Hey everybody! My name is John, and I’m one of the three FaithJustice Fellows for this year. I arrived in Trenton and moved in at St. James mid-July this summer, and since then I have had to hit the ground running! I had a very interesting summer traveling from parish to parish around New Jersey for our “Level Up” programming that is part of CFJ’s NeXt Level project. The norm would have been to gather everyone here in Trenton for a week-long service immersion retreat, but plans change! Instead we did a modified version of the program, going to each participating parish individually for a three-day, socially-distanced, Covid-safe version of Level Up. For me personally, it was an opportunity to explore New Jersey, since I got to visit towns that I had never been to before (I’m a native of Birmingham, Alabama and was living in Essex County, NJ before beginning my fellowship year, but there is so much of the state that I have not yet seen!) The Level Up programs were a success, and it was powerful to have small groups of youth gathering for prayer, formation, and service, in the midst of a global pandemic. It really felt like the Holy Spirit was at work through these small cohorts of youth gathered at their parishes throughout the state (and Brooklyn!).
Toward the end of the summer, Linh and Jermaine arrived, and our FaithJustice Fellowship community was complete! We had our opening retreat together and decided on the “first-draft ”structure of our shared community life for the year, complete with two community meals per week, social and spirituality nights, and weekly community “business” meetings. We have enjoyed some delicious home-prepared meals and great conversation together already. Linh was in charge of our first spirituality night, where we relaxed and opened ourselves to God, body and soul, through “Holy yoga”. Jermaine kicked off our first social night with a hilarious (and quite competitive) game of Taboo. Quawntashea “Q”, who has been serving as our in-house community engagement facilitator joined us for the fun! I would be remiss to neglect to mention our narrow (but successful!) escape from the Nautilus Submarine-themed “escape room” which we did as a community activity to celebrate Q and Jermaine’s birthdays in September. We even completed our first community service project together, undertaking a major re-organization and de-cluttering of one of the supply rooms in the charter school, “Sprouts”, that is adjacent to our residence at St. James. All in all, community life has been thriving and going well!
Finally, now that the summer Level Up programming has concluded and the school year has begun (even though it is a school year like no other because of the circumstances), the days have been full with the work of building a youth ministry at the Church of St. Ann in Lawrenceville, and continuing to build the campus ministry, in collaboration with the Catholic Campus Ministry student organization at Rider University. Fortunately, these responsibilities are shared between Linh and myself. I have really enjoyed seeing how our gifts compliment one another’s, and how much more we are able to do as a team than either of us would be able to do alone.
Personally, I feel blessed to be a part of the CFJ community and the FaithJustice Fellowship in particular this year. I love the work of ministry, and I am grateful to be able to do it in such a supportive and collaborative environment. Until the next update!
Your FaithJustice Fellow for this year,