Though the Mountains May Fall
In 1975, and again in 1995, members of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) held a number of listening sessions around central Appalachia and took notes or tape-recorded what they heard. They summarized the stories, added social analysis, critical thinking and theological reflection and wrote it down. Then, they took the documents to the 27 Bishops of the region and encouraged them to sign and promulgate them as the Appalachian Bishops’ Pastoral Letters. Today, “This Land is Home to Me”(1975) and “At Home in the Web of Life” (1995) are considered the most influential indigenous documents in the modern Church.
Almost another 20 years later, CCA membership called for another Pastoral, yet, this time, for the first time, in the voice of the people. In June, 2012, the Board of Directors appointed an Exploratory Committee to see if this special project, “The People’s Pastoral,” was even feasible. Original members are aging, retiring, moving away and dying. New members, although younger, are busy with jobs, activism and families. Funding for CCA, particularly from the Bishops, has been dwindling for the past few years as they turn their attention to institutional concerns, and, although “charity” has been re-popularized by the Catholic Church as of late, diocesan offices of peace and justice have been closed all over Appalachia.
Individually, CCA members have been on the front lines of direct service in Appalachia for almost 45 years. Together, since 1970, we have been raising a prophetic voice for Appalachia and her people, exposing and working to rectify the root causes of social, economic and environmental injustice. As the future of Catholic Committee of Appalachia remains uncertain, its members feel passionate that its mission must and will go on with or without us through The People’s Pastoral. It is the culmination of our efforts, our contribution to the regional movement for peace and justice, and an heirloom seed that will keep the smallest, softest voices from Appalachia echoing loud and clear into the future.
We know the only way it will work is to join forces and blend our voices with those of the Ecumenical and interfaith churches, secular groups and organizations and individuals who share our commitment to “the least among us” in the context of all creation. For it is only in one voice of solidarity, one body standing together, that we will bring peace “on Earth as it is in heaven.”