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Campus Ministry

The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

There are two things you aren’t supposed to talk about in polite conversation: religion and politics. A group of nine UD students and two campus ministers did it anyway–and did it politely–at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC. 

On January 28-31, over 600 people of faith from around the country gathered to hear great speakers, attend breakout sessions, network and pray about current political issues in light of Catholic Social Teaching. On the last day of the Gathering, participants had the opportunity to meet with their elected officials or their aides on Capitol Hill.

Sophie DiCosola ‘25 enjoyed “getting to see, experience, and participate in an active community of people who are so incredibly passionate about the human dignity of all persons.” DiCosola also learned a lot: “I never realized the strong connection between social justice and the Catholic Social Teachings... so cool!”

The large number of people gathered for CSMG impressed Sarah Lamb ‘23: “It was amazing to see so many people all together who cared about social justice issues, and it helped reassure me that I too can make a change.”

For some of the UD participants, the legislative meetings were the most impactful. They went, usually in groups with others from their state, to talk about strengthening the Child Tax Credit to help low-income families, increasing international humanitarian relief aid and development assistance and providing Afghan humanitarian parolees with a path to permanent legal status.  “I expected to feel more nervous,” said Therese Jochum ‘23. Not only did she find these meetings to not be frightening, but Jochum also pointed out, “It is really easy to contact your representative and they do want to hear from their constituents.” Ronnie Barker ‘23 expressed similar thoughts, “It is way easier to be engaged in our politics and to be activists for good causes than I anticipated. Truly anyone can do it!”

One evening, the UD group left the CSMG to do a prayerful pilgrimage around DC to remember the four Americans that Pope Francis talked about in his address to the US Congress in 2015. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was the first stop on the pilgrimage to recall the work and words of Dorothy Day. Next were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln at their respective Memorials. The final stop on this pilgrimage was to remember Thomas Merton at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Pope Francis praised all four of them for their tireless work for social justice that was strongly rooted in their faith.

“My hope in bringing students to the CSMG is that they walk away with a deeper understanding of how faith can be connected to making the world a more just place and with a stronger commitment to act on it,” said Nick Cardilino, Director of the Center for Social Concern. This seems to be taking root already. Erin McGraw ‘25 and DiCosola are beginning to re-start a Catholic Relief Services college chapter on campus. Barker is recognizing “a major intersection between my desire towards the spiritual improvement of my local community and the social/political work I'm able to engage in.” He has also “been more attentive to the local politics and events happening in my region.” Jochum has been “looking at jobs that more closely connect to my beliefs and there are a lot of ways to be involved with local parish and diocese.” Lamb has already found a job making those connections between faith and justice.

Maybe talking about religion and politics isn’t so bad after all.

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