By Leela Ramdeen
Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
In November 2017, in a letter at the conclusion of an international conference at the Vatican on work and worker’s movements, and how these are at the heart of sustainable and integral human development, Pope Francis reminded us that work is about more than just doing something for money, but about cooperating with Christ’s work of redemption in how we care for others and the earth.
He stated: “According to Christian tradition, (work) is more than a mere doing; it is, above all, a mission. We collaborate with the creative work of God when, through our work, we cultivate and preserve creation; we participate, in the Spirit of Jesus, in his redemptive mission, when by our activity we give sustenance to our families and respond to the needs of our neighbour.”
In the words of St Ambrose, “every worker is the hand of Christ who continues to create and to do good”.
“At the same time that we consider the value of work, the pope stressed the importance of not exaggerating the ‘mystical’ side of work, as observed by Pope Paul VI. The person ‘is not just work,’ Francis said. ‘There are other human needs that we must cultivate and consider, such as family, friends, and rest.’ …work must always serve the human person, and not the other way around. Therefore, ‘we must question the structures that damage or exploit people, families, the companies and our mother earth,’ he said” (Catholic News Agency).
Read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical, Rerum Novarum (1891), on the conditions of labour and capital and the plight of the working classes. Since then, successive popes have elaborated on this topic.
In Octogesima Adveniens (1971), Pope Paul VI stated: “Every man has the right to work, to a chance to develop his qualities and his personality in the exercise of his profession…”
In Laborem Exercens (1981), on human work, St Pope John Paul II wrote: “…Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others, especially his own family, but also for the society he belongs to, the country of which he is a child, and the whole human family of which he is a member, since he is the heir to the work of generations and at the same time a sharer in building the future of those who will come after him in the succession of history” (16).
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “…work is of fundamental importance to the fulfillment of the human being and to the development of society. Thus, it must always be organized and carried out with full respect for human dignity and must always serve the common good. At the same time, it is indispensable that people not allow themselves to be enslaved by work or to idolize it, claiming to find in it the ultimate and definitive meaning of life.”
Let’s give thanks for our workers who give yeoman service daily. I thank Dominique Heffes-Doon, who resigned from her position with us as Research and Social Media Officer recently to join CAMSEL as their Integrated Communications Team Lead. What a high-performing team player!
We welcome Shannon Young, who has succeeded Dominique, and Kezia Guy, who, with the support of UNICEF, has been appointed as a Child Psychologist working with Venezuelan children/families.
UNICEF also funds some of our other posts: Shelly-Ann Simon, Case Management Officer – Alternative Care Programme for unaccompanied or separated migrant children; and Matthew Pierre, Community Outreach Coordinator, whose Refugee Outreach work with others has grown exponentially – 490 persons benefitted from the recent event in Arima.
We also receive other sources of funding for Zahirah Mohammed’s post – Child Friendly Spaces Manager for Venezuelan children. Since no waiver has been granted to allow Venezuelan children to be enrolled in our schools, these online classes provide some level of education for them.
Living Water Community has its own programmes.
Darrion Narine, AMMR’s Programme Manager, is an excellent leader, committed to selfless service. And we are exceedingly well served by Marcia Faustin-Walker, Finance and Administrative Assistant. Fr Curtis Poyer, who will succeed me when he returns to T&T, is already involving us in online formation programmes.
As I get ready to retire in June, I know that the Team is solid and will continue to work tirelessly in the Lord’s vineyard.
All in God’s holy name.
SOCIAL JUSTICE QUOTE
FOR THE WEEK
There are many ways to pass by at a safe distance [just like the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan]: we can retreat inwards, ignore others, or be indifferent to their plight. Or simply look elsewhere, as in some countries, or certain sectors of them, where contempt is shown for the poor and their culture, and one looks the other way, as if a development plan imported from without could edge them out.” (73)
– Pope Francis, Fratelli Tuitti
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee