December 9, 2020
Feast of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin
Moments of Conversion and Collaboration

On Thanksgiving Day in the United States, the New York Times featured an op-ed from Pope Francis that was personal and global. He invited the reader to consider the moments of change and conversion during the pandemic, writing:

"The coronavirus crisis may seem special because it affects most of humankind. But it is special only in how visible it is. There are a thousand other crises that are just as dire, but are just far enough from some of us that we can act as if they don’t exist."

Yet for those working in the ministry of justice and peace, the visibility of suffering is constant. Proximity to pain has likely intensified over the last eight months for those laboring with asylum seekers at the border and those advocating for a robust COVID relief bill that leaves no one behind.

You are acutely aware of the Holy Father’s challenge that, “We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decisions that affect their lives.”

Perhaps a second reading of his editorial is an invitation to be affirmed in your work for justice, to continued conversion of your heart toward the heart of Christ, and to an attitude of collaboration that welcomes new laborers whose eyes are slowly being opened.
Leadership and Action

The elevation of Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, to the College of Cardinals is being lauded by environmental leaders as a step forward for the U.S. and for the global Church.

In a recent article from Inside Climate News, Tomás Insua, executive director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement in Rome, commented, "He has been a well-respected leader for a long time. To have a Laudato Si' champion named a cardinal is always welcome news."

Several of his colleagues in Atlanta and Washington, DC, also noted that Cardinal Gregory has demonstrated a consistent commitment to education, advocacy, and institutional change around care for creation.
Vatican Laudato Si' Initiative Starts in 2021

Bringing this issue front and center, the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development is planning a May roll out of a seven-year plan to help Catholic communities around the world become more sustainable in the spirit of the integral human development of Laudato Si’

The seven-year effort includes mobilizing seven sectors within the global Catholic community: families, dioceses, schools, universities, healthcare centers, business and agriculture, and religious orders, to journey toward seven goals: responding to the cry of Earth, responding to the cry of the poor, building ecological economies, adopting simple lifestyles, creating ecological education, recovering ecological spirituality, and promoting community action and advocacy.

Join a webinar on this upcoming initiative. CMSM members and JPIC coordinators are invited to join the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for a webinar on Monday, Dec. 14, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EST, to learn more about this initiative.

Sr. Sheila Kinsey, OSF, executive co-secretary for the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission of UISG/USG will outline the next steps for action. There is no need to pre-register, but plan to sign in early to be sure you get a “seat” for this national gathering:

Email Bethany Welch before 10 a.m. EST on Dec. 14 for the Zoom link.
Christian Brothers – Finding possibility in a pandemic

Much of what we do has been re-worked and adapted for a virtual context over the last eight months. Higher education perhaps has adapted more quickly than other institutions thanks to the existing technology infrastructure.

An emerging collaborative, the Lasallian Colleges and Universities in Association for Justice (LCUAJ), pre-dates the coronavirus shut down by a year. It was formed in January 2019 as a grassroots effort by about 25 Lasallians who were planning to attend the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s annual Teach-In for Justice.

When the pandemic restrictions canceled the in-person gathering, a leadership team of students, faculty, staff and administrators mobilized to plan a virtual experience for the 2020-21 academic year. The group expanded to 40 participants and the fruitful effort has received financial, logistical and accompaniment support from Christian Brothers Conference and the District of Eastern North America’s Office for Mission and Ministry

Read the full press release here
Advocate for COVID-19 Relief that Includes Immigrants and Refugees

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages throughout the United States and we witness a record-breaking number of cases, immigrants and refugees continue to do jobs that are critical to keeping the country running.

Many of these men and women have fled difficult situations and significant hardships in their home countries and now playing a pivotal role in the effort to manage and overcome this national health crisis in the U.S., often at great risk to their own safety and that of their families. Many also are facing the difficult economic realities and personal challenges associated with life during a pandemic.

While the federal government has passed some assistance measures, immigrants and refugees have unfortunately been left out of all previous COVID-19 relief bills. Before the 116th Congress adjourns, the House and Senate can still come together to pass a supplemental COVID-19 relief package, either as part of an appropriations bill for the new fiscal year or separately.

Therefore, we once again invite members of Justice for Immigrants and all Catholics to join in the advocacy effort to support refugees and other deserving immigrants and their families as Congress considers this further crucial economic relief.

You can use this action alert to urge your senators to include refugees and immigrants in any additional COVID-19 relief package.
JPIC Winter Meeting

Register now for the next CMSM JPIC Coordinators meeting on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2 p.m. EST. These quarterly gatherings are open to those who represent or coordinate the justice and peace work for their respective men's religious institutes, monasteries, or abbeys. Sign up here.

Virtual Posadas

The Ignatian Solidarity Network is offering a daily virtual experience of music, art, prayer, reflection, and action from Dec. 16-24 as we journey with the Holy Family and migrants around the world in search of shelter and protection. Click here to receive these via email. Spanish language option available.

Online Christmas Retreat on Gospel Nonviolence

The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative invites you to attend a virtual, three-hour Christmas retreat on Gospel Nonviolence sponsored by Pax Christi International on Dec. 18 (English, Spanish, and French options).

Join in prayer and reflection while seeing an exclusive screening of “The Third Harmony,” a new film on the power of nonviolence, and brief presentations by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Dr. Bernice A. King, and Rev. Emmanuel Katongole, as well as Mons. Bruno Marie Duffé, Dr. Alessio Pecorario and Rev. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Two options are available: Friday, Dec. 18, 10 a.m. EST (7 a.m. PST) in English, Spanish, and French, and 7 p.m. EST (4 p.m. PST) in English. Space is limited. Register soon here

Executive Director Position Opening

This summer, Fr. Fred Kammer, SJ, will begin a well-deserved sabbatical after serving for the last 11 years as the executive director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI) at Loyola University. As provincial of the then-New Orleans Province, Fred helped to found JSRI, leading the Institute’s research, social analysis, and theological reflection activities. The search for a new executive director has begun. See the job announcement, with a link to the job description here.
Register Now for the 2021 CSMG!

“Make justice your aim” (cf. Is. 1:17): Rebuilding Together
February 6-9, 2021 | Virtual Gathering

Financial assistance available: This year only, scholarships are available to cover a portion of the registration fee. Apply now! The application deadline is January 19, 2021.

This transformative annual gathering for leaders in Catholic social ministry and advocacy includes workshops with and for men religious.

Highlights include Cardinal Louis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who will lead the opening session. Among the other speakers: Father Art Purcaro, O.S.A., of Villanova University, who will speak at a community workshop on advancing the vision of Laudato Si’, and Father Ty Hullinger, a pastor who has mobilized for workers’ rights in Baltimore.

For more than 30 years, the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) has brought together hundreds of participants whose faith inspires them to address pressing current domestic and global challenges affecting our most vulnerable brothers and sisters at home and around the world. This year, we will pray, learn, and advocate together on the disparities revealed by COVID-19 and re-imagine new models of justice and solidarity. The sessions include:

  • Inspiring leading voices in Church and society
  • Workshops with policy experts and grassroots community leaders
  • Intentional opportunities for best practice-sharing among participants
  • Resources from dozens of Catholic social ministry organizations
  • Virtual advocacy visits with elected officials
  • And much more!

homily header new

Third Sunday of Advent (Dec. 13, 2020) | prepared by Thad Crouch

We are posting homily resources as we receive them at

Bethany Welch, Ph.D., CMSM Fellow for Justice and Peace
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