WASHINGTON — The director of Holy Name’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation says that these are important times for raising awareness of social justice.
This week, Russell Testa is attending the Ecumenical Advocacy Days, a justice and peace event that begins March 25 on the mall in the nation’s capital. He said he expects supporters from Province ministries in Hartford, Conn., Pompton Lakes and Camden, N.J., Silver Spring, Md., and Triangle, Va.
“These are difficult, but perhaps some of the most important times to be doing advocacy and keeping a voice that is calling for support of persons who are poor,” he said.
In February, Testa took his first trip to Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., meeting with campus minister Jack McDowell, OFM, and discussing college students’ responsibility to be engaged in social justice and advocacy work. With the local diocesan representative, Testa discussed possibly offering workshops and other formation programs in the Clemson region.
The university’s campus ministry, which the Franciscan began staffing in August 2010, seems very interested in JPIC issues and sees it as a natural fit with the students, according to Testa. He added that Jack hopes to do some joint programming with the University of Georgia, where Thomas Vigliotta, OFM, is the director of campus ministry.
The Social Concerns Committee of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Hartford also welcomed Testa in February to facilitate a brainstorming and prioritizing process as the parish focuses on peacemaking.
Student Friar Presentation
In the past few months, Testa also attended board meetings of several JPIC collaborative organizations, including the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Churches for Middle East Peace, and Justice for Immigrants. He also regularly communicates with the Province’s JPIC local contacts.
With Megan Nerz of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Raleigh, N.C., a member of the JPIC Directorate, in March, Testa gave a training on “Civil Dialogue on Immigration” for the HNP men in formation.
“We focused on how to facilitate dialogue with the topic area being immigration,” said Testa. “The friars seemed to appreciate the ways to help diffuse difficult situations. They also seemed to have a fun time with the role plays.”
Testa is also pursuing a new location for the JPIC office, giving it a separate home from the one it now shares with the Franciscan Action Network.
New Website Features
This week, the JPIC Office is launching a Spanish version of the Climate Change page on its website. A complete translation of all the resources offered on the English version of the Climate Change page of the JPIC in Action section was compiled by Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, chair of the Province’s JPIC Directorate. The polar bear plunge video was produced by Octavio Duran, OFM, of St. Anthony’s Guild.
Whether it is through events, mailings or website enhancements, the Province’s JPIC Office continues to find creative ways to carry out its mission.
— Wendy Healy is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to HNP Today.