I was born in South Minneapolis, near Lake Harriet in a stable family and neighborhood. I am the third of five children. My parents were active and walked on the two feet of justice: direct service and action for social change.
Although not everyone needs to walk on both feet of justice, both feet need to be walked on. The first steps in my justice journey were tame. They happened in the '60's '70's and into the '80's. I recall marching in downtown Minneapolis chanting 1-2-3-4 US out of El Salvador. I attended memorial services for slain civil rights workers. I was part of the Honeywell Project, protesting at their corporate headquarters on Wednesday mornings.
During the big actions, when the police announced that those remaining on the property in 5 minutes would be arrested for trespassing, I left quickly. Several of my friends were arrested and jailed. That's not my call, I said. Was that excuse for cowardice?
Paul's teaching on the Body of Christ seemed to be the answer. There are many parts, and diverse functions all of which are necessary. The eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you, nor can the head say to the feet, I do not need you. Likewise the person jailed for civil disobedience cannot say to those standing by, I have no need of you. Nor can the person who serves at Loaves and Fishes say to the protester: I do not need you.
Prior to 1971 people in the CSJ Community and generally in the Catholic Church, who were out there working for social justice, were seen as being on the margins doing their own thing. That changed with the US Bishops Pastoral Letter: Justice in the Church which included this astounding, liberating and most welcome statement: "Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel”.
How was I to participate in the transformation of the world? I didn't know where to start. With so many needs, what should I do? Then I learned, where the world's needs and my passion intersect - there is my call.
-to be continued-
By Florence Steichen CSJ