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The ‘Catholic labor priest’?

Tom Gallagher  |  Aug. 22, 2012 NCR Today

A relic of a bygone era, the Catholic labor priest, appears to be making something of a comeback.

According to the Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco:

“We’re not coming at this out of thin air,” said Father Richard Vega, the outgoing president of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils in Chicago, helping to form a group of priests advocating for workers. “We are talking about what our principles have always been. From Leo XIII to Benedict XVI there is a consistency. There is no break.” Read more

Growing the Ranks of ‘Labor Priests’

By Barbara Doherty

Growing the Ranks of ‘Labor Priests’

For as long as working people have come together for better lives and working conditions, they have relied on clergy and religious leaders to bring a spiritual dimension and moral leadership to the movement—in mines, mills, fields and factories.

Now an effort is under way to reinvigorate the ranks of “labor priests” in the Catholic Church. This new network of labor priests aims to build a contemporary home for a century-old tradition of speaking out for workers’ rights and fighting against injustice alongside workers. Read more

Spirituality of Work

Spirituality of Work

(A chapter from the book, Confident and Competent – A Challenge for the Lay Church, William L. Droel and Gregory F. Augustine Pierce, 1987. Reprinted with permission from ACTA Publications, Chicago, Illinois)

So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them, and said, “Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control.” – Genesis 1:27-28

Laypeople must realize that their daily work is the primary means by which they help bring about the kingdom of God. Any spirituality which detracts or distracts from work is therefore counterproductive.

In the final sentences of his encyclical On Human Work, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Let the Christian who listens to the living word of God, uniting work with prayer, know the place work has not only in earthly progress but also in the development of the kingdom of God, to which we are called through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the word of the gospel.”1 Read more

What can the church do for worker justice in America?

What can the church do for worker justice in America?

U.S. employers routinely violate the seventh commandment when they refuse to pay their workers their legally mandated wages.

Growing up in what she describes as a “pretty conservative church background” in Ohio, Kim Bobo excelled at memorizing her Bible verses. “I won all the contests,” she remembers. “It has served me well in my life. You can’t really know the scriptures and not realize their core commitment to caring for our neighbor. My life has been about trying to figure out how I play a role in helping people and how I can do that in the most effective way possible.”

Throughout her career, which has included stints as an organizer for Bread for the World, as the “church lady” in a training center for organizers, and as the founder and director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), Bobo has consistently worked to energize faith communities in the pursuit of social justice.

She first got pulled into her current focus on workers’ rights when she helped organize religious support for the 1989-90 Pittston Coal miners’ strike. That experience planted the seed that eventually—with the help of Chicago’s legendary Msgr. Jack Egan—led to the founding of IWJ. Read more

Spirituality of Work – William L. Droel and Gregory F. Augustine Pierce (1987)

Spirituality of Work

(A chapter from the book, Confident and Competent – A Challenge for the Lay Church, William L. Droel and Gregory F. Augustine Pierce, 1987. Reprinted with permission from ACTA Publications, Chicago, Illinois)

So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them, and said, “Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control.” – Genesis 1:27-28

Laypeople must realize that their daily work is the primary means by which they help bring about the kingdom of God. Any spirituality which detracts or distracts from work is therefore counterproductive.

In the final sentences of his encyclical On Human Work, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Let the Christian who listens to the living word of God, uniting work with prayer, know the place work has not only in earthly progress but also in the development of the kingdom of God, to which we are called through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the word of the gospel.”1 Read more

‘Labor priests’ being trained to help immigrant, low-wage workers

LABOR-PRIESTS Jul-6-2012 (1,070 words) With photo. xxxn

‘Labor priests’ being trained to help immigrant, low-wage workers


Father J. Cletus Kiley, a priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago, is pictured in the lobby of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington July 5. The priest is director of immigration policy for UNITE HERE, a union for hotel, restaurant and textile workers. Father Kiley also serves on the AFL-CIO immigration committee. (CNS/Bob Roller)

By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The concept of “labor priest,” epitomized by Msgr. John Egan and Msgr. George Higgins in the 20th century, has been given a new twist to meet the realities of the 21st century.

The priests — more than two dozen of them, and all working with the approval of their diocesan bishops — are being recruited to help immigrant and low-wage workers.

The clerics met in Chicago in June with a number of mentors, speakers and labor leaders to hone their focus and to give them tools for the work ahead. Read more

A new generation of labor priests

A new generation of labor priests

Aug. 31, 2012 By Brian Roewe

Fr. Ty Hullinger (left) listens to fellow priests May 22 during the first Priest Laborer Social Justice Continuing Formation meeting in Chicago. (NCR photo/Brian Roewe)

On July 23, housekeepers and other workers at Hyatt Hotels began a global boycott of the hotel chain. Citing unjust hiring practices, unfair wages and unsafe working conditions, the workers have marched, picketed and petitioned organizers and travelers to join them. At many of these demonstrations, standing by the workers’ sides were Catholic priests.

In Washington, it was Fr. Clete Kiley, director of immigration policy at UNITE HERE, the union representing Hyatt workers. In Baltimore, it was Fr. Ty Hullinger and Fr. Patrick Besel.

UNITE HERE workers protest outside of the Park Hyatt Hotel in downtown Chicago in 2009. (EPA/Kamil Krzaczynski)The priests aligned with the Hyatt workers and other industry workers represent a new generation of labor priests — pastors who preach not only for a just working environment for their parishioners, but stand beside them in their struggle. Read more