Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michigan Peace Team

This was forwarded by community member Mary S., who knows one of the participants. This can give a profound snapshot of the kinds of things peacemakers do in the world! Most Americans probably do not even realize that people do such things.

It may seem like we are advertising for a lot of events that are not directly related to the Columbus Catholic Worker, lately. This is true. As we discern the direction for our justice ministry, we've selected a few noteworthy events that seem to resonate and relate to discussions we've had. When we sit in bewilderment in the face of injustice and wonder, "what in the world can we do about it?" something like the following can give some ideas:

Dear family and friends,

We may have told you (or you may have heard) that we are going to the West Bank in Palestine for a month with the Michigan Peace Team (MPT). We thought you might be interested in hearing more about this endeavor.

MPT is an international organization based in Lansing, MI that supports teams of 4-6 people to work to end the occupation of the West Bank and to advocate for a just peace for all Israelis and Palestinians.

We will be living in Palestine from approximately Sept. 10 to Oct. 10. Our goal will be to help prevent violence in simple ways: for example, walking kids to school to avoid harassment by illegal settlers or Israeli occupying forces, staying in Palestinian homes that are targeted for demolition, participating in nonviolent demonstrations near the wall that has been built to protect illegal settlers.

We will also use the new camera we have just purchased to document human rights abuses and other forms of harassment that take place in this area. To see the work that we are doing as members of the Fall Team, you can go to http://www.michiganpeaceteam.org/ and click on Teams. Reports will be posted there during the time we are there. We hope that, when we return, we will have an opportunity to share with you in person what we did and how we view the problems in that troubled country.

There will be six persons on our Team. Martha, Tom and Mary will arrive first and be followed by Lois, Fred, and Abby. We will live in a house rented by MPT. We know there will be a certain amount of tension, and perhaps even some element of danger--but we are not expected to be (nor intend to be) heroes, so we feel we will have a good experience and hopefully make a small contribution to the peace process.

If you would like to learn more about the Michigan Peace Team or would like to support their efforts for nonviolent peace in Israel/Palestine, please go to the above web-site. Your prayers will also be greatly appreciated.

Tom and Mary

* * *

Note: Another member of the Michigan Peace Team is Fr. Peter Dougherty, who we had the privilege to meet at the Pax Christi Conference last month. We hope to invite him for our opening retreat to kick-off the Pax Christi chapter here.

Fr. John Dear

I remember wandering into one of the workshops at the National Pax Christi Conference in Chicago, when I was there with Pat a few weeks ago. It was probably a fine workshop, but I felt a strong sense of restlessness--I had an impulse to leave and go elsewhere. Before the session began, I shot up and walked down the hallway.

I ended up at the workshop led by Fr. John Dear. It was entitled, "Put Away Your Sword: The Last Words of Jesus to the Church." I was periodically in tears and very powerfully moved during his talk.

So you can imagine I was very excited to find out that Fr. John Dear is making an appearance in town in just a few short weeks:

The Center for Dominican Studies Presents Special Event on September 30: “Living Peace: Spirituality of Contemplation and Action”

Ohio Dominican University’s Center for Dominican Studies is proud to present a special program about living peace on September 30, 2009 in the Matesich Theatre (2nd Floor of Erskine Hall at the ODU’s main campus-1216 Sunbury Road, Columbus OH 43219) at 7:00 p.m. The program’s speaker is John Dear, S.J. who is an internationally known voice for peace and nonviolence. He is a Jesuit priest, lecturer, organizer and retreat leader, and author of 25 books. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. To register for this event, email Sr. Catherine Colby, Director for the Center of Dominican Studies and Vice President for Mission & Identity at colbyc@ohiodominican.edu or call, (614) 251-4722.

* * *

As we lay the groundwork for starting a Pax Christi chapter in Columbus, there are few living individuals who can speak to the radical gospel message of Jesus' nonviolence as effortlessly as Fr. John Dear. While some may debate over these issues, Fr. John Dear makes it all sound as simple as breathing.

I absolutely encourage everyone who can make it to attend this conference.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Catholic Times

Brushing all humility aside, it is probably worth mentioning that yours truly was interviewed in the latest issue of The Catholic Times! The Columbus Catholic Worker is featured in the article. Follow the link above to see!

Many thanks to the diocesan Office of Ministry Formation for supporting and showcasing lay ecclesial ministers in the Church!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Salsa and Pickles, Oh My!

written by Erin

Two Upcoming Events

We are having a Canning Party for the Catholic Worker cupboard on August 30th. Your donated time and energy will help us host many folks over the winter with fresh produce from the garden. We will give it out as gifts to our ESL students and use it when preparing food for our other programs or other forms of hospitality. We will gather at 2:30 and go until about 6:00 pm. While this one is not a formal class, it is still an ideal opportunity to learn.

Also, after an overwhelming response, Melissa has graciously offered to have another Canning Class focused on Salsa and Pickles. We have selected September 9th from 6-9 pm. Please bring $3 to participate -- we will have pizza on hand to munch on and maybe even make a salad! Thanks to you all for participating in the previous class.

Please send an email if you can come to either event, so we can make plans. The class has a size limit of 12 people, and the last time it filled up.

Looking forward to some fun!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lay Ecclesial Ministry

The Office of Ministry Formation of the Columbus Diocese will be hosting a program called Foundations in Lay Ecclesial Ministry. It will take place over the course of four separate sessions at the Catholic Worker House.

This program is not affiliated in any way with the Columbus Catholic Worker except by simply sharing space. However, the Catholic Worker movement has been--throughout the last 80 years--one of the best snapshots of what lay ministry can be. We are delighted to host this program and welcome others who are interested and involved in lay ministry.

This program is a great introduction for people in all aspects of lay ministry, such as liturgical musicians, prison ministers, RCIA coordinators, youth ministers, marriage and family life ministry, or any number of other ways that the laity serves within the Church.

Please click this link for the program brochure, application form, as well as information on other workshops offered through this office.

Session 1: Vocation of the Christian Faithful
Sunday, September 27

Session 2: The Lay Ecclesial Minister
Sunday, October 25

Session 3: Spirituality of Servant
Sunday, November 22

Session 4: Introduction to Civil and Canon Law for Ministers
Sunday, December 20

Time: 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cost: $100 (all four session taken together)
Applications due: September 1, 2009

From the brochure:

Foundations in Lay Ecclesial Ministry is a stand alone series of 4 sessions for current or aspiring Church ministers. It serves as a prerequisite for subsequent formation in the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Program in various areas of ministry specialization or the diocesan Diaconate Formation Program. The sessions are geared to assisting participants explore their sense of call to service in the Catholic community as well as developing their identity and gifts as ministerial leaders.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yes, We Can!

Written by Joan

The Catholic worker house was filled with the sounds, sights and smells of people learning to can vegetables and fruits last Wednesday, August 12. Our canning class was a resounding sucesss thanks mostly to our new friend, Melissa Welch.

Melissa's expertise in food preservation, gained from a lifetime of personal experience, and her awesome talent as a teacher provided all of us students with the skills we needed to go home and start canning our produce with confidence.

Melissa arranged the class in such a way that every student got hands-on experience in every step of the process. With her clear and formidable voice she was able to instruct us as we worked and answer every question asked. No time was wasted as we peeled, cut, stuffed our produce into jars and cooked it in the canning kettle. It was mad and merry and lots of fun.

Our students were an enthusiastic group of men and women, including some whom we'd not known before as well as some folks who we did know, such as Suzanne, one of our gardeners; Peggy, our world-traveled visitor from the east coast who's had many interesting tales to tell; cool-headed Erin who handled a lot of the logistics and publicizing of the class; and me [Joan] and the raffish young man who is my beloved son. And at the end we all went home with the fruits of our labor--a jar of canned tomatoes and one of chunky applesauce, the memory of a delightful evening spent with new-found friends and the knowledge that, yes, we can do this!

Melissa generously offered to provide another class in early September, probably covering dill pickles and salsa, so we are all looking forward to that. She also offered private tutoring in her own kitchen to anyone who was interested!

I think it was interesting the way this class came to be. About a month ago, I was working in our community garden alongside a neighbor, one of the Erin's. I said to her, "You know, before too long we're going to have more veggies here than than we'll be able to eat. Wouldn't it be good if we could have a canning class so we could learn how to put some of it up for future use?"

She agreed, but neither of us knew anyone who knew how to can food. Not five minutes later a woman wandered into the garden accompanied by her little doggie. I went over to her to say Hi and it turned out that she lived nearby and came to visit the garden every day while she walked her dog.

As we strolled around she commented on the growing veggies: "That'll be ripe in a couple of weeks. These need to be picked now. Oh, those are very nice beets." And so forth. "Hmm, "I thought, "this is a woman who really knows about gardening."

So I asked her, "By any chance, do you know how to can food?" She laughed and said she'd grown up on a farm and had been doing it since she was a child. And that's how we met Melissa, our wonderful canning coach.

Isn't serendipity a delightful thing? And isn't working convivially with other people, doing something useful and good, a holy thing even if it may not seem particularly holy at the time (as your tomato skins pile up on the counter and the juice starts dripping onto the floor)? I think so. It reminds me of this:

"Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the dance said He!"

If you don't know this song, here are some suggestions: A rather gentle version with Donovan, clear, lively version with Barley Bree, a robust, audience-assisted version with Jim McCann, the Dubliners or Tommy Makem.

Please do join us in the next dance at the Catholic Worker House. We'll be having canning day on August 30 from 2:30 till however long you can stay. No experience necessary; you can learn as you work. This food will be used for hospitality at the House and as gifts for our Spanish ESL friends. Another canning class is planned for early September which will probably cover dill pickles and salsa; the exact day has not yet been determined.

And after that - who knows?

"True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle perception and understanding, full of beauty and grace, full of joy unutterable. There should be some flavor of this in all our love for others. We are all one."
---- Dorothy Day - co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement

Monday, August 10, 2009

Latino Food Pantry

We have been looking for ways to partner with the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, since we share a building together. We have dabbled in a few tasks, such as giving out groceries on occasion, unloading the truck and taking in donations. More recently, we have been able to contribute by picking and packing vegetables and even managing what we hope will be a regular milk delivery.

Their presence in the house has been a real blessing for us, as well. It is nice having people coming and going on a regular basis. They have helped fix up the basement, and their members have gotten involved in our activities. They have given us snack foods for some of our events.

Still, we have not found our niche yet.

We are continually reminded that the Latino community includes some of the more under served people in our city. We come in contact with them regularly through ESL and the Legal Clinic.

It turns out there is only one Latino-oriented food pantry in central Ohio! Our Lady of Guadalupe carries the weight, and they are in the southwest corner of Columbus. [See comment below, we have since discovered there are two others!]

There is no reason why Latinos could not come to our food pantry as it is now. However, the language barrier is quite substantial, so the referral agencies such as Firstlink and J.O.I.N. simply don't send them to us. It also helps to have foods that make sense culturally, as people know how to stretch a dollar better with their native foods. Advertising should also be done in Spanish.

We have been talking about making this pantry more accessible to the Latino community. We would have to add a rotation of bilingual support and then make some adjustments in terms of food ordering and translating documents. It may sound easy, but it will take a lot of work to integrate a new program into an existing operation.

The amazing thing is that we are so well positioned to do this, as if the Holy Spirit just lined it all up perfectly: The St. James the Less food pantry has been handing out groceries since 1954, and they know the food pantry business like the back of their hands! Our parish has a large Latino congregation who can assist with the workload. There is also a large population in the area who can benefit directly from the pantry. Our geographic location is just right, being on the opposite end of town as the other Latino-oriented pantry. The Catholic Worker is willing to manage this new operation.

Our plan is to offer bilingual support at the pantry one day each week, and then see how it unfolds. Initially, we wanted to open the pantry to Latinos on a separate day but decided to integrate it on a day when the English speaking pantry is also working. That may be a blessing as members of both the English and Spanish speaking communities will have the opportunity to mix and mingle. The two communities are not well integrated right now, mostly due to the language barrier.

The Holy Spirit seems to be moving us in this direction, and we are grateful for the exciting opportunities to serve folks in the near future! I am excited that we could be able to develop only the second Spanish-speaking food pantry in the city!

The two top pictures above are of St. Vincent de Paul. The bottom picture is Blessed Frederic Ozanam, who founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and whose writings on social justice helped pave the wave for modern Catholic Social Teaching.
ADDED LATER: Many apologies to other local groups! We have sinced discovered that there is a Latino-oriented food pantry at the Smoky Row Brethren Chruch Saturdays from 8-10 am as well as Christ the King Catholic Church Wednesdays 9-noon and daysThurs 3-6 pm, both in Columbus.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Beds and More Beds and VISTA Hospitality

The Dominican sisters come through, again.

We are all aware of the generosity of the Dominican Sisters of Peace leaving the convent so lovingly cared for and well furnished. We reap the benefits daily and so do the guests of our activities.

We continually find that the house has many hidden blessings: Just the other day, we put out a blurb looking for donations of jars and supplies for our upcoming Canning Class. A generous parishioner donated a number of quart-sized jars, and to finish it off we were still looking for some pint sized ones. We were told there was a stash in the basement--we went down and discovered a whole assortment of pint-sized jars!

The only thing missing was that we had a number of unfurnished bedrooms--the beds had been distributed years ago. The Dominican sisters left us about 10 beds, and our group added a few, as well. We were still looking for a half-dozen beds to fill out the 21 bedrooms so we could host larger retreat groups.

We got a call from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lancaster, OH. Their beautiful convent had also closed, and they offered us first dibs on the furniture. We accepted the offer and took home six beds. They not only offered us the beds but also helped us take them apart, too.

The timing could not have been better: Just two days later, we hosted a large group of Ohio Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA members who were in town for trainings and workshops (they gave us permission to mention them). In this day and age of severe budget cuts and financial recession, outreach groups need to help each other and come up with creative ways of sharing resources. We were glad to provide hospitality for them and trade ideas.

These VISTA members are placed at colleges and universities across the state setting up service-learning programs, coordinating volunteers and developing service-oriented infrastructure between their institution and their communities.

We talked about the Catholic Worker, toured the garden and Erin gave a presentation on the Ohio Benefit Bank.

Every available bed was taken! Thanks to St. Mary's in Lancaster and to the Dominican Sisters of Peace (again)!

Dressing Up the Windowsill