Archive for the ‘Partnerships’ Category
In 1972, Jesuit Father John Baumann started a small training institute with the goal of supporting neighborhood organizations in California. What eventually came from this idea was the Pacific Institute for Community Organizations, now known as the PICO National Network. And, his desire to help local organizations has grown to a national outreach program, which has helped more than a million families and 1,000 congregations from 40 religious denominations. PICO has successfully worked to increase access to healthcare, improve public schools, make neighborhoods safer, build affordable housing and redevelop communities. Because of his work on problems facing urban, suburban and rural communities, Fr. Baumann sat down with the National Catholic Reporter to share his perspective on the U.S. economy today.
NCR: From your long-term perspective, what do you make of all that’s going on in the U.S. today regarding economic disparity, Occupy movements, etc.?
Baumann: I’d say that many Americans believe that the American Dream, also known as “America is the land of opportunity,” was once true, but it doesn’t hold anymore. Every previous generation has really known America as the land of opportunity, where children were expected to do as well or better than their parents. Yet, today we find our nation in a crisis, with record levels of poverty, the rising inequality and worsening predictions for our children’s future.
What is really troubling to me is this whole gap between the rich and the poor that has been growing over the past 20 years or more. It’s not an aberration; it’s a result of deliberate choices. It seems like that over the last 40 years, a series of economic choices have really redistributed the income upwards and as a result of that, it provided less and less opportunities to everyone else. All this has led to the financial stress on our families, and really it’s something that hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression.
Jesuit Father Ben Urmston has stood up for just about every social justice cause in 46 years as a Catholic priest. And, in recognition of his efforts over the years, the NAACP of Cincinnati honored the Jesuit with its Fair and Courageous Award at its 56th annual Freedom Fund Dinner.
The award is one of the chapter’s highest honors and, as the name suggests, recognizes “public servants who perform fairly, impartially and courageously.”
“I do feel honored. The NAACP is a pioneering civil rights group,” Urmston said. “Sometimes we over-emphasize the individual and don’t recognize the contribution everyone makes to the common good. Even if they think they are only doing something insignificant, we’re all in this together.”
Urmston is a Cincinnati native who left for the service at age 17 and taught and worked briefly in Detroit before returning.
“We live in two Cincinnatis,” Urmston said. “One is in the basement. The other is on the top floor, and if it’s not on the top floor, it’s not in the basement.”
Urmston sees the differences between the two as a schism emblematic of issues around the country.
“It’s counter-productive,” said Urmston, professor emeritus of Peace and Justice at Xavier, where he founded programs such as the campus shantytown in solidarity with the homeless. “We need to learn compassionate listening with people we disagree with.”
Urmston is a World War II veteran who served in Patton’s Third Army, fighting in three major European battles – the Rhine, Ruhr and Bavaria – before serving a year in the Philippines.
“With God’s help, I was able to draw good from evil,” Urmston said. “Despite many years of repressed memories, instinctively I got my passion for peace and justice. I value freedom.”
In September, Jesuits from around the World came together to Rome to meet with Father General Adolfo Nicolás about the ever evolving issue of interreligious dialogue and ecumenical outreach. Jesuit Father Thomas Rausch, the T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology at Loyola Marymount University attended this meeting, and offered his reflections to National Jesuit News on the issues facing today’s Society and the future of interreligious dialogue.
In 1995, the Jesuits came together in their General Congregation to broaden the understanding of the Society’s mission, to include the proclamation of the Gospel and the evangelization of culture. Recognizing that that Jesuits today carry out their mission in a world of ecclesial and religious pluralism, this past September, Jesuits from around the globe came together in Rome, to discuss the future and expansion of this mission.
Mindful of this, Father General Adolfo Nicolás reorganized the Jesuit Curia’s one-man secretariat for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, appointing eight Jesuits from around the world who would meet with him every September for three years to advise him on shaping Jesuit mission in these areas. The most recent meeting included discussions that were wide-ranging, covering topics such as; new challenges to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, how those from different religions might find ways to pray together or in each other’s company, how to encourage dialogue with indigenous and traditional religions, and how to prepare Jesuits for engagement with all these issues.
A Powerful Witness: Jesuit’s Ten-Year Ministry of Accompaniment and Empowerment at Hopeworks ‘n Camden
Founded more than a decade ago by Jesuit Father Jeff Puthoff and the pastoral teams of several local parishes, Hopeworks ‘n Camden is a transformative and holistic ministry of empowerment for the youth of inner-city Camden, which offers technology training and job opportunities, coupled with academic support and formation.
Jesuit Father Tom Greene, Secretary for Social and International Ministries at the Jesuit Conference (SIM), SIM Policy Director John Kleiderer and SIM Programs Director Amy Newlon were privileged to visit with Fr. Puthoff, the staff and youth of Hopeworks. Below are their reflections:
Under Puthoff’s leadership, Hopeworks has evolved in its ten-years of existence, expanding its programs to offer not only technology training but also comprehensive “literacy” programs that help youth complete high school, and get into college. The technology and literacy programs are augmented by a counseling and formation program that helps young people to overcome barriers which impede their success. Amy Newlon, Director of Programs for SIM, was very impressed with how adaptive Hopeworks is in its programming. “Hopeworks saw that there was a critical need affecting the youth they serve – unsafe, insecure, or unsupportive housing with limited personal space. As such Hopeworks opened a new residential community – the C.R.I.B. (Community Responding In Belief ) that provides a safe, respectful, celebratory and structured atmosphere where Hopeworks youth can and do succeed.”
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It is more important than ever for students exploring a religion, especially Islam, to examine its sociopolitical, historical and theological roots, according to Jesuit Father Daniel Madigan, an associate professor of theology at Georgetown University.
Fr. Madigan, a native of Australia with a doctorate in Islamic religion from Columbia University, said theological study of Islam is also important in helping Christians and non-Christians better understand their own faith.
“When we talk about theology among ourselves we adopt a kind of a language and we’re so used to doing it, we don’t challenge each other on it,” Madigan said. “We don’t realize how weird it sounds to people who grew up in a different faith.”
Establishing an interreligious dialogue between Christianity and Islam, and among all world religions, is an important step towards greater accountability and acceptance, according to Madigan.
Read more about Madigan at the Georgetown University website.