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Living the Eucharist through encounter, racial and economic justice

Our parish, St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, in New Orleans, LA, seeks to bring the Word of God and the transformative power of the Eucharist into the neighborhood around us. As members of the Micah Project, a faith-based community organization, we work with other faith institutions to address issues that impact our community, such as reducing mass incarceration, removing the check box on job applications which states, “I'm a convicted felon” (Ban the Box), the re-entry of returning citizens, and racial and economic justice. We are involved in community mediation efforts to facilitate dialogue with law enforcement and reduce racial bias in policing. Our participation in the Year of Encounter with Pope Francis program helped us to understand the connection between economic issues, such as wages, and racial justice. It also helped us to discover and support efforts in our community to seek a just wage for young people who are unemployed or under-employed. Following Pope Francis’ example, we participated in Micah’s foot-washing ceremony, which was across from City Hall, for persons in our community who are formerly incarcerated and homeless, as a gesture to these community members, and to local officials, of our desire for encounter and inclusion. As part of our current evangelization efforts, we are knocking on doors to encounter our neighbors and learn about their pastoral needs, their experiences with neighborhood safety, community-police relations, emergency response, transportation, blight, schools, and other issues. We will compile these results, provide assistance where needed, and share the information with our city government, law enforcement, and local leaders as we work together for safer and more equitable communities.