Wednesday, February 14, 2007

USCCB Social Ministries Gathering - February 2007

Over the past five days, men and women who work diligently for the Social Ministries in the Church gathered together for inspiration, renewal and action in Washington, DC. The gathering was held at the Hyatt Regency, just steps from the Capitol.

We heard a talk on the first night from Ron Rolheiser, OMI on "Spirituality of Social Justice in Hard Times". In it, he encouraged us to celebrate what we have done in the past 35 years (that being the time when our Church changed from a dominantly immigrant church to one of influence) but also to see how the difficulties: the seductive nature of the US culture and economy, the concern of 'burn-out'.

He shares some challenges from the Gospel, especially, the Johannine story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples as the dominant 'Eucharist' scene in John's gospel. Like Jesus, we are challenged to change "the mantle of privilege into the apron of service" and encourage one another, especially contentious groups in the church, to wash one another's feet.

I will share more information from our other keynote speakers in the next couple of days: in particular, Prof. Rebecca Blank from the U. of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy and Charity Musamba, from Zambia, who has worked closely with the Jesuit Centre of Theological Reflection with Pete Henriot, SJ and others. Also, we had the privilege of lobbying our senators and representatives on various issues as well as hear personally from Sen. Chuck Hagel (R - Neb) and Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D - PA). Both were articulate, informational and challenging.

-- Unfortunately, pictures will be limited because my camera is recovering from Africa! --