photo of Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA

The Time is Running Out

The readings at Sunday’s liturgy reflected the urgency with which God expects us to act in carrying out his work.  As St. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “the world in its present form is passing away.”

Even though the readings spanned centuries – from the times of King David to the century after Christ – the message is the same today: proclaim my message, follow me, work for the common good.  It is not an easy path to take. Two of our colleagues at Catholic Charities found a way, though, and have transformed the lives of hundreds as a result.

Kevin Concannon, now USDA Under Secretary for Food and Nutrition and Consumer Services, has spent his entire career helping others.  From the Catholic Charities movement in Maine and throughout his distinguished experience in government, he has demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that children live in hunger-free communities. He inspires us all to envision a society in which everyone has enough to eat and lives a life of opportunity and hope.

Janet Valente Pape has spent the past two decades working on domestic violence, homelessness, aging, disability, imprisonment, and racism issues – known contributors to poverty. While serving as Director of Catholic Charities in Wichita, Kansas, she supported and advanced programs that promoted diversity. As Chair of the CCUSA Board, she led a march across the bridge in Covington, Kentucky, to highlight the links between poverty and racism, and co-hosted the first ever Internet conference on poverty and racism.

When we watch the news these days, we may feel that the world as we have known it is passing away.  We may feel that the problems of the economy and unemployment and poverty are too vast and complex to resolve. But Kevin and Janet are proof that one person can effect great change.

The Psalmist reminds us that God’s love and compassion “are from of old.” Like Jonah, like the Apostles, we are called to set aside the distractions of our daily lives and do God’s bidding in the here and now.

I’m sure there are hundreds of other humble heroes like Kevin and Janet, people who heed the urgency of God’s call. Who are the people helping those in your community for whom “the time is running out”?  Let me know. Let’s tell their stories here.

Do you know anyone who has made a difference in the lives of poor people? Started a food bank? Led a fight for housing?  Started a prison reading program?  Share their stories in the comment area below or on Facebook and follow the conversation.