In an era in which downsizing and outsourcing have become routine for most large companies, many people around the world are faced with the challenge of being unemployed or underemployed. Although it can sometimes be a blessing in disguise – opening doors to better jobs, new skills, awakened perspectives and more meaningful ventures – it can also be stressful, depressing and confusing. If you are faced with this challenge, it’s vital to remember that there is lots of hope and help out there. In addition to online job search boards, career fairs, outplacement/temporary agencies, unemployment offices and networking groups and sites, here are five resources that offer the help you need to get back on your feet.
1. Saint Joseph’s Intercession:
Did you know that St. Joseph, who is officially the patron saint of the Universal Church and the patron of fathers, is also the patron of workers? His constant faithfulness to God’s will and the unconditional love and protection he showered upon Blessed Mother and Jesus, Our Savior, has always provided men with a beautiful example of what it means to be a good husband and father. But his dedicated, hard-working, humble attitude also provides a shining example for all workers, including those who find themselves temporarily unemployed or underemployed. His intercession is frequently sought. One popular prayer is:
Dear Saint Joseph, You were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God. Amen.
2. A Church Employment/Career Ministry:
Some churches have special ministries dedicated to helping its parishioners find meaningful, sustainable employment. They are frequently led by church members with some type of human resources background. Some offer best practices for writing resumes, interviewing and coping with a job loss. Others offer networking opportunities with employers, motivational speakers and helpful seminars. Does your church have an employment ministry? If not, you could check with your church’s social justice ministry leader to see if she knows of other area churches that have them, or you could ask if you could organize one.
3. The Holy Bible:
In addition to seeking God’s presence through prayer, the best place to seek comfort and hope – both of which will help guide the job search according to God’s will – is in The Gospel. For instance, we can find comfort in Psalm 46:1 that reads “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” In Romans 8:28, we find hope in the words “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
4. Catholic Charities:
You may want to learn more about the Catholic Charities office in your diocese. Most offer some kind of referral services that could help you with your search or with your basic financial needs. Some offices even have programs that help specific groups of people to find work. Among the groups included are teens (and very young adults), seniors, immigrants, refugees and those with special needs. For those who need to improve their English language skills, many offer free English as a Second Language (ESL) programs or can direct people to free church ESL programs. Some might also be aware of local Catholic networking programs, like Catholic Employment Network in St. Louis and Career Quest at Catholic Church of St. Ann in Marietta, GA.
5. Volunteer Opportunities:
When we’re not gainfully employed, it can be frustrating in many ways. To begin with, we’re no longer able to donate to charity as much as we once could. While spending time praying for others is a wonderful, fruitful way to continue to make a positive difference in our community and our world, why not try volunteering in your church or community as well? It can positively impact the lives of those around you, as well as your life. Knowing that you’re making a positive difference can help build your self-esteem and confidence. It can also help you learn new skills, which may lead to new job opportunities. The experience will also help you stay connected to your community, and it can give you the chance to meet new people, who share your desire to make the world a better place.
You might even consider joining a Catholic group that coordinates volunteer efforts. The Knights of Columbus, for example, is a great group that encourages its members to reach out to those in need. Its members are also dedicated to helping each other through fellowship. It was founded in 1882 on the principles of charity, unity and fraternity.
During this time of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to remember and know – with certainty – that Jesus doesn’t abandon his flock. And God gave you gifts and talents that He wants you to continue to share with others. By enriching and strengthening your faith, you strengthen yourself and your family. By seeking new employment or growth opportunities through your church and faith, you should increase your odds of finding truly satisfying work that will help you to do God’s will.
In March 2014, Pope Francis welcomed workers from an Italian steel mill and spoke about the unemployed and underemployed. He offered words of encouragement when he said “Dear brothers and sisters, never stop hoping for a better future. Fight for it, fight. Do not be trapped in the vortex of pessimism, please! If each one does his or her part, if everyone always places the human person — not money — with his dignity at the centre, if an attitude of solidarity and fraternal sharing inspired by the Gospel is strengthened, you will be able to leave behind the morass of a hard and difficult economic season of work.”