News Detail
“Our goal is to work toward a common understanding of what constitutes justice. Sometimes it’s important to put your beliefs and ideologies in your back pocket and listen to other people’s stories.”
Jesuit Recounts PICO Founding, Role of Faith in Communities

October 21, 2013 — Jesuit Father John Baumann started the PICO National Network as a local training organization in Oakland, Calif., in order to initiate neighborhood development and revitalize democracy. In the 40 years since its founding, PICO has expanded its operations to over 1,000-member institutions in 150 cities throughout 17 states.

Founded by Fr. Baumann in 1972, PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing) is a national network of faith-based organizations that works to address issues faced by urban, suburban and rural communities.

“We wanted to address fundamental systemic change,” Fr. Baumann explained at a recent lecture at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

The concern for people meeting others who share similar values and interests to identify common goals and participate in public life was the product of Fr. Baumann’s culminating perspective of seeing God in all things.

PICO developed an early “neighborhood model” of creating solutions for community challenges. Fr. Baumann implemented foundational principles for the organization centered on the core values of the Gospel and faith that does justice.

“Theology is about the real world — it interacts with people … Power is the product of relationship,” Fr. Baumann said.

PICO’s early neighborhood model, however, was flawed, according to Fr. Baumann. It only addressed issues when they arose, reacting to community challenges as they occurred instead of fostering an attitude of ethnic and religious tolerance to prevent the issues.

Under Fr. Baumann’s leadership, PICO restructured its model of operation to a “faith-based model,” engaging local faith-based congregations across creedal and ethnic boundaries.

“Working in a faith context brings a sense of humility to our work. Organizing is about people — people are about issues,” he said.

PICO currently focuses on health care reform, economic security, youth development and neighborhood revitalization, among other social needs, and has even extended its mission to other countries, including a solidarity project in Rwanda aimed to resolve differences between the Hutu and Tutsi peoples.

“Our goal is to work toward a common understanding of what constitutes justice,” Fr. Baumann said. “Sometimes it’s important to put your beliefs and ideologies in your back pocket and listen to other people’s stories.” [Boston College’s The Heights]


Recent News

September 19, 2014 — With the approval of Father General Adolfo Nicolás, the New England Province and the New York Province of Jesuits will unite to form the USA Northeast Province on December 3, 2014.

September 17, 2014 — Today is the feast day of Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621), a Jesuit who was one of the most important cardinals of the Catholic Reformation.

September 15, 2014 — St. Anne’s Church in Kingston, Jamaica, has repurposed a plot of land behind the church to provide low-rent houses for the elderly.

September 15, 2014 — Jesuit Father John Cecero, a former psychologist and psychology professor, is the new provincial for the New York Province Jesuits.

September 12, 2014 — All 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities ranked in U.S. News & World Report's 2015 America’s “Best Colleges” report.

September 10, 2014 — Pope Francis has appointed U.S. Jesuit Father Robert J. Geisinger as the Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

September 9, 2014 — Today is the feast day of Saint Peter Claver, a Jesuit missionary known as the patron saint of slaves, African missions and interracial justice.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America - 9/15/14

America - 9/1/14

America - 8/18/14



Campion Renewal Center
Campion Renewal Center, situated 20 miles west of Boston, is located in a peaceful setting that provides plenty of walking trails through the woods and fields.