Letter from Brian Jordan, OFM

Fr. Jordan has been an ordained Roman Catholic priest for twenty five years. During his ministerial service, he has served in multicultural parishes in the Bronx, Boston and Silver Spring, Md. He also ministered among labor union workers and imiigrants in the United States. He has written extensively about immigrant advocacy and Latino issues in a number of journals and magazines. He briefly worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in which he helped to inform the public about current immigration law and policy. He currently serves as an immigration counselor at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan, NY, to assist immigrants and as a spiritual advisor to local labor unions.

Dear brothers of the Catholic Council,

History is about to happen in 2009! First, the inauguration of the first biracial President of the United States--Barack Obama. Second, the possible passing of the Employee Free Choice Act which will allow the unionization of more workers. Both have historical precedents.

In 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in humble settings in Illinois. Despite a tough upbringing and difficulties with his wife, Mary Todd, Lincoln became one of the greatest Presidents of our great nation. With his strong resolve to bring us together before, during, and after the Civil War, Lincoln was tremendously responsible for establishing the foundation of the United States. President-elect Obama was greatly influenced by Lincoln's inspiration and dedication to God and country.

In 1909, America was in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. This Industrial Revolution brought about many new jobs and union organizing sprang into action to uphold the rights of workers. Both encyclicals from the Vatican and statements from the US Bishops supported workers' right to organize and the dignity of human labor. There were numerous union-busting schemes by management to discourage which led to violence and bitter confrontations. In 1909, then-President Theodore Roosevelt, through executive order, upheld the presence of unions and helped to establish their legacy in this country.

Here we are in 2009 and our nation faces a crisis--both economic and spiritual. This is an economic crisis as similar to 1975 and 1983. Our city, our state and our nation persevered together and made it through these past economic crises. And this too will pass! It pays to persevere through prayer.

As a chaplain what I am keenly concerned about the spiritual consequences of the present economic crisis. Economic crises come in cycles. These cycles pose both problems and solutions. Allow me to examine three potential problems for 2009 and three possible solutions.

First, financial incompatibility among couples and their families. Financial deprivation often leads to marital difficulties if there is not clear cut communication between husband and wife. Realistic expectation, sound financial planning and living within your means lead to a viable solution.

Second, a decrease in wages can lead to an increase in alcohol and drug abuse. Studies since the Industrial Revolution have indicated a huge upsurge in heavy drinking and uncontrolled drug use when there is high unemployment and, even worse, underemployment. Substance abuse only deadens the pain and frustration--and only makes matters worse. Pursue the real Spirit through prayer and the 12 step program of serenity. That is the true solution.

Third, be tolerant and do not scapegoat others for your problems. It is easy to blame the undocumented immigrant, members of racial minorities and anyone who is not of our so-called "own kind." Scapegoating is the problem and tolerance and respect are the solutions. All of us are suffering from this economic crisis. We are all in the same boat and let us survive and thrive together as the People of God.

In the past, great political, labor and spiritual leaders rose to the occasion and helped the American people overcome their problems. Let us pray together as members of the Catholic Council of 2009 to support our political , labor and spiritual leaders to overcome this present crisis as the People of God.

Yours in Christ,
Father Brian Jordan, OFM

     Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice