July 8, 2020
“The contemplative journey is the most responsible of all responses to God because so much depends on it - the future of humanity, the healing of the wounds of humanity, our own deepest healing. It’s not just a method of meditation or a practice to find personal peace. It’s basically a total acceptance of the human condition in all its ramifications, including its desperate woundedness… [Humans can have] the light, life, and love of God... pouring through them, channeling a source of healing, compassion, and reconciliation wherever they go and whatever they do.”
~ Thomas Keating, Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ
There is a lot going on in our parishes as we continue to engage with the needs of our community in response to social unrest, the need for racial justice, and the ongoing societal needs that have become further entrenched as a result of the pandemic. Since our parish staff is always collaborating on many things, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some key initiatives that are happening in the realm of Social Justice and Outreach.
The response of our parish community to engage in the work of self-education, prayer, and challenging dialogue through our JustMatters: Faith & Racial Equity small groups has been immense. There are currently three groups that have already begun their journey together, three more are scheduled to start by the end of July, and there continues to be a waitlist of at least 30 more parishioners who want to join the conversation. Friends, this means that there are 100 people in our community who are digging in to the hard work of unlearning patterns of racism and are readying themselves to work towards building a more just and inclusive society.
We know, of course, that no matter how important the work of self-education, prayer, and dialogue may be to overcoming the sin of racism in our hearts and our world, that there must be action as well. As such, I’d like to invite you to join the Black Catholic Commission’s Walk for Racial Justice being held this Saturday, July 11th. People will be gathering at St. Francis of Assisi Parish (1927 Vel R. Phillips Ave, Milwaukee) at 9:00 a.m. before beginning the walk to the former site of Blessed Martin de Porres Parish (7th St. and Galena) and concluding at St. Benedict the Moor Parish (930 W State St., Milwaukee), for a distance of 1.3 miles. The purpose of this walk is to:
Many people from our parish staff and parishioner community will be in attendance, so please consider attending!
- Publicly support and stand in solidarity with African Americans and members of the Black community, who suffer racial injustice.
- Denounce the sin of racism and racial injustice.
- Commemorate the commitment of the Catholic Church in Milwaukee to support African Americans and the Black communities through historic ministerial efforts of the following parishes: St. Benedict the Moor, Blessed Martin de Porres, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Boniface, and more recently St. Martin de Porres and All Saints.
We know that our parishioners are incredibly dedicated to supporting the ongoing ministry of the Riverwest Food Pantry. Although the pandemic has required the cancellation of all food drives for RWFP (including the physical donation of the “Item of the Week” at our parish Masses), we would like to support the Community of Generosity with a Virtual Food Drive! It's easy! Instead of purchasing your Item of the Week and bringing it with you to Mass, all you have to do is visit https://yougivegoods.com/rwfp-familyoffourparishes-fooddrive, click on your parish, and then SHOP! It really is that easy… and will have a lasting impact on supporting the needs of our neighbors! We have set our first goal at 500 pounds of food, per parish, for the first month of this food drive. Let’s see what we can do, friends! If you have any questions, please just let me know and I’ll be glad to help. Thank you for your generous giving!!
Many other ministries are beginning to stretch their wings again as we move beyond the initial confines of the pandemic. Our St. Vincent de Paul - Six Saints Conference has been serving the needs of our neighbors in a limited capacity throughout the pandemic. They have noticed an increase in requests for assistance in recent weeks, so please keep their good work in your prayers as well as offering a financial contribution, if you are able. We are delighted that our weekly Hospitality Center at St. Hedwig’s will be re-opening in a modified format starting this Friday, July 10th! We will be offering pre-packed “lunch bags” as well as pre-packed bags of groceries to our neighbors. It will be so good to see one another again… even if in an outdoor, masked, and socially-distant manner! Also, if you haven’t yet heard, our partners at Habitat for Humanity are beginning group volunteer work again this month. Our Family of Four Parishes is grateful to be able to serve on Saturday, July 25th. Group size is limited to just 5 volunteers, but we plan to serve the 4th Saturday of each month through November, so please mark your calendars if you’d like to get involved! Lastly, I would be remiss to not mention the very important - and ongoing - work of our friends at Capuchin Community Services. Although their annual fundraiser, “Capuchin Walk for the Hungry,” will be occurring in a virtual format this year, it is very important that we continue to support the work of St. Ben’s Meal Program and the House of Peace. Please gather a team and sign up for the event being held the weekend of July 17-18. You can find more information at https://www.capuchinwalk.org/.
As you can see, dear parishioners, there are many, many ways to engage with the needs of our community during this time. If you’d like more information - or if you’d like to get involved! - in any of these programs or initiatives, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me! I am so very grateful to have the opportunity to serve you and our Milwaukee community.
With true gratitude in my heart as I think of you,
Laura G. Hancock
Director of Social Justice and Outreach
(I have not yet returned to regular office hours, so feel free to leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I receive it!)