by Laura Kent, Pax Christi St. Louis
In mid-April, Pax Christi USA held it’s first workshop, “We Grow Together: Catholic Communities of Color and Pax Christi USA,” in St. Louis, MO. The workshop is designed to bring together Catholic communities of color with members of various Pax Christi USA regions to create a community that is built on inclusivity and based on Gospel values. Below is a short report from Laura Kent, one of the participants.
“If we do not count in our membership, members of the communities whom we would like to serve, then as a peace and justice organization, Pax Christi should shut down.” It was with this acknowledgement from Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director of Pax Christi, that a group of twenty-one St. Louisans began a workshop at Cardinal Ritter College Prep in St. Louis, MO on Saturday, April 12 to learn together about Pax Christi. Participants hailed from many parishes and local organizations, all with the common cause of working for justice.
Presenters included Sr. Chapell; Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN, Director of Programs for Pax Christi USA; Ronaldo Cruz, former staff member of Pax Christi USA and former Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs; and Sr. Jamie Phelps, OP, theologian. The presenters spoke about the ten principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the four principles of Pax Christi USA and the histories of African Americans and Latino/as in the Catholic Church of the United States.
Active Catholics from the Latino/a and African American communities engaged in conversations about violence, gangs, poverty, voting rights and incarceration following the think, judge, act model. At the end of the day, workshop participants made suggestions about actions that could and should be taken in St. Louis communities to further include people of color in the peace-making process as well as address the discrimination and violence in St. Louis.
This workshop is the first of six planned workshops throughout the spring and summer months.