Thursday, August 29, 2013


Meetings this afternoon with the lead organizer and board members of Massachusetts Interfaith Worker Justice, where I served in various capacities from 2006 to 2011. In between those meetings, there will be an opportunity to meet some of the hundreds of workers from Boston fast food restaurants who are on strike today for better wages.

I have been a volunteer, a paid intern, and full-time lead organizer with Mass IWJ. I remained active with the group until I left Boston in July 2011 to begin initial formation with the Capuchins. Now I aim to renew my service with Mass IWJ. I discussed this with the lead organizer this spring and met with him earlier this month to review Mass IWJ’s campaign priorities; to inventory its base of constituents and resources; and to discuss its strategy and tactics for achieving its objectives.

I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. I am eager to share my gifts and talents with the beloved community, the people of God in Boston. I have an extensive network of contacts with activist Christian ministers, both lay and ordained, Catholic as well as Protestant, students and professionals, in the Greater Boston area. Being a Capuchin does raise my profile as a public figure in the Roman Catholic Church and may help open more doors for Mass IWJ in the Archdiocese of Boston. I offer my talents for communication as an editor, writer, and public speaker. Mass IWJ needs religious activists who are good public speakers, who can preach, give presentations and workshops, prepare documents, and design publications. They need leaders who can mix with members of labor organizations as well as congregations. They need leaders who are comfortable with the lexicon of labor and the language of theology. They need people of faith who can translate between the two tongues, just as they can bring together peoples from the worlds of labor and religion.

It will, of course, take some time for these talents to bear fruit again. I have been away from the Greater Boston area for two years and have to learn again the existential realities facing workers in the region. It will take some time to be educated on current campaigns and the strategy and tactics being applied. I have to invest time and labor in re-establishing social capital. Relationships need to be renewed. This requires slow and respectful effort. Furthermore, my connections to labor are less robust than my ties to faith communities. And my network with people from faiths other than Christianity is in need of rebuilding. Finally, while my knowledge of organizing is good, I am out of practice!

As I integrate being a religious brother with the doing of ministry, I must now balance fraternal life with the Capuchins and studies at Boston College. These are significant new life commitments. I must be careful not to take on too much, or make promises I cannot fulfill. While Mass IWJ is my primary ministry commitment, it is not my only activity. For instance, I have agreed to serve on the steering committee of the Boston New Sanctuary Movement, attend the group’s monthly meetings and major events, and support its education and advocacy efforts in service to immigrant families. And I would like to be involved in one of the local parishes serving the communities of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. 

Each brother in simple vows must find ways to integrate ministry and work for justice and peace within the Capuchin way of life, grounding these charisms within the fundamental charism of fraternity, as practiced in the setting of contemplative minority. Now it is my turn to discover how to be, how to do as a follower of Jesus in the manner of Francis.

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