Jim O'Shea and Reconnect Brooklyn; the blessing of silence,  and the threat of militarism
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Reconnecting Brooklyn

As part of the WNYC Change-Makers Series, Father Jim O’Shea CP talks about his organization Reconnect Brooklyn, Efrain Hernandez, co-founder of Reconnect, and Shawn Moody, a young man employed at Reconnect's screen printing shop. Father Jim founded Reconnect to help disconnected young men in the Bedford Stuyvesant community seek employment and continue their education.

Watch the segment, hosted by Jonathan Capehart.
Click here for  the latest Reconnect flyer.
Breaking news!  Yesterday, May 9, Fr. Jim O'Shea was elected Provincial of Saint Paul of the Cross Province!  Jim has been a member of our JPIC Committee and trusted friend and adviser.  Congratulations, Jim!
Poor Peoples Campaign - Focus on Militarism
The new Poor People’s Campaign has just published a report by the Institute for Policy Studies that takes on the interlocking evils of militarism, racism, extreme materialism, and environmental destruction. The campaign plans six weeks of actions, including: Week Three (May 27-June 2) - "Militarism, The War Economy, Veterans, Education, and Our National Priorities." Learn more here about this important focus.

The new U.S. campaign is reigniting these efforts to unite the poor, disenfranchised, and marginalized to transform our nation’s political, economic and moral structures. Over 30 state campaigns launched at state capitals across the U.S. on February 5, "serving notice that if our voices are not heard and our issues remain unaddressed, we are prepared to take direct action and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience." 

Lessons from the Struggles in Honduras
ROOT CAUSES DELEGATION REPORT

“It is a privilege to participate in a delegation that observes, listens and comes to a deeper understanding of root causes of immigration,” said Sister of Mercy Kathleen Erickson, a member of the delegation. “We saw the beauty and strength of the people of Honduras. We also came to more awareness of the connection between U.S. policies and their effects on the lives of people in impoverished countries.”

The emergency delegation of 56 faith leaders and social justice advocates returned after traveling to Honduras from January 24-20 to witness firsthand the continuing widespread civil unrest following that country’s November 27 contested presidential election.

After arriving in Honduras on January 24, the delegation held a press conference and prayer service with the local faith community at the San Pedro Sula airport. During the following days, participants met with several groups and individuals, including local faith and community organizations, and they likewise met with victims of crime and government repression. Delegation members were also called to be observers of several demonstrations in the region, in the hope that international observers would help deter police crackdowns on protesters. During other demonstrations, delegation participants witnessed the use of tear gas being thrown into homes and to disperse peaceful crowds.

The group  has produced a report from the delegation that includes findings, observations, recommendations, media coverage and more.

Environmental Activism in African American Communities
Oakland, California pastor Ambrose F. Carroll says that African American churches are not often associated with environmentalism. But he wants to change that.

So he founded Green the Church, a campaign to motivate environmental action at black churches.

“We are people of the African diaspora. We’re people who are ex-slaves, people who are migrant farmers, people who have spent eons with our hands in the ground, and even though we don’t talk the language of environmentalism, it’s really very close to who we are.”

At Green the Church trainings, workshops, and conventions, faith leaders teach pastors and other church representatives the religious importance of protecting the earth. And, they provide strategies for engaging churches in renewable energy, food security, and environmental justice

Green The Church engages congregations in the fight against climate change and helps churches serve as centers of resilience that ensure their communities survive—and thrive—in the face of disasters. The three pillars of their mission are:
  • Amplify Green Theology
  • Promote Sustainable Practices
  • Build Power for Change
Quiet Louisville-A Meditation Event

It's a safe bet that most of us have a fair amount of turbulence in our lives - at work, in our relationships, inside our own heads and hearts. It's probably also a safe bet that most of us sometimes dream of an ideal world where the winds have calmed down and we're not so buffeted by the storms of life.  
 
I love the title of a book that my friend (and one of Louisville's wise village elders) Joe Grant published recently: Still in the Storm.*  Captured in that title, I think, is the deep truth that while storms will always come, we do have a choice about how we react to them. We can frenzy around trying to force our crazy circumstances into submission. We can berate ourselves for the inner chaos of our thoughts and feelings or the outer chaos of our messy, messed-up lives.  Or - and here is where meditation practice can bear its good fruit - we can greet the outer or inner chaos with curiosity, kindness, and acceptance. When we do that, a calmer place emerges within the mess - a still place in which we can ride out the storms.
 
On May 1st at noon, we tried something new, in partnership with several other local organizations. We held a free, public, outdoor meditation event at one of the busiest places in Louisville (the site of Thomas Merton’s famous epiphany) during one of the busiest times of the year - Derby Week. Go big or go home, right? The thought behind this "Quiet Louisville" event was to show that meditation isn't just for those quiet, calm, non-stormy times.  Just the opposite: when things are at their most chaotic, that's exactly when being able to meditate is most crucial. Nearly 150 people joined us that day and helped create a lovely oasis of calm and compassion in the midst of the storms. We plan to make it an annual event! 
Kyle Kramer, Executive Director, Passionist Earth and Spirit Center.
 
*Still in the Storm, by Joe Grant available here.
Read Joe's blog through our website 
NEW RESOURCE - Virtual Silence
Silence, on the Verge of Extinction
"Silence isn't the absence of something but the presence of everything."
—Gordon Hempton 

Sanctuaries of Silence: An Immersive Listening Journey

This virtual reality Op-Doc provides an immersive experience into the Hoh Rain Forest, told from the perspective of the acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton. For the past 35 years, Mr. Hempton has been documenting the sounds of the Hoh and its many species, including Pacific tree frogs, Roosevelt elk, northern spotted owls, the red-breasted nuthatch and Pacific wrens. He believes silence is on the verge of extinction. Planes often fly over the Hoh en route to Seattle, emitting a dull roar that punctures the silence of the landscape. The Hoh is but one of many remote corners of the world being affected by noise pollution.
 
Through the Global Oneness Project and the Kalliopeia Foundation, Sanctuaries of Silence, the project's first virtual reality (VR) film, premiered at SXSW and is now available to watch in The New York Times Op-Docs and on the NYT VR app. The film provides an immersive experience into the Hoh Rainforest, one of the quietest places in North America. Told through the unique perspective of acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, the film offers an experience to explore the power of silence in the natural world.

Enjoy a trailer/teaser of the experience here.

What Kind of Nonviolent Activist Are You?

Sure, no one likes violence. But did you know there are many different types of Christian nonviolence? From hiding Jews in Nazi-occupied France to breaking the silence on violence against women, Christian leaders have practiced many different forms of nonviolence. Take this quiz to see who you're most like!

And check out the Field Guide to Nonviolence at http://bit.ly/22xa7wy

Linking Justice and Peace in the Lectionary

The following homily resources are from the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM). The Passionist JPIC office collaborates with other community JPIC offices and we would love to see other homily resources coming from the Passionist charism. Contact the Passionist JPIC office if you would like to contribute.  If you yourself do not give homilies please consider sharing these resources with a local priest.

Sunday May 13th  by Dianne Bergant, CSA
Sunday May 20th  by Dawn Nothwehr, OSF

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