Thursday, May 31, 2012

JustFaith and the Offering of Letters at Holy Rosary Catholic Community

(Editor's Note: This is the third in a series about Offerings of Letters in New Mexico.  Earlier, we shared a skit from All Saints Lutheran Church in Albuquerque and the bulletin announcement at Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces.  Now Ellen Buelow, who is part of our local leadership team, shares how various ministries from Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community, led by two JustFaith facilitators, participated in this year's Offering of Letters on March 24-25). 

By Ellen Buelow

Alfonso and Janie Manzaneres, JustFaith facilitators at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community in Albuquerque,, know how to engage parishioners in advocacy. Alfonso and Janie, leaders for Just Faith two years in a row, were inspired after reading Arthur Simon’s book, How Much is Enough?

When the social justice team reached out to include parish ministries in facilitating the Offering of Letters, the Just Faith participants said “Yes!” to a crossing of borders experience, going beyond reading to practicing legislative advocacy.

Alfonso and Janie’s team caught parishioners on their way from Mass to the parking lot. They encouraged fellow parishioners to write a personal message about how the budget cuts affected their daily lives.

This year’s Offering of Letters at Holy Rosary went beyond an action item by the Social Justice Committee to supportive ministry with Just Faith and the Norbertine pastors.

Father Gene Gries joins others in writing letters to Congress
On the Lenten Sunday preceding Passion Sunday, Father Joel Garner, O. Praem and Father Gene Gries, O. Praem spoke of the value of personal letters to Congress and noted that advocacy for the poor and vulnerable was central to the Gospel message.

Then both priests wrote messages side by side with parishioners at the tables. Parishioners, seeing their pastors and the new faces of Just Faith, were motivated to write a message to Congress.

Following the Offering of Letters, the Just Faith team joined with some members of ACTS Missions, a small church community, and the social justice committee for a Bread for the World Communal Dinner and Liturgy. Sharing the food of the poor (beans, rice, tortillas and chili) each table reflected on the impact of the budget cuts. This combined fellowship completed the Sunday Offering of Letters and presented a strong united front for Holy Rosary’s parishioners. Alfonso and Janie’s Just Faith team practiced that central Justice message at the core of many weeks of reading.

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