Wednesday Round-Up: 5 Local Lenten Opportunities

Hard to believe, but today is the last Wednesday in Ordinary Time until May 22. Which means that Ash Wednesday is just a week away. Lent is a great season to dig deeper into the spiritual life, and a renewed commitment to life & justice is one way of growing closer to God and our brothers and sisters. (Giving something up is just one part of the Lenten discipline!)

Here are 5 (really 7!) local ways to engage Catholic social teaching this Lenten season.

1) Sacred Heart’s Gathering for Peace and Justice, featuring S. Simone Campbell

Sacred Heart Church in Camden hosts this free gathering annually, and it’s coming up this Saturday, February 9, from 8:30 am until 3:15 pm. (Not technically Lent, but a good way to get a head start.) Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice advocacy organization in Washington, will be the keynote speaker. Lots of great local workshop presenters as well. And free lunch is included! There is such a thing.

Here’s a picture of S. Simone on the Colbert Report in December:

If you can’t make it Saturday, S. Simone will be back in the area on Monday, March 11, for a 7:00 pm talk at the Mount St. Joseph Convent in Philadelphia. Call Kathy Sekula at 610.664.6650, ext. 564, to register. Space is limited.

2) Catholic Relief Services Speaker Jacques Kaboré from Burkina Faso visits the Diocese 

From the CRS press release announcing Jacques’ visit:

Jacques Kaboré and his nine brothers and sisters grew up in Burkina Faso—a poor, landlocked country dependent on subsistence agriculture and vulnerable to drought. By age 10, he was used to spending hours pounding millet for his family’s meals, looking after his siblings and walking long distances to school.

Growing up under these circumstances did not discourage Jacques; in fact, it deepened his commitment to serving those in need. His education included six years at the Seminary of St. Augustin in Burkina Faso, followed by a position as a legal assistant. Jacques then worked with the Catholic Archdiocese of Ouagadougou on agriculture projects. Continuing to seek work where he could make a difference, Jacques joined Catholic Relief Services in 1999.


Today, Jacques Kaboré directs the Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) program for CRS in Burkina Faso. SILC is a community finance model that empowers members to contribute savings and to borrow funds for small business projects to raise family income.

Although Jacques is often teased that he spends his days holding meetings with groups of women under trees in rural villages, his work makes a difference in the lives of thousands of people every year.

Jacques Kaboré is visiting the United States this Lent to share his personal story with audiences and show how participation in CRS Rice Bowl by Catholics in the U.S. is helping bring innovative programs and approaches to stop hunger in poor communities overseas.  Burkina Faso is one of the countries featured in this year’s CRS Rice Bowl.

See him speak at Masses at St. Mary’s in Cherry Hill on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4, and a longer talk at Paul VI High School in Haddon Township at 7:00 pm on March 4.

3) “Aware: Living Justice” parish mission at St. Clare’s in Swedesboro/Paulsboro

The Diocese of Camden’s first-ever social justice Lenten parish mission is open to all! On Monday, March 11, I’ll be giving a presentation on Catholic social teaching — two sessions, 5:00-6:00 pm or 6:30-7:30 pm, at St. Joseph’s Church in Swedesboro. Then, on Tuesday, St. Clare’s parochial vicar Fr. Rene will be celebrating a special Mass for a more just world (6:30 pm at St. John’s Church in Paulsboro).

If  you’d like to bring something similar to your parish, during Lent or beyond, email me at michael [dot] laskey [at] camdendiocese [dot] org.

4) Romero Lecture featuring Jack Jezreel of JustFaith Ministries

On March 22nd at Rutgers University-Camden, founder and president of JustFaith Ministries, Jack Jezreel, will give the 13th annual Romero Lecture. A dynamic and visionary speaker, Jack’s talk is on the theme “Justice or Just Us? What It Means to Live for Others.” His keynote is at 7:00 pm, with interactive workshops beginning at 3:00 pm. Buy tickets at the above link, or click the image below:

Also, the Romero Center is sponsoring Lenten faith-sharing communities for young adults in their 20s and 30s, hosted at people’s homes throughout the region. The groups will use the story of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s conversion to a passionate companion of the poor and oppressed to frame reflection on our universal call to live justly.

5) “A Place at the Table” feature film examines hunger in the USA

This movie opens on March 1, and based on the trailer, it appears to be a must-see. Visit our Facebook page closer to the release date for information on local theaters showing the film.

More from the film’s website:

50 million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from, despite our having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine this issue through the lens of three people who are struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of ways to deepen our commitment to living Catholic social teaching this Lent. And please, if you know of other events, leave them in the comments or send me an email; they can be included on the Life & Justice calendar of events.

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