Tagged: Community Organizing

Wednesday Round-Up: MLK Day in Camden, Protecting Life, and More

The second installment of our weekly Top 5 L&J links from around the Web.

1) “Student task force transforms New Jersey park with Franciscan’s help” from the National Catholic Reporter

As covered here last week, St. Anthony of Padua in Camden sponsored the nation’s only MLK Day of Community Organizing on Monday. I sat in on a couple of meetings, in which student groups talked to Camden board of education member Sean Brown and Camden County freeholder Louis Cappelli, Jr. The students described challenges facing their neighborhoods and asked the leaders to take action.

Powerful passage: “It’s not easy being a pastor in Camden,” [Fr. Jud] Weiksnar said. “But when you’ve got a group of kids like this, it helps you keep the hope alive.”

Students meet with Camden County Freehold Louis Cappelli, Jr. and ask him to take action to make their neighborhoods safer.

Students meet with Camden County Freehold Louis Cappelli, Jr. and ask him to take action to make their neighborhoods safer.

 2. “Don’t Forget About the Baby: A Homily for Respect Life Mass” by Bishop Blase J. Cupich

Not worth trying to sum up here. It’s extremely good.

Powerful passage: We should not be disheartened or bitter if many of our fellow citizens do not heed us at this moment, nor should we pull back on our efforts to join hands with others to improve the lot of suffering people in need just because they don’t fully agree with us on everything. The truth will win out and we have to believe that a nation whose collective heart can break and grieve for babies slaughtered in Newtown has the capacity and God’s grace to one day grieve for the babies killed in the womb.

3. “Camden’s new bishop says he’ll listen and learn” from the Philadelphia Inquirer

A neat interview with Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, who talks a lot about his experience ministering with people living in material poverty.

Powerful passage: [Bishop Sullivan] said he subscribes to the Second Vatican Council’s vision of the Catholic Church as a “people of God,” with no exalted status for the hierarchy. As bishop he often took the subway to conduct confirmations (68 last year), sometimes shocking pastors who “wanted to know where my car and driver were.”At his Camden news conference 12 days ago, Sullivan declared the diocese would “do everything we can” to help the people of Camden “give up the violence, give up the guns” that led to 67 homicides last year.

4. “Camden’s past reflected clearly in exhibit; artistic future remains uncertain” from WHYY

An art exhibit called “Visions of Camden” at Rutgers features the work of Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS.

Powerful passage: While [McGrath’s] religious paintings are large canvases reflecting biblical narratives, the small acrylic cityscapes on display at Rutgers-Camden were literally ripped from his sketchbook — perforated edges torn from the book binding can still be seen.

“They’re more than a diversion. I don’t see them differently from the religious stuff,” said McGrath. “When I’m painting them, I get caught up in the same contemplative, peaceful moment as I do whether it’s an icon of a Madonna. It’s all good.”

Mickey McGrath's studio in South Camden

Mickey McGrath’s studio in South Camden

5) “Forty Years Later, It’s Time for a New Feminism” by Elise Italiano

Powerful passage: Every feminist knows that in any just society, girls and women are well-educated and work in the economy. The questions, then, are whether education and child-rearing are compatible with the goals of education and work, and whether abortion favorably affects a woman’s educational and professional outcomes. Pro-choice feminists hold that if women and men are to have equal educational and professional opportunities, then women need to have abortion on demand so they can stay in school and keep their jobs and future opportunities.

A better feminism would help women value who they really are—persons able to contribute great good to the world not only through their education and work but also through childbearing. This feminism would advocate educational and professional accommodations for pregnant women.

St. Anthony of Padua Students Lead Nation’s Only MLK Day of Community Organizing (And You’re Invited)

All over the country this coming Monday, hundreds of thousands of people will participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Community Service in honor of King’s legacy.

While King indeed talked about the importance of serving those in need, he spent his ministry leading an organized, nonviolent movement for civil rights. As someone confronted by the oppression of racism in the US, King walked with and empowered others who were also facing injustice.

His career was dedicated to standing up to systemic injustice, and working for structural change.

“On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act,” King said. “One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

There are few places where the edifice needs more restructuring than the City of Camden. It is consistently ranked among the poorest and most dangerous cities in the country.

But a group of students from Camden’s St. Anthony of Padua School have been taking King’s message to heart the past few years, meeting with local officials in attempt to make the park next to their school a safer, cleaner place.

The Von Nieda Task Force presents their work  at the annual Romero Lecture last March.

The Von Nieda Task Force presents their work at the annual Romero Lecture last March.

On Monday, this group, the Student Leaders’ Von Nieda Park Task Force, will welcome about 50-80 7th-10th graders from throughout the city and suburbs to attend the nation’s only MLK Day of Community Organizing. (To learn more about faith-based community organizing in Camden, click here.)

You are also encouraged to attend! Some event details:

  • The day will begin at 10am and will include a skit by the Faith Tabernacle Youth Group and a walking tour of community organizing achievements in the Cramer Hill neighborhood of Camden, where St. Anthony is located.
  • The highlight of the day is a youth-led meeting with officials at 1:30pm.  Members of the School Board, Sean Brown and Ray Lamboy, will address Camden public school issues while  Freeholder Ian Leonard and Shahid Rana from Cooper’s Ferry Community Development will address park safety issues. The day will end at 3:00 pm.
  • Location: St. Anthony of Padua Church at 2818 River Rd, Camden, NJ 08105

Hope to see you there. Make Monday a day on, not a day off.