The Justice & Peace (J&P) Committee of Saint Ignatius Catholic Community is dedicated to the service of faith and the promotion of justice. As a parish we are challenged to articulate, advocate, and act upon critical social, economic, cultural, and political issues that affect us, our city, our state, and our world. Under the guidance of our Pastor, Father Jim Casciotti, S.J., the J&P committee engages in education awareness and advocacy action which impacts people in Maryland with a focus on our city of Baltimore; throughout our Jesuit parish communities in the United States; and around the world. At St. Ignatius, we operate through five subcommittees (Hunger & Poverty, Economic Justice, Racial Justice, Environmental Justice, and Immigration) that focus on social justice issues and provide opportunities for our parishioners to work for peace and justice through active engagement in community projects. Through these subcommittees, passionate and engaged volunteers can focus on systemic injustices and their impact on human lives and advocate for societal changes that improve the lives of those who face systemic oppression. All are welcome to join us.
Here, we offer a snapshot of us living out the Gospel:
The Hunger and Poverty subcommittee addresses food insecurity issues with our ongoing partner, Bread for the World, an organization that informs communities about hunger-related problems and fosters Christian response and legislation for long-term solutions. This partnership and has led to widespread parish support of crucial campaigns, letter writing initiatives, and support of Lobby Day in Washington, D.C to protect and strengthen anti-hunger programs. This year, the Hunger and Poverty subcommittee not only developed collaboration within the St. Ignatius parish, but developed local partnerships with St. Vincent de Paul and United Workers to access and aid more families and individuals in need in our communities.
Our faithful and dedicated parishioners and community supporters at St. Ignatius are committed to engage in direct service in Baltimore communities and volunteer consistently throughout the year. They regularly organize collections of groceries for the Catholic Worker Viva House pantry and prepare and deliver food and warm clothing to homeless Baltimoreans through our Loaves and Fishes Ministry. Parishioners are encouraged and able to reach out and help those in need through the support of our J&P subcommittees that encourage intersectionality throughout all facets of social justice and service to others.
Parish engagement and support of social justice and labor topics continues with the Economic Justice subcommittee and their advocacy for paid sick leave, accessible housing, and the Fight for $15. The subcommittee partnered with the Maryland Catholic Conference and Working Mattters for lobby nights, letter writing and social media campaigns, and public witness events advocating for paid sick leave. They also partnered with United Workers to support the funding of the Affordable Housing Trust for Baltimore city and denounced discrimination against people with housing vouchers. The Economic Justice subcommittee’s consistent support of the Fight for $15 movement has grown this year and will continue in 2019 as the local government gains more supporters for this national effort. In addition to fighting for just and inclusive legislation, the Economic Justice subcommittee is working toward a partnership with both the Racial Justice subcommittee and the Immigration subcommittee to identify intersectional ties and collaborate with, educate, and mobilize parishioners.
The Racial Justice subcommittee regularly sponsors workshops and discussions surrounding issues of racial justice and finds ways to raise people’s consciousness of racism and white privilege. This work is supported by its partner, the Racial Justice Circle. In addition to planning the annual weekend of justice-oriented events for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the Racial Justice subcommittee also hosts video and dialogue sessions throughout the year and curates a gallery of African American contributions to society and the Catholic Church. The subcommittee continues to strive to make concepts spoken about in the church more specific and tangible and hopes to expand its work of building relationships with other parishes and schools.
The Environmental Justice subcommittee, previously named the Green Team, worked in the past year to establish a series of objectives that engaged our parish to further our positive interaction with God’s creation of nature. In the past year, the Environmental Justice subcommittee held multiple tree plantings and neighborhood clean ups, as well as the first parish-wide Earth Day events. They also implemented the first phases of the Composting and Waste Reduction Plan and developed a strong relationship with Blue Water Baltimore to help achieve their mission to restore the quality of Baltimore’s rivers, streams and Harbor. The Environmental Justice subcommittee plans to expand their Earth Day week greatly in the next year to include more tree planting, a Green Mass, fellowship events, and a video focused on parishioner environmental footprint. Throughout the year they will also complete the parish energy audit, continue to build the waste reduction plan within and beyond our parish, and develop and expand a parish-wide Green Education plan.
The Immigration subcommittee, led by a passionate cohort of parishioners and volunteers with the Share the Journey campaign and encouraged our parishioners to answer Pope Francis’ call to encounter and walk with migrants and refugees in support and solidarity. The subcommittee made monumental waves this year when they launched a Refugee Family Mentoring project, held an educational Refugee Camp simulation, hosted DC/MD Visitation network training and PREP mini ministries workshops, held a prayer vigil with Washington DC Holy Trinity Parish at the Baltimore ICE office, and assisted in raising $1,500 toward the CRS/Orioles Helping Hands goal of sending 75,000 meals to Burkina Faso, and presented an International Food and Cultural Arts Fair. The Immigration subcommittee’s focus is to have parishioners encounter and accompany immigrants and refugees by offering varying community opportunities such as family mentoring, advocacy days, cooking classes, blogging, etc. Throughout the year, the Immigration subcommittee also helps parishioners reach out to their legislators on issues relating to immigration reform.
As the Justice & Peace committee, our goal is to deepen our understanding of the principles of Catholic social teaching and then, through word and action, to help integrate these principles more fully into the life of our parish community. How you can help? By supporting us with your time, talent, and ideas and helping us expand our efforts to new areas. If our work sounds interesting and you want to know more about Justice & Peace work, we invite you to join us at our next meeting. We look forward to meeting you then.