Add Your Voice

We invite your voice … we need your voice … and the world awaits.

Since 1970, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia has been a network of men and women who live our Christian faith with special emphasis on the call to love and serve “the least among us,” with care for all God’s creation. Together we stand with Appalachia and her people to lift up their voices while encouraging others to listen with compassion and respond in action. The People’s Pastoral is an invitation for you to join in the dialogue.

We invite YOU, first and foremost, whose voices we do not hear easily, often, or at all, including Earth. We want to hear the stories of those of you who struggle, for example, those with low incomes or on desecrated lands; who give voice to the environment; who are undocumented or behind bars; youth, the aging, women, gays and lesbians (LGBTQ); workers in the mines or in the fields; those without a job, a place, a role and little prospect for a future; those struggling with addiction, abusive relationships, mental illness, or sicknesses brought on by industrial or environmental causes, etc. We want to hear, also, from YOU, their advocates and communities who share the struggle with them. And, we ask for words from YOU, beyond these immediate relationships because, in our interconnectedness through Earth, we recognize all are companions on the journey.

As followers of Jesus (”I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”), we believe the more people can work together, the better we can be, as he was, a presence of healing and hope for all God’s creation. So, we ask you …

  • What is your story of struggle?
  • How would things be different if you had no fear or obstacles?
  • Where is there hope in your situation right now?
  • What can we do together, and what bigger changes are needed, to bring about what looks promising?
  • More Wisdom…

Answer the questions in the space below or Click Here for a Word document you can print out, complete and mail in, or fill out and email as an attachment to cca@ccappal.org

2 Responses to Add Your Voice

  1. Wess Harris says:

    Bravo for CCA!!! Never hurts to remind THE church what A church should be!!!!!

  2. Don Becher says:

    With a nod to the realization that I am little more than an outsider (living in a northern Kentucky suburb of Cincinnati) when it comes to the issues concerning Appalachians, I have over the years had many contacts with the coalfield regions of West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. My first contacts with the region came as a part of my work for the National Labor Board (NLRB) and its involvement with the labor/management struggles in its coal fields. I was so enamored by the region and its people that I often wound up vacationing in the mountains of West Virginia. To give me a bit more credibility, my son eventually married a West Virginian, he and his family live in the State and my wife and I are planning a move to Charleston.

    Through my affiliation with the Sierra Club, at a time during and following my travels in the coal fields for the NLRB, I became concerned with the environmental issues that the coal industry created in the region, as well as for the planet as a whole. What the combination of my experiences with the people involved in coal mining and my work with an organization working to severely restrict its use has created is a haunting concern, (bordering on guilt) for the displaced miners; especially those of the age where it is doubtful they will ever move on to other employment, even if other employment existed.
    I began work for the NLRB in 1980. The 1980’s and early 1990’s involved several industry wide strikes in the coalfields into which my agency was drawn. During the same period of time, I was also assigned work associated with several organizing campaigns by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). In the early years of my NLRB career, the UMWA was a powerful entity that was an equal match for big coal companies, and indeed often an overmatch for small time mining operators who could not meet its demands. By the end of 1990’s, however, the UMWA had been beaten down into a much smaller force in the coal fields. Also, during the same time period the number of workers in the coal mining industry drastically fell — first due to the mechanization of underground mining through the use of such mining advances as long wall continuous mining machines, and then by the transitioning to larger and larger strip operations (especially the now infamous mountain top mining method).

    My last trial for the NLRB before I moved on to another federal agency and then retirement, involved a situation where a non-union company bought out a mining company whose employees were represented by the UMWA. The new company hired very few of the former union miners and none of the older miners. There were no jobs for these out of work miners in their area. I spent weeks prepping for the trial with these former miners – whose status as miners (much as the cowboys out west) had defined them. Men (and a couple of women) whose fathers and relatives had all been miners. The case was won at the lower level – but has gone up and down the court system for years. Indeed, at least 4 of the miners involved in the case have died while awaiting some justice for the company’s actions. Many of these men are of an age and in a location where their working lives effectively were ended by their non-hire by the new company. Their union hall has pretty much become a center where former co-workers gather for social reasons, rather than for any work related purpose. I am certain that they must feel that the system, which includes my former agency, failed them.

    The other interaction with the mining region of Appalachia that lays heavy on my mind involves the Sierra Club’s activities with respect to coal. That organization and the Environmental Protection Agency are an anathema in the coal fields. I was once asked by a rather naive fellow Sierra Club member, “Why?” The answer is best exemplified by an incident that occurred when I was part of a Sierra Club contingent planting trees at an old strip mine in the Pikeville, Kentucky area. We were traveling to the old strip site in a school bus being driven by a local woman. I was sitting in the front of the bus and while headed up to the mine site we got to talking. She told me that we were not necessarily a beloved organization by the local people, but that she really did appreciate what we were doing trying to reforest the old strip site. She said though, “Please don’t take our jobs – we’ve got nothing else here, no other way to make a living around here.”
    It is a hard issue. As far as I can see little groundwork has been laid to transition the area to provide other non-coal related work. Indeed, politicians in the region seem hesitant to even broach the topic of a post-coal future. In my humble opinion, extractive industries (mining and logging) have been allowed to take too much without paying their fair share to help with governmental development of other, less destructive, employment opportunities. I understand Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited park in the system. Despite what mountain top mining has wrought, West Virginia has areas which easily rival the most beautiful scenery of the Smokies. Moreover, it is closer to such large population centers as Washington and Philadelphia. I have admittedly no empirical evidence to rely upon, but I cannot believe that if King Coal was taxed at a fair rate, such a park could have been cobbled together in West Virginia – with all the accompanying job opportunities one sees surrounding the Smokies. I am certain that those wiser than I could have come up with better ideas than mine to have put increased revenues to work planning for a post coal future. I can only hope that the past is not prologue.

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