On Wednesday, the class listened to three speakers at the Spirituality, Social Justice, and Disability Symposium at the University of Redlands. Dr. Spickard’s presentation was called “How Do We Sustain This Life?: Spiritual Narratives of Social Justice Catholics”. This presentation introduced the audience to religious-based activism specifically by Los Angeles Catholic workers. The issue at hand, which is suggested by the title, is figuring out how the life lived out by the Catholic workers is sustained, and what keeps the workers (helpers?) going every day in order to continue their service. A question asked by Dr. Spickard was: why this this life being sustained? How is it being sustained? The idea that the Catholic workers have in mind is that “Jesus wanted it [change] to be done peacefully”. This is why they do service the way that they do it: they provide shopping carts for the homeless, they cook for the homeless, and they even bless the food that they cook and give to the homeless.
Doing community service and helping the homeless must definitely give meaning to the lives of the Catholic workers. According to the interviews Dr. Spickard conducted with 60 of the members, their religion matters to them, and activism “helps them on the edge”. The members are focused on the community, and they will give back to it in order to live a life that Jesus would love them for. They undergo rituals which help them maintain a religious lifestyle, and they understand that their religion is one of the most important things to them.