Thursday, May 07, 2009

Catholic Worker School, Friday Nights

Among the fondest memories of my time at Catholic Worker communities in Akron and Worcester, MA, were the great discussions. You just never knew who was going to drop in. You may find yourself in the midst of learning about the great social justice encyclicals of the modern popes, or you may hear a new perspective on American foreign policy that you just never would have heard elsewhere. People who had traveled to war zones such as Serbia or Iraq would describe what they saw and heard. You learned about other Christian communities like the Bruderhof and L'Arche. People would talk about the gospel in a different way, but it felt like home.

You met people who told firstand stories of risking their lives to immigrate to America via "coyote" or who endured tortures at the hands of American-trained operatives in Latin America.

When I think about how we are living into our mission as a Catholic Worker community, I always hope we can foster a place where these discussions can happen. A Catholic Worker house should be a place where you can go to get educated.

During our Friday potluck last week, we were treated to visitors Jim, Linda and Bo who have been very active in the world of social justice. We talked for hours around the dinner table. Bo is very much involved in working against the death penalty right here in Columbus and is working on a novel about a death row inmate. Jim and Linda are also writers who have just finished a book on the School of the Americas, entitled Disturbing the Peace: The Story of Father Roy Bourgeois and the Movement to Close the School of Americas. They are a treasure trove of information on the peace and justice movement and know Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Sr. Helen Prejean very well. I'll be talking about their book more in the future.

At our Friday Potluck tomorrow (May 8th), we are going to host a local Respect Life organization. They are interested in starting a house of hospitality for women as an alternative to abortion. They would love to talk to us about how we got started, how we are funded and if there are ways we can partner together. When we met with Bishop Campbell last fall, he was extremely supportive of us moving in this direction.

One of the biggest criticisms of the pro-life movement is that there is a lot of talk against abortion but not enough support and resources to help people in difficult situations. This is one of the ways to address that. We will probably need women live-in community members before moving in this direction, but it is an important ministry that we would love to support. If nothing else, we can share our experiences and hopefully learn what the pro-life movement is doing.

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