Our Restorative Justice Intern, Maria Jose Fernandez Flores, attended the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) in Washington DC this last week. The CSMG brings together leaders in Catholic social action to network, advocate for social justice, and form emerging leaders in service to the Church and society. The Gathering builds solidarity, knowledge, and practical skills among attendees who live and share the Church's social mission for the common good and the evangelization of the world. Below is the recap of the event in the words of our Intern Maria Jose:
First of all, I feel so honored that I was able to attend this conference; it was truly a blessing. I have returned so pumped and ready to fight for people’s rights!
Below I have summarized my key highlights from each day along with a couple pictures. To see the full album from my experience at CSMG, check our Flickr account.
In this conference, there was 500+ attendees of which 109 are college students and 86 are Diversity Outreach Initiative scholarship recipients (like me).
My first day at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering was fun and insightful.
My main takeaway was that we are not here to speak on what we as individuals want but rather as a UNIFIED voice for the Church. As a Church, representing human beings with inalienable rights, we are to protect those rights of our brothers at all times.
As Pope Francis wisely said: “Indifference is the greatest sin today”!
- Learned about the environmental impacts and policy issues affecting farm workers and tribal communities. This was incredibly eye-opening for me. I had never thought about their circumstances and didn’t realize they are struggling.
- Met representatives Dallana from Colombia and Korá from São Luis, Brazil from the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network (REPAM)
- Learned more on the issue of racism in our country today
- Got prayed over by a group of college students after sharing my DACA story with them ♥️ I was very surprised, but it surely warmed my heart.
- Shared my DACA story with the CA Delegation
- Got trained to advocate for migration policy particularly to urge protection of Dreamers
- Networking with the USCCB workers and expanding my story to them and local organizations
The final day of the conference ended with a bang!
- I met Senator Joe Donnelly (Indiana) & Congressman Juan Vargas (San Diego)
- Vargas even prayed the rosary with us during the prayer service for Dreamers!
- Advocated for Dreamers by sharing my story to the CA lawmakers. I spoke with one particular staff member whose representative still needs to be convinced of the Dreamer story, so I hope I was able to touch their heart and help them understand my community so that they can create and vote for a legislation to protect Dreamers and maintain family unification.
- Got interviewed throughout the day by several organizations including USCCB!
- Networked with so many individuals. I think I’m good at it
- This day itself is the highlight of my trip. So many blessings, so much goodness and love, so much advocacy. My passion for the Church and its teachings has been reinforced by this conference!
REMEMBER: “We don’t need more NUMBERS in the church. We need DISCIPLES” -Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo