The J-Walking journey includes the following components: seven sessions (every other session is at a local social service agency. This semester we are volunteering at the Oakland Catholic Worker); opening and closing retreats; group reflection on a few selected texts (this semester we are reading A Monk in the Inner City by Mary Lou Kownacki and With Open Hands by Henri J.M. Nouwen; a Justice Pilgrimage; and, spiritual practices that apply gospel teaching to life choices.
Justice Walking has been an amazing journey! My name is Carolina Vargas and I am the Graduate Assistant with Campus Ministry. I am facilitating Justice Walking, along with the help of a friendly, hospitable, cheerful, and helpful Tere Hernandez (freshman). Six additional students, along with Tere and myself, comprise our team. They are: Jolleen Corner, Rafael Martinez, Maria Fernanda Cuevas, Megan Lopez, Zachary Kaneshiro, and Jennifer Santisteban.
We have met for four sessions and have enjoyed every single one! We started with a retreat where we learned more about each other and ourselves. During the retreat we also saw a very touching film by Gerard Thomas Straub, with images of global poverty, called: When Did I see You Hungry? It inspired us to make a difference in the world, starting with our community of Oakland, with the Catholic Worker.
At the Catholic Worker, we help serve meals to people who are homeless. In every session our teams get to know each other better, and we learn that we all have an important story to share. We all take turns, and we listen to and learn from each other. We also focus on forming relationships with the people at the Catholic Worker; they are very inspiring and have amazing stories to share.
We are now planning our Justice Pilgrimage for this Saturday, March 17th. We are going to begin by helping the Catholic Worker in Berkeley feed people who are homeless; then, we are going to visit a mall as well as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; we will conclude our pilgrimage at Redwood Regional Park. In these different locations we will have time to reflect and notice the signs of contradiction or paradox at the different sites as well as within ourselves. We are really looking forward to our Justice Pilgrimage and to the rest of our Justice Walking journey.
Here is a reflection written by one of the students on our team:
The Justice Walking program has made a huge impact on me so far. I never thought that I would learn so much about God and the people around me. At first, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. However, Justice Walking has taught me to see the world from another person’s perspective. For example, it’s practically never a person’s fault when they end up in the streets. If you learn to put yourself in their shoes, then you’ll understand their position in this world. I’ve had friends who told me that street people “don’t contribute to society” and should “just die.” It really hurts to realize that there are many people to think like that. However, Justice Walking is teaching me that actions speak louder than words and that I can do something to change the injustice instead of fighting. For example, volunteering and donating what you have sends a message that “I care for God’s people.” Arguing won’t solve anything. Indeed, Justice Walking is changing me for the better so far. I can’t wait to see what else Justice Walking can do for me.
We will be posting more reflections on Justice Walking,with some pictures, along our journey, . Hope you can join us next semester.<!--[if gte mso 9]>