Mount St. Joseph Students and Brother Jeremiah O’Leary Speak at Baltimore Forum

On Thursday April 21st, Archbishop William Lori gathered the major superiors of men and women’s communities for the semi-annual Forum. The theme for the gathering was picking up on an initiative that the Archbishop and other faith leaders in the city had started following the unrest in Baltimore last April. Imam Earl El Amin, one of the faith leaders, spoke to the gathering about the initiative and the visit that many of them made to the Vatican. Following his presentation and questions, four individuals were invited to speak about initiatives in Baltimore coordinated by or involving Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests.

Brother Jerry O’Leary spoke about the work he does as a member of the “Beyond the Boundaries” Program. In this program, a major focus is inclusionary housing as one way to address the systemic issue of poverty in the city. Jerry also spoke about the dialogue sessions and study groups he has been involved with between “sister parishes” within the Archdiocese. These sessions typically allow for education and raising of awareness around some of the systemic issues of poverty and violence in the city. The highlight of the Forum, however, was the participation of 6 students from Mount St. Joseph who spoke about their experience of growing up in the city, the issues they face, their perspective on the violence that took place last April, and their suggestions on how faith leaders and faith based institutions could address the systemic issues of youth in the city. In addition to Brother Jerry, Brother Ed Driscoll was present for the meeting and Brother Larry Harvey was there as a member of the executive committee that plans the meetings and facilitates them. Also present were MSJ faculty members and Xaverian Associates Chuck Belzner and Kevin Shearer who accompanied the students and helped to prepare their presentations.

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