A Note From Fr. LeRoy
This past Saturday on Sept. 24th , our "Together As One" ACC Social Justice Committee, in conjunction with the Catholic Charities Office and the Knights of Columbus hosted a Diocesan Social Ministry gathering at St. Michael Church from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Our gathering was well attended by many within our ACC as well as other participants throughout our diocese. Eighty to one hundred people gathered with Bishop Donald Kettler along with Fr. Timothy, Fr. Oswaldo and myself who came to learn and discuss how important the social dimension of our Catholic faith in Christ really is. Dr. Bernie Evans was our keynote speaker who talked about how the Eucharist should affect each of us. He presented two themes: 1) Eucharist and Loving our Neighbor, and 2) Justice as Loving Our Neighbor. Dr. Evans spoke on how social concerns are intrinsic to our faith in Jesus Christ and how this connects us to our understanding of the Eucharist itself.
A few comments stand out for me: One, is that the Eucharist by its very nature, reminds us that we never journey alone. We are linked together in Jesus Christ and to our neighbor as well. The Eucharist is never just about me and Jesus, although that may be part of it. For this reason, we as a People of God, should always have concern for our neighbor in distress, (and by neighbor we are referring to anyone in need or any injustice that is done). It does not matter who they are, where they are, or exactly why they are in need, the need or injustice itself should cause us concern and a willingness to reach out. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is the gold standard for this.
Finally, justice requires that we not only help with the immediate need, but also address the social causes of such problems. The Eucharist, although it should never be "weaponized" for any one cause or issue, it should move us to more structural changes, (i.e. legislation or social action on a local, state and national level) so that longer term solutions can be addressed. The Eucharist should reflect a deeper consciousness of who we are and the oneness we have with other people even miles apart. This is not something we made up, but by the presence of Christ, it is already there in our celebration. The danger in any ritual (i.e. what we do at the Mass) is that it can become too routine, as simply fulfilling our Sunday obligation. It should also call us to the "work of justice" where justice is required. In essence, sacraments and service are inseparable. The final conclusion is that the Eucharist is not simply something we do, but also something that is done to us. My hope is that as we journey together, (in some way), we all are willing to do our part. May we as a People of God do what we can to bring forth that Light! Peace,
Fr. LeRoy Scheierl