Gospel Reflection: The Spirit and Conflict in Appalachia

Our friend Jean Denton has written a reflection on this Sunday’s readings for Catholic News Service that places CCA’s prophetic mission alongside Jesus’ words from the Gospel: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Denton is well tuned to Appalachian issues, having covered CCA activities for The Catholic Virginian diocesan newspaper for some time now. Denton writes:

An inspiring, ongoing story I covered as a reporter for my diocesan newspaper was the work of the church advocating for justice in Appalachia. Over recent decades, much of that mission has been carried out at the grass roots by the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, an active group of religious and laypeople living and laboring with the people, lifting a prophetic voice against such degradation as mountaintop removal, industrial pollution and myriad social problems that come with endemic poverty.

The Holy Spirit is at work among God’s faithful people there, characteristically stirring up conflict. Characteristically?

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus asks, “Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth?”

On the contrary, he states, he intends to set the earth on fire, bringing division and, yes, that can mean conflict even among our brothers and sisters in Christ.

A stark example is the struggle for justice in Appalachia, alive with Christ’s Spirit as the members of the church grapple with their differences of opinion on environmental issues.

Members of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia last year applauded Pope Francis’ encyclical on the global threat of climate change. The pope’s words appeared to speak directly to conditions in Appalachia as he described the critical depletion of the earth’s natural resources and its particular impact on the poor.

But the response of some local dioceses differed from the committee’s. They disagreed on the environmental and economic impact some of the document’s proposals would have on the region as well as on how to address the problems it raised. Nevertheless, the committee encouraged all the bishops of Appalachia to engage the church in the concerns and conflicts raised by “Laudato Si’,” even though the conversation may be contentious.

Read the entire reflection here. Thank you, Jean, for your reporting, your reflections, and your friendship!


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NETWORK Lobby Praises People’s Pastoral


The Telling Takes Us Home: Taking Our Place in the Stories that Shape Us, CCA’s 2015 “People’s Pastoral,” is featured in the new issue of NETWORK Connection, the quarterly publication of NETWORK Lobby and Nuns on the Bus.

In particular, NETWORK highlights the “first step” of CCA’s pastoral letters: listening. It is this first step of listening to ordinary people that shapes NETWORK’s “Nuns on the Bus” tours. The article also makes mention of last year’s bus tour which included a stop in Wheeling, West Virginia, where the sisters met with House of Hagar Catholic Worker, Grow Ohio Valley, and the Wheeling Jesuit University community.

About the Pastoral, NETWORK says:

In writing the People’s Pastoral, the CCA heard stories from residents of mountain communities, working people, people who are homeless, women, youth, people of color, native people, women religious, LGBTQ people, activists, people who have left the church, and more. While the People’s Pastoral is a prophetic call toward greater justice, peace, and wholeness for Appalachia, it is also a model for our country to listen and learn from one another and envision our future together.

Read the entire article here (PDF).

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Register NOW for 2016 Annual Gathering in Ravenna, KY

46th Annual Gathering
September 9-11, 2016
Aldersgate Camp & Retreat Center
Ravenna, KY

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This year, CCA commemorates the 30th Anniversary of the USCCB’s pastoral letter, Economic Justice for All,” and celebrates what would have been just over 50 years of the Commission on Religion in Appalachia (CORA), from which CCA sprung as the Catholic caucus. Continue reading

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Alyssa Pasternak-Post on WV Flooding and Beauty

CCA member Alyssa Pasternak-Post has written a powerful reflection titled “On Floods and Beauty: A Gospel Reflection Two Weeks after the West Virginia Floods” for the blog Women in Theology. An excerpt:

In today’s global society, with mounting evidence that human activity affects global climate change, “Who is my neighbor” includes those in our immediate proximity and extends to those whom we will never meet due to distance and time. The love of our mothering God – who comforts us in our times of great need – includes the love of neighbors in all times and places for generations to come, and “neighbor” extends to all that is created. Perhaps this flood can be a conduit for greater beauty to emerge – a beauty that has the power to engage us, to draw us into ugliness and to sustain us as we attempt to see clearly and to live justly and virtuously in communion with one another, the created world and our God.

This is Alyssa’s second piece for the site, having joined as a contributor this past spring. You can follow her writing at WIT here. Alyssa defended a theology master’s thesis on the Appalachian pastoral letter “This Land is Home to Me” at the University of Dayton in 2011. Her thesis is available online here.

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Recent Coverage of the People’s Pastoral

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We are pleased that the word is getting out about our new People’s Pastoral, “The Telling Takes Us Home: Taking Our Place in the Stories That Shape Us.” Two great pieces have appeared so far this summer: our friend Barry Hudock’s article in Sojourners Magazine (read the entire article here) and Fr. John Rausch’s piece in Glenmary Challenge. Thank you to both Barry and John for helping us spread the word!

For a complete list of the coverage the People’s Pastoral has received, click here.

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Welcome to the website of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia! If you have visited our site before, you may have noticed some reorganizing and tweaking taking place here. Hopefully what you are looking for is still easy to find!

One major change that we are rolling out today is this new front page with regularly updated posts. It’s one way we hope to keep folks updated on CCA events, media features, and timely calls to action.

You can also stay in touch with us by signing up for our email list, which you can do in the right-hand sidebar of this site. We also maintain an active Facebook group and you can find us on Twitter and Instagram. Our West Virginia state chapter maintains a Facebook page here, and we are hoping that our other state chapters will follow suit soon.

And of course the best way to stay in touch is to become a member which, among other things, gets you on our mailing list. As a member, you’ll be sure to receive notice of all events and will receive our quarterly PatchQuilt newsletter.

Thanks for stopping by, and please let us know if you have suggestions for what you’d like to see on the site. We will make note of any new additions to the site right here on the front page.

Thanks for being in touch!

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