Spring is upon us which means it's time for our Annual Fundraising Gala for Guadalupe House/Tacoma Catholic Worker. This year's event promises to be filled with fun, reflection, and amazing food. We will have lots to do and look at including a short film about what we do here, two interactive art installations, live music, including a song from the Hilltop Street Choir, a live auction featuring many lovely donated items for you to bid on (see attached pictures for details!)
The following article was written for The Practicing Church during a recent visit to Tacoma Catholic Worker. Reprinted here with permission.
This last Saturday, we loaded up vans, cars, SUVs, strollers, sticky kids and babies and went on a community field trip. We went in search of the wisdom found in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma where Paul and Elizabeth Sparks have been living out the way of Jesus in community for over twelve years. And it was glorious. There is some wisdom that is only found as we put our bodies in a particular place, hear the sounds, see the sights, take in the scents, the tastes and the feel of the people there. Paul and Elizabeth’s warm welcome, the cozy living room with the shag carpet, the nourishing food from garden to table, the history of saints who have gone before them − here in this place, a story of faithful presence over decades. The vibrant murals, the shelves of canned delights, the handsome chickens, the expansive gardens, the quiet spaces of reflection, the long dining room table indicative of the wide welcome and hospitality of this place. Sarah, a passionate business owner who is living on very little to pay her employees a living wage, providing a welcoming place for everyone in the community. Her heart , her café and her waffle dogs - amazing! Elizabeth and Nora, part of The Madrinas, all Catholic Workers who are present everyday to create community, hospitality and peace to those who are without it. The sacrificial love of lives laid down is palpable. The kind and weathered faces, the stories, the honesty and the humility.
We couldn’t help but be moved just by being here, seeing a way of Jesus lived out that is equally challenging as it is compelling.
These are not the Christians that you see in the news or in the media. Certainly not in the latest and greatest of Christianity superstars. They won’t make the headlines or trend on Instagram. And yet, what a beautiful thing to see a community living out the welcome and love of the gospel in such a simple and yet powerful way. I wish that more people could see Christians like this. Not the hateful, narrow-minded, judgmental, moral-policing types that have given so many reason to walk away from the church. But the sacrificial and extravagant love that embraces and includes everyone. All those at the margins of society. The immigrant, the undocumented, the prisoner, those living with disabilities or mental illness and those without homes or resources. This is whom Jesus came for. This is whom Jesus embraces. This is whom Jesus loves. This, right here, is what it means to follow Jesus. Forget what you’ve heard and what you think you know about so called “Christianity”. Jesus came to show us what God is like. And it turns out God is not angry or demanding as depicted by many. In fact, it is just the opposite. God is the most wonderfully inclusive, extravagantly gracious and relentlessly forgiving One far beyond the capacities of the human heart.
This is why we need to be grounded in the love of God. Cause our fickle human love only lasts for an hour or two if we are lucky, ‘til we’re mad and offended and inconvenienced. And yet Jesus said that the world would know Him because of our love for one another. Simply put, that we as followers of Jesus are to live a way of love together so that our neighbors can see what God is like. And as Paul talked about this Sunday, the gospel compels us to move outside of our own individual interests and singular families into the wide and expansive invitation of Jesus that includes everything and everyone. We are called into a new family that is not at all exclusive in regards to race, skin color, religion, gender, class or social status. In fact, this new community is radically inclusive. The good news is for all of us.
Now this sounds great. Most of us would nod our heads and even pontificate about how this is truly a wonderful vision for our communities. We are good people. Nice people. We’re for love and world peace and healthcare and ice cream for everyone.
BUT [And mind you, this is a big but]…
How many of us are willing to live out this way of love? To make choices to be faithfully present in a world that continually pulls us away from being present. To choose to invest and to be present to a particular place in a highly mobile culture that largely lives above place. To choose to live in community in a world that says that our individual rights and privilege are king. To choose jobs, homes and lifestyles that enable us to be present in the neighborhoods God has placed us. To choose to be in solidarity with others suffering in our place so that we too are affected. To live on less or go without so that others who have nothing would have something. To be inconvenienced for the sake of relationship. To experience discomfort so that others may be comforted. To face our fears to experience the gift of those very different from us. This is a hard gospel, I know. But what a compelling one. What lies beneath the many facades of the American dream, the corporate rat race, the injustices of those who have and those who have not, and the emptiness and the slavery of stuff, are loneliness, addiction and hopelessness.
What if we could live into another vision? A vision of living our lives together in our neighborhoods in such a way that would show those around us what God is like. No, it’s not flashy. Not glorious. Not prestigious. There will be no headlines here. No celebrities in the making. No reality TV stars. And yet I can’t imagine anything more achingly beautiful and compelling than to live into a way of love and community in our neighborhoods so that everyone - rich and poor, black, brown and white, Muslim or Christian, left or right has a place at the expansive and bountiful table of God.
Paul Sparks is co-founder of Parish Collective and co-author of The New Parish. He and his co-conspiring partner Elizabeth Sparks serve in a Catholic Worker Community in downtown, Tacoma, WA.
by Jessica Ketola
Originally published here: https://www.thepracticingchurch.org/blog/september-28th-2017
Reprinted with permission of the author.
annyeonghaseyo 안녕하세요 (hello)
Greetings from Korea.
Throughout the next 6 weeks I will be sending lots of updates and emails. Please feel free to pass it on to your respected community sites to share. Please feel free to cut out parts and share what you find interesting. I will also try and attach pictures as well. Please follow the
And the https://www.facebook.com/groups/nonavalbase/
I arrived in Seoul Friday Night and made it safely and easily through customs. I was greeted by our dear friend and brother Seth. I had the pleasure of staying with Seth and Nan Young at there house.
There house was very nice and simple. Nan Young has learned weaving and has made bags, baskets, and mats. Saturday night I joined them at a International Folk music night that Seth is hosting regularly. His young Korean students did traditional drumming and many foreigner friends played music.
Sunday was the Jeongwol Daeboreum (first full moon festival) this is a beautiful celebration to bring luck and good wishes into the New Year. There was lots of traditional Korean drumming and dance. There was a large burning of grass and straw that sent the prayers and blessings into the sky. It was really amazing. Read more about it here:
I have officially arrived to my home in Jeju Island Gangjeong village. So much has changed since my last visit. I am staying in the new St. Francis Peace Center. The building is really luxurious with heated toilet seats.
So far our days consists of 7am daily prayer bows. Which are 100 peace prayer bows all in Korean. It is so beautiful.
11am mass and dance. Mass is the main form of protest and blockade here. Again it is all in Korean, and about two times throughout the mass we are moved out of the way by the police officers. We are served Eucharist during mass. I remember Bix calling it 'Eucharistic Resistance' we are taking Eucharist in front of the navy base gate.
Mass ends with human chain and dancing. It is important to bring happy spirits into the dark and harsh reality that is here. These people are outside in the cold rain each day, there strength is unbelievable. Military imperialism does not stop, so we can't stop fighting either.
Then we eat lunch in the outdoor community restaurant. The food is so delicious. I think I must be part Korean. I love it so much. Rice and kimchi for days.
After lunch we join in whatever activity is happening in the village.
Friday 26th is opening ceremony for military base. There might be a new gate entrance opening up that day as well. Everyone is scrambling to organize actions and dances. I am not sure what is going to happen yet.
It is amazing to see all the differences here since my last trip in 2014, you can openly see all the military buildings and housing units.
I have hopes to take many more pictures and do more story collecting.
Any suggestions for places to write to or questions people have would be great big help.
Well off to mass now.
My Korean nickname is dal 달 which means moon.
I will write more later.
Peace and love,
We are excited to be hosting our innovative, creative friend Kathy Escobar at the tacoma catholic worker for a series of roundtable discussions on November 2nd-4th. Come join us as we explore how to embody love, justice and compassion together.
Here are some other posts on Kathy Escobar's work and writings:
Gifts of the Practice
Written by Kate Maguire
May I freely express myself, sing as spirit moves me, dance as I am called to, live into who I am,
each moment alive.
May I shout into the wind, laugh with wild abandon, hold my hands out to both my neighbors and family around the world, and to god.
To receive and share abundance as it comes and goes
This is the practice, and gift,
May I smile to the birds, harvest from the earth with care, and count my miracles as they happen.
May I live into wonder, celebrate creation and learn to be moved.
To recognize the goodness within the hurt
This is the practice, and gift,
May I be present fully, walk alongside you, offer an ear and a shoulder.
May I seek to understand, be a friend and offer myself to be of service.
To hold suffering with strength and tenderness
This is the practice, and gift,
May I choose the path of the bodhisattva, choose healing and learn to listen.
May I choose vulnerability, hold and be held, remember my humanity.
To open your arms and doors with compassion
This is the practice, and gift,
Written by John Hewitt, friend of the community
Everyone is someone's child.
When a child stumbles or is naughty, you help him or her up, teach a better way, set them back in the right direction, and try, try again. If they fall again, you help again as necessary. Some of us are late bloomers. It has taken me over 50 years to feel that I might be a good example for the next generation.
Pointing fingers at alleged addicts and undesirable activities is not the way. I have friends and family who have tendencies to overindulge in tobacco, drugs, alcohol, television, scratch tickets, food, sugar, drama, you name it. I, too, have been less than perfect.
Many who get help become helpful.
If we are good to our neighbors' children then our neighbors should be good our own.
So in light of this, I wrote a poem called, "A Poem to Cities,"
We, who live under trestles
and bridges and in door ways
ask that you forgive us
our tresses and trespasses
and treat us as treasures.
P.S. My current housemate was homeless for 6 months when he first came to Tacoma. He is friendly, hardworking, responsible, and a thoughtful good friend.
Written By Mark Votava
We are trying to do something new at the Tacoma Catholic Worker where we live in relationship with so many who are marginalized and have no voice in our culture. This saddens me because the poor have so much to offer us. Many of them no longer believe that others care about what they have to say or who they are. Even though we do many services for those on the margins, we are reluctant to really listen to them and the things they care about.
So we are trying to be better listeners to the poor, oppressed and marginalized in our neighborhood. This week at our Tuesday night liturgy meal, I facilitated a conversation with a bunch of people about their thoughts on a specific question. The question I came up with was: How can we become more compassionate people? The question thrown out there was especially for those who might feel marginalized and voiceless.
Many people who come to our liturgy are extremely poor, with no homes, very little money and a lot of mental illness. Some are depressed, most are hungry for food, thirsty for something to drink and hurting for relationship. Some of the people have given up on God or been rejected by the church because of the way they look and act. Some are drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, immigrants, have recently come out of prison, unemployed, disabled, struggle with their physical health or are working beneath a livable wage job where they get treated unfairly.
But on this day I found out that those who feel like they have no voice have some prophetic things to say to us. I am coming to see that there is no salvation outside the poor. It is the poor who save us from the illusion of the affluent life of meaninglessness that it seem many of us pursue on a path of upward mobility. Why are we so afraid to listen to the cries of the poor?
This night I broke out of my fear to open myself up to really listen to those who Jesus said what you do for one of the least of these you are doing to me. We need to listen more to Jesus through the poor. This could change everything about how we experience life, care for others and live in community.
Here are 28 ways that were expressed in our conversation about how we can become more compassionate toward those who feel marginalized.
1. Focus on what we have in common with one another
2. Show love and respect
3. Share some food together
4. Don’t be so judgmental
5. Take a posture of understanding
6. Listen and hear others
7. Have more availability for others to take showers in our homes
8. Engage in action that comes from the heart
9. Become open to the wisdom they bring to us
10. Be compassionate toward yourself first
11. Live for the benefit of others
12. Find ways to be together
13. Share our assets
14. Daily acts of kindness and reflection
15. Cultivate patience
16. Have a true motive of genuine care
17. Come out of your own box
18. Respond to suffering
19. Get to know each other
20. Share our thoughts and stories
21. Share our lives together
22. Engage in the process and conversion of compassion
23. Walk with others
24. Take it slow
25. Stop to pause before we immediately respond to someone
26. Realize that we all want the same thing, not to be dehumanized
27. Help someone out while feeling with emotion
28. Refuse to be bitter and hateful
What has touched you through this story?
This was written previously on February 15, 2015 on his blog.
Written by Mark Votava
Published previously September 30, 2014 on his blog.
After about five years of living in Downtown Tacoma, I started to become more curious about the poverty in our parish. I asked myself, “Who are the poor and what are people doing to be in relationship with them in our neighborhood?” I soon learned about the Tacoma Catholic Worker which was a few blocks from where I was living.
Where do you find God working within you in your own context?
To learn more, check out his book.