Community Conversation #4 (11.28.23)
We recently had another good meeting with West Side friends and neighbors. This one was held at Humboldt High School. It was great to hear from HHS students, staff and parents—as well as to tour the building.
For example, I learned that Humboldt has an agriculture program, with licensed ag teachers. Urban farming, anyone? Who knew?
I also met some very impressive JROTC students. They welcomed us at the front door, guided us to the cafeteria, served supper, and spoke about their program, classes and plans.
This meeting certainly focused on Humboldt, though we also heard from the principal at Riverview. A central theme of her talk—and the Humboldt folks—is the need for sustained attention to our West Side youth. (I’m glad that we at St. Matt’s have formed a Youth Group. Details elsewhere in our bulletins and inserts.)
Indeed, a focus on youth has been a consistent theme of all of our Community Conversations, ever since we began last May. You might recall that we began these conversations as a way to listen to our neighbors. We wanted—still want—to know more about local needs and resources. What better way to do that than to listen?
As we were setting up last week, a student saw my nametag and noticed I’m from St. Matt’s. “Is this a religious event?” he asked? I said, “No, it’s a community event. St. Matt’s is sponsoring it, since we’re a part of the West Side.”
My Catholic take on all this is that we’re following the example of Pope Francis’s approach to listening to others throughout the world. As he’s pointed out, our church has too often featured powerful people talking down to others—rather than listening. Fr. Steve’s preached on this idea as well. Communication works better when it’s two-way, not one way.
I see a lot of parallels between these Community Conversations and our St. Matt’s internal conversations. The processes are similar: develop relationships, break bread together, and listen. Work together to identify needs and resources; make plans for the future.
Thank you for your support, and have a great week!