JPIC Committee Encounters History & Hospitality in New Orleans

Originally Published on the OMIUSAJPIC Blog

From April 28 to 29 the OMI JPIC Committee gathered in New Orleans, LA at the historic St Augustine Catholic Church for their first meeting in the new year. The group meets twice-yearly to review and share progress on JPIC’s work. Discussions centered on JPIC’s core areas of work  – efforts to combat opioid crisis; socially responsible investing; integrity of creation initiatives (Oblate Ecological Learning Center; the Community Supported Garden in Godfrey, IL & Three Part Harmony Farm in Washington, DC); and human dignity initiatives like immigration and human trafficking. Discussions also centered on engagement and outreach to young adults and retired Oblates.

From L to R: Gary Huelsmann, Victor Carmona, Fr. Daniel LeBlanc, Fr. Seamus Finn & Fr. Emannuel Mulenga

The group also took a break from meeting discussions to learn more about their Oblate host and St. Augustine Church, which is the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the U.S. The parish was founded in 1841 by free people of color and the grounds were once part of a slave plantation. During a tour led by Fr. Emmanuel Mulenga OMI, pastor of St Augustine, the group learned more about the history of the Church property and paid a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Slave. The JPIC Committee also enjoyed lunch with local Oblates.

(From L to R) Fr. Raymond Cook (plaid shirt), Dr. Victor Carmona, Gary Huelsmann, Fr. Emannuel Mulenga, Fr. Seamus Finn, Fr. Daniel LeBlanc & Fr. Anthony Rigoli

The US JPIC Advisory Committee is a mix of Oblates and laypersons passionate about issues of justice, economic development and ecology. They serve as a sounding board for the JPIC Office.

Tomb of Unknown Slave

Current US JPIC Advisory Committee members are:

  • Dr. Victor Carmona, Chair, is Assistant professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Diego
  • Fr. Séamus Finn, OMI, is OMI JPIC Director & Chief of Faith Consistent Investing – OIP Investment Trust
  • George Ngolwe, is Associate Director, OMI JPIC
  • Mr. Gary Huelsmann, is Chief Executive Officer at Caritas Family Solutions, Belleville, IL
  • Ms. Patti Radle, is Co-Director of Inner City Development, San Antonio, TX
  • Sr. Maxine Pohlman, SSND, is Director of the Oblate Ecology Initiative, Belleville, IL
  • Fr. Ray Cook, OMI, is Oblate Council Representative & Director & Chaplain, Catholic Student Center, Rice University, Houston, TX
  • Fr. Daniel LeBlanc, OMI, is International JPIC Office and Oblate UN Representative – New York

Also in attendance were Rowena Gono (Communications – OMI JPIC) and Bayor Chantal (Office Coordinator)

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