JustFaith groups talk about social justice

Sister Judy Herold, SSND, pastoral associate at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport, and Sister Mary Schmidt, OSB, who works in faith formation and social ministry for Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, participate in small-group discussion during a JustFaith event at Christ the King Parish in Moline, Ill., last month. They were talking about the type of social ills that most concern them and which could best be addressed by JustFaith advocacy efforts.

By Glenn Leach

JustFaith groups from the Davenport and Peoria, Ill., dioceses convened last month to talk about social ills that most concern them and which could be best addressed by JustFaith advocacy efforts.

JustFaith is a ministry partnering with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services. It is a faith formation process that emphasizes the Gospel message of peace and justice with Catholic Church social teaching. Generally, JustFaith groups are parish-based, although in some instances people from several parishes came together to form a group.

Msgr. Marvin Mottet, former director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) in the Davenport Diocese, spoke during the joint meeting at Christ the King Parish in Moline, Ill., about his experiences with CCHD and other organizing groups. He expressed the idea that the United States may be at a turning point in many social issues, particularly immigration reform.  “Postville, Iowa, may some day be seen as the Selma (Ala.) of immigration reform,” he said.

Sister Mary Ann Vogel spoke of her 50 years as a Sister of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport and the challenges her community took on in establishing Humility of Mary Housing a number of years ago and more recently taking over the former John Lewis Community Services Shelter in serving the homeless and hungry in the Davenport area.


Personal prayer that has guided her,  “Lord, do with me as you will this day, and give me the gifts necessary to accomplish your will,” echoes the mission of JustFaith graduates, to become agents of God’s compassion and healing in a wounded world.

As the final speaker, Father Richard Bresnehan, retired priest of the Peoria Diocese, and a force behind the growth of JustFaith in the Peoria Diocese, talked about the attitudes and emphasis that people who work for justice need to adopt in order to become agents of God’s compassion and healing in a wounded world.

While providing charity to people in need is important, he said, the struggle for justice often requires a long-term effort to change laws as well as hearts and minds.

The JustFaith attendees began the process of focusing on issues that, as a group, they could use their collective skills and energy to affect change.  Future meetings are planned around the issues of hunger and housing availability that surfaced as the main concerns of the group. 

If you are interested in attending an upcoming meeting, or would like more information, contact Glenn Leach in the Diocese of Davenport’s Social Action Department at (563) 324-1911, ext. 244.

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