Showing posts from July, 2014

God's Mission, Not My Adventure: Returning to Bolivia

It is amazing how easily we can make mission about ourselves and not about God. I found myself falling into this trap recently when discussing an upcoming trip to Bolivia, where I will accompany Catholic school teachers from the US on immersion.  This will be my second visit with Maryknoll missioners and the people with whom they serve in and around Cochabamba.

As I was discussing this next trip with colleagues, I almost lamented the prospect of "having" to go. My first immersion experience to Guatemala stands out to me as one in which I came face to face with my relationship as a US citizen and a Christian to the rest of the world and the injustices that people face. My experience in Haiti still tugs at my heart as one of encounter with the sheer depth of suffering in this world and the witness of those who forge ahead in faith and hope. Bolivia as a place simply does not ignite my passion in the same way.

And yet, Bolivia as an experience represented perhaps the greatest c…

Mission in the Tenderloin

A week in the Tenderloin
Last week I led a group of adults on an immersion experience to the Tenderloin, focused on the ministries and services of the St. Anthony Foundation.We worked in the dining room, the clothing program and visited seniors in the Madonna and Presentation Centers.On the last day, we were able to visit the Gubbio project at St. Boniface Catholic Church room where the homeless sleep during the day in the pews after a long night of vigilance to avoid being beaten or robbed.St. Anthony’s provides excellent orientation and education on poverty, homelessness, and other challenges faced by the guests that use their services.We stayed at the Maryknoll Mission House and began each morning with breakfast and prayer before traveling on BART to San Francisco and St Anthony’s.Each late afternoon we returned to the house for Mass and dinner followed by small and large group reflections on the day. The Tenderloin is not entirely unique; there are pockets of poverty in nearly every…

From Explainers to Evangelizers: Beyond Formation Programs

Can you change a culture with a program? I run into a lot of folks involved in parish social ministry who seem to believe so, yet at the same time lament that few people attend their many workshops and presentations. We need to reassess the role that programs play in the formation of evangelizing communities. Some programs serve simply to prepare a small number of passionate actors to enliven their communities in mission. Other programs help people come to a deeper understanding only once a spark has been ignited through a powerful conversion experience. In any case, most of our fellow parishioners will not go through a formal program, and all of us require something deeper in order to grow closer to the Christ of the poor.

We need to stop seeing ourselves so much as explainers and start seeing ourselves as evanglizers. Explainers scold others with the Principles of Catholic Social Teaching; evangelizers share a deep and profound sense of joy that encourages a passion for justice. E…