Thursday, June 20, 2013

Our Community's Birthday! "We Have Done So Much With So Little For So Long, We Are Now Qualified To Do Anything With Nothing" - Blessed Mother Teresa

 THE LAMB CATHOLIC WORKER, Columbus - This labor of love, the Lamb Catholic Worker, could never be better described than with this Blessed Mother Teresa quote!  There have been years of tears and perseverance in this service to our Lord and Savior.  We have yet to receive our first donation, besides Monica's house for the Lamb Catholic Worker Volunteer Corps House, which she gladly gives to move this mission forward.  Really, this endeavor is eight years in the making if you use the starting point of when it came to Monica in June 2005 at a six-day silent retreat.  She and others believe that it was from the Holy Spirit - to open a three-house Catholic Worker community for battered women and children of foreign descent: Casa Guadalupe, Casa Romero, and Bakhita House.  Later the idea of a fourth house- Loaves and Fishes House - was added for food collection, processing, storage, gardening equipment, and space for meetings and hopefully exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Finally, a fifth house idea has come along - The Lamb Catholic Worker Volunteer Corps House - in the model of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps houses, where volunteers can live apart in community while serving at the houses of hospitality by day.  For now this means fundraising and renovation once the properties are obtained for these volunteer community members. We are now at the brink of beginning!
        The property was found immediately after that silent retreat and is currently still abandoned and ready to be transformed.  Monica was in the process of raising the last few of her five children these past eight years, and, while she did constantly put the word out, she could not actively pursue it as she would have liked, especially working towards it alone.  For the past two years though, she has stepped up the soliciting and flinging the seeds of it far and wide, with an explanation of this mission  in the December 10th issue of the Catholic Times (2010). She brought Msgr. Marv Mottet in town in July, 2011, (so holy Blessed Mother Teresa came to visit him in Iowa) of whom Monica had lived in community with in a D.C. Catholic Worker.  Msgr. Mottet educated for three days anyone interested in the Catholic Worker way and this mission for a battered women and children Catholic Worker community here in Columbus.  A priest, deacon, several seminarians and others came. It has been the talk of eastside Catholics since, and especially because in January of 2012, she began the website/blog of The Lamb Catholic Worker, while soliciting members more fervently. She has printed and given out many of the articles to eastside priests and others. With her last child just graduating from high school, and with more time on her hands, this newly formed community is hopefully on the brink of beginning this endeavor!
        In the spirit of Dorothy Day and Blessed Mother Teresa (from the quote) she has somehow been able to do this past stepped-up ten months of on-line solicitation without a working computer! Thank the good Lord for public library computers, which have been very beneficial. She is also grateful for walking this technological path of the poor, in all its frustrations.
       We do not have the start-up funds, the four sought-after abandoned houses and numerous lots between and around them for city farming, nor anything else material. So, we basically have no place, no funds, no other resources (beds, furniture,..), and no hospitality thus far.  What we do have though is each other - a budding community, and a vision of what we feel God has in mind for this Catholic Worker and this city, a multi-house Catholic Worker community mainly for battered women and children of foreign descent. Best of all, we have four stellar priests on our Lamb Catholic Worker nonprofit corporation board: Msgr. Marv Mottet of Davenport, Iowa, spiritually directing it from afar; Fr. Justin Reis, retiring this year from St. Peter's Church here in Columbus, as well as from his full-time Diocesan priest position; Fr. Denis Kigosi from Uganda, pastor of the very multi-cultural St. Thomas the Apostle parish and a long time priest of the Columbus diocese, and Fr. David Schalk, pastor of Christ the King Church, a large mostly Hispanic one. Bravo to all of them!  May God bless and protect them.  Dorothy Day always stressed so eloquently: "Don't worry about being effective.  Just concentrate on being faithful to the Truth," and these wonderful priests are our role models in their committment to the Truth and to the Catholic faith.
       Who else is a part of our community and what kind of people?  First, we have Jotham, former seminarian, current youth minister, ardent gardener, and student at Ohio Dominican University double majoring in Philosophy and Public Relations/Marketing; Tony, Doctoral student at OSU in Economics leaving this week for study in Tanzania for the summer who also has served for over a year with an inner-city live-in project of huge city gardens on the west side; Paige, in Tanzania for most of the summer with a family to learn the culture; Beth, Forestry student at OSU and current volunteer for the summer at a camp for inner-city behavioral and attention-deficit children and teens; Andy, former CFR seminarian, soon to be Master's Nutrition student and hopefully, an eventual medical school student; Jonathan and Kate, all-around wonderful people, and their three girls: Rosie, Carolina, and Genevieve; and Monica, former Catholic Worker (although it never leaves your blood) and ESL teacher in a public school system, recently joining a school six blocks from the prospective sight!  There are others as well who heavily support us like Josh, Abbie, Dory and others, to which we thank profusely.
       We have formed ourselves into community on May 1, the eightieth anniversary of the Catholic Worker Movement and the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, patron of the Catholic Worker, after having met for months (some every two weeks) in discernment. This was quite a holy day and night, mostly from the graces of St. Joseph's feast day and the Catholic Worker anniversary. 


      While all of us went to mass separately that day first, it then proceeded with the blessing of the St. Joseph cords by Fr. Denis, as well as the blessing of the house.  Then we had the dinner that we always do first, then the praise and worship in a semi-prayer meeting structure (at pretty high decibels!), the sharing of any news and updates of the progress, and the brainstorming of where to go or what to do next (hopefully led by the Holy Spirit!)  We made time to make our St. Joseph cord pledges and prayers, which are a modified version of the St. Joseph confraternity. We chose three strands representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, braided together and three knots representing Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, for their overseeing.  We also made our Catholic Worker time committments (from 3 mos., to a year, to a lifetime) to the Catholic Worker Rule and Living Out the Lamb Catholic Worker Mission. Pray for us as we commit ourselves to the St. Joseph cords for purity in mind, body, soul, and speech surrounded by a bombardment of the opposite in society.  It is quite a battle out there! We have committed to meeting about every two weeks until this gets off the ground, when possible with our commitments.  We crowned Mary with a flower band made by the Boydens, on this first day of the month honoring Mary.  Please intercede for us, Mary,  before your Son!
          We ask also that you please pray, fast, and offer up sacrifices for us (especially aches and pains), and for the women and children enslaved in the cycle of violence here. Dorothy Day, friend of the friendless, please pray for them and for us!  Dorothy Day once said and lived the following: "We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes from community." Also, stemming from the summary of the law, the prophets, the commandments, and all in our sacred scriptures is the Catholic Worker way of life: "Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength .. and love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12: 29-30). The Catholic Worker life is the life lived by the early Church of the Book of Acts and all of the epistles: "[We are] always carrying about in the body, the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body." (2 Cor. 4:10-11, June 14th reading).
         You do not have to go overseas to be a missionary! Here in Columbus we have the second highest Somali refugee population in all of the United States, and an even more huge and expanding Hispanic immigrant population, in addition to many other cultures of whom I have had to study in my recent two-year role of district-wide ESL Department coach. The need is very great indeed for supporting the battered and abused among these (and other) populations, but we "trust in the slow work of the Lord," as Teillhard de Chardin emphasized. Come Holy Spirit!  Fill us with the fire of your love!
       A final note is that we have a new Catholic Worker garden, Isidore's Garden, that Jotham planted behind the Lamb Catholic Worker Volunteer Corps House.  We will keep you posted!  We have been composting for the first time and it is ADDICTIVE!  Tony is the expert at this, as well as Jot with the gardening.  It is great practice for our huge city gardens coming. 
       Here are some final images on the walls of the Lamb Catholic Worker Volunteer Corps House (on Brookside Dr.)  to inspire you!