Avenues for Justice

Russ Testa Around the Province

SILVER SPRING, Md. — In just over a month, hundreds will gather outside the nation’s capital to discuss injustices in global food systems. This event is one of three happening this spring near Washington that are recommended by the Province’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation and its JPIC directorate.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days: April 5-8
The “At God’s Table: Food Justice for a Healthy World” gathering in Arlington, Va., is of interest to anyone who eats — and anyone who wants to improve at advocacy.

The 2013 advocacy focus will be an attempt to secure the re-authorization of the Agricultural Bill to help the world realize a more secure and sustainable food system: essentially, to help the world become better at feeding itself. The conference’s food theme offers a wonderful means to make advocacy more accessible and appealing to a greater number of people, because it touches so many issues and is literally a “kitchen table” issue.

When discussing food systems, nearly all the issues identified in the Holy Name Province JPIC Plan of Action come up, including:
•   Care for creation — the food we eat, and how and where it is produced has significant ecological ramifications, both positive and negative.
•   Immigration — immigrants and agricultural labor are integral to the production of food in the U.S. In addition, if the U.S. does not have just trade and foreign assistance programs in place, persons in other countries will find it more difficult to feed their families and will be pushed to move elsewhere to find better opportunities.
•   Care for the Poor/Federal Budget — the ability of the U.S. to care for and help provide food to persons who are poor, both in the U.S. and in the wider world, is directly affected by decisions around the Agricultural Bill. Finally, the creation of a federal budget that is fair, especially to those who are poor, also will be impacted by the bill.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Days gathering will provide a significant way for Holy Name Province to put faith and plans into action. To register for the event, and to learn more about hotel accommodations, visit www.advocacydays.org. The venue — Doubletree Hotel Crystal City — is filling up quickly. Those who plan to participate in EAD 2013 but have yet to register are encouraged to act now or be subject to higher conference and hotel rates.

Churches for Middle East Peace Conference:  May 20-21
The idea of the Franciscan as peacemaker has been a central component of the Franciscan narrative since the Order’s founding. Holy Name Province has worked to focus its peacemaking agenda on the elusive search for peace in the Holy Land. The May 20 to 21 CMEP Conference at The Catholic University of America in Washington will provide an avenue to help advance this desire for Middle East peace.

This conference will be held at a unique time for the possibility. In March, President Obama is traveling to Israel and will likely offer the support of the United States in restarting peace negotiations. In April, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit the region again to assess the possibility of peace negotiations. On the heels of these two diplomatic visits, a strong voice for peace in the Holy Land will be imperative. CMEP consistently has been a leading voice in this effort, and Franciscans glad participants. Please consider taking part in this key event to enliven Holy Name Province peacemaking efforts.

Annual JPIC Local Contacts Retreat: June 21-23
2013 is the tenth year that Holy Name Province has set aside time for friars and lay partners engaged in justice, peace and creation care efforts to meet to share best practices and lessons learned and, more recently, to devote some time to spiritual renewal. To mark this auspicious anniversary, both the JPIC Office and Directorate are pleased to have Joseph Rozansky, OFM, director of the OFM Rome JPIC Office, join the group and offer a spiritual reflection on the place of JPIC in the context of the larger order. In addition, Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, will celebrate the weekend’s closing liturgy.

The JPIC Directorate and Office hope that each HNP ministry is represented at the June 21 to 23 retreat to share its unique perspective and enjoy the special gathering. The event will be held at the Retreat and Conference Center at Bon Secours in Marriottsville, Md. Details and a registration form can be found on the Justice and Peace section of the HNP website.

— Russ Testa is director of the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation; Fran Eskin-Royer is senior staff member of the office.