Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Part 4: Improving the Social Order

Among the many things I am grateful for, is the financial and physical security I enjoy.  I have a house, food, clothes and gas for my car.  I do not live in fear of gun shoots or bombs taking my life or of those who I love.  I get up each morning and Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord

Yet, this is not story for many people in the world.  Part four of this extended review of three years in mission focuses on what Glenmary sometimes refers to as improving the social order or building the Reign of God.

Here a great deal of the work that has happen in Grainger and Union county is managed by Br. Joe Steen, Br. Craig Digmann and the Glenmary Volunteer Program, affectionately referred to as "Toppa Joppa".

Br. Joe has engaged in home repair work since his arrival.  This has increased with the help of the Glenmary Volunteers and an outside donor who financially supports this ministry.  The same donor makes it possible for Br. Joe to assist many families with rent, utilities and food each month.
A House Joe worked with

Br. Craig is on the board for the Grainger County Senior Citizen Center.  He teaches Bible School there and volunteers with the Union County Senior Citizen Center as well.  He is also involved with the Nursing Homes in both counties.  Now several volunteers from Blessed Teresa and St. John Paul II also visit the Nursing Homes.
Br  Craig visiting friends

The mission team early on, supported the distribution of government commodities (food) in both counties.  Since then, the Glenmary Volunteers are now regular helpers.  Our parishioners at St. John Paul II, which now hosts the commodities, also provides lunch for the volunteers.   The Glenmary volunteers, Br. Craig and parishioners are helping with two local church sponsored food pantries in Union County. 
Joe and Sarah preparing food deliveries

In Grainger county, three churches joined together for Hands of Christ Food Pantry with helps in emergencies.  For the last two years turkey breasts were given to people during the November commodities.
2014 Turkey Give-a-Away

One of our parishioners, along with Br. Craig, assist with the Mobil Clinic in Washburn on the first Wednesday of every month.

I have been involved with I-Care and other efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.  .

Outside groups and churches have sent us quilts, knitted blankets, hats and scarfs, new underwear and many other valuable items. These are given to the elderly, migrants, and those in need of a extra boast to get by each day.  This included many donations that allowed us to help with school supplies this year for the second year.
2014 winter preparation day

All of these efforts address the immediate needs of people.  In two counties, both above 20 percent poverty line, these service are a gift to so many. They represent a helping hand up-- not just a hand out.  Yet, concerns for changing the social order that creates poverty and dependency is also necessary.  

Br. Joe is on the board of Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Council, a group dedicated to environmental friendly living.  Sr. Mary Dennis, a parishioner, is dedicated to the peace movement.  I have taken active steps in lobbying to bring about immigration reform.  Both our churches have participated in Pro Life activities.  These are efforts to change the systems to reflect gospel values.
Sr. Mary Dennis

This is a large part of what Glenmary missioners and the people we serve are about. It is not just starting a church, but reaching out to everyone to have a more fruitful life, materially and spiritually. With God's help, we can bring about a more just and peaceful world.  We do this by addressing the immediate needs of the people and striving to change the systems that cause poverty, inequality, and injustice. 
St. Malachy's First Visit

I am grateful for the many groups, churches and individuals that allow this to happen through their support of our efforts over these last three years.  With God's grace we can help His Kingdom to shine more clearly here on earth as it is in heaven.
A new World will come