Bringing faith alive

Mar. 31 – April 6
VOL 124 NO. 12
Bringing faith alive
By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Binghamton — ”You’ve got love. You’ve got peace. My experience tells me when you have those two things, more often than not, you have joy,” said Ralph Jones, director of the Syracuse Diocese Office for Black Catholic Ministry.

During a talk at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Jones spoke of racism getting in the way. “It’s a sin. It’s a sin. One of the greatest sins because we turn our back on the responsibility for peaceful, loving joy,” Jones said. His talk was one of a six-part Lenten series at St. Catherine’s called “Creating a New Heaven, New Earth.”

Jones noted that the diocese is made up mostly of white parishes, and that there’s never been a black priest ordained in Syracuse. But he spoke of what unites the diocese, rather than what might divide it.

“From a Catholic perspective, from a Christian perspective,” he said, “we are all children of God. We believe that if we are centered in Christ, that we have the example to live by those 10 values [the Ten Commandments]. How much different would our world be if we related to each other based on those 10 values?”

Jones suggested that everyone has to leave their “comfort zone” to join the broader world and get to know people. “Be they black, or brown or red or yellow, whatever,” he said. “Just step out and get to realize that these people are a part of me. All they want in life is peace, love and joy.”

In the last two years Jones has spoken to about 70 congregations. Following his talk at St. Catherine’s, he acknowledged it’s difficult to speak about racism.

“I don’t want anybody to feel guilty about it. But there some realities as Catholics that we have to embrace. The most important part of the message, our sloppy thinking, our lazy thinking is what I find to be most pertinent. Because as Catholics, we can’t afford that luxury of doing what everybody else does,” Jones said. “We’ve got to be the example. We’ve got to live our teaching, the Catholic social teaching.”

St. Catherine’s pastor, Father Tim Taugher, said the use of themes such as hunger, poverty, consumerism and racism in the Lenten series focused on that approach.

“Our Catholic social teaching has addressed these and many are not aware of this, so it’s just to bring awareness. How we address these issues in our Scriptures and church teaching and tradition,” he said. “Also to realize these are sins, they are structurally part of our lives day in and day out. How do we break that cycle in Lent to a new conversion of heart, mind and spirit and attitude?”

Father Taugher added that the Lenten series planted a seed for St. Catherine’s.

“I think just rooting ourselves into the Gospel,” said Father Taugher. “What is the Gospel Spirituality? Who are we as a parish and are who are we called to be in the world today, addressing big issues? Lent is addressing big issues and looking both out and in my own life in our lives as a community.“

As for future activities that may come as a result of the six sessions, Father Taugher pointed to a cross surrounded by the words “action, reflection and transformation” which were featured prominently on materials used during the series.

“That’s what Lent is about: reflection, taking action and it’s about transformation. Easter transformed our lives and we are supposed to transform the world today,” he said.

There is one follow-up planned for April 17 as Jack Jezreel, the national coordinator and founder of JustFaith will speak at St. Catherine’s.

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