The local LaSalle round table on social development (Table de Développement Social de LaSalle or Table de Quartier) is an association of partner members (i.e. community groups, municipal government, schools, local health and social services, local businesses, and individual citizens), operating in different fields of intervention, i.e. those involving families, youth, seniors, recent arrivals, mental health, and the like).
Its role is to bring together and leverage their collective capacity for the betterment of the neighbourhood; to develop, for example, an overall vision that includes alleviating poverty, preventing senior isolation, and action for environmental concerns, safety and food security.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wendy de Souza, who currently serves as the parish social action representative at St. John Brébeuf Parish, had the opportunity to attend one of the round table gatherings for the borough of LaSalle, via the cloud platform Zoom. Although the community of St. John Brébeuf has been a member of the Round Table for close to ten years, during which it was partially involved in several of the association’s special projects and workshops, de Souza had not yet had the chance to fully participate in an official meeting until recently.
De Souza was excited and humbled to hear about the great work being done by the organizations in LaSalle and glad to be included in the meeting. One of the first things that struck her was that she had seen many, if not all, of the issues that surfaced at the Table in her role as part-time secretary for St. John Brébeuf Parish. It led her to muse about the potential of all parish social action representatives finding out about their local Round Tables and then proposing to their parish pastors or teams that this be a feasible way for the Church to engage with the local community. This idea, if lived out and practiced by parishes, would be very much in line with the benchmark document called “A Church which goes forth”, written and prepared by the AECQ Council on Church and Society (Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec), which encourages parishes to identify possible alliances with local organizations capable of welcoming the presence of the Church in their environment in a spirit of collaboration.
To become an official member at the local level of the Round Tables, parishes are required to fill out a form and pay an annual membership fee of $25. After having attended her first meeting on behalf of her parish, de Souza believes that the small effort and fee to get involved is well worth it.
“We are blessed at Brébeuf that our pastor is on board with being an official member,” said de Souza. “I think that it is good that churches take part in this; it gives us a voice and helps us to know what is already going on around us so that we do not have to re-invent the wheel! This holds especially true for our faith communities and parishes who are often the ones that receive many of the recent arrivals in many of our boroughs - they still go to churches for help,” she added.
Many churches also deal with families and seniors who may need guidance in finding suitable resources. Reaching out to the local community at the Round Table can only help to build better solidarity for providing improved service in social action ministry.
To find out more about the Neighbourhood Round Tables Coalition (comprising 30 round tables operating in Montreal) visit the following link:
You can also contact Mrs. De Souza directly by phone at 514-366-0131 ext. 221 or email@example.com