Sunday, July 31, 2016

MCW Updates and News

Hello friends of Madison Catholic Worker,

I know that it has been quite some time since we’ve updated you on MCW progress.  What I would like to do with this letter is share with you some of these updates, offer opportunities for involvement, and thank you for your continued prayers and support.

In the past couple of months, Sam and Daniel, two young men whom we met through St. Paul’s Catholic Center at UW, have continued to dialogue with members of MCW around the possibility of forming an intentional community that would receive support from MCW.  After several meetings and ongoing conversation, we have reached an agreement with them that beginning in mid-August, MCW will become part of their support community for the coming year – a one year commitment.

Sam and Daniel are two fine, committed young men who embrace the spirit of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.  Although both of them have jobs, and go to school part-time, they would like to dedicate a portion of their week to outreach work in downtown Madison.  They are seeking the support of a faith community that is willing to accompany them, support them, and provide a small amount of financial assistance.  We are in the midst of drafting a covenant agreement in which we will detail our mutual hopes and expectations.

Essentially, here is the plan.  Next month, around August 17th, Daniel and Sam will be moving into a three bedroom apartment on the first floor of a two unit house on East Johnson Street.  Sam and Daniel hope to host regular MCW community gatherings at their place, including weekly prayer, open to the MCW community, which will take place on Wednesday evenings from 7-8PM.  They will also look for ways to provide hospitality in the neighborhood, as well as supporting local outreach initiatives, such as Friends of State Street.  In addition to spiritual and community support, members of MCW have pledged to provide a small monthly stipend of $300 to help them with rent or other expenses related to their outreach.

In order to provide support to Sam and Daniel, four members of MCW have agreed to form a provisional board.  The board is still a work in progress, and if you would like to serve on it please let us know.  In addition, we have spoken with a local attorney who has provided guidance on how to best receive and disperse the anticipated funds that will help Sam and Daniel with their outreach expenses.  A financial appeal will soon be sent out detailing MCW’s status as a non-profit, how to donate, and how any financial donations will be collected and dispersed.

I’m sure that many of you will have questions.  Some of them we can answer.  Others we cannot at this early phase.  I’ll attempt to address a few of these questions below:

Q: Will this community function like a typical Catholic Worker House?  Will it be open for overnight or day guests or both? 

A: We hope to move slowly and carefully in order to build trust with our neighbors.  Because this is a rental property and not our own house we are bound by certain stipulations and regulations.  The lease allows for overnight guests to stay no more than 3 consecutive nights.  Sam and Daniel have agreed to this in their written contract.

Q: How much financial support will MCW provide?  

A: A few of us on the board have given our personal guarantee to raise $300/month to be used for rent and outreach projects.  Originally, the idea was that MCW would contribute enough money to support an extra bedroom in the house or apartment that Sam and Daniel would be renting.  We will be making a financial appeal very soon.

Q: How will decisions be made? 

A: We are currently putting together a covenant agreement in which we detail these points.  Daniel and Sam have expressed their desire for our support and guidance.  We have also set up a provisional board.  If you would like to serve on the board, please let us know.  We each have various talents and strengths that would be an asset to our community.  If you are interested in participating, we just ask that you also consider joining us during other events throughout the month, some of which are listed below.

Q: How can I help? 

A: First, please let others know what we are doing.  Since hosting the Good Friday Stations Walk this past March, we are excited for this next chapter of entering into deeper relationship and outreach as a Catholic Worker community.  Second, consider helping Daniel and Sam move into their new house.  In order to save on additional moving costs, if anyone has access to a truck and/or trailer that would be available on August 12th and August 20th that would be greatly appreciated. They will also likely need a few additional household items and furniture; we will have a better idea of their needs after they have gotten settled.  Next, plan on visiting them for community events such as: Friends of State Street on Tuesday nights, weekly prayer, shared meals, and other outreach ministries.  We will be posting the times and dates of these events more consistently on our website and Facebook page.  Toward the end of August or in early September we will be hosting an open house that you are all invited to attend. 

And finally, pray that we all may hear the cries of the poor and respond with intelligent compassion.  

On behalf of the MCW community and Board,

Michael Krueger, Board Chair

Friday, July 8, 2016

Responding to Tragedy

In the wake of the two most recent shootings of black men by police officers, made all the more visible by the immediate release of videos on social media, I am shocked and saddened by the loss of life.  I am frustrated that this has become a repeated event; I am unsettled that I am not more outraged or affected by these deaths; and I am distinctly aware that my life, even with its many difficulties and struggles, will never have the same level of uncertainty or fear that those of a different skin color experience.  We talk of a society that is colorblind, but in reality we are blinded by color.  My color blinds and binds me to my own experience and community, and I sit idle, uncertain of how to respond, despite the repeated bang of the drum, the call for justice, and another loss of life. 

As I wrote this last sentence media reports came in of eleven police officers being shot, five of whom were killed in Dallas, TX.  These officers were stationed at a protest, protecting those who marched and called for justice.  Five lives lost, now added to the two lives lost before.

On Good Friday of this past year the Madison Catholic Worker organized a Social Justice Stations of the Cross around the state capital building.  The 4th Station – Jesus Falls took place in front of the Madison Police Department.  In remembrance of Alton Sterling (7/5/16) and Philando Castile (7/6/16), and in remembrance of the five officers killed in the line of duty and six who were wounded (7/7/16), I would again like to share the readings and the litany of names that followed:

Station 4 - In front of the Madison Police Department

Station 4: Jesus Falls

Leader:             In our city and across the country there has been a national conversation concerning policing and its impact on the community.  A level of mistrust and pain has arisen, as those weighed down by violence, poverty, racism, and a lack of opportunity stumble and fall under the weight of the cross.  We are called here to recognize the underlying causes of suffering within our own backyard.  We are called to respond through relationship and forgiveness.  We are called to remember the names of all those who have fallen victim to violence.

Leader:             Tony Robinson – March 6, 2015

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Police Officer David Stefan Hofer – March 1, 2016

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Daily, members of the police force, the sheriff’s department, and all other branches of public safety confront the brokenness of our community – responding to calls of domestic abuse, mental health crises, exploitation, drug addiction, and verbal assault.  They are witnesses to the very worst of the human condition, but are also provided with the opportunity to offer a hand to those who have fallen down.

Leader:             Police Officer Allen Lee Jacobs – March 18, 2016

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Trayvon Martin – February 26, 2012

All:                     Presente

Leader:             We heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as we seek to make whole all that has been broken, as we look toward healing instead of fracture: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.

Leader:             Eric Garner – July 17, 2014

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Officer Ashley Marie Guindon – February 27, 2016

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Violence is a cyclical event that does not cease unless we are willing to take a stand and speak out on behalf of those who are most affected.  We must commit ourselves to the Gospel’s radical call for peace, and not stand idly by when confronted by injustice.
Leader:             Deputy Sheriff Carl A. Koontz – March 20, 2016

All:                     Presente

Leader:             Michael Brown – August 9, 2014

All:                     Presente

Leader:             We recall the recent shooting deaths by police of individuals within our communities, specifically individuals of color. 

                             Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge, LA) – July 5, 2016

                             Philando Castile (Falcon Heights, MN) – July 6, 2016

Leader:             We recall the recent shooting deaths of police who were killed in the line of duty.

                             The five officers killed and six wounded (Dallas, TX) – July 7, 2016
All:                     Be still and know that I am God.