Adding Value to the World: Celebrating Work and Social Justice

From the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, to spending Spring Break at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, students, faculty and staff reflected and brought to life the value of work and the quest for social justice. Here are highlights of these two Campus Ministry programs:

Spring Break on the Indian Reservation

For the second consecutive year, 10 students from each school crisscrossed the country over spring break to spend two weeks – one in Waukegan and another on the Pine Ridge Reservation – in a cultural exchange. The CRSM students and their peers from at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota became fast friends and shared stories that define their unique Latino and Native American cultures.

Together, they explored their separate worlds.

“What was very powerful is that the lessons were learned in the rich context of real-life relationships, getting to know each other, and not a textbook or a movie,” says Jim Dippold, director of campus ministry who had spent a total of eight years teaching at Red Cloud High School before coming to Cristo Rey in Waukegan.

The trip is one of three immersion and service trips CRSM is planning for this spring and summer including an urban immersion trip to Chicago to work with the homeless; a trip with Young Neighbors in Action to work in conjunction with other high schoolers on service projects in Chicago; a trip to the Nogales, AZ boarder to learn about immigration issues; and the Viatorian Youth Congress at Cabrini Retreat Center in Des Plaines.

The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker Mass

Students, faculty and staff joined Catholics around the world to celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker at a Mass celebrated by Fr. Matt Foley on April 26, shortly before the actual feast day.

The Mass was an opportunity to reflect on the value of work and the quest for human fulfillment, Preston Kendall, CRSM president said.

“The day is a chance to to honor those, who like St. Joseph the carpenter, add value to work through the sweat of their brow and the work of their hands,” said Kendall. “It is through this work that we are stewards of God’s gifts and resources.”

Kendall added: “Work brings dignity to our lives; every time we go to work we meet people and in those people we encounter God.”(see President’s Pen for Kendall’s reflection on work.)

Fr. Foley talked about the hard workers and laborers he has witnessed during his service and work history. He has served as priest at St Agatha in Chicago’s North Lawndale community, as pastor of Santiago Apostol Mission in Guerrero, Mexico, at St. Agnes of Bohemia in Chicago’s Little Village community and as a US Army Chaplain during four combat deployments to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2013 before becoming pastor at St. James in Arlington Heights.

“I remember talking to a young man in Mexico who was embarrassed because his dad spent his days sifting through garbage to collect aluminum cans,” said Fr. Foley. “I suggested to the boy, ‘Why don’t you ask your dad why he does that.’ He collects cans because it helps pay for your clothes, for his son to go to college. Every penny he collects for those cans goes to make life better for his son and his family.”

“Today, we celebrate the people like this man who labor in the shadows. Jesus’ father, Joseph, was a carpenter who used his hands and feet to make the world a better place.”

In the spirit of St. Joseph, Fr. Foley called on students to honor their parents, to respect the love and hard work they do to make their lives better. “God blessed you with minds and souls to do great things. Take advantage of the opportunities and gifts you have and be grateful to the hard work your parents to give you this chance. They add value to our world because of the work they do with their hands.”

Raised in Libertyville, Fr. Foley also told students how he keeps hearing “great things about all of you.”

“I am so proud of how hard you all are working here, not just to better yourselves, but for the betterment of the world,” he said.