Photos of Maria Regina parish social ministry by Gregory A. Shemitz

The following feature is part of the series “Catholics who make a difference” produced by the Catholic Ministries Appeal. 

Over the last few years, parish social ministry programs have seen drastic changes in the communities they serve. In many programs, outreach to needy families has nearly doubled and there are many “hidden poor” — people whose lives look stable from the outside, but are struggling to deal with a job loss and provide food for their children or are one paycheck away from being homeless and wondering how they will survive. Kathy Ryan, director of the Parish Social Ministry program at Maria Regina parish in Seaford has experienced the growing needs of the community.

For local families in need, Kathy Ryan and the parish outreach team supply food from the pantry and referrals to other sources of aid in the area. Other programs are available to support people where they’re hurting. Bereavement groups, parents’ forums, and caregivers’ support groups meet throughout the year, and the Morning Brew support group for the unemployed meets in the mornings.
“People can come, talk to each other, get a great cup of coffee,” Ryan explains, “and we [the parish] can see how we can support them emotionally during this time of unemployment, with networking, resume writing, the interview process, and with life’s basic needs, such as food and clothing. The Catholic Ministries Appeal really helps keep our social ministry programs alive.”




“It is so important that the social ministry program is vital and vibrant and always here because people are always in need, and that answers the mission of the Church that’s prescribed by Scripture,” said Ryan. “We need to be present and helpful to the poor, so the Catholic Ministries Appeal is very vital in that. The parishioners support the parish, but in this day and age, it’s not enough.”

As a community of Faith, more than 40,000 people of God join together each year to support the Catholic Ministries Appeal, which provides funding for the critical ministries and programs that serve more than 600,000 people in our community each year. For information on the Appeal visit the website at