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Blessings and greetings from St. Agatha Catholic Church here in North Lawndale! I am very pleased to introduce this first issue of a community newspaper produced by staff and interns of our St. Agatha News School.
For over 6 years, The News School, based in the Winslow Redmond Technology Center at St. Agatha, has trained citizen journalists in paid after-school and summer school programs which focus on the skills of researching, writing, interviewing, checking sources, journalistic ethics, and how to construct compelling news stories that reflect the vibrant life of our Chicago West Side and South Side communities.
These stories will highlight the challenges facing our communities. But, more importantly, they will highlight those individuals and groups that are seeking to address those challenges, and spotlight the organizations that serve and engage our community. Therefore, demanding the very best from those within and beyond our neighborhood whose mission is to serve the needs of the community.
The first and most important principle of our Christian Catholic social teaching is respect for the dignity and sanctity of every human life. In communities still beset by the forces of systemic racism, our hope is that every organization and every family in our communities will claim that dignity and that sacredness daily and, in doing so, help each of us allow God to stretch us to dream and build a stronger, more vibrant, safe and compassionate environment.
In order to do so, we must be willing to confront those things that limit us in living to our fullest
potential, like processing how the trauma that so many in this community have endured, and continue to endure, has affected our spirits, minds, and bodies. It calls us to have the courage to acknowledge and confront these things rather than simply pushing through every day or, even worse, medicating ourselves with alcohol, drugs, and other things that prevent us from living our fullest lives.
These are the things we want to raise up, not stories that reflect the daily violence, despair, and poverty endured by many in our communities, but stories of those who are there to help; stories of those who have faced their demons; stories of those who have fought the system or fought the odds against them, and have come out all the better.
We hope you will help us in identifying these resources, in highlighting those who reach out for the help they need, stories of those who encourage and guide us to get the assistance we need, and stories of those in homes, churches, social services, law enforcement, and government who help us find that peace and security that allows us not only to survive but to thrive.
Thank you to all of those individuals, parents, families, churches, schools, organizations, and
service providers who add value to our lives every day! Let us continue to build on the legacy of
those who have come before us. Let our legacy be that we, as a community, lifted each other up and overcame all of the external and internal forces that fight to limit the limitless power of a community united in love!
Gentle peace! Fr. Larry Dowling
Images Courtesy of Gricelda Chandler – Used With Permission