This is the first a new series that will focus on people activities at the seminary that I attend. I know the power of the witness of the life of others. We are inspired by their actions and commitment and great love that make us want to be people of faith commitment and love. I hope this series will do that, that it will lead others deeper into their faith and into relationship with God and others.
• Let us start with your name…
I am Ross Epping
• Which Diocese are you studying for?
I am studying for the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa
• What year are you in for your preparation to the priesthood?
I am currently in Second Theology
• When I initially met you in IPF, (Institution for Priestly Formation) In Omaha Nebraska, I was struck by the way you spoke of Dorothy Day. Can you tell my readers something about Dorothy Day?
Dorothy Day, in partnership with Peter Maurin, began the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933, based out of New York City. Day, a convert to Catholicism, was deeply affected by her experiences in New York City with the poor, the marginalized, and the immigrants. She devoted her life to furthering prosperity in Christ through communal work with the poor, stating “I firmly believe that our salvation depends on the poor.” So began her devotion to the Corporal Works of Mercy.
Day, with the help of many others, began building Catholic Worker Houses, safe-havens for the poorest of the cities, allowing them to come and eat as a community. Yet, she believed that it was not enough for those who needed food to simply come and eat, and so the Houses also held theological discussions, prayer services, and were deeply centered on Christ. Day believed that “food is not enough for the body. There must be food for the soul.”
Day was also a strong advocate for peace and nonviolent means. She worked hard, often being imprisoned, for less involvement in the Vietnam War and the furthering of technologies in the nuclear weapons area. She believed it was inherently against the Gospel of Jesus Christ to aid in the killings of our brothers and sisters. Instead, Day, along with the Catholic workers, preached that love could conquer all. She stated, “Love casts out fear, but we have to get over fear in order to get close enough to love them.”
• You are also involved in other areas of justice and peace at the seminary… How did you get involved in that?
I actually got involved following my first year in the seminary. Deacon Desmond Drummer invited me to join the Peace and Justice / Gospel of Life Apostolate my first year in Theology. I was heavily involved in the areas of peace, nonviolence, and social justice in my college days at St. Ambrose University, and so I was extremely happy that there existed an apostolate that deals with those issues here at Mundelein.
• I know this year you are going to spend time in a parish for pastoral internship. Do you think that you will include justice and peace in your work there…
I hope to, yes. I have been working closely with the Social Action office of the Diocese of Davenport and hope to continue that work as I enter into my pastoral internship. I believe that it is vastly important for all people of faith to learn of the works of social justice in and around their community and the Universal Church. Social Justice being one of my main passions in life, I cannot imagine divorcing my vocational path to the priesthood from it.
• How can people in my diocese get involved in the work of justice and peace?
The great thing about social justice work is that it takes so many different faces. To work for the furthering of social justice does not necessarily mean anything on a large scale, rather, it starts right at home. My advice for anyone would be to simply look out at the faces of your congregation, of your parish, and of your immediate geographical area. Next, get to know those faces, get to know those people. Once you do that, you’ll better understand what their needs are, what their desires are, and what it is that gives them hope. This is the work of Social Justice, it starts at home, and it starts with Christ.
Thank you amigo :)