Travel Log: Hartford
Sr. Rochelle Mitchell, SSS
July 24, 2016
As is our practice, we begin each day with reflection on the scriptures and shared prayer. This morning we gathered early at the farmhouse in Cumberland, Rhode Island where the Sisters of Mercy offered us hospitality. I was struck by the Gospel reading: “give us this day our daily bread.” It is clear that God desires good gifts for us. It is also clear in our “incarnated reality” that we must be persistent, even agitators, in advancing these gifts that God desires—the bread of dignity, work, housing, citizenship.
We left Rhode Island and headed to brunch at a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut. This event was sponsored and attended by Congressman John Larson along with the mayor, Shari Cantor, and many communities of women religious. The congressman personally thanked the sisters for their work of justice and the many ministries they have sponsored in his district.
After brunch, we headed to Saint James Episcopal Church to meet and engage with a coalition of ecumenical ministers who are part of Moral Monday in Connecticut. They call attention to complacency by “turning up, occupying space and taking action” on behalf of those discriminated against because of race, gender, and income. They hold their elected officials accountable. We learned that there is a massive budget crisis in Connecticut as well as great income disparity. One of the heart-warming and encouraging signs is the work of the ecumenical and interfaith communities coming together for the common good. We were deeply moved by the tangible passion for justice.
Our next stop was the Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center. As we entered the meeting space, over 250 people were waiting for us and ready to being addressing the gaps in their community. The gap area that my group discussed was citizenship. The interest in citizenship was so great that there were five full tables of people! I was deeply moved as the people shared their lived realities. The Northeast has a growing refugee and immigrant population. My group shared about how immigrants and refugees in their community often live in substandard conditions and don’t earn a living wage. There was a deep concern among them for a resolution to the millions of people who are living in the shadows and in fear of deportation and separation from family. The attendees envisioned a process that was more sensitive to the refugees and designed for the success of the refugees in the host community. Many of those who wanted to mend the gaps came from faith backgrounds with a strong social justice tradition as well as Catholics who are responding to the vision of Pope Francis.
We were welcomed to share dinner with the community at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center followed by mass. Before retiring, I spent some time reflecting on the day. I had come full circle, beginning and ending the day with: “give us this day our daily bread.” I feel so nourished and grateful for the bread of life and the hope and vision that was shared with me today. My prayer is that the nourishment we have all received will energize and sustain us for the work of justice.