Notes on peace and justice

North Carolina priest named Catholic Charities USA volunteer of the year

A priest who sees his ministry as a bridge connecting Catholics, non-Catholics and people in need in rural lightly populated southwest North Carolina is Catholic Charities USA’s volunteer of the year.

Father George Kloster, wearing vest, is pictured with a group of volunteers from his parish and others in 2012 as they repaired a home damaged by a tornado in Murphy, N.C. (Courtesy Catholic News Herald)

Father George Kloster, wearing vest, is pictured with a group of volunteers from his parish and others in 2012 as they repaired a home damaged by a tornado in Murphy, N.C. (Courtesy Catholic News Herald)

Father George Kloster, pastor of St. William Church in Murphy and Immaculate Heart of Mary Mission in Hayesville, will receive the award at the organization’s annual convention in September in San Francisco.

“I see what I’m doing as part of servant ministry,” Father Kloster, a native of Utica, N.Y., told Catholic News Service.

He said he was surprised by the honor because “I don’t really consider myself a volunteer.”

Father Kloster’s ministry extends from the Office of Economic Opportunity in Murphy, a program of Catholic Charities of the Charlotte Diocese. That office opened in 1998, about the time Father Kloster arrived in Murphy.

“I help bring parishioners and OEO together so there is a pool of people that OEO can turn to for help,” he explained. “It a very ecumenical organization. The two women on staff are Baptist. One our board we have a Lutheran pastor and a Methodist minister and others who are not Catholic.”

Catholics are a small minority in that part of North Carolina, which is home to lots of retirees and a growing Hispanic community. The total Catholic population of the parish and the mission is about 450 families. Most members are retirees who have moved to the area because of its natural beauty and mild climate, and they have the energy and time to volunteer, Father Kloster said.

The award comes as Father Kloster, 69, prepares for retirement in July. Parishioners offered to build a house for him if he stayed. He agreed and they did.

Lamb Catholic Worker gets start on movement’s 80th anniversary

Eighty years ago on May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin opened the first house of hospitality known as the Catholic Worker in New York. Marking the anniversary, adherents of the Catholic Worker philosophy in Columbus, Ohio, committed to begin offering hospitality and building a community in the city’s Eastmoor neighborhood.

Taking the name Lamb Catholic Worker, it’s the newest Catholic Worker community in the worldwide movement known for offering hospitality to homeless people, members often living in community and working on behalf of justice, most notably worker rights and peace.

Monica Siemer, one of the founders, told CNS May 15 that while the community has not yet welcomed anyone who is homeless, plans are moving forward to have volunteers settled in as many as three houses in the fall. The hospitality focus will be on non-English-speaking women and children.

“It’s been seven years in the works,” she said.

The community broke ground on a small community farm, in the Catholic Worker tradition, May 14, the eve of the feast of St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers.

ICCR campaign urges investors to consider companies’ human rights policies

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in New York has embarked on a campaign to help investors judge the human rights record of the companies in which they invest.

Called “Investing the Rights Way,” the campaign offers investors tools to help guide their investment practices.

The Institute for Human Rights and Business and Calvert Investments are part of the effort.

A copy of “Investing the Rights Way: A Guide for Investors on Business and Human Rights” is available free for download from the interfaith center.

A short video introduces the campaign. In it, the Rev. David Schilling, the center’s senior program director for human rights and resources, explains how it builds on the United Nations’ Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

“Now there’s a new emerging global norm through the U.N. process that enables investors and other actors, companies, states, etc., to really move forward in creating a context of respect for human rights in communities around the globe,” Rev. Schilling says in the video. “So what we have done is an investor guide for this process that is trying to reach more mainstream investors who we think need to take up this initiative and look at their investments through the lens of human rights.”

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