Just Neighbors® Catholic Teaching Edition


Centuries of Christian teaching and practice, much of it inherited from Jewish ancestors in faith, have put caring for the “least among us” at the heart of faithful living. While this ethical practice is integral to all major faiths, it has been articulated repeatedly in the Catholic tradition through a series of papal and episcopal letters and statements known collectively as Catholic Social Teaching (CST).

The Catholic social tradition and teachings offer a theological foundation for Just Neighbors’ broader definition of “my neighbor” rooted in an understanding of humanity’s creation as one family of God, living in community. This edition of Just Neighbors explores social justice issues in America in the light of Catholic teaching on poverty.

The earlier Catholic Teaching Supplement has been replaced by a revised, updated and fully integrated Catholic Teaching Edition. The toolkit will be an invaluable asset for teaching the principles of Catholic social tradition in parish social ministry, human concerns committees, in adult ministry, in Catholic high schools and colleges and in Catholic Charity agencies. Download a brochure here.

Participants benefit from reflection on service work performed and being challenged by Catholic tradition to understand that “action on behalf of justice  and transformation of the world is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel.” Synod of Bishops, 1971, Justice in the World.

  • Nine flexible, ninety-minute, multimedia sessions to engage the causes of poverty.
  • Incorporates five original videos, poverty simulations, insightful role plays and discussions.
  • Includes prayers, scripture reflection, and Catholic teaching on poverty for each session.
  • Learn to stand in solidarity with low income families.
  • Recommendations for actions to take, books to read, and organizations to contact.


Session 1: Who Is My Neighbor? Session 1: Who Is My Neighbor?

People of faith have a responsibility to love all of our neighbors-not just those next door, but anyone in need. In this session, participants are introduced through a video to some of our “neighbors”-three families living in poverty. They see the obstacles the families face each day and discuss how, as people of faith, we are called to help.

Common Good, Charity and Justice: Good Samaritan, Luke 10: 29-37

Session 2: Making Ends Meet Session 2: Making Ends Meet

Living in poverty means maintaining a constant financial juggling act, a never-ending struggle to make ends meet. In this session, participants watch a video about a family, and then try to balance the family’s budget, experiencing the nearly impossible financial decisions that low-income families must make on a daily basis.

Call to Family, Community, and Participation: The Wedding Feast at Cana, John 2:1-3:1

Session 3: What Would You Choose? Session 3: What Would You Choose? TRY IT >>

Is it better for Annie, a single mother struggling to care for her children, to move to a cheaper, but less safe neighborhood, or to spend more hours working away from her children so they can stay where they are? In this session, participants make the tough decisions Annie faces, and feel the stresses and struggles of life below the poverty line.

Solidarity: Road to Emmaus, Luke 24: 13-32

Session 4: Does Working Work? Session 4: Does Working Work?

Even full-time employment does not guarantee a successful climb out of poverty. In this session, participants consider the lives of three working families who struggle to meet their basic needs, and understand how trends and changes in employment and wages affect the families who make up the “working poor.”

Dignity of Work & Rights of Workers: Laborers In the Vineyard, Matthew 20:1-26

Session 5: Housing Matters Session 5: Housing Matters

The word “home” evokes images of safety, warmth, and love. But for millions of Americans, a decent and affordable home is an impossible dream. In this session, participants examine the nation’s housing crisis and commonly-held myths. Through a video, they learn about ways that communities are responding to the need for housing.

Common Good Rights and Responsibilities: Peaceable Kingdom, Isaiah 11:6-9

Session 6: Prejudice, Privilege, and Poverty Session 6: Prejudice, Privilege, and Poverty

Race and poverty have been closely linked throughout the history of the U.S. In this session, a thought-provoking video provides the basis for the group’s discussion. Participants explore the ways that racial discrimination impacts education, employment, and economic opportunities.

Human Dignity, Personal and Social Sin: One In Christ, Galatians 3:26-28

Session 7: Our Children, Our Future Session 7: Our Children, Our Future

Childhood should be a time of innocence and joy, a time free from worry and fear. But that is not the case for one in six American children who live in poverty. In a moving video, children show photographs they have taken of their lives, and tell of the harsh realities of growing up poor. And in a creative activity, participants identify the essential elements all children need to thrive.

Option for the Poor, Pastoral Circle: Children’s Requests, Matthew 7:7-12

Session 8: Justice For All? Session 8: Justice For All?

Over the last several decades, the gulf between the rich and the poor in America has widened. In this session, participants take on the roles of people of different economic status and grapple with the differing ways they are affected by economic trends reflected in the news of the day.

Universal Destiny Of All Goods: Honoring Rich and Poor, James 2:1-9, 14-17

Stepping Out In Faith Session 9: Stepping Out In Faith

For groups that have completed multiple Just Neighbors sessions, this session is a springboard for further action. Some groups will identify volunteer opportunities and consider ways of becoming involved. Others will develop a plan of action and concrete goals for service or advocacy.

Charity and Justice: Healing the Paralytic, Mark 2:1-12

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