JustFaith program stresses social justice

| July 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

JustFaith Ministries founder Jack Jezreel visited the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis this week, meeting alums of the JustFaith program, presenting talks to the public and encouraging parish and archdiocesan staff in their ministries — all while conveying a message of compassion and generosity using the models of Pope Francis and St. Francis.

Jezreel introduced the original JustFaith program in 1989 while working in a parish in Louisville, Ky., and it quickly spread to other parts of the country, including Minnesota.

“When the JustFaith program was starting, they partnered with various organizations to make sure their context was rooted in Catholic social teaching and the lived reality of our Church,” said Marty Roers of the Office for Social Justice at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“JustFaith Ministries partnered with Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. Catholic Campaign for Human Development and their funded groups, Maryknoll Missioners and directly with our Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.”

According to Roers, in the early years as JustFaith was developing its weekly reflections and study guides, organizers had many conversations with Kathy Tomlin, vice president of social justice at Catholic Charities.

“She was an important proponent of making sure the program was rooted in local realities and local poverty and social justice issues,” he said. “Maryknoll brought the global dimension of international poverty and mission, but our local Catholic Charities was very insistent that a faith formation program exposing people to social justice issues and poverty needed to connect people in a real way with poverty and social injustice in their own community.

“It is really amazing to see how the program has re-energized and in many cases transformed individuals throughout the archdiocese in regards to their faith and their commitment to promoting social justice,” Roers continued. “We have had over 800 people do a one-year JustFaith small group program at their parishes over the past 10 years.”

Michelle McMullin, a member of the advisory board for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, participated in the JustFaith program in 2007-08 because she was searching for a way to deepen her faith.

“JustFaith has made me intentional about how I am living each hour of each day instead of only on Sunday during Mass,” she said. “It is a compass to navigate life. In the past, I felt I needed a map with specific turns to my destination. Through JustFaith, I feel less certain about the details and more certain about my direction.”

Karen Fitzpatrick of Guardian Angels in Oakdale has been an advocate for justice since the late 1960s, serving Bread for the World and helping form parish social justice committees. It was shortly after her retirement from full-time work that JustFaith came to her parish.

Her involvement in those early days led to the development of the Hope for the Journey Home shelter for families experiencing homelessness.

“When the call went out in June 2012 for workers to get the empty rectory ready to house seven families by Labor Day, over 60 people stepped forth to put in the long hours needed,” Fitzpatrick said. “A large percentage of the volunteers were JustFaith grads.

“Any parish which has a JustFaith group, in process or graduates, will have a core of people ready to step into works of outreach, to care for people in poverty and of vocal advocacy where injustice exists.”

To learn more about the JustFaith program, visit justfaith.org.

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Category: Local News