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Dear Occupy Catholics,

Blessings and peace to all!

We—a team of Occupy Catholics who helped found the group in New York City—have a proposal. Many of us feel that the Occupy moment has passed. We are finding ourselves and our movements going in new directions, with new language—from Keystone XL blockades to #BlackLivesMatter, from worker-owned co-ops to sanctuary for immigrants, from contemplative activism to debt abolition. We see these developments as part of the same story as Occupy, even if they take different forms and belong to a different time. We want to adapt our Christian witness in tune with them. One of the ways that we’ve been doing this is through Guerrilla Communion, a new, slowly growing group of Catholics supporting one another in their faith, and supporting the movements for justice around us, through a network of small groups in different communities. Here’s our fledgling website.

What we propose is to transfer the Occupy Catholics online networks over to Guerrilla Communion, thereby using the momentum Occupy Catholics has continued to build for an organization that will keep its spirit alive in more adaptable ways. This would include our Twitter account, our Facebook page, and our mailing list. This website would remain as is, standing as a record of Occupy Catholics’ work over the past several years.

Meanwhile, we invite Occupy Catholics supporters everywhere to consider starting their own Guerrilla Communion groups to help foster safe space for the intersection of faith and justice in your communities. If you want to explore doing so, please let us know at info@guerrillacommunion.org.

Please offer your thoughts and responses below. This is just a proposal, and we won’t proceed without widespread agreement.

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Report backs:

Robert-American catholic association

Steve-catholic associate fb page; deep discussion with open woman from CA.  Great interaction over 5 days of discussion. Feedback about OC is that 99% & 1 % is not Catholic because of dividing Gods people. Nathan asks that we think about this. Also that 99% are also made in Gods image but are not being treated as such.

Bernice- clarifying that she is about standing with the poor not against anything; feedback about what can be done-

Discussion ensues about messaging

Manny- summer disobedience school; computer banks at apple changed to website of human rights; banking committee; con Ed pickets 14th and  Irving

Channel 57 th

Susan-housingproject &occupy faiths   A Peoples Investigation

Nathan-occupy town square bushwick; debt emerging as central;

Natgat; protest chaplains organizing convergence

General reflection: in reach and out reach

Stop &frisk education & outreach to parishes in poor parishes-Betsy @annunciation?

99mile walk from Philly comes into NYC on 11th -foot washing?Details?

Show. Up for no nukes event aug 6

Friday planning meeting-5:30 here

Action for debt- relating to usery drama? Plug into SDS?

American Catholic Council discussions before larger gathering in relation to reformovements

Robert will keep us in the loop

SDS-manny to dress as midevial priest giving usery speech

Susan will contact Maria from Xavier

Announcements

Click to enlarge!

Jane welcomed everyone on behalf of the Catholic Worker (CW), and opened the floor up to announcements:
CW announcements
Occupy Faith will be participating in the blockade of Gov. Cuomo’s office this week to protest draconian budget cuts with respect to the poor and homeless

Jane invites everyone to stay for refreshments afterwards but has to leave to care for an elder member of their community who is sick.

Sister Susan (SS) calls the Assembly to order with a prayer she’s written to celebrate the spirit of the Occupation.

Loren Hart made the introduction to the group for Occupy, Catholics, he explained that we will be breaking into four discussion groups:

1. Direct Action
2. The Economy and Catholic Teaching
3. Non-violence and the Occupy Movement
4. Individual and community responses

Loren then explains the use of Occupy hand signals and the assembly bore into group discussion.

After the discussion Sister Susan explains the report-back procedure

Direct Action Report-back by Maria:

Ideas: Bible Block- Dressing as biblical characters performing ‘morality plays’ on the street in the city.
May Day- Coordinating action w/MayDay Coalition
Foreclosure Auction Blockade with O4O
Rosary ‘societies’ at churches with Armbands to make a presence known
Occupying Hands – Asking questions during Homilies

Discussion: Liz: What are we doing for Holy Week, we should use it to get media exposure.
Richie: concerned with Occupy Hands; if we are trying to reach out we may put people off if we interrupt a mass.
Nathan: Occupy, Catholics will have actions in concert with Occupy Faith on palm Sunday and with Pax Christi on Good Friday Stations of the Cross Procession.
Chris agrees with Richie’s concern but likes the foreclosure actions

Community Responses Report-back by Kristin
Discussion topics were: Does the movement have a political agenda?
We need to work in our community
Students need to talk about Social Justice
What does poverty mean? What is a necessity?
Dorothy Day said we need to stay close to the least in our society – soup kitchens
Loren: perceptions of Occupy movement mirror voluntary poverty- “being the change” What are the effects of conscious/conspicuous consumption? How the use of social media can be used to raise consciousness. Schools need discuss these issues with kids.

Non-violence Report-back by Robert
Non-violence viewed by Catholics seems to be out of step with Church teaching – Catholics support torture and killing
There is a violence in supporting the status quo, in allowing the seizing of homes.
Black Bloc as a potential way to distract from principles of non-violence.
The movement is alive and well – as evidenced by recent Union Square gathering

Discussion: John: if there is an ambiguity in OWS as exemplified by Diversity of Tactics then Occupy, Catholics needs to affirm Non-violence
Someone asked what is Black Bloc, Steve explains what Black Bloc is.

Economy and Catholic Teaching Report-back by David:
Social Justice in economic thought is integral to Catholic teaching, but it is not being emphasized we need to ask for a mass at St Patricks Cathedral by either Cardinal Egan or Dolan to celebrate the Labor Encyclical, then have masses said in the local diocese to highlight the issue of social justice. The thought being, if the seat of the diocese leads the local churches will follow.
Discussion: Chris: we need to create a dialogue, Occupy is a grass roots movement and we need to push the cause of Social Justice with is being overlooked and ignored even though it is at the core of our Liturgy.

A General discussion started where Rick told about police harassment of OWS people; Bill read about an anti-OWS movie; Steve said that movie was being produced by Citizens United; Liz said she is tired of violent patriotism where if you don’t support war you aren’t a good American- non-violence needs to be emphasized.

Loren said we were out of time invited everyone for refreshments asked for any announcements:
Robin said come to Liberty Plaza with signs and participate, the tourist buses are still telling people about OWS as they pass!
Karen from O4O said there is a foreclosure blockade 3/26 in the Bronx and people should check it out on http://www.O4Onyc.org
Steve said Occupy, Catholics needs all the Catholics of conscious to join us at our planning meeting on March 20th, at the Plam Sunday Occupy Faith and part of the Pax Christi Stations of the Cross on Good Friday and on Facebook.

And the meeting was adjourned.

The minutes from the Occupy Catholics NYC planning meeting on March 20, 2012. Click to enlarge.

Occupy, Catholics meeting
Jan 29th, 2012
7:00 pm
60 Wall St., New York, NY 10005

1. Present:

Nathan Schneider, journalist, St. Joseph’s Brooklyn parishioner;

Sr. Susan Wilcox, Sister of St. Joseph, St. Joseph’s College Brooklyn, Occupy Faith;

Steve Sapporito, former Catholic, seeking

John Mullen, Catholic Worker

Martha Hennessey, Catholic Worker

Kate Riley, Catholic Worker

Betsy, St. Aug, Transfiguration

Loren Hart, Catholic Worker, former resident of Liberty Plaza

Fr. Paul Mayer, non-canonical priest in E. Orange, NJ, Occupy Faith

Katie Anderson, community organizer, St. Francis NYC

Carmen, Catholic Worker

Patrick, part of Vision and Goals, Structure, and other OWS working groups.

Mary, part of Kitchen, Vision and Goals, and other OWS working groups.

2. Temperature check: Those present have various levels of familiarity and experience with the Occupy movement.

3. What brought us to the meeting tonight?

NS: seeking a way to connect Catholics to the Occupy Movement, for the benefit of both groups

JM: hoping to learn what we can hope for for Occupy in the coming days, and how supporters can take concrete action to support/join up, short of joinging a camp.

SW: has been involved in Pacha Mama programs that help people become aware of the lack of sustainability in society; sees similar “Great Turning” toward awareness happening in Occupy; wants to provide pastoral response to the pain or confusion people feel as old systems – though unjust – break down.

KR: sees natural progression from Catholic Worker (CW) to Occupy, wants to maximise that connection.

SS: wants to make a connection between the morality of Occupy, which mirrors that of the CW movement, to the mainstream Roman Catholic (RC) church in order to enrich it and bring it back to its roots.

PM: drawn to Occupy because of prior activist involvement; supports efforts to make Occupy more diverse, sensitive to religious tradition; concerned that RC community doesn’t “get” Occupy.

SS: wants to address lukewarm response, which comes from lack of vehicle for laity to be involved/have authority in the development of an official position on Occupy; wants to be creative in connecting traditional Catholic practices to support for Occupy.

JM: echoes that hierarchy reluctant to get involved as they are cosy with well-heeled RC businessmen and other donors; principles that support Occupy are present in Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and in papal and episcopal documents, but not enacted.

NS: has felt commonality in involvement with Occupy, going to church; wants to empower ordinary RC lay people to feel and reclaim that commonality.

MH: intrigued by NS’s talk at Maryhouse; was part of interfaith contingency at Tahrir Square.

KA: hoping to build on energy of Occupy to spread awareness of CST

Carmen: believes that, while there is never any moment better than now nor place better than here, the energy of Occupy makes this movement especially good; hopes that the momentum will lead the Church to become more outspoken on the mortgage crisis and economic justice, echoing previous shifts in the Church’s position on nuclear war, for example.

LH: wanted to see what others were thinking, and to brainstorm together about what this group could offer to complement the Occupy movement, amplify its message, build pride in Catholic tradition and involve other Catholics, and promote real change through practical steps.

PM: believes that activists are the “real monks” (to quote Thomas Merton) who are taking commitment to CST to its full expression; that said, CST is for everyone, even busy, ordinary laity.

Patrick: baptised Catholic who has returned the Church; concerned for future of the faith and wants to reclaim Church from those who have abused it.

MH: encourages group to focus on setting a good example, rather than criticizing

SS: believes it’s possible to do both, and that commitment to community is a way of “doing penance,” admitting what’s wrong without being stymied by it.

Mary: believes that what happened was done to the church; members of the church have caved in to sin rather than fight; we are called to fight enslavement and we can’t let sin happen to us. Furthermore, she is attending this meeting because, at the outset of the Occupy movement, she felt abandoned when she saw that other religious leaders, including a rabbi, were present to the movement, but Catholic clergy were not involved.

4. Ideas for actions:

Carmen: Promote “freedom schools,” modeled on civil rights movement, that promote teaching of CST and Vatican 2 principles; knows potential presenters. Simplest action would be leafletting after masses.

PM: Promote interfaith Holy Week/Passover event, featuring Rabbi Art Wasnell (Spelling?) and Donna Schaper from Judson Memorial Church.

SS: Affirms need for action on Palm Sunday; Pray rosary, leave slip in church that reads, “One rosary was said in hopes that Church will do something about poverty, not just say something,” or words to that effect.

SW: Sponsor a station at Pax Christi’s Good Friday Stations of the Cross

– Station 13 is available (Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross.)

– Station will be on 42nd Street near Times Square

-MH: Will there be arrestable direct action?
-SW: A planned action often follows station.

-Carmen: Pax Christi doesn’t endorse direct action, will ask to approve any signs we bring; they are well established with good numbers.

-NS: Hopes we can participate in a direct action at some point, recognizing that direct action is what go the movement started.

-Carmen: As an alternative to having direct action at our station, we could encourage participation at the civil disobedience direct action at USS Intrepid (docked nearby). Does not want to argue with Pax Christi over that; feels it is important to develop good faith relationship.

Betsy: Wonders how Occupy, Catholics can or should reach out to Catholics outside the church – her mom has gotten to know a group who have excommunicated from the RC church because of their stance on ordination of women and gay marriage, but who do a lot of great service to their community.

KA: instinct is to include all people “of good will” in the group’s work, while making it clear to Catholic laity that the principles of CST and economic justice are in no way outside of the Church’s doctrine; leaflets could include citations from Church documents.

SS: affirms need to make laity more aware of CST, make a full understanding CST and all the issues it applies to more prominent.

LH: reports on action in Georgia to occupy foreclosed church; Occupy movement in NY sending someone down to learn how it was done and to create packet to share with other groups.

Carmen: wonders if there will be time to organize an event to recognize the anniversary of MLK Jr.’s assassination on April 4th.

LH: Garner media attention by going public with our support for Occupy movement, since church leaders have not and most likely will not endorse the movement.

JM: remembers reading a statement from Archbishop Dolan expressing openness to Occupy; can we find that statement?

NS: Connect to Occupy calendar, coordinate with working groups

SS: Become Affinity Group, but not working group

5. Next steps:

Outreach:

-PM: Good to have priests

-LH: Will having priests limit what we can say?

-Group: No.

-Betsy: knows a nun who runs a can collection

Create leaflets, including leaflets with CST documents (KA)

Possibly leaflet at St. Patrick’s

Explore Occupy the Rosary idea (SS)

Coordinate with Pax Christi (SW)

We need volunteers to work with the website, facebook and twitter pages.

Consider drafting Declaration, Principles of Solidarity

6. Next meeting:

NS: Conversation about space: Should we move somewhere bigger? Somewhere more convenient?

SW: Can potentially offer space at Brooklyn College

PM: Near public transportation? SW: Yes

PM: Many Manhattanites don’t like going to Brooklyn…

Besty: Sometimes, the feeling’s mutual! 🙂

SW: Suggests we stay at 60 Wall St. for the time being, then revisit the idea of moving.

Time: Tuesday, February 7th, 6:00 pm

7. Announcements:

SS: working group on health care wants to discuss reopening St. Vincents, a recently closed Catholic hospital; meeting will be 1/31 at 6 pm, at the LGBT Ctr, 208 W 13th St.

SW: “Seeing the World Anew: A Framework for a New Economy,” with Maria Riley, OP and Julia Wartenberg of the Center of Concern, Weds. Feb 8, 7:00 pm, Church of St. Francis Xavier, 16th Street (Flyer posted to Occupy, Catholics facebook page).

PM: Panel at Columbia University Faculty House (off Broadway) on 2/6/12 at 7:15 pm. More info is on facebook page.

Patrick: OWS will be crowdsourcing a vision statement. Contributors are welcome.