Written by: Pam Matambanadzo, National Board Member and Chair of the Multicultural and Diversity Committee
In his homily on Sunday, Fr. Jim Prehn, S.J. from Loyola University Chicago (a visiting priest at Saint Mary of the Lake/Our Lady of Lourdes Chicago) reminded us that we are all called and that we should look to the blessed Mother on what to do when called. He continued to say that all too often as Christians we tend to take the approach of tourists: viewing things from a safe distance; taking notes before moving onto the next thing. We tend to seek what is comfortable.
He beckoned us to view our calling as would a pilgrim, whereby we do not know what is to come, but rather we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Tourists tend to set agendas on what sites to visit and how long they will be there – everything is predictable. Pilgrimage, on the other hand, beckons us to a journey of spiritual focus that is sometimes uncomfortable. How are we truly to encounter the suffering Christ if we turn away from the challenges that come with speaking for the vulnerable?
As many of you may know, January is Poverty Awareness Month, and this year the Voice of the Poor Committee is inviting all Vincentians to journey with us as we reflect and discern our role in the plight of those experiencing Homelessness, or those simply unhoused in one form or another. Each week we will invite a fellow Vincentian to share with us how their community is tackling the challenges they encounter.
We will also be inviting clergy from different parts of the country to help us as we reflect. What is Catholic Social Teaching? Is advocating for the vulnerable part and parcel of living out one’s gospel values? The U.S. Catholic Bishops say, “We are called to shape a constituency of conscience, measuring every policy by how it touches the least, the lost, and the left-out among us.”
The Voice of the Poor Committee is working on updating our Position Statement on Homelessness. The current version was approved by the National Council on August 31, 2007. Please take time to review the statement along with all the others. Consider reaching out to your regional VOP Representative for more information on how to become more informed and active as we strive to go beyond the charity of feeding the poor to also seek justice for them and defend the life and dignity of neighbors living in poverty.