Hispanic Heritage Month 2023 Week 3: The Climate
NETWORK Communications Team
Sept 29, 2023
Hispanic Heritage Month 2023 is September 15 through October 15. National organizers choose a theme each year for the celebration. For 2023 it is “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America.” Please join NETWORK as we reflect on, celebrate, and acknowledge the significant strides of Hispanics in the economic, political, and social growth of the U.S. We will spotlight Latina and Latino justice-seekers in our faith-filled community to recognize the positive impact they’ve had on our work and our country!
Hispanic Heritage Month 2023: Pope Francis Updates Wisdom on Climate Justice
During this week of reflection on the climate, Pope Francis released a document on October 4, Laudate Deum, a follow-up to his 2015 letter, Laudato Si’. The update reflects the realities of 2023. The young Latino activist featured below, Christian Soenen, is a project manager at Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. Please join him and his colleagues–online, or in person–to learn more at their program on Thursday, October 12, Caring for the Environment and Each Other: Pope Francis’ Follow-up to Laudato Si’.
Hispanic Heritage Month 2023 Justice-Seeker Profile: Christian Soenen
This week, with Hispanic Heritage Month focused on the climate, we proudly feature Christian Soenen, the projects manager at Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life in Washington D.C.
If we can spotlight you, someone you know or love, or social justice work being carried out in your Hispanic church or community during Hispanic Heritage Month 2023, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Network Communications: Briefly introduce yourself and your connection to NETWORK
Christian Soenen: I’m Christian Soenen. I currently work to promote and advance the Church’s social message and mission as the projects manager at Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. I first worked with NETWORK on reports documenting and advocating against uninvestigated abuses of migrants by Border Patrol agents and other U.S. authorities when I was a volunteer with the Kino Border Initiative, and I was one of NETWORK’s 2022 Social Poet Award recipients.
What issues do you work on, and why are they important for the Latina and Latino community?
My work at the Initiative broadly covers the principles of Catholic social teaching – among them the preferential option for the poor, care for the environment, solidarity, and human life and dignity. These teachings are an essential resource to the Latino community because of our community’s historical and present experiences of marginalization, both as a legacy of Latin America’s colonial history and because of present racial and economic exclusion in the United States. Climate crises, poverty and inequality, migration, and other issues are central to Catholic social thought, central to Pope Francis’s papacy, and central to the life and future of a people shaped by this historical and social context.
How do your faith or your personal values influence your work?
Taped to the wall above my desk is a printout of the “Magnificat,” the words Mary spoke to her cousin Elizabeth when she learned she was pregnant with the son of God. It’s the Gospel of Luke’s first introduction of Jesus, and it reminds us that the Lord “casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly. He fills the starving with good things and sends the rich away empty.” This is the part of my faith that teaches me where our priorities should always lie, and it informs so many of the core tenets of the Church’s social teaching that help us to evaluate our present society and work towards a better one.
What are you most mindful about during this Hispanic Heritage Month?
The Spanish word “lucha” – struggle – is one that comes to mind when I reflect on the many cultural gifts that come from Latino heritage. When I worked on the border, “lucha” was one of the most common words I heard from people migrating, and it always communicated love, selflessness, and incalculable willpower. We’re a people who’ve been built up by struggle and who have built incredible things by that same struggle, and that’s something to keep at the forefront of our minds as we work on behalf of our community.
Thank you, Christian!
Read NETWORK Executive Director’s reflection on climate justice as essential grounding for all forms of justice.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby is putting together a Latinx Catholic Outreach Team, a subset of CCL’s
Catholic Action Team. Learn more in English, or in Spanish.