B.R.E.A.D Rises!

Blog by Associate Karen Martens, Columbus, OH.

In Columbus, Ohio, people have been blessed for 21 years with the existence of the B.R.E.A.D. Organization. (Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity). Forty diverse faith communities join together to work for justice in our community. We do this work using a four-step process each year: listening, research, action, and follow-through. We begin each autumn with house meetings where we identify what is personally affecting our lives and those of friends and family. After a meeting of hundreds of people each November, where we vote on what to begin to address that year, research on the issue begins until a solution is found. Each May, we hold a Nehemiah Action Meeting with thousands of people in attendance where public officials make specific commitments to work with B.R.E.A.D. Follow-through continues over the next few years until a solution is achieved. It is not unusual for it to take 3-4 years to achieve a result.

Over these past 20 years, B.R.E.A.D. has accomplished many things using this four-step process. Among our accomplishments are:

  • A County Land Bank with 3.5 million dollars annually which has resulted in demolition of over 2,000 vacant properties;
  • Securing 1.2 million dollars to expand primary care at Columbus Neighborhood Health Centers;
  • An investment of over $200,000 by the ADAMH Board for an accredited Clubhouse International Program to serve the mentally ill;
  • Establishment of six restorative justice circles to prevent children from entering the Juvenile Justice System;
  • Getting new Assertive Community Treatment Teams that help individuals with severe mental illness; and
  • The Affordable Housing Trust Fund which has financed the development of over 8,000 units of affordable houses.

On May 1, 2,500 people gathered to hear commitments from public officials for the current B.R.E.A.D. campaigns:

  • Reducing suspensions in the Columbus City Schools by getting restorative practices into the schools
  • Strengthening the Restorative Justice Circles for juvenile non-violent offenders
  • Securing a municipal identification card for everyone
  • Increasing jobs in neglected neighborhoods
  • Increasing job opportunities for returning citizens
  • Reducing violent crime in our city through the institution of a program aimed at youth groups.

The work of B.R.E.A.D. aligns perfectly with Catholic Social Teaching. In Micah 6:6-8 and in Matthew 23:23-24 we are called to do justice, mercy and worship God. However, people seem to more easily worship God and do acts of mercy than to work for justice. I often wonder why this is so. Perhaps it is because the Consumer Culture is stronger than the Justice Culture. The consumer culture sees “self” isolated from others and individuals seek to accumulate things. The justice culture sees “self” in relation to others (common good) and a fair distribution of God’s bounty is essential. Perhaps it is because we get more self-satisfaction from doing works of mercy (for example, feeding the hungry) than doing the difficult long-term work of changing systems in order to secure justice.

I continue to have a vision of what we could accomplish if all our Catholic parishes joined B.R.E.A.D. and used their power to work for justice in our city. Then, Columbus would be more like the City of God than a Tale of Two Cities.

B.R.E.A.D. Rises!


Posted in Just Reflecting

Hello, this is Sr. Terry……

Blog by Sr. Terry Wasinger, OP, St. Catharine, KY.

Being Mindful

Recently I became aware of how I answer the telephone and realized it is the same all the time. I started this many years ago, shortly after I had heard a talk on Mindfulness by a Buddhist nun from the Blue Cliff Monastery in the Catskill Mountains, founded by Thich Nhat Hanh.

She told us, “When the phone rings in our Monastery Office, at the first ring, we become mindful of the person calling even before we know who it is; at the second ring, we center ourselves in mindfulness, and at the third ring, we pray for mindful conversation between us.  And then, we answer the phone.”

I always answer the phone at the third ring, after becoming mindful of the caller, myself, and the conversation. And I always start:  “Hello, this is Sr. Terry.”

Calls within Scripture

At Mass recently, in the first reading, we heard of two persons’ response to a call. Saul was knocked to the ground by a great light from heaven and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” He asked, “Who are you, sir?” He listened and followed the instructions Jesus gave him.

Then there was Ananias, who answered the call, “Here I am, Lord.”  When he was given directions, he responded with a dismayed word, “This man has done evil things to your holy ones in Jerusalem.” God told him: “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine…” Ananias obeyed the call.  (Acts of the Apostles 9:1-20).

There are several interesting responses to God’s calls in the Old Testament, too. The young Samuel, when he heard his name called, went to his master three times before Eli realized it was the Lord calling. (1 Samuel 3:1-9)  And read the book of Jonah.  It has only four short chapters, but the conversations between Jonah and God about call and mission are riveting!

Responding to God’s Call

When I was a small child, my older sisters would read to me the mission magazines my father kept in the waiting room of his dental office.  I would always say, “When I grow up, I will be a nurse and go to Africa.” My father died while I was in junior high, and I began to think I would have to become a Sister in order to fulfill my desire to be a nurse and go to Africa.  I wrote to the missionary orders for information.  Then I met my first Dominican Sister, Sr. Marietta Urban.  I told her, “Your habit is beautiful, but of course I am going to be a nurse and go to Africa.”  She responded, “Isn’t that interesting?  In Great Bend, our Motherhouse, just an hour’s drive from here, we have a high school for girls thinking about a vocation, and we have the Dominican School of Nursing.  Also, in two years we are opening our first mission in Nigeria, West Africa.”

It seems that when I said:  “Hello”, God replied, “Here is the plan.”  And my childhood dream came true.

How do you experience God saying “Here is the plan I have for you”?  If you want to explore whether you are being called to consecrated life, I encourage you to contact one of our Vocation Ministers.

Posted in God Calling?