Faces of our Spirit Filled Network: Beth Ford McNamee

Beth Ford McNamee
June 26, 2019

Tell us a little about yourself and the work you do.

I am a Campus Minister at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU). I coordinate a weekly community service program of about 300 students who commit to serve weekly with local community partners in Philadelphia and Camden. The program involves relationship-based service and peer-led, faith-based social justice reflection and discussion. I also coordinate a Campus Ministry Associate program at SJU. This program gives recent college graduates a one year paid experience working full-time on our staff to discern ministry as a full-time career. I am also currently a student in the Interdisciplinary Doctor of Education Leadership Ed.D. program at SJU. My spouse Jeremy and I have a four year old son Aaron.

How did you first learn about NETWORK and what inspired you to get involved?

I first learned about NETWORK when I was a graduate student at Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC. I was studying theology there and seeking to live out a faith that does justice as I had encountered in my Jesuit education at Saint Joseph’s University and as a Jesuit Volunteer. I was inspired by all those at NETWORK who were challenging us to examine public policies and their impact on people on the margins. I worked with a few folks at NETWORK in a committee to help plan the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference. In addition, quite a few of our Saint Joseph’s University graduates have worked as NETWORK associates. My imagination was captured by the Nuns on the Bus tours. SJU was proud to host the Nuns on the Bus tour this past October 2018.

What issue area are you most passionate about?

This is such a difficult question to answer! Immigration justice, racial justice, and care of God’s creation are often among my top issues. However, because education has been such a gift in my life, I also focus on education equity and access to higher education.

How are you engaging your community on important social justice issues?

I help coordinate campus participation in several local, national, and international justice efforts. Our department coordinates the following student groups: Hawks for Just Employment (campus workers’ rights issues), Hawks for Life (focuses on human dignity and a consistent ethic of life), POWER University (local community organizing around various justice issues), a delegation to the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, and Catholic Relief Services, SJU’s Refugee and Immigrant Working Group, and others!

How has your advocacy for social justice shaped your view of the world?

Advocacy for social justice issues has expanded my awareness of human need and systemic justice issues. I believe that it is a duty as part of my faith.

How does your faith inspire you to work for justice? (if applicable)

I’ve been formed in Ignatian spirituality which is grounded in gratitude, finding God in all things, a relationship with Christ, discernment, co-laboring empowered by the Holy Spirit, and a call to live a faith that does justice (and much more!). My faith is grounded in relationships; all people are members of one human family created in the image and likeness of God; when members of the human family suffer, all suffer, and all are called to work for the full realization of God’s reigning in justice, love, and peace.

Who is your role model?

Dorothy Day.

Is there a quote that motivates or nourishes you that you would like to share?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know him in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone any more. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship. We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” – Dorothy Day

What social movement has inspired you?

Does Nuns on the Bus count? 🙂

What was your biggest accomplishment as an activist in the past year?

In all honesty, it has been balancing commitments as a spouse, mother, minister, and doctoral student while making time for prayer, health, and showing up for prayer, protests, and advocacy opportunities when I am able. I’m also proud of my associates and student leaders who deepened our social justice and advocacy efforts in our programs this year.

What are you looking forward to working on in the coming months?

I am looking forward to working with a mentor to develop a course in faith-based community organizing. I’m also looking forward to this summer for much-needed time for justice-related strategic planning and for sabbath rest.

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