Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem., professed solemn vows to the Community of St. Norbert Abbey in 1991. For several years, he headed the justice and peace ministry of St. Norbert Abbey and presently serves as Manager of Mission and Ministry, Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria, VA. His current ministry connects him to national Catholic issues and Church ministers throughout the country.
DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro's own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of neither of the organizations, St. Norbert Abbey nor Catholic Charities USA, nor of any of the organizations' members.
March 1, 2014
Entry #25: "What does it mean to 'take on the smell of the sheep'?"
by Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.
Like many, I am a Pope Francis fan. We celebrate his 12-month anniversary this month. In the last month or so, some of my/our own reflections on his words and example have been especially significant.
The Catholic Charities USA Parish Social Ministry Professional Interest Section Leadership team was discussing Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, "Joy of the Gospel," a few weeks ago. Some have called it his "manifesto." "The Joy of the Gospel" is very comprehendible. The man who has lived most of his life in common dwellings in Argentina extends clarity and simplicity to his writing. The 288-paragraph document is not without substantive research, however. The 217 footnotes demonstrate that "Joy in the Gospel" is heavily grounded in the teaching of Vatican II and papal pronouncements.
One participant in the discussion said that she uses the English title and not the Latin ("Evangelii Gaudium") because she needs to be reminded that this document is about "joy" (and most don’t know that the English translation of gaudium is joy) AND that the Latin is too hard for her to pronounce, anyway. I shared that I was particularly moved by #169 ff, Pope Francis’ words on personal accompaniment. A few days later, Michel Roy, Secretary General Caritas Internationalis, commented to the audience at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering that Pope Francis supports an advocacy with those who are poor in a most personal way, being in a one-to-one social relationship.
Ok, I understand what Pope Francis is calling us to. Yes, some prefer writing a check to subsidize a human services program, lobbying a legislator to maintain funds for SNAP or international development aid, or volunteering to sort food at a canned food drive, and these are all good and necessary measures to help those living on society’s margins. But Pope Francis challenges us to become evangelizers who "take on the smell of the sheep."
I contend that the Catholic Worker movement is one of the best examples of the art of accompaniment and "taking on the smell of the sheep" in our Church today. Established to provide hospitality for those in need in the local community and based on the command of Jesus to "feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned," the Catholic Worker communities have been walking the talk in the U.S. for almost a century. I was proud to learn that Catholic Charities Diocese of Youngstown collaborated with the Dorothy Day House, a Youngstown Catholic Worker House Community, in a February 7-8 prayer vigil to pray for an end to human trafficking. The vigil was held in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, a turn-of-the-twentieth-century Sudanese slave. I hope that such experiences will continue to forge greater bonds of unity between the sheep, shepherds, and outsiders that Pope Francis calls all of us to.
Archived Blog Posts
- Entry #24: "Gimme Shelter has implications for respecting all of human life" (archived March 3, 2014)
- Entry #23: "Lack of unemployment insurance threatens livelihood of 1.3 million U.S. workers" (archived January 28, 2014)
- Entry #22: "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" (archived January 2, 2014)
- Entry #21: "Inspirations from an hour of prayer in Washington, D.C.'s St. Matthew's Cathedral" (archived December 3, 2013)
- Entry #20: "A victory for public will in U.S.-Syria relations" (archived November 4, 2013)
- Entry #19: "Mobility for whom and what?" (archived September 30, 2013)
- Entry #18: "What sources are influencing your position on comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S.?" (archived September 3, 2013)
- Entry #17: "Head to the border, but not for Taco Bell" (archived July 29, 2013)
- Entry #16: "Remember – they work for us" (archived June 28, 2013)
- Entry #15: "To insure that justice flows like water" (archived May 4, 2013)
- Entry #14: "Pope Francis gains early praise from Catholic social action figures" (archived April 10, 2013)
- Entry #13: The moral impact of sequestration (archived March 3, 2013)
- Entry #12: "My first U.S. Presidential Inauguration" (archived February 2, 2013)
- Entry #11: "Time to vigorously embrace reduction of gun violence as a Catholic pro-life issue" (archived January 8, 2013)
- Entry #10: "December is not too early to think about community gardens" (archived December 4, 2012)
- Entry #9: "Vengeance ≠ Justice" (archived November 5, 2012)
- Entry #8: "Is it a sin not to vote?" (archived October 9, 2012)
- Entry #7: "Costing monarchies and election campaigns during an international economic downturn" (archived September 9, 2012)
- Entry #6: "Neighborliness and the extreme summer weather of 2012" (archived August 4, 2012)
- Entry #5: "Eph 6: 13-17 and a first round victory for DREAMers and their advocates" (archived June 17, 2012)
- Entry #4: "Cultivating Joy, Gratitude and Compassion in Today's Church" (archived May 12, 2012)
- Entry #3: "God is Neither Red Nor Blue" (archived April 14, 2012)
- Entry #2: "Operation Rice Bowl Opens Doors to Understanding Global Development Issues" (archived March 5, 2012)
- Entry #1: "We're 27! We're 27!" (archived January 14, 2012)