Annual Report to the Marianist Family Council
from the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative (MSJC)
November 2010 – October 2011
MSJC is a collaborative and prophetic voice for justice within our Marianist Family. This report represents our efforts to be attentive to the Spirit as we support justice efforts in the Marianist Family and challenge our fellow Marianists to greater efforts in building a more just social order. We invite your feedback and dialogue with us as we discern our next steps.
In response to the Marianist Family Council’s (MFC) encouragement last year to carefully evaluate the many projects of MSJC, stressing “quality rather than quantity”, we have cut back or eliminated several projects:
· The Marianist Partners for Young Adult Ministry, which MSJC convened and Jim Vogt facilitated, has morphed into a much more loosely organized “Marianist Young Adult Ministry Network”. They meet only three times a year by conference call and the leadership rotates among the participants.
· The Awakening the Dreamer symposium is now a joint project of MSJC and MEEC, with MEEC taking the lead and MSJC playing a limited supportive role.
· The Alternatives to Violence Team has been put on hold.
· The Consistent Life Committee, an ad hoc group that met for a couple years, completed its work last spring and is no longer meeting.
· Jim Vogt has reported that as a result of these changes, in the last 6 months his normal work week has averaged 31 hours, down from 37 hours /week last year and closer to the 27 hours/week for which he is paid.
We have adopted the recommendation of the MFC to give emphasis to one or two issues in a given year. This year we have devoted time and energy to our country’s immigration issue. Details of our work in this area are described below and in Appendix A.
Areas in which MSJC has Invested Significant Time and Energy during the Past Year
· Immigration: The Racial and Immigrant Justice Team took the lead and the challenge this year of informing and educating members of the Marianist Family about our country’s immigration issues, and moving them to action. Appendix A details the Team’s process to reach these goals. We will continue this focus into the coming year.
· MSJC/MEEC Memorandum of Understanding (Appendix B): This was developed to clarify and explain the relationship of MEEC and MSJC. This was part of the transition of Awakening the Dreamer – Marianists for Justice and Integrity of Creation (ATD-MJIC) to MEEC having overall responsibility with MSJC in a support role.
· Budget Adjustment: Again this year, much time and energy went into studying and reconstructing the MSJC budget to best allocate monies given by the three branches and raised by MSJC. Increases in health insurance resulted in both MSJC (as employer) and our Director (as staff) having increased payments. Because this resulted in a ‘take-home pay reduction’ for Jim Vogt, the Steering Committee unanimously voted to give Jim a $1,200 raise to compensate. We also made room in the budget for the higher health insurance costs by slightly decreasing funding for issue teams, projects, and initiatives. We emphasized each team working to find grants and/or other means of funding of their own and prioritized allocating MSJC funds to teams and projects based on their output and production. MSJC also moved to a “free conference call system,” which freed up over $2,000 in this year’s budget.
· Preparation/Process for Next Annual Meeting: To best facilitate a location and agenda for our annual meeting, MSJC members evaluated our last “annual” meeting in Hawaii. Members felt that time best be allocated to two priorities: (1) studying and revising our Action Plan and (2) devoting adequate time to prayer and deepening relationships with each other. Priority #2 will be addressed by activities during the annual meeting itself in January. Priority #1 will begin this fall via conference calls among several “sub-groups” of steering committee members. Also, an MLNNA, SM and FMI representative will be in touch with the leadership teams of each sponsoring group to discuss each group’s aspirations for and needs of MSJC. Our annual meeting will be held from January 14 – 16 at the Duchesne Volunteer House (http://duchesnehouse.rscj.org/Duchesne_House.html) in New Orleans, LA.
· Leadership Changes: Our leadership team is in transition with Ted Cassidy completing his term as an SM rep, and Ted Gorczyca replacing Brenda Fitzpatrick as our new Chair and an MLNNA rep. Brenda will remain on the Steering Committee as an at-large member.
Emerging Issues for Dialogue
As the three branches evolve in their individual mission and ministry/program foci, and new initiatives are planned and launched, MSJC desires to be of best service for the common good. As MSJC embarks on this time of review and re-setting of our foci and goals for the next five years, we welcome your insights and reflections on the relationship of MSJC with the Marianist Family Council and each branch, so we might discern the best use of resources in our collaboration to advance justice in our Marianist Family.
We are aware of three areas where dialogue and reflection together might be particularly helpful.
1) Website Resources for Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation
The three branches are each individually featured on the new www.marianist.com website providing opportunities to feature our collaborations and partnerships. As the justice dimensions are still under development on www.marianist.com, we welcome dialogue and exploration regarding how MSJC (www.msjc.net) best relate to the new website and be described or featured as a collaborative project.
Question - Would joint dialogue of MSJC with the FMI Social Justice Task Force, SM Province JPIC committee and the MLNNA members working on their website portions be helpful for integration of the concerns?
2) Future common assembly (MLNNA, FMI, SM) or other meetings involving MSJC
Social justice workshops and experiences have been featured at all the Continental Assemblies, and since our inception, MSJC has taken a leading role in these. We have found national or continental-level gatherings every few years to be very beneficial to our outreach and have saved financial resources by timing our own steering committee meetings to coincide. So that we can avoid duplication, plan our meeting rhythm and maximize synergies it is helpful to know:
· What is the status of plans for any joint assemblies or major events where MSJC as a whole or members could be of service to our entire Marianist Family or any branch?
· How might we best build towards this or other ‘common events’?
3) Geographic role of MSJC
In its origins, with the four former SM Provinces, MSJC had some explicit geographical representation.
Since 2002, MSJC has worked on a continental scale. While we have sought geographic diversity in our steering committee membership, our efforts have focused on particular justice issue teams or on educational/formational projects (e.g. GLBT and Adele Social Justice Project). With a renewed SM emphasis on geographical centers (FMI in two of them and most laity in these as well),
- How might MSJC realign our focus/approach to best include and be of service to these?
- What might be benefits & drawbacks of a geographical approach?
Progress in Achieving our Goals
Goal 1: Communicate the gospel message of social justice throughout the Marianist Family with an emphasis on education for action, personal stories of social justice, and the integrated use of media and other communication tools.
· Justice Jottings is our monthly vehicle for raising awareness about social justice and offering opportunities for action. Circulation has increased 8% in past year with now almost 1600 Marianist Family members and friends receiving it.
· We developed the “Call to Action for Just and Humane Immigration Reform” as a way of promoting the Marianist Family commitment to immigration reform. We sent out a special edition of Justice Jottings on this topic.
· We provided periodic email Action Alerts on the following topics: sweatshop abuses in Jordan, the famine in Somalia, the Lenten Energy Fast, the DREAM Act, and a bill to abolish the death penalty in Texas.
· We developed a public statement opposing Ohio Ballot Issue 2, which would severely restrict union activities for public employees. We did so at the request of AJ Wagner and the group “Catholics Against Issue 2.”
· The Global Economic Justice Team was the first of our teams to use Skype for their meeting that they normally do face to face. One group of team members met at UD and the other at Chaminade U. in Honolulu.
· Our online social justice course, now in its fifth year, was offered via NACMS once this year. Four students took the course. Jim Vogt or Brian Halderman facilitates the course.
Goal 2: Create opportunities for action and dialogue among communities and individuals within and among the branches of the Marianist Family that deepen our solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed as we work for a world of peace, justice and integrity of creation.
· The Racial & Immigrant Justice Team sponsored the Border Witness Program, an immersion experience on the US/Mexico border. Nine people participated.
· The Global Economic Justice Team supported eleven students in the Democratic Republic of Congo with partial tuition so they could finish their studies.
- We sponsored a gathering in Philadelphia in which young adults could explore their relationship with the church and involvement in social justice efforts.
- The Death Penalty Team participated in “Starvin’ for Justice”, the annual four day fast and vigil outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC that promotes abolition of the death penalty. Many murder victim family members and death row exonerees also participated.
Goal 3: Provide resources to and collaborate with Marianist institutions, ministries, networks, and organizations to advance our mission of justice.
· The Death Penalty Team concluded the third and final year of collaboration with Marianist LIFE to further integrate the death penalty theme into the LIFE program. We are continuing the connection with LIFE over the next three years, focusing on an environmental unit using some of Awakening the Dreamer. MEEC will take the lead on this.
· The Global Economic Justice Team is working with Chaminade Prep in St. Louis to connect students in the French program of that school with students in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
· We participate in the Marianist Young Adult Ministry Network phone meetings.
- The GLBT Initiative Team offered A Place at the Marianist Table 10 times, including presentations to two groups connected with UD and two groups connected with St. Mary’s U.
- As a result of the presentation made to Marianist high school administrators last fall, the GLBT Initiative Team is developing a toolbox of resources for high schools to use in combating bullying of gay students.
- Jim Vogt participated in a panel presentation to about 30 young adult lay Marianists in Dayton on the topic of “mission”.
- Our internal Issue Team Review Subcommittee developed a process to promote more connection between the work of our teams and the broader Marianist Family.
Goal 4: Establish a realistic funding stream for MSJC in collaboration with MLNNA, FMI and the SM.
· We raised almost $3700 this past year from grants, donations, fees and sales, and have saved money through participants absorbing fees and travel costs.
- We have developed an ongoing relationship with the UD Alumni Assn. which will enable us to submit grant requests to them for any programs we do that include a number of UD alums.
- Jim Vogt attended a one day workshop on online fundraising in order to increase our capability to generate additional funds through online giving from our members.
Although MSJC, begun in 1998, is still a relatively young organization, we celebrate the growth in our understanding of social justice issues and hope that our methods of education and communication will increase the engagement of our Marianist Family in advancing justice. We are creating and sustaining closer relationships with each branch of the Marianist Family and invite your wisdom in exploring how to continue to make that happen.
The MSJC Coordinating Committee on behalf of the MSJC Steering Committee
Ms Brenda Fitzpatrick, Chair and MLNNA rep Mr. Jim Vogt, Director
Sr. Leanne Jablonski, FMI rep Fr. Ted Cassidy, SM rep
Highlights of the MSJC Issue Teams and Project Teams
November 2010 - October 2011
Death Penalty Team - The team continues its focus on abolition of the death penalty in the five states with a larger Marianist presence – California, Texas, Missouri, Ohio and Maryland - and actively supports and collaborates with abolition groups in three of those states. The team also continues to work closely with national abolition groups. One member participated in the Fast and Vigil outside the US Supreme Court in the summer. The team co-sponsored several statewide or regional abolition gatherings this year. The team found funding to support a fall internship for a law student from St. Mary’s Law School to work with a death penalty abolition group. Concerns: 1) Budget cutbacks have made it more difficult to meet face to face. These meetings are important times for planning and team building, but also for offering educational programs to Marianists in the communities where the team meets. 2) The team would like to find ways in addition to Justice Jottings to communicate with the Marianist Family.
GLBT Initiative Team – The team offered their program, A Place at the Marianist Table (APMT), ten times this past year. They also put a lot of effort into developing a 31-page “toolbox” of resources for use in Marianist high schools to counter bullying of gay students. They wrote monthly articles for Justice Jottings and started a team Facebook page. Challenges: 1) how to be respectful of official Church teaching while challenging Marianist institutions to be the prophetic voice of the Spirit on the issue of welcoming GLBT persons; 2) how to follow up on APMT; 3) should we continue to focus on APMT or move to another aspect of justice for GLBT persons?
Racial and Immigrant Justice Team – The issue of immigration was selected as a priority issue for MSJC in 2011. The team’s goal has been to inform and educate people, and also to move them to action. The Pledge, the focal point of the Marianist Call to Action for Just and Humane Immigration Reform, has been signed by 82 people, far fewer than the team had hoped. The team continues to follow up with signers, especially related to legislative advocacy and prayer. A Spanish version is now available. The Border Witness Experience in the Rio Grande Valley was powerful for participants, who have written a number of reflection pieces for Justice Jottings and Family Online. Their plan of action includes continued follow up with signers and outreach to community contacts to get more signers; outreach to the Marianist Family in Mexico; and outreach to Marianist universities.
Adele Social Justice Project Team – We bring the vibrant person of Adele to life within the Marianist Family through promotion of Adele Days on her birth (June 10) and death days (Jan 10) and by consistently pointing towards the co-founder as a model and inspiration for faith as a young and active adult. We shared Adele at the Marianist Women’s Summit, and refined core team job descriptions and brought on two new members. We have been challenged by two key members resigning in December 2010 due to increased family and work responsibilities and the immersion weekend, planned for October in Cincinnati, being postponed due to low attendance. The upcoming annual team meeting in November will be crucial. The goals of the team for the year are: 1) recruit new members for the team; 2) collaborate more with the Marianist Sisters; 3) find better ways to encourage community and project growth after the weekend.
Global Economic Justice Team – The team reorganized into three areas: public advocacy, education & awareness, and research/resources. The focus of advocacy is the Social Protection Floor, a UN effort to assure a minimum base of resources for all humans. The partnership with lay Marianists in the Congo has grown. The team provided partial financial support for 11 students in the Congo and is developing a pilot project linking students at Chaminade Prep in St. Louis with students in the Congo. The team webpages are being totally redesigned. Challenges include fundraising, scheduling, and communication with the Congo. The team is hoping to expand their reach by engaging collaborators who would not be team members per se, but focused on some particular project of the team.
Awakening the Dreamer – Marianists for Justice and Integrity of Creation (ATD-MJIC) – We transitioned to MEEC having overall responsibility for ATD with MSJC in a support role. The planning team developed a revised format for ATD that more effectively integrated a Marianist and Christian perspective. They decided to focus outreach on those cities where trained facilitators live or visit. In Cincinnati there is a collaborative team that includes Marianists, Mercy Sisters and Charity Sisters reps. They presented ATD to the staffs of Purcell Marian HS and Mercy Neighborhood Ministries and will present it again in Nov. for St. Francis DeSales parish. Promotional material will go out to Marianist communities throughout the country soon. MEEC is also working with LIFE to develop an environmental unit that includes ATD elements. This will be the justice unit of the summer program over the next three years.
Memorandum of Understanding
The relationship of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative (MSJC)
and the Marianist Environmental Education Center (MEEC)
Environmental Ministry - MEEC is designated as the environmental arm of service to the Society of Mary US Province and the Marianist Family in general. MSJC allots some resources to support the work of MEEC, particularly to those programs that reach out to the Marianist Family throughout North America in service of environmental sustainability and integrity of creation.
1) Reporting relationship - Administratively, as a sponsored ministry of the Society of Mary - Marianist Province USA, MEEC reports directly to the designated member of the SM Provincial Council and is also accountable to a MEEC Advisory Board. MEEC is autonomous of MSJC in supervision and approval of general projects.
2) MEEC Representation - MEEC has a designated ex officio position on the MSJC steering committee.
3) MSJC Staff - can provide staff support to MEEC’s role with others working on environmental projects. MSJC will help with reach to the broader Marianist Family as well as some logistic support as needed.
4) MSJC Budget to MEEC & Accountability - MEEC receives from MSJC some budget support for projects and outreach to the Marianist Family – as per the issue/project team process and can request additional funds if deemed an important service in advancing the goals of MSJC. MEEC submits a Program Prospectus/Proposal each year and reports on progress on the project portions that MSJC funds.
5) MEEC & MSJC Working Relationship - MEEC & MSJC will work collaboratively to the best of their abilities; in information sharing and representing the other in ways that will assist the other in more effectively working for justice, peace and integrity of creation in the Marianist Family. MSJC will help promote MEEC’s role as an environmental voice for the Marianist family, including possibilities for workshops, projects, media and other ways of contributing their environmental expertise to the greater Marianist Family.
6) MEEC as Environmental Coordinators – MEEC cultivates volunteer members from the Marianist Family working together on environmental concerns. Teams working on projects under MEEC’s direction are coordinated by MEEC in a similar way that issue team members are coordinated by their Chairs.
CURRENT PROGRAMS - 2011
For FY11, $2500.00 was given in support of MEEC facilities use and staff time for FY11. The money initially planned for developing community study guides (July 2010) went towards expenses for Awakening the Dreamer - Marianists for Justice & Integrity of Creation and the Lenten Energy Fast, including the expenses of facilities, materials and staff time for two workshops (planning & pilot) and revision of facilitator guide. MSJC is covering expenses for implementing and developing a program that can be launched in the Marianist Family.