Last weekend, my sister graduated from her master’s program at Marquette University, and I insisted on coming down to Milwaukee for the celebration. As I guess is common at large universities, the ceremony took place in two parts: part one, held at the Bradley Center in the morning, was a ceremony for everyone, while part two, held after a break for lunch, was where the University split into its various colleges and did the actual reading of the names. “Most of my classmates are only going to the afternoon part,” my sister told me, “but I want to go to the morning part because they’ve got a graduation speaker that sounds really interesting.” She didn’t have to do much convincing to get me to come along. Since both my sister and I studied abroad in separate South American countries, and both of us were aware of the works of the School of the Americas, just knowing that Sister Margaret “Peggy” O’Neill, S.C. had worked for years in El Salvador was enough to get me interested, too.
“You do know the young adult group has a blog,” my friend told me.
It was an 85-degree evening in August 2010. We sat in front of a gas station in Chicago’s Wicker Park that had become a restaurant, which is the sort of thing that happens in Wicker Park. We were eating artisan tacos and drinking Goose Island, which is the sort of thing you do in Wicker Park.
A month before, I’d taken a trip to Boston. There, I’d audited a graduate course taught by liberation theology pioneer Gustavo Gutierrez. I was at a point in my life when I was stuck. Upon returning home, I felt I’d been given a huge shove to do something with my life right now, and to do it for God’s justice.
By the end of July, I had connected with Call To Action. I started volunteering there. I proceeded to announce it on Facebook. That’s where my friend saw it. She messaged that we should talk.
She had once worked for CTA. Now she was telling me about their young adult ministry, CTA 20/30. Which, she said, had a blog.
“You need to get a column on that blog,” she emphasized, apropos of nothing. We weren’t talking about writing, or my being a writer, at all. Her instruction came from thin air. Continue reading
The Call to Action 20/30 Community is launching a monthly series of Online Book Groups on Family. 20/30 members Sarah Holst and Katie Jones (the current and former editors of this blog!) will be hosting conversations on chapters that explore the diversity of family life and community for young progressive Catholics. These conversations are hosted online and all are welcome to join.
The 20/30 Online Book Groups are exciting and supportive conversations. This series will creatively explore expanding boundaries and blurring borders of what “family” means in the lived contexts of members of the 20/30 group. The Book Groups will use chapters from books that examine traditional ideas and assumptions, view Catholic thought through anti-oppression lenses, and expand on ways to build communities and practices of inclusion. Monthly conversations about these chapters will be held on Google Chat. These are safe spaces to bring your experience, identities and faith wherever you are on your journey. Continue reading
To celebrate Throw Back Thursday, I found this reflection I wrote while I was in high school. I’ve been on an interesting journey, going from Catholic Fundamentalist to Queer Heretic with sacred sass. I often wonder what happened to the religious zealot that was delfin in high school and first two years of undergrad. Perhaps they are still here wandering inside my head, finding new ways to channel the fundamentalism and zealotness. Enjoy my first #tbt post :-)
We are the World, We are the Children
“If there is right in the soul, there will be beauty in the person; If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the home; If there is harmony in the home, there will be peace in the world.”
Humans come in every shape, color, size, and form. To be global citizens, we have to accept that diversity and to see everyone as human despite our differences. Our differences make us individuals, which make us unique and special. We have to respect that, for we all live on the same earth. Until we can live on other planets, we are going to have to live on this earth together, might as well make the most of it. We should make our stay here as good and with as little problems as possible; so basically we should all get along and be friends. Continue reading
— Tom Fox (@NCRTomFox) April 11, 2015
On Good Friday, I boarded the Metra Electric train to the Chicago Loop. There, I represented Call To Action at the annual Good Friday Walk For Justice, which is sponsored by the 8th Day Center For Justice.
The walk is a modern-day Stations of the Cross that examines contemporary social issues at each station. Each station has a different organization presenting it. With CTA program director Ellen Euclide, I read for the Fourth Station, “Helped In The Struggle.” It focused on the struggle for justice within the church.
Other Call To Action folks were there. They included our colleague, retired chapter liaison and development director Bob Heineman. As Ellen and I completed our station, near the Chicago Board of Trade, Bob looked grim. He told us he had a new message on his voice mail. He needed to check it now. Continue reading
Recently, I read Barbara Brown Taylor’s Leaving Church, which is a memoir about her journey away from the clergy. When she stopped pastoring her church, she found it hard to go back as a congregant. She wrote this about her experience:
Mother Church had little interest in the things that were interesting me. Her job was to take care of her family. Why should she get into discussions that might cause them to lose confidence in her? Why encourage them to raise questions for which she had no answers? Even more important, why waste valuable time rehashing things that had been settled centuries ago when there was so much to do around the house right now? I understood her reasons, I really did. I was just looking for some way to stay related to her that did not require me to stay a child.
I immediately reached for my page flags and marked the passage. She is writing about the Episcopalian church, but her observation hits even harder for Catholicism.
Perhaps this is to be expected in denominations that require parishioners to refer to their pastors as “Father.” Perhaps that is where this pervasive infantalization of the laity originates.
I write for Young Adult Catholics on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. This year, I have the privilege of posting on Ash Wednesday. I could do much with Ash Wednesday.
But I want to say something not about Ash Wednesday in general, but about what Ash Wednesday means to me. It is my anniversary. It is an unlikely anniversary at that.
Four years ago, I did something I never thought I would do. I quit being a practicing Catholic for an extended period of time. Two years ago, I rescinded my choice. I “came home” on Ash Wednesday, 2013.
The experience was multidimensional. Here, I want to focus on just one dimension: the “home” part. Specifically, my parish home: what it was before, what it is today, and some thoughts for folks who are where I have been. Continue reading