Faith through social justice action – a truly privileged space (The Record)

 


The Record

www.therecord.com.au

16 Oct 2020

By The Record

JEDO promotes the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees. Photo: Supplied.

 

By Carol Mitchell

The broad mission for the Justice, Ecology and Development Office (JEDO) is “to serve God for justice, peace and ecology”.

As the JEDO Director, I’m constantly thankful for the gift to enable and facilitate such a service ministry within the Adult Faith Formation agencies, especially at a time when there is a great sense of uncertainty, as well as shared grief and loss; for I know “the Spirt intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been given time to prayerfully reflect upon, discern and prioritise issues of importance to us – hopefully recognising our global citizenship, national and state responsibilities and community, parish and family concerns to “be more”.

Through the gift of time and uncertainty, we are called to recognise as “good news” people, that we can be the bearers of hope to those around us. Our “2020 vision” can be through recognising that our faith is ever-new because we tackle the challenging questions by “reading the signs of our times”: ‘What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

In early-2020, JEDO provided two workshops to parishioners titled: “Reading the Signs of the Times – Moving from Social Justice Thought to Action”.

One of the participants was Br Terry Casey CFC who reflected: “Meeting with a group, sharing a common concern for social justice issues, was a heartening opportunity to reflect on their experiences, difficulties, questions and hopes… This was not just a sit and listen experience but a generative and practical approach to live the Gospel. Quite a few participants were engaged… with the “Laudato Si’” concern for our Common Home and were appreciative of the wealth of materials available through JEDO. There was a spring in the step of all who left the seminars, raising hope for healing of hurts and ongoing care of our Common Home”.

Caritas Diocesan Director Deacon Paul Reid and Justice, Ecology and Development Office Director Carol Mitchell. Photo: Supplied.

Part of this gift of service ministry is the recognition that we’re all on a journey of healing – especially during this liminal (or between) space due to the COVID-19 pandemic; but also the devastating bushfires and drought prior; and with the more recent “Black Lives Matter” movement.

We can choose to act in ways that recognise the inherent dignity and worth of our neighbours: “I have come that all may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

“Working in the social justice space is not only my work ministry but also a personal passion. I recognise it’s a truly privileged space to accompany and support parishioners, colleagues and other friends on our shared journey of faith by promoting social justice action.”

“… Part of this gift of service ministry is the recognition that we’re all on a journey of healing.”

The ongoing invitation from JEDO to all parishes is to facilitate nurturing new Parish Social Justice Action Groups or strengthen existing ones. This may be through a book club using the lens of Catholic Social Teaching to Read the Signs of the Times to help prioritise action. This could include Papal documents from Pope Francis such as Laudato Si’ – On Care for our Common Home (2015); and may be guided by various Social Justice Statements from the ACBC: Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference – JEDO facilitates the launches in Perth and promotes the statements broadly.

In mid-March, Anna Sheehy attended the JEDO presentation on the Social Justice Statement: Making it Real – Genuine human encounter in our digital world.

“Participating in this informative and thought-provoking session gave myself and members of the CEWA Ministry Network a strong sense of both hope, and healing,” Ms Sheehy commented.

“The engagement of the participants was a positive indication that this Social Justice Statement is a valuable and timely resource for school communities, reinforced only days later when we found ourselves living in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Clear direction was offered, with calls for individuals, communities and political and business leaders to reflect Gospel Values, including responsibility, trust and respect,” she concluded.

As an act of solidarity with ecumenical friends, JEDO also promotes the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees; Climate justice and the Season of Creation (September); Anti-Poverty Week (October); better outcomes for First Australians; anti-slavery/human trafficking; and other shared issues of importance and concern. As Pope St John XXIII stated: “What unites us is much greater than what divides us”.

Think globally – act locally.

Blessings and peace on our shared journey toward faith-filled social justice action. JEDO looks forward to hearing from at admin.jedo@perthcatholic.org.au or visiting www.jedo.perthcatholic.org.au

From pages 30 and 31 of Issue 27: Adult Faith Formation in the context of Healing’ of The Record Magazine


 

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