Social Justice and Peace: Doing Our Part to Save the Planet

Social Justice and Peace: Doing Our Part to Save the Planet

Social Justice and Peace: Doing Our Part to Save the Planet

Members of the Social Justice and Peace Commission, a ministry of Our Lady of Hope, finds ways to share stories, along with content on relevant issues in our community – and world. One of the focus areas of these parish volunteers is Caring for Our Common Home – the planet. If you’re a frequent bulletin reader, you’ll recognize the graphic here, and even the message about “unplugging.”

Each month they offer an idea that puts Catholic Social Teaching to work in meaningful ways.

Sometimes those ideas are related to people’s well-being, sometimes to the environment. Most times there’s a connection between the two.

This month, they’ve been reading about the issue of homelessness, and the challenges and heartache that brings to people with no homes and the communities in which they find themselves. This article in Commonweal is one that they are reading and discussing currently. We invite you to read it as well, and join the conversation at their meeting in February, on the third Thursday at 7 pm in the Hall.

And, after you read it online, perhaps take a look at the devices (or charging cords) and small appliances you have plugged in at home when not in use. Unplugging saves energy and money. That’s good for everyone.

Celebrating Summer, Nature, and Our Common Home – Part 2

Celebrating Summer, Nature, and Our Common Home – Part 2

Celebrating Summer, Nature, and Our Common Home – Part 2

Back in July we wrote about the moving film, The Letter, and how it served as a call to action in many ways. Particularly, at the start of summer in Maine, we were called to notice God’s beautiful creation all around us. That sparked an idea. We invited parishioners – and friends – to make photos of places and activities where they felt God’s presence. You can read more in our July 7th post!

Congratulations to Jim and Mary, who’s names were pulled from a hat for the gift card. They submitted photos of a delicious meatless meal – and the recipe. Pictured here is a photo from Jon that brings a smile to fans of listening to baseball at camp.

If you are on Facebook, we’ve shared all the photos there.  Really — watch The Letter!! It will move you to action.  And, keep noticing the beauty of – and our responsibility to care for – God’s creation.

Celebrating Summer and Our Common Home

Celebrating Summer and Our Common Home

Celebrating Summer and Our Common Home

Kick-off summer by watching The Letter in the comfort of your own home! That’s right, the film is available on YouTube. Whether you watch from your tablet or laptop or smart TV, you’ll want to settle in for this film. The stories are beautifully told with amazing cinematography. We’ve watched it solo and in groups, and like many beautiful films there’s an added experience of watching with others. Through our group showings in the parish hall, a combined audience of nearly 40 people felt the power of the stories – and the calls to action, some suggested by each audience.

So, we decided to take the message of caring for God’s creation into our summer activities intentionally.  To pay attention to the movements in our hearts when we are spending time outdoors.  And to add some added fun, we thought some photos would be fun to add to the mix – specifically, your photos!!  To encourage participation, we’ll have a gift card that will be drawn among all entrants.
We live in a beautiful place!

One way to celebrate that is with a bit of fun this summer. So, let’s snap some action photos (with those phones or cameras) of our care for God’s creation:
– working in the garden
– doing a good deed for someone
– a snapshot of a beautiful place in Maine you’ve visited
– a photo of where you’ve found God in nature
– even a photo of you watching The Letter 
– photo of you recycling
– photo of a meatless meal (extra points for the recipe, too)

Create your own ideas!!

Email photos to ourladyofhope@portlanddiocese.org If you play at all track what you’ve done. You can drop off at the office, put in the collection basket or by mail by August 20th. Be sure your name and contact info is there. We’ll draw from all submissions for a $100 LL Bean gift card at noon on August 22, 2023.

Mission Co-Op Weekend

Mission Co-Op Weekend

Mission Co-Op Weekend

Each year every parish in Maine hosts a visiting missionary. This is both a way for us to learn more of the Church’s presence and mission around the world and for us to support that work by our prayers and financial contributions. This year our parish is hosting a representative of the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC). .

As ASEC writes on their website: “While Africa is a continent of vast potential, it faces serious obstacles of poverty, chronic hunger, disease, ecological degradation and violence.  Catholic sisters are a strong force in addressing Africa’s challenges head-on and creating hope for a bright future.”  Education and further credentials in areas of community need in many countries in Africa help the sisters strengthen the Church from within while accompanying individuals and families who live in extreme poverty.

Sr. Nancy will be with us the weekend of July 8-9th. We offer her a warm welcome!

The Juneteenth Holiday and Our Lady of Hope Parish

The Juneteenth Holiday and Our Lady of Hope Parish

The Juneteenth Holiday and Our Lady of Hope Parish

If we wish to be a welcoming parish, we are called to be a courageous parish because fear leads us to limit freedom – especially the freedom of those we perceive as other. The Juneteenth holiday reminds us of the cost of fear.

The Holiday:

The Juneteenth holiday, also known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, commemorates the date when Union General Gordon Granger issued an order proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas on June 19th, 1865.

The name – Juneteenth – comes from combining the words June and Nineteenth. Although Juneteenth became a federal holiday only very recently – President Biden signed the law in 2021 – celebrations of the day date back to the beginning in 1866. In some ways, the Juneteenth holiday is the fulfillment of the promise of freedom and equality contained in the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation. Neither the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863) nor the 13th Amendment (ratified in December 1865) were sufficient to allow the full experience of freedom by those people formerly enslaved. The presence of federal troops and the order of the commanding general were necessary to establish these freedoms.

It is likely that the enslaved people in the Confederacy knew of the Emancipation Proclamation and that they were technically free – some 180,000 black people – including former slaves who fought for the Union Army during the Civil Way – they knew of the freedom promised and were willing to fight for that freedom. Rather, without the Union troops present, the threat of violence prevented the full exercise of freedom.

Fear limited freedom for those newly freed:

In their essay entitled “Fear” in the Pulitzer Prize winning book the 1619 Project, Leslie Alexander and Michelle Alexander detail the challenges that black people have experienced claiming the full rights of citizenship in the United States. Black Codes enacted following the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments sought to limit the exercise of freedom granted to these formerly enslaved people by those amendments. The presence of federal troops and the reconstruction laws passed at the federal level allowed for the exercise of these freedoms. Following the election of 1876 which prompted the end of reconstruction and the withdrawal of federal troops. Jim Crow laws were enacted that successfully limited the rights of black citizens in parts of the United States for another century. Violence, and the fear of violence, once again limited the exercise of freedom.

What does this history have to do with Our Lady of Hope Parish?

As we look at the history since June 19th, 1866, we can see times when a safe enough space was created for the exercise of freedom, but the space has never been completely safe. Elsewhere on our website, we (Our Lady of Hope Parish) describe ourselves as seeking to be a welcoming parish. What kind of a space do we need to create to be welcoming? I like the answer provided in the poem by Beth Stano often called, “An Invitation to Brave Space.” The poem opens “There is no such thing as a ‘safe space,’ we exist in the real world – we all carry scars and have caused wounds.”

To create a more welcoming community we need to acknowledge the bravery that it takes for someone, who has met rejection and judgment elsewhere, to risk coming to Our Lady of Hope.

We also need to be brave enough to allow ourselves to be changed by our encounter with the other. Perhaps our understanding of what committed love means will change by our encounters with those who are divorced and remarried or those who are in committed same-sex relationships. Perhaps our encounter with those we may have been raised to fear will teach us about being brave enough to encounter the real person and not the stereotype we were taught.

A commitment to be a welcoming parish includes a call to courage – a call to stand with those who have been denied the full expression of their humanity – as those Union troops stood with the those formerly enslaved persons on June 19th, 1865.

Fr. Brian Conley, SJ

Learning about Portland’s Working Waterfront

Learning about Portland’s Working Waterfront

Learning about Portland’s Working Waterfront

Caring for – and About – Our Common Home

The Social Justice and Peace Commission invites you to take yourself on a self-guided tour of the working waterfront on Saturday, June 3rd. The event will take place from 11 AM to 3 PM on the Waterfront.

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the piers and wharves while learning about Portland’s working waterfront, its history and challenges – and the people who make their livelihoods in connection to it. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) will feature some interactive learning experiences for all ages. You can learn more about where to start your tour and the event itself here: https://www.walktheworkingwaterfront.com/ and what GRMI has planned at https://www.gmri.org/events/walk-the-working-waterfront/

Experiential Learning

What an opportunity for us to experience this part of our community!  We will no doubt come away with a deeper understanding of our neighbors who make their living on the waterfront – and out at sea. There’s a lot to learn about the warming waters of the Gulf of Maine and how that has an impact on our fisheries.

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