A Community Building Building Community

Every weekday sometime around 11:30 am I find my way over to Lakeview Presbyterian Church’s third space where I enjoy a better than home cooked meal prepared by First Slice and spend an hour or so in fellowship with friends. Up until April 22nd we had been temporarily meeting in the sanctuary, waiting for the completion and opening of third space which is the name for the old Parish House just west of the Church on the corner of Broadway and Addison in Chicago.

Pastor Joy Douglas Strome shares in the above video their community’s dreams for third space and explains how they arrived at the name as well as the secret, or maybe not so secret to community builders, to creating community in a 21st century modern city. If you are interested in building a community today, I believe this video will provide a good blueprint.

The house built in 1911 provided educational programs to a rapidly growing Lakeview Community. In 1870 2,000 residents, mainly celery farmers populated the area. By 1887 the population reached 45,000 residents, leading to the eventual incorporation into Chicago in 1889. (Wikipedia)

Over the years the space was used for teaching English to immigrant populations, providing sanctuary for Central American refugees, providing alternative education for at-risk youth, serving a hot lunch to neighborhood senior citizens are strong evidence of a church history that proclaims the gospel in actualized missions that serve both neighborhood and city.” (Church Website)

Thanks Pastor Joy and Lakeview Presbyterian Church Community for your continuing to make community thrive in a time when many of us believe real, honest-to-goodness community is something of the past. You’re proving us wrong.

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community of Passionist Partners. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journe

Just Embrace

 

I never know who I’m going to meet or run into at my local Starbucks. One surprise came when the barista suggested one morning that I try something different, like the dark roast. “OK” I replied and so began a two plus years getting to know Sher.

Sher Sheets I discovered lives right down the street from me in a large old frame home where she and her fellow companions live in an intentional community. When I was invited to join the Passionists’ of Holy Cross Province’s committee on community, I knew, I had to somehow share Sher and her community in our deliberations and so today’s interview and post.

Eight years ago after having taken a course in “The New Monastics” in the seminary Sher says she knew her calling. She wanted to live a simple life among the poor. Many of us have dreams while attending school. I don’t think many of us follow those dreams like Sher.

Today Sher tells what the Just Embrace Community stands for, how that stand becomes reality and her and the community’s hopes for the future.

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community of Passionist Partners. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

 

A Conversation with Ann Marie on Community

I often feel challenged by the craziness I see in the world around me. I turn on the News and I hear about the latest killings, fires and mayhem interspersed with advertising (actually, a more accurate statement might read advertising interspersed with a little news) that insists I must take this particular medicine, or drive this new car, or travel to that corner of the world if I hope to experience life and be happy.

I believe there’s another way. I can search for like-minded people, persons who believe in collaboration and sharing and align myself with them in community. In the next couple of weeks I would like to tell you the stories and the opinions of some of the many good people I’ve met in my search for community. Today’s post starts with a conversation with Ann Marie Cunningham sharing what drew her to a religious community when she was younger, her experience of community then and today and her hopes for the future.

This interview appropriately took place at the Lakeview Presbyterian Church in Chicago where I and twenty or so other older adults, participate in the Senior Lunch Bunch five days a week.  I write “Appropriately” because this coming Easter, Pastor Joy Strome and her church members will dedicate their new “Third Space – a community building, building community”.  Hopefully more to come about this growing community in a future blog.

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community of Passionist Partners. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Share Your Passion

As a high school religion teacher, I used to like to ask a new class: “What would you die for?” After a few not too well thought out responses, I suggested that however we spent our day today is truly what we are dying for and not some high and mighty wish or vision that we only think about occasionally like when we’re asked the question in religion class.

I believe finding something worth dying for is a great description for the mission of the Passionists Partners today. We say it a little differently, i.e. keeping alive the memory of the Passion of Jesus. Yes, I believe Jesus died on the cross for me. He also lived 33 years walking this earth teaching, healing and causing all sorts of problems for those in charge. That’s what Jesus died for. It’s also what he lived for.

Another way of saying that is Buddhists, Yasuhiku Genku Kimura’s teaching: “Passion is not something we have, it’s who we are as a cosmic destiny” quoted in the above Ted-x Talk, Building Community that Creates Exponential Impact by Nadav Wilf .  Mr. Wilf encourages us to: “…share your passion, your vision with your friends, your social media network…you never know who may share the same passion as you and is just waiting to meet you.” What a great idea! Thanks Nadav.

I was very blessed to have two careers that I still feel passionately about, teaching and selling life insurance. That might sound like a funny combination, but they are really the same task. Your students are different. The goal is the same, finding what is worth living for, doing it and if you can, make sure that dream lives even without your being there to make it happen.

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

Letters

My good friend, Jim writes letters. Now, every time I receive one of these, I vow that I will write a response. You see, Jim doesn’t use email, so I can’t just send off a quick response. I used to be pretty good at writing letters. I started when I went off to another state for high school and pretty much kept it up until I discovered email and the Internet in the early 1990’s. It’s been downhill ever since, at least as far as letter writing goes.

Lakshmi Pratury in her 2007 Ted Talk, The lost art of letter-writing challenges her listeners by suggesting we should not give up on letter writing sharing how rereading her deceased father’s letters connects her to him realizing “…the paper that touched his hand is in mine…”

I’ve kept a few of the many letters I have received over my 73 years on this earth and periodically look at them and remember another person, time and place. One letter in particular from my older sister, Marianne who in the midst of starting and raising a family took the time to tell my what she thought of my “vocation” and how our family influenced that. I won’t go into the particulars here, but to this day fifty-five years later, I think of that sage advice and sometimes actually reread it.

The founder of the Passionist, Saint Paul of the Cross (1694 – 1775) whose feast day we celebrate this coming Saturday, October 20 wrote more than 20,000 letters.  In his day letter writing was the new technology, kind of like email today. In their book The Letters of St. Paul of the Cross, two Passionists I claim as friends and mentors  Fr. Roger Mercurio (1918 – 2001) and Fr. Frederick Sucher (1917- 2013), building on the work of other Passionists translated  over 2,000 of these opening to English readers the thoughts, struggles and mysticism of this simple man. Thank you Roger and Fred, for introducing this saint to me and happy feast day to all celebrating the gift of letters.

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

We Are All Called to be Builders

Can you imagine a world “of hopes, dreams and visions…where prophets speak…where peace and justice meet…where outcasts and  strangers bear the image of God’s Face and the cross stands as witness”?

Posted by Dan O’Donnell, a layman who has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey

The Power of Asparagus

My mother assigned daily chores to each of us. I remember periodically having to pick some wild asparagus that grew in our rock garden and bring it in for dinner that night. I never dreamed that this simple act was unusual or that it would ever become a means of fighting climate change or of building community.

Tim Rinne in a 2014 TEDx talk Growing food, growing community — the example of the Hawley Hamlet, shares a charming story of how the fear of missing a meal at some future date, led him to revolutionize what his neighborhood looked like and how he grew from knowing just three of his neighbors to now knowing all of them. As a result of their combined work, they lessened their carbon footprints and learned to grow food, much like that asparagus I picked when I was five years old in 1950.

I’m meeting with an activist group leader tomorrow to talk about what we might do to fight the bad effects of gentrification in our Chicago north side neighborhood. Maybe we will plan a demonstration in front of the alderman’s office, or maybe we will organize individuals asking them to stand on corners requesting people to sign petitions. Both ideas I suspect have been successful in the past, but I’m hoping that we will come up with something more revolutionary like the Hawley Hamlet. Thanks Tim for the idea.

Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey