Joseph Rozansky speaks about climate change, poverty in St. Anthony Messenger

Maria Hayes Friar News

The biggest problems facing communities today are intimately linked to other issues occurring on a global scale. To solve one problem, we must also address another.

It’s something Joseph Rozansky, OFM, international director of the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, knows well. Joe addressed the relationship between climate change and poverty in the August issue of St. Anthony Messenger.

In an article written in Q-and-A format titled “Franciscan Green,” Joe discussed how one can’t think about the environment without also thinking of those in need.

“So many people have had their dignity stolen from them, and there’s a growing chasm between the rich and the poor,” Joe said. “This is insane. People are being trampled. We’ve got to find ways to share what we have, to share the resources, and at the same time be concerned about our sister Mother Earth, as Francis would say.

“Environmental justice includes our concern for both the environment and the people. We should not have an environmental concern that discounts our concern for people. And our concern for people should also take into account our concern for the environment. The idea is that you cannot be just a tree hugger. A bunch of people live underneath those trees, and there are all sorts of social relationships and connections to the trees and forests.”

Last year, Sr. Donna Graham, OSF, director of JPIC for St. John the Baptist Province, sent out an email inviting friars of St. John the Baptist Province to the training session Joe was holding. One of the friars forwarded the email to John Feister, editor of St. Anthony Messenger, who thought it would make a good story. Because the training was geared toward members of the province, the editors chose to do a story on the Order’s JPIC work instead.

A Bronx native, Joe has been based in Rome since his 2005 appointment to the Order’s JPIC office, where he coordinates efforts around the globe. He is currently in Australia and New Zealand, where he is spending three weeks attending meetings, presentations and Masses scheduled by the JPIC animator for the Province of the Holy Spirit. He is also “having a little time off.”

He has participated in numerous interfaith conferences, including one sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, and led the Franciscan group at the People’s Summit and the Rio +20 Conference of the United Nations this year.

Joe helped found and sustain the Brazil Network, a small non-governmental organization dedicated to working with Brazil. While doing missionary work in Brazil, he learned much about working among and for the poor, and began to understand how the Church community can be advocates in attaining justice for the poor.

Previously, Joe served as director of the Province’s post-novitiate program in Silver Spring, Md., and the Franciscan postulant program in the Bronx. In January, Joe will be directing the annual interprovincial retreat, open to all ESC friars and being held in Las Cruces, N.M.

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.