Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
As you may know, one of the top priorities emerging from the Archdiocesan Synod was the call for the Church to renew its focus on issues of social justice. As we look at the violence, crime, poverty and seemingly endless cycle of socio-economic depression in Milwaukee, we see a city in “crisis mode.”
Historically, it has been the Catholic Church’s presence that has contributed to the building of the city. We have done so through our parishes, schools, hospitals and charitable organizations. We have been a source of renewal, especially in times of crisis. It’s time for such a renewal today. Evil thrives in the darkness. Therefore, we need to shine a light in our city. Jesus is our “light.” We need to shine HIS light in our communities. We need to be His light for our city.
As such, I have appointed Father Tim Kitzke as Vicar General, with special emphasis on Urban Ministry. Fr. Kitzke will serve as my representative, establishing priorities for the Church to address within the urban community; directing formation on social justice issues; and identifying ministerial issues and gaps in services. He will be my liaison to public officials, law enforcement, and he will establish support within urban neighborhoods.
In today’s world, we hear so much about natural ecology, with people worrying about the future of our globe and its natural resources. Already, people are creating a “buzz” about Pope Francis’ intention to write about such ecological issues.
As important as these are, I would offer that just as important are issues of “Urban Ecology.” By that, I mean assessing the resources necessary to provide environments of peace and justice in our neighborhoods.
The archdiocesan Synod called for the Church to demonstrate its concern for issues impacting wide segments of our society through the strong and consistent leadership, involvement and visibility from the bishops in areas of social justice, especially on issues like poverty, immigration, violence and crime.
On New Year’s Day 1972, it was Pope Paul VI who memorably declared, “If you want peace, work for justice!” We need to seek justice in our own communities and I believe the Catholic Church has, should and will continue to be that beacon of light for transforming our neighborhoods. The appointment of Fr. Kitzke reaffirms my own personal commitment to social issues in the central city of Milwaukee and throughout the metropolitan area.
Working in conjunction with this new appointment will be an exciting initiative for our Catholic Schools in the metro Milwaukee area. As we know, a vibrant school can itself transform and challenge a neighborhood community.
So, earlier this year, I asked Kris Rappé, a retired WE Energies executive, community leader and Catholic Schools supporter, to lead a task force that would maximize the impact of Milwaukee Catholic schools, through a highly effective system that would advance the transformative experience that is Catholic education. Working with Dr. Kathleen Cepelka and the Archdiocesan Schools Office, as well as a dedicated board of religious, civic and business leaders, their expertise offers a new day for our urban schools.
With a primary focus on Catholic schools in the city of Milwaukee, the task force will examine the key components of educational success, including: leadership, governance, Catholic identity, faith formation, academic quality, community engagement, financial performance, facilities and infrastructure, technology usage and business operations. Using what we learn, we will create a new, more efficient operating system that better supports our Catholic urban schools, provides the necessary resources, tools and infrastructure to drive even greater impact, and enhances our students’ journey toward healthy mind, body and spirit.
When we demonstrate our concern for issues impacting wide segments of our society in areas of social justice, especially on issues like education, poverty, immigration, crime, violence and other social issues, we demonstrate our willingness to follow the command of Jesus to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the June 2, 2015 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.