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Fr. Séamus Finn, OMI: The Search for Meaning Continues April 5th, 2017
St Patrick’ Day 2017 found me in Paris to participate in a meeting of the UNIAPAC Think Tank (association of Christian business leaders) and to offer some comments on the history of Faith Consistent Investing, comment on the intersection of Catholic Social Teaching principles and guidelines and goals like the UN Principles for Responsible Investments and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I also mused a bit on the opportunities and challenges that were on the horizon for faith based investors. The session was hosted at part of the complex of the Bank of France and close by the Louvre and the Palais Royal.
On Friday evening, after the meeting, as I walked towards a restaurant on Rue Notre-Dame de Victories I was approached by a young woman who was searching for the basilica of Notre-Dame des Victories. Seasoned traveler that I am I presumed it must be nearby and immediately pulled out my smartphone to get the precise coordinates. She looked on quizzically and was more at ease when I showed her how the basilica was identified by a blue dot on the screen. We walked together for a few minutes, made a few quick turns on the narrow streets and immediately came upon Notre Dame des Victories.
We parted and she stepped quickly toward the front entrance and disappeared. I paused for a moment and as I was already late for my engagement, I wondered about stopping in to see what attracted my companion. It was nearly nine o’clock in the evening and I wondered what kind of event might be taking place at that hour, a Friday night, and St Patrick’s Day at that. I assumed my friends would understand so I turned and entered.
To my surprise the basilica was full to overflowing with a very diverse congregation of mostly younger people. The atmosphere was solemn and the silence broken by the voice of someone leading the group in a solemn meditation that was interrupted by an antiphonal biblical chant. The darkness was broken by light from numerous candles and flares that were scattered throughout.
I left after a brief visit and joined my colleagues for dinner where we debriefed on the topics of the daylong meeting and discussed some more thought provoking aspects of the different presentations on development, gene therapy, sustainable banking and responsible investing, and talked about what if any follow-up actions might be appropriately aligned with the mission of the Church in the world. With seven different nationalities represented at the table there were numerous points of view and analyses presented and discussed.
Throughout the meal I looked a few times at the little poster that described the purpose of the gathering that I had picked up earlier. It said that the event was organized by the “Sowers of Hope” and the question for reflection and prayer that evening was “Is it possible to love?” A very interesting and profoundly philosophical question that was being considered in the presence of the Lord.
More than two hours later as I retraced my steps back in the direction of my hotel, I noticed some small groups of people gathered in front of the basilica and I decided to go back inside. Much to my surprise the church was still quite full and the readings and chantings continued. I sat for a while and then noticed that the young woman who had asked for directions earlier was still sitting at the end of one of the pews. Her fellow pilgrims were either seated, standing, or kneeling on the floor as they participated in the worship.
This time I stayed longer and moved toward the center of the church to get a closer look. A small choir was accompanied by a solo piano player while others pressed closer to the sanctuary where they joined in communal prayer or left their candles of remembrance or petition.
I left just before midnight while many pilgrims were still inside and walked slowly to my hotel. Was I really in Paris, in the capital of the eldest daughter of the Church? Was Patrick the missionary, on this third Friday of Lent, ploughing open some old furrows that would nourish the faith of the recent immigrants from numerous former colonies and distant places, and at the same time rekindling the faith of these welcoming youth of Paris who were gathered together in this sacred space?
The image of that great basilica filled with so many young people late into the night in Paris gathered in prayer, and to wonder about the possibility of love and where to find the seeds of hope in their lives and in today’s world remains with me. It makes me wonder about the many who are looking for reasons to hope, paths to loving relationships and increasing harmony with the earth, with strangers and migrants they have yet to meet. In a period of disruption and anxiety that is reflected in so many ways and in so many spaces may the seeker in all of us be united with those in our midst who are searching for a reason to hope and be fulfilled by the Easter experience of new life and meaning.
Excerpts from St. Eugene de Mazenod’s Lenten Sermon of March, 1813
Support Human Trafficking Victims by Completing a Brief Survey March 31st, 2017
An Effort to Prevent Human Trafficking
By the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT)
Human trafficking is a global phenomenon that enslaves women, men, and children into situations of forced labor, debt bondage, and sexual servitude. Human trafficking is wide spread in many products’ supply chains, including products sold in the United States. For example, the United States imports 80-90% of its seafood, and tens of thousands of people are exploited at every link in the seafood harvesting and production chain. This exploitation occurs through abusive recruitment practices, as well as slavery at sea and in seafood processing plants.
So what can we, as Catholics, do to prevent human trafficking and exploitation in supply chains? We can educate ourselves and use our power as ethical consumers to help stamp out trafficking.
Here is your opportunity to make a difference!
“Together with the social responsibility of businesses, there is also the social responsibility of consumers. Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act.”
Currently, we are not always given the information we need to make moral purchasing decisions. CCOAHT wants to ask seafood companies that are engaged in cleaning up their supply chains to label their packaged products. Through labeling, we as consumers can make educated purchasing choices that help eradicate human trafficking.
We encourage you to share this with your networks and ask them to fill out the survey as well!
CCOAHT will use the data from this survey when it reaches out to seafood companies to request that they include a label on their packaged products.
CCOAHT is a nationwide coalition that represents religious orders and organizations, and is a key leader in the Catholic struggle against human trafficking in the United States.
As a long-standing member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), OMI JPIC supports the organization’s recent statement denouncing President Trump’s Executive Order on climate change. The Order reverses some U.S. commitments made under the Obama administration.
In his groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis makes a passionate case for addressing climate change. He observes: “Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources, which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited.”
(25)….“Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home”
2017 Lenten Reflection March 30th, 2017
They divide my clothes among themselves and for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalm 22:18)
During the French Revolution, Eugene (just over 8 years old) and the De Mazenod family were forced into exile. The family became refugees, depending on the goodness of others. Click on the image to read more.
Oblates Give Miners A Voice March 23rd, 2017
(Originally published on OMIUSA.org)
By Mike Viola
The Missionary Oblates are expanding their role as advocates for the rights of miners around the world.
Father Seamus Finn, O.M.I. of the U.S. Oblates’ Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, participated in a day of reflection on the mining industry sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Mining CEOs, representatives of the Pontifical Council and religious congregations from around the world examined ways mining companies can improve their record on human and environmental responsibilities while also achieving their business objectives.
Father Finn said the day of reflection showed mining executives that their success should not be judged only in monetary terms, but also by the impact their companies are having on the lives of people.
“I now understand better the meaning of a people-directed engagement approach,” said David Noko, Vice President of Sustainability for AngloGold Ashanti, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies. “I am more empowered to include in my business strategy a new way of engagement founded on solid principles of social good and environmental sustainability.”
Father Finn also attended a dialogue in Lima, Peru on the impact of mining in local communities in Latin America. He is helping to develop strategies and networks to address the destructive impacts of mining. “Extractives, mining oil and gas exploration play an important role across the world while also imposing great disruption and damage in local communities and on the environment,” said Fr. Finn. “The search for a way forward that addresses the most serious of these negative impacts has been taken up by a number of different initiatives.”
Father Gilbeto Pauwels, O.M.I. Director of the Center of Ecology and Andean People in Oruro, Bolivia knows firsthand the devastating effects mining can have on communities. The Oblates in Bolivia have been fighting against this injustice for more than 50 years.
In 1960 the Oblates started Radio Pio XII to broadcast support for Bolivian tin miners. The station still broadcasts today despite strong opposition to its message.
Father Roberto Durette, O.M.I. has been the Director of Radio Pio XII for nearly 40 years. Despite having survived several assassination attempts, Fr. Roberto is undeterred in his passionate fight for the rights of the miners.
Father Finn said the day of reflection deepened his awareness of the need to advocate on behalf of miners. “The roundtable at the Vatican was not just a one-time event,” he said. “This is an ongoing project.”