Tara García Mathewson is a freelance reporter based in Boston. Her work has focused on education, immigration, public housing, and community news. García Mathewson completed her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She has produced award-winning work for the Kitsap Sun in Bremerton, Washington, and the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. She started freelancing in 2013 and has written for a number of magazines, newspapers and online outlets since then. Find samples of her published work at www.taragm.com and keep up with her latest reporting by following her on Twitter @TaraGarciaM.
Adopting dual-language programs is one way parish schools adapt for Latino students, the new Catholic majority
While there was a time when more than half of Catholic children went to Catholic schools, that is far from true today. And within the largest and fastest-growing Catholic school-aged population — Latinos — barely 3 percent are enrolled in such schools. New strategies are slowly changing that fact.
While the Catholic church's role in caring for the Earth has gotten more attention in recent months following the publication of Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si', a dedicated group of women religious has occupied a special place in the Earth justice movement for decades, working to bridge these various social justice silos that operate as though progress were a zero-sum game.
Volunteer programs directed by sisters seek to bring people to the "next level" of social justice, teaching them not just to provide charity but to empower people in marginalized communities. And volunteers tend to remain committed to this kind of work long after their official term is over. The St. Joseph Worker Program in St. Paul, Minnesota, for example, conducted a survey recently of 110 former volunteers. Fully 95 percent of them responded, and nearly three-quarters are still actively connected to SJW sites. Virtually all of them work for nonprofits and have found ways to continue in the spirit of service fostered by the Sisters of St. Joseph. “They live that life of loving God and neighbor without distinction after they leave us,” said Sr. Suzanne Herder, director of the program.