For the Sisters of Charity, social justice is an expression of their fourth vow: Service of the Poor. The following Constitution of the Sisters of Charity reflects their understanding of this commitment:
Continuing the charism of Mary Aikenhead, we give expression to our love of God and neighbour by our fourth vow by which, under Divine Providence, we devote our lives under the direction of obedience to the service of the poor, understanding the term to include every manifestation of poverty at any particular time or in any particular place to which we are called.
The term Service of the Poor can give an understanding of immediate action: Seeing need and reaching out to help, clothe, feed, visit the poor, and alleviate a present affliction.
But Service of the Poor is more than just an action. It will include an “option for the poor,” a choice to disentangle oneself from serving the interests of those at the top of society and to begin instead to come into solidarity with those at or near the bottom.
Such a choice means commitment to working and living within structures and agencies that promote the interests of the less favoured sectors of society. It is about empowering the poor and oppressed, working with them rather than on behalf of them.
Service of the Poor is not primarily a choice of a less affluent life-style, but a commitment to work to change the unjust economic, social, and political structures which determine how power and resources are shared in the world and in society.
It is a commitment to engage in a struggle to overcome the social injustices in our world.