Who we are
VOICE is a ministry of the parish that advocates for social justice on issues important to Prince William County and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VOICE ministry provides an avenue for parishioners to become involved in their local communities, be an agent for social justice/change, and present a Catholic voice in the public square about important public policy issues
Why it’s important
The majority of VOICE issues are family and human dignity issues. Other parish ministries also address these topics, the parish VOICE ministry focuses on issues that highly impact people and families in everyday life – especially those communities of the poor and minorities. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48)
VOICE is called to be ever faithful in our ministry. We celebrate accomplishments, renew our efforts on works-in-progress, and always work for the greater glory of God. Read about some of our past and on-going efforts of this ministry in the briefs below.
How we advocate
VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement) is a non-partisan coalition of almost 50 faith communities and civic organizations in Northern Virginia working together to create justice in middle and low-income communities. We advocate in the Northern Virginia region (Prince William, Fairfax, and Arlington counties, and the City of Alexandria) as faithful Catholics following the spirit of Dialogue and Proclamation, the 1991 document which encourages the faithful to work in advocacy and action with other Christians and people of different faiths.
Prince William County Pre K
Eight years ago, the Prince William County Public School (PWCPS) system only had 8 Pre K classes. The St. Francis of Assisi VOICE ministry began an initiative, that with the help of many other groups, changed Pre K availability for all. Today there are 80 Pre K classes in PWCPS. Learn more.
PWC Public Defender
Until 2020 Prince William did not have a Public Defender Office but relied on court-appointed private attorneys. Such reliance leads to pressure to accept plea deals, longer sentences, and a greater impact on the poor. VOICE advocacy led to the September 2020 opening of a PWC Public Defender Office. Learn more.
Covid Eviction Crisis
During the housing crisis, PWC had the highest foreclosure rate in Virginia. Poor families were especially victims of predatory lending . VOICE acted. The pandemic and ensuing job loss has again raised the potential for more evictions and foreclosures. VOICE was prepared and is acting. Learn more.
Crisis Stabilization Units
Updated Report. Any family that has experienced mental health challenges knows that mental health services are vital, especially during a crisis. A call to “911” results in a response by police officers. If the family is lucky, they will encounter officers specifically trained for mental health crises. Do you know what happens next? Do you know what options are available here in Prince William County? We are making progress and so Learn more.
Laws that Burden the Poor
In 2018, Virginia’s threshold for felony theft was the lowest in the country at $250. For decades, thousands of Virginians have been saddled with felony convictions on their records for minor property crimes. Did you know that Virginia was one of the few states to suspend driver’s license for unpaid court debt. Both these unduly affect the poor, creating even more burdens in daily life. VOICE led campaigns that changed these laws. Learn more.
Investing in Schools
Too often we hear about a school lockdown, sad but occasionally necessary. What is always necessary is to lift up our children not only in education but also in health and emotional wellbeing. Did you know that one in five children and adolescents experience a mental health problem during their school years, but 60% don’t receive the support and treatment they need? Of the remaining 40%, two-thirds of them receive the treatment they need in the school setting. Want to help? Contact us!
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