Office of Justice and Peace 

Following the example of Saint Augustine, the Office of Justice and Peace promotes justice and peace within the ministries of our Province by creating:

  • opportunities for encounters between people;
  • educational programming which enables communities to learn and dialogue about the intersection of our faith and the issues of our day;
  • avenues for people to take action to help those in need while raising awareness of the systemic causes behind suffering.

Saint Augustine rarely preached a homily without emphasizing unity among people, love of God and neighbor, and the ongoing search for truth in a world of divergent viewpoints.  The Augustinians continue this legacy today through a variety of ministries including feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, helping people find reconciliation with God and neighbor, advocacy, and many more. “Before all else, dear brothers, love God and then neighbor because these are the chief commandments given to us.”  (Saint Augustine, the Rule of Saint Augustine)

The Ministries of the Office of Justice and Peace

The National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia

National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia

The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia has been a spiritual home to thousands of people for over 100 years.  Following the life example of Saint Rita of Cascia, the Shrine promotes hope for those facing very difficult life circumstances, peacemaking, healing, and reconciliation.  It does this by hosting pilgrimages and retreats, counseling and spiritual direction, and offering the Sacraments seven days a week.  The importance of the Shrine’s mission cannot be overemphasized as we face increasing polarization and violence in our cities, nation, and around the world.
Members of ADROP smiling at each other

Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor (A.D.R.O.P.)

One of the overarching themes of the Rule of Saint Augustine is that we cannot have peace and harmony in a community when some live without their basic needs being met while others live with a surplus.  A.D.R.O.P. directly responds to this truth by matching those in need with known resources.  The Unity Clinic provides healthcare for uninsured patients in the South Philadelphia area.  Our restorative justice initiatives assist families of the incarcerated, those getting out of jail or prison, and connecting those who are imprisoned with others through the pen pal program.  Our educational enrichment programs such as English as a Second Language (ESL) helps those who need assistance with gaining additional educational and long-term employment opportunities.

Care of Our Common Home

The Augustinians are committed to the care of the environment and those impacted by environmental change.  We promote education, reflection, dialogue, prayer, and opportunities for people to take action in response to the environmental crisis.  Villanova University and Merrimack College both have programs which directly engage students and the entire academic community (including staff, faculty, administration, and alumni) in the work of caring for our common home.  Over the next year, our Province will be sharing additional educational materials, liturgical resources and lessons learned across our ministry and community locations to promote prayer, dialogue, and action in response to the environmental crisis.

Special Initiatives

Brewin' Peace Coffee Cart

The Brewin’ Peace Coffee Cart is a restorative justice initiative established in fall of 2023 to directly respond to the needs of those who are released from prison or jail and need help returning to society.  Many people returning to society from incarceration struggle to find employment due to trauma, the stigma of having a criminal record, and lack of adequate work experience.  This contributes to recidivism (the probability those released will commit another crime and return to prison).  The coffee cart provides meaningful employment for a formerly incarcerated person to gain the work experience and mentorship they need to obtain full time and long-term employment.  Through a partnership between A.D.R.O.P. and the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia, the coffee cart is located in a busy intersection of South Philadelphia, providing an opportunity to both raise awareness of this issue and evangelize as people from all walks of life stop for a cup of coffee and a conversation.

Prison Ministry

In addition to the restorative justice initiatives sponsored by A.D.R.O.P., several friars regularly visit the imprisoned at two institutions within Philadelphia:  SCI Chester and SCI Phoenixville.  This gives us the opportunity to provide for the Sacramental needs of those who otherwise would not be able to attend Mass, experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or receive catechesis.  With your support, this year the Augustinians hope to expand this reach to the Philadelphia city jail.

Special Days of Observance

The Augustinian Order is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization (N.G.O.) at the United Nations.  There we work with other religious and representatives from nations around the world to defend human rights, promote education and literacy, and social and economic development.  Given our commitment to unity, love, and the search for truth in a world full of divergent viewpoints, the Augustinians formally recognize seven international days of observance which call us to prayer and action that leads to a more just and peaceful world.

March 21:  International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  The Augustinians pray, dialogue, and commit to continue working for an end to systemic racism.

May 15:  International Day of Families.  The Church recognizes the importance of the family and the need to support them.  On this day we pray for legislation and policies which support families.

June 5:  World Environment Day.  On this day we recognize our call to be good stewards of the many gifts God has given us through creation.  We pray, dialogue, and commit to ongoing actions which lead our communities and ministries to become more responsible stewards of God’s creation.

September 21:  International Day of Peace.  This is a day when we unite in prayer for peace and unity in our divided and violence-stricken world.  The Rule of Saint Augustine provides a blueprint for living in unity and harmony and can be used as a model for others.

October 16:  World Food Day.  We reflect on the causes and solutions to the food insecurity that causes so many people to go to bed hungry each night.

October 24:  United Nations Day.  Celebrating how the United Nations helps to improve lives by leading nations around the world towards a common goal of securing peace and prosperity for people of all nations.

December 10:  Human Rights Day.  The Roman Catholic Church is committed to respecting the dignity of every human person.  On this day we pray for policies and laws which respect the voice and rights of everyone, especially those on the margins of society.

Partner with Us!

We are only able to do the work we have been called to do through those who work with us and support our ministry.  If you would like to learn more about how you can help, please contact Fr. Jeremy P. Hiers, O.S.A., director of the Office of Justice and Peace, If you would like to make a donation in support of the ministries of the Office and Justice and Peace, please make a gift to the Fr. John E. Deegan Fund for Justice and Peace.
Friar walking with three college students through a college campus

The Legacy of

St. Augustine in the Catholic Church

Augustine was a thoughtful, empathetic, and loving servant of God. He valued community, welcomed others, and treated them the way they deserved to be treated. Augustine also laid the foundation for the Order of St. Augustine. The Order continues to explore ways to care for those in great need both in our Province work throughout Massachusetts, New Jersey, and surrounding states and in our greater missions throughout the world.

We invite you to continue to learn about St. Augustine, his life, and his teachings.

Sign up for our e-newsletter, where we share news and updates on how we continue to follow in St. Augustine’s footsteps.