The theme of this year’s Provincial Assembly held at the end of June was ‘Social Justice.‘  Months earlier I was asked to create a photo display of the Viatorian Community’s ministries involving social justice issues over the course of our history.  This was a major assignment since the Viatorians have been in the United States since 1865.

Research began in the most obvious collections in the archives – files of the deceased priests and brothers and former CSV institutions.  Then it widened to current day ministry sites and active Viatorian Community members, which now includes associates.

The search continued and broadened because many of the social justice ministries were a personal cause or interest ‘on the side’ and not necessarily an official assignment.  Finding documentation of these activities were more easily found in the Community newsletters.  Through the years, these ministries were always there though – it’s not a new concept to the Viatorian Community.

Pulling all these people, places and activities into a coherent exhibit on a cafeteria wall and the logistics of hanging it took some thought.  It took form in my mind though when I was reminded of the Bible verse – “I am the vine; you are the branches.” (John 15:5)

The Viatorians are the branches – reaching out with care, love and service to the youth and those accounted of little importance throughout their entire history.  The underlying foundation of education in faith and service to the Holy Altar, supports the extensive social justice ministries.

The exhibit was taken down after a couple days of viewing, but the interest in the topic still remains. New ways of sharing this history, in the classroom and on the web, are being explored and research continues, since not everyone and every ministry could be represented in this particular exhibit.  There will definitely be more to come on this topic.