Holy Week marks our last week in our Lenten blog series, “Walking in Solidarity.” Before we turn to the celebration of Easter, we’re focusing on “Promoting Solidarity: Advocacy and Political Responsibility.”
Wednesday and Friday we’ll have tips and reflections on how you can be an advocate for solidarity, but today we look at how Franciscan Mission Service participates in it.
While advocacy is not part of our overall organization’s work, it does have a place within our programs.
When our long-term missioners engage in local ministries abroad, they often find themselves participating in local advocacy work. Here are just two recent examples:
- Current missioner Susan Slavin works with the Franciscan Legal Aid Project as a lawyer and regularly finds herself advocating for groups or individuals who have faced injustices.Recipients of the project’s free legal services have included people who have experienced rape or unfair incarceration.
- Recently-returned missioner Nora Pfeiffer participated in several ministries in Bolivia that had an advocacy aspect, including working on two radio shows. The shows helped shed light on and foster discussion around a variety of issues in the community such as child prostitution and water rights.
Training, sending and supporting long-term overseas lay missioners such as Susan and Nora had been the primary focus of Franciscan Mission Service for two decades. We’ve added an additional program in the past year: Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trips.
The alternative spring break trip to our headquarters Washington, D.C. is a learning experience for college students focusing on issues of poverty.
While the trips allows students time to do hands-on work such as visiting with the elderly poor at the Missionaries of Charity and sorting donations at Capitol Area Food Bank, it also focuses on examining the causes and effects of poverty and what students can to fight it.
When we hosted our first spring break group this March, the students and campus minister from the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia told us how advocacy piece was their favorite part of the trip.
|University of Georgia students with U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.|
The group spent a Thursday afternoon at the Capitol where they met with their senator. They also talked with his staff about the group’s concerns about poverty in Athens, Georgia and how education can be part of the solution. To prepare for the meeting, the students spent the morning in a workshop on how to be effective advocates lead by Russ Testa, director of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office for Holy Name Province.
We look forward to creating more opportunities for advocacy and political responsibility during future Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trips.
How are you an advocate or exercising your political responsibility in your community?