Caritas Conference 2017: Mission in an Age of Austerity

On September 29th, representatives of dioceses and charities in the Caritas Social Action Network came together for the Caritas Conference 2017, ‘Mission in an Age of Austerity’.

With this conference we wanted to explore how we move forward with faith, drawing on Catholic social thought and other Christian perspectives; how our work can form and inspire the next generation of parish volunteers and charity professionals; and how we can find new opportunities for working together.

We kicked off the day with Paul Hackwood of the Church Urban Fund, who analysed the challenge which austerity presents to those organisations seeking results that cannot be measured in monetary terms. Debbie James of the Church Mission Society described grassroots projects which have found ways to be faithful to Christian mission, yet adapt to their context.

This was followed by practical workshops on formation - how can the Network better support staff, volunteers and leaders at different stages in their personal development, and faith journeys where appropriate? These were coupled with detailed run-throughs of the legal challenges which faith-based organisations can face when dealing with recruitment and fundraising – how do you advertise for a Catholic board member? To what extent can you expect volunteers to adopt your charities’ values? A final element was workshops considering ‘mission’ and faithfully evaluating our impact within our communities. The ‘new modernity’ is characterised by an increasing interest in religion and spirituality, and a search for a more authentic and satisfying life, but also new forms of community and belonging. How can Catholic charities fit into this?

The day was rounded-off with Baroness Shirley Williams. At 87 years old, she gave an account of her life in faith. She spoke of the role of women in the Church and the need to recognise and promote their invaluable contributions.

Finally, she sent the Network’s representatives away with the message that they must continue what they do, in the spirit that they do it. Most importantly, we must continue to do it together. As a Network, we are more than individual charities and dioceses, but also a movement committed to building the Kingdom here on Earth.


Dr Mark Hayes: Industry More Content, Finance Less Proud

This lecture offered a fresh perspective and ethical grounding for the reform of Company Law. Drawing on Catholic Social Thought, Mark Hayes proposed a natural right of membership in a company through work as part of a community of enterprise. He translates theological principles into practical proposals for change in the law and practice governing listed companies; such changes are necessary if companies are to move beyond shareholder value to the pursuit of the common good as their corporate purpose.

Dr Mark Hayes is St Hilda Reader Emeritus in Catholic Social Thought and Practice, in the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University. He was formerly a Fellow and Director of Studies in Economics at Robinson College, Cambridge; the principal founder of Shared Interest, the credit co-operative financing Fair Trade; and an investment manager with 3i.

The talk took place in Romero House, London, on the 21st on November 2016, a recording, as well as slides and the text of the presentation are below.




St Hilda Chair in Catholic Social Thought and Practice

St Hilda Chair in Catholic Social Thought and Practice

The Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, within which the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) is situated, and Durham University Business School are delighted to announce the concurrent appointment of Dr Mark Hayes as the inaugural holder of the St Hilda Chair in Catholic Social Thought and Practice. Dr Hayes’ appointment will begin in September 2014, when he will be installed as a Reader of Durham University.