By STEPHEN O'KANE | Published February 28, 2013
SMYRNA—A variety of social justice ministries offered information and materials to visitors to the Archdiocese of Atlanta Chancery on Tuesday, Feb. 5, during the inaugural archdiocesan Justice and Peace Exposition.
Sponsored by the archdiocesan Justice and Peace Ministries, the day was designed to highlight ministries and organizations that are reflective of some aspect of the Church’s social teachings, with attention paid to each of the seven themes: life and dignity of the human person; call to family, community and participation; rights and responsibilities; option for the poor and vulnerable; dignity of work and rights of workers; solidarity; and care for God’s creation.
More than 40 organizations participated in the event, including the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University, the Ignatius House Retreat Center, the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, the Prison and Jail Ministry, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty and the Daisy Alliance, among others.
Under the theme “How Are You the Hands of Christ? Come & See,” Kat Doyle, director of Justice and Peace Ministries, said the purpose was to provide something of interest for everyone and encourage people to get involved with or learn about ministries with which they may not be familiar. Her hope was that Catholics would “learn about practical applications of social justice.”
But it was also a positive experience for the ministries and organizations involved as well, giving them an opportunity to make new connections and share the importance of what their ministry does.
“It was a great opportunity to share the gift of Ignatius House with the community and to share how what we offer, a place of retreat, refreshment and replenishment, can enhance the good works of so many of these wonderful ministries,” said Maria Cressler, executive director of the Ignatius House Retreat Center.
“It also gave us an opportunity to share with those who came that day what many folks do not know, how Ignatius House serves those in need, offering eight retreats for the homeless,” for example, she said.
The exposition also featured screenings and discussions of two films: “Ending U.S.-Sponsored Torture Forever” and “Rise and Dream.” “Ending U.S.-Sponsored Torture Forever” is a film that deals with the morality of torture. Presented by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which was also present at the event, the film includes leaders of various faith communities, survivors of torture, retired military leaders and others.
An award-winning documentary from the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, “Rise and Dream” introduced viewers to musically talented young people in the Philippines who are not defined by their poverty.
Attendees also had the opportunity to browse and purchase Fair Trade items at the Catholic Relief Services Fair Trade Sale. Staffed by a CRS Fair Trade ambassador, the sale allowed Georgia Catholics to support artisans and crafters from around the world.
A small walking labyrinth provided a contrast from the busyness of the expo room, where visitors could take a few minutes to reflect on social justice and quiet their minds to discern where God might be calling them to work.
Overall it was a day of learning, connecting and sharing the important social justice work of the Catholic Church, and it gave both Catholics and social justice ministries the chance to share what they are passionate about.
“(The Justice and Peace Expo) gave me a chance to ‘network’ and connect with other agencies and ministries,” said Cressler. “I … look forward to participating next year.”
For more information about the archdiocesan Justice and Peace Ministries, visit archatl.com/ministries/jpm or call (404) 920-7895.