge difference!
    2. Volunteer as your time and interests allow.
    3. Join our steering committee, which meets via Zoom more or less quarterly to reflect on our work and make plans (limited homework between meetings)
    4. Share your ideas, opinions and suggestions about this memo, or whatever else about our work is on your mind.

    Questions or comments? Let us know at

    In Christ,

    Paulist Center IAG Steering Committee

    Ed Marakovitz (co-chair)
    Chris O’Keeffe (co-chair)
    Carol Geyer
    Christopher Spicer Hankle
    Mary Hughes
    Mary Lesko
    Peter McLoughlin
    Adrienne Murphy
    Susan Rutkowski
    Mary Skinner


  • Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice

    Given annually to an individual or group in recognition of the outstanding commitment of a North American Catholic to building a more just and peaceful world.
    Past recipients include Dorothy Day, Cesar Chavez, Archbishop Hunthausen, and Rev. Thomas Doyle.  See the guidelines to nominate your favorite Catholic whose work for justice you admire.

    Bryan Massingale

    • 2022   Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ
      • 2021   Len and Cherylann Gengel
    • 2020   Fr. Bryan Massingale, recognized voice and face of the call for racial and LGBTQ+ justice and inclusion
    • 2019   Joan Chittister, OSB: Author, Theologian, International Lecturer
    • 2018  Colleen Kelly: Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
    • 2017   Jane O’Connor: Educator
    • 2016   William B. Evans: Boston Police Commissioner
    • 2015   Suzanne & Brayton Shanley: Agape Community
    • full list  See this page or the second page of the award guidelines

    For more information or to get involved, contact Susan Rutkowski.

  • Pax Christi Boston
    Who we are:
    Grounded in the Gospel and Catholic social teaching, Pax Christi USA is a membership organization , a section of Pax Christi International, that rejects war, preparation for war, every form of violence and domination, and personal and systemic racism.  We are a Catholic peace and justice movement that seeks to model the Peace of Christ in our witness to the mandate of the nonviolence of the Cross.
    What we do:
    Guided by the spirituality of nonviolence, we advocate and provide leadership for disarmament, demilitarization and reconciliation with justice, inclusiveness, economic and interracial justice, human rights and care of creation.
    •  We strive through prayer, study and action to be attentive to the interrelatedness of the key issues stated above and, in our response, to be conscious of their impact on the world community.
    • We work to align our organizational structures, policies, and practices with our intent to be an anti-racist, multicultural Catholic movement for peace and justice.
    Our Vision:
    A more peaceful, just and sustainable world through the efforts of our members and in collaboration with other groups.
    We dream of a world that respects the universal human rights of all people, and we do this by being in solidarity with oppressed and marginalized people struggling  for dignity.  We reject every form of political and economic domination over others.  We continue to knock on the door of the Empire demanding entrance and a voice:a
    voice that proclaims that every human being is worthy of respect regardless of race, class, socio-economic status, and on which side of what border one comes from.
    Toward these ends PCUSA is joined with many justice seeking organizations around the world.
    We dream of restoring our globe to a place of balance where the earth is recognized as our home and its care our future.  We believe with Teilhard de Chardin when he said, “creation, nature is the first Body of Christ.”
    We realize that the extremes in weather, the susceptibility of fire and drought in so many parts of the globe, the displacement and migrations of peoples, the dramatic loss of plant and animal life are not coincidences.  The thread that runs through them all is the misuse of the earth’s resources along with the greed and miss-use of power in polluting the atmosphere and thus rendering the earth seriously off balance.
    Contact Information:
    Christina Abbey, Convener, Pax Christi Boston
    474 Revere Beach Boulevard 904
    Revere,MA 02151
  • Racial Justice Advocacy Group

    Out of the Just Faith Community series, starting in November 2020, the Racial Justice Advocacy Group was formed.  We are planning a range of educational and community action(s).  We are looking for people who are concerned about the many facets of racism and seek concrete ways to deconstruct racist systems.  We welcome new members who can meet once a month and support the Ministry’s work.

    You can see our Mission Statement below.  are interested in hearing more, please contact either Tom Sharkey ( or Susan Buta (

    Contact Susan Buta for information about upcoming meetings on zoom.  RJAG meetings take place the second Tuesday of the month at 7 PM via zoom.

    Mission Statement

    The Paulist Center’s Racial Justice Advocacy Group, holds racial justice as the systematic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone.

    Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity.

    The Racial Justice Advocacy Group seeks to promote racial justice by supporting Paulist Center members in:

    1. Understanding the history of racism and the system of white supremacy (education).
    2. Engaging in personal and collective introspection to reimagine and co-create within the Paulist Center Community deliberate systems and supports that achieve and sustain racial equity.
    3. Envisioning and identifying opportunities in our local community and beyond to help progress on the ground level, through existing Paulist Center ministries or external initiatives.
    4. Joining with other faith communities in order to walk alongside people on the margins; and
    5. Exerting power and influence – grounded in love and relationships – at the town, state and national levels, to disrupt and resist the status quo and to hold our elected leaders accountable for enacting policies and laws that promote racial and social justice.


  • St. Dismas Committee
    St. Dismas Committee: Educating, Informing and Advocating for Criminal Justice Reform

    Do you feel the Gospel call to visit the prisoner? Did the Trayvon Martin case motivate you to act for change? Do you want to fight for fairness in our criminal justice system? Join the St. Dismas Committee at the Paulist Center. We organize educational events for the community, perform direct service, and work for legislative change.

    For more information or to get added to the group email list, contact Susan Rutkowski.

  • Walk for Hunger

    Founded by and at the Paulist Center, this annual 20-mile walk takes place the first Sunday of May. Volunteers help plan, coordinate, and walk to raise funds for Project Bread and the many meal programs and food pantries throughout Massachusetts. The Walk is now sponsored by Project Bread.

    The Paulist Center continues to participate in this project.

    For more information or to get involved, contact Susan Rutkowski.

  • Wednesday Night Supper Club

    Volunteers host a meal for our neighbors who are hungry. The meal is offered weekly in the Paulist Center Auditorium at 6pm and is funded by Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger as well as donations from groups and individuals.

    For more information or to get involved, contact Jeff Buckley.

    To arrange for a group to volunteer, contact The Supper Club Team.

    If you are interested being a cook, contact Emily Hankle.


    Individuals with questions about volunteering are welcome to send an email to the email address above, but also know that it is fine for an individual to just come to help any week without prearranging your visit. Suffolk University students interested in volunteering in order to complete their Local and Global Engagement hours are asked to sign up via SU Connect available HERE.  You can follow us on Facebook HERE.