F.A.S.T. (Faith and Action for Strength Together)
St. Joseph ‘s Parish is a member of F.A.S.T.: a faith based, community organizing group in Pinellas County .Over 40 congregations currently belong to F.A.S.T.!
This ministry promotes Catholic Social Justice Principles, builds solidarity and seeks to bring about important systemic changes in our communities.
If you would like to know more, please contact Chuck Greensladecgreenslade1@tampabay.rr.com
A message for Justice
God is Great, All the Time and All the Time God is Great.
We Gather tonight in Hope, that Standing together we can transform our community, in the words of Dr. King, we transform the dark days we find ourselves living in into Bright Tomorrows. Our Society, our Community and our Nation are in turmoil. Hatred, and Prejudice has raised its ugly head.
We here from God’s Word that the time of Isaiah, the nation of Israel was in turmoil. Remember that many generations before, God had delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. They settled into a new land and build a community. For centuries, they lived a blessed life as a people of God.
Then, the people had turned away from the Lord and their world was turned upside down, again they were taken back into captivity to Babylon Suddenly their entire society was in ruins and they were shackled in chains. Israelites felt as if God had abandoned them. As it states in the passage, the whole of Israel felt as if they were sitting in a dungeon of darkness.
I’m here to say that today, there are still members of our community who feel that they’re sitting in that darkness. But there is hope, We are that hope.
This Fall we conducted house meetings attended by many people who opened up their hearts and shared their stories.
WE heard stories of the darkness and the shackles that still envelope many in our community.
The darkness surrounding parents who can’t afford decent housing and who fear for where they can lay their children to sleep at night.
The shackles of people who suffer from mental illness but instead of getting help are thrown into a jail cell.
The shackles of people who are still labelled as ex-offenders and can’t vote and can’t get jobs even though they have served their time years ago.
Honestly that could have been me. When I was a kid and growing up in Cleveland, I had a best friend named Steve. Steve and I would have a good time riding bikes and hanging out together. But sometimes Steve would want to do things that I knew were wrong. I remember once we were in a local store, and Steve wanted to steal Chips. He has tucked them into his jacket, I told him No, we’re not steeling, My Dad is a city council member and I’m not getting into trouble. “So put them back.”
When we gathered in house meetings and heard other stories, some of which are posted in the back of the sanctuary, we had heavy hearts. Sometimes we even questioned
why do such horrible things happen?
Yet we left our house meetings with a spirit of hope.
Into this place of fear and despair, God injects reassurance and hope.
I, the LORD, have called YOU in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
God is saying “your story is not over. I have not abandoned you. I have not left you to suffer.” Instead, God is assuring us that deliverance is coming.
And guess where that deliverance comes from? God uses us as his instruments, his vessels to do His will, to bring deliverance to peoples lives.
God is reminding us that our purpose, our calling, is to not only help ourselves, but to extend His blessing to all those who are suffering.
God has called us to Justice and given us the ability to do acts of mercy to help shelter, cloth and feed people and also he has given us the ability to “do justice” to change the systems in our community to ensure that more affordable housing is built, to ensure that children aren’t branded for life with criminal records.
We have the power to change these problems in our community if we work together. We have heard the stories of the suffering in our community in our house meetings and tonight is the time for us to take action.
Each of us has a role to play. By being Justice Ministry Network Members and coming to 4 assemblies per year and each bringing 3 people with us to the Nehemiah action.
This is how we will be that light to the people of Pinellas County who are sitting in darkness. This is how we will open the eyes that are blind and free the captive. By being part of the justice ministry network in our congregation we can bring changes that tell families living in their cars that all hope is not lost,. Our work together tells children who are labeled as troublemakers and pushed out of school that they are loved and valuable.
God wants justice done and he wants us to do it. So the question is
Are we going to help God bring Pinellas County out of the darkness?
How do we stand? FAST together