Mercy Corps, a newly formed group of parishioners at St. John Vianney Church in South Burlington, will host an online book study featuring “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson.

Edmundite Brother Frank Hagerty, a spiritual director, will facilitate the Zoom meetings once a month beginning Jan. 21; the final session will be June 17.

All sessions will begin at 7 p.m.

Stevenson, a lawyer, founded the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization that helps people on death row. “Just Mercy” is primarily about one of his clients but contains information about the criminal justice system, the death penalty and racial injustice.

“Considering the heightened awareness that our country has been experiencing in the last year or so around racial injustice, I thought a study of this book could be a valuable opportunity for the community at-large to more fully investigate those themes and also the theme of the inhumanity of the death penalty,” said Connie McDonald, book club organizer.

According to Joshua McDonald, St. John Vianney Parish’s Works of Mercy Ministry contact, the book discussion is a good way to draw attention to the Works of Mercy and the Catholic social teaching ideals behind them.

Mercy Corps was formed after the Diocesan Synod “that indicated a need to more actively engage in performing the Works of Mercy, such as feeding the hungry, visiting the

sick, visiting prisoners and giving alms to the poor,” he explained.

The group of about a dozen active members has undertaken recent projects that have included a coordinated phone outreach to all parishioners during the spring quarantine, participating in the Junior League of Champlain Valley’s diaper drive, collecting food for the South Burlington Food Shelf and a Giving Tree for COTS and Lund.

“The Epistle of James says that faith without works is like a body without breath. Performing good works for our community is what brings life and vitality to a parish,” Mr. McDonald said. “The Works of Mercy, the Church’s social action ministries, are where we truly are the Light of the World, letting Christ’s love shine out from the buildings of our church to brighten those around us.”

The social ministries of the Church are a vital part of his faith, and he is drawn to Servant of God Dorothy Day and her dedication to a life of active faith.

The parish will have copies of “Just Mercy” available for $10 each.

For more information, to make arrangements to pick up a copy of the book or to join the group, contact Connie McDonald at SJVGoodNews@gmail.com.

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