What was your first experience advocating on Capitol Hill like? What surprised you? What is something you’ll remember about the experience?
Visiting Capitol Hill for the first time was a little intimidating, and just like civic engagement in Camden, we experienced our share of curve balls. However, the staffers that we visited with were fairly responsive to what we had to say and seemed to respect that we were speaking on behalf of their constituents. The most memorable part of the visits was witnessing each Hill Staffer’s reaction to Mr. David Jallah’s story (third from left in above photo) of his experience as a refugee and his account of the refugees he now helps to resettle. Their jaws dropped. It seemed to be the most honest account they’d heard in a while, and it shook them out of the hubub of politics to clearly see the impact of their legislative choices.
What is one message you’d like elected leaders to hear from your experience serving at St. Anthony’s?
I would hope that they get to know their constituents in Camden who are so hard-working and that they would understand that the policies they enact determine what we pass on to the next generation. They play a very important role in choosing whether we pass on poverty or the chance to break the cycle of poverty in their district.
What was your favorite part of attending the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering?
I loved meeting so many people who are involved in social justice ministry throughout the country and hearing their stories. It was also very encouraging to see that, in the efforts to become, as Pope Francis said, “a Church that is poor and for the poor,” that St. Anthony of Padua and many other CamdenChurches seem to be on the right track.
Why do you think people of faith are called to take political action?
As baptized people, we believe that we are the Body of Christ and, Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Christ proclaimed, in the words of Isaiah, that he was called to change the world saying,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
If we truly believe we are the hands and feet of the Lord in our world, then this call from Isaiah is ours too, in all levels of relationships; within our neighborhoods and parishes, within our city and through using our voice to support policies that will protect the poor and vulnerable.