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“If you want peace, work for justice”

Posted: July 15, 2016

These are the words used by Pope Paul VI in his 1972 address for World Peace Day. His words are even more relevant today. We grieve with the police officers and their families that died serving their communities. We grieve for the victims of gun violence in our cities: Orlando, Dallas, Falcon Heights, Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Joseph, Michigan to name a few. We not only hold the immediate families, friends, colleagues and communities who are profoundly feeling these losses in our prayers, we also pray for all of the first responders, police, medical personnel and everyone who plays a role with these devastating situations.

Pope Paul VI reminds us that our quest for peace, although challenging, is grounded in the Gospel work of justice. At times when there is mounting death and violence in our cities, we call on our elected officials and leaders in our community to seek peace, reconciliation and to build hope. As people of faith, we are called to pray for healing in our communities and nation.

The answers to the challenges that we face are daunting. By working together, and seeking justice for all of our citizens, we can heal what is broken in our communities. The Arch Bishop is leading with faith. He held a prayer service last week at the Cathedral of Saint Paul to honor those who have died. Arch Bishop Hebda is gathering with people to pray, seek healing and to bring our communities together.

St. Patrick’s Church is deeply engaged in justice work. We live our Catholic values by helping children overcome challenging economic circumstances through our on-going support of a Catholic education at Risen Christ School in Minneapolis. Helping kids beat the odds is what our volunteers do every week… Sharing their joy, and teaching math, and reading. Volunteers translate at parent teacher conferences, empowering parents to have a voice in their child’s education.

We advocate at the legislature for the poor and disenfranchised, and encourage our elected officials to support programs that build pathways out of poverty through work, supportive housing and education for economically disadvantaged students. We all have gifts, but do not have equal access to opportunities.

We deliver hot meals to elders and people with disabilities, allowing them to enjoy the dignity of living independently. We feed hungry people with our monthly Loaves and Fishes programs. We offer hospitality and healthy nutritious meals to people who are often forgotten, lonely and living on the economic margins. We help our hungry neighbors by collecting food with our food drives.

Our on-going monthly financial contributions help keep food on the shelves during busy times like summer. VEAP goes beyond charity and offers programs to help people secure housing, jobs, solve problems and access resources within the community to become self-sufficient. By partnering with Hennepin County, they leverage resources to change lives.

We build bridges across the city and make friends with people that live in aspiring communities. These friendships make us better, stronger and more vibrant. They teach us about living our faith without fear, or hesitation. We are reminded that when we seek justice for everyone in our community, we all thrive. We may fall short, and we may not be able to solve all of the pressing issues that we encounter. But, as people of faith, we are part of the conversation, seeking change by asking different questions, showing up, and making space for respectful dialogue. We also challenge politics that believe that there are only, “winners and losers”…

We continue to persist against tremendous challenges and work with people across our community to make a difference. We realize that to achieve our goals, we must “love without ceasing”, because this is our highest value. Love is the cornerstone of peace and justice. We are all in this together, aspiring to build a community in which everyone thrives. This is the work of people of faith.