Dubois: Catholics have important role in setting nation’s social agenda

Joshua Dubois, the former associate pastor of a Pentecostal church in Cambridge, Mass., who was recently named to lead the White House Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, has invited Catholics involved in social ministry to tell his office what it is doing right and what it is doing wrong.

A late addition to the schedule of the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, Dubois, 26, took the opportunity Feb. 25 to explain the work of the office and welcomed advice from the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships on how White House policy can be shaped to help people in need.

The 25-member council includes leaders of religious and community organizations. Among them is Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, who introduced Dubois.

“I think we can be partners even on the toughest issues,” Dubois said, without mentioning what those issues might be. “I want you to know our doors are open to you for the next four years and even beyond.

“The president believes no one should check their values at the door in order to work together,” he told the gathering.

Dubois also outlined his office’s goals: ensuring that community groups have a say in how economic recovery policies  are shaped and economic stimulus money is spent; being a unifying voice to meet the needs of women and children and to reduce abortion; supporting fathers who stand by their families and helping young men reunite with their children by getting them off the streets and into jobs; and working with other federal agencies and offices to promote interfaith dialogue around the world as one way to protect national security.

As Dubois concluded his remarks, Msgr. Raymond East, pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Washington, invited the social ministers to extend their arms in blessing the White House staffer. “May the blessing of the Lord be upon you. We bless you in the name of the Lord,” they sang.

Recalling the life of Sister Thea Bowman

As Black History Month nears its conclusion, The Catholic Spirit in St. Paul, Minn., has posted two items about a woman who was a giant in the black Catholic community, Sister Thea Bowman.

If you don’t recognize the name, you would do well to read this review of two recent books about the life of Sister Thea and this text of a speech she once gave to the U.S. bishops on what it means to be black in the church and society.