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Posted October 15, 2015

Book: Beyond Empowerment: A Pilgrimage with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Author: Jeffry Odell Korgen
Orbis Books. Maryknoll, NY. 2015. Pp. 181

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Beyond Empowerment tells stories that take us to the world of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and gives us glimpses of the triumphs and joys experienced when people come together in common purpose and strive to reach beyond their circumstances to make things better.

Each chapter focuses on a particular dimension of community organizing and economic development. All across the United States, the voices of CCHD employs, organizers, and friends articulate their struggles and insights, their challenges and triumphs. These interviews, profiles, and case studies provide readers with wisdom and inspiration – and the hope that come through working together.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Beyond Empowerment

"Today . . .masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized; without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. . . it is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised --- they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers."

In a meeting with journalists immediately after his elevation to the papacy, Pope Francis stated, "Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and a Church for the poor." At the time, many of us thought we knew what he meant. We didn't.

Since that press conference in 2013, Francis has consistently challenged us to understand the meaning of "a poor Church for the poor." Through his travels and in his speeches and writings, he has always guided us to the poorest of the poor among the poorest of the poor: "the excluded."

Who are the excluded among us in the United States? Some are hidden, some hidden in plain sight. Maybe they are disabled; maybe they live in a Native American Indian nations. Perhaps they were raised in a "no-parent" family, or they are unauthorized migrants or ex-prisoners. Pope Francis calls us to be a church of and for these excluded people. Isn't it time we got to know them better?

Table of Contents:

1. A place at the table: cafe reconcile and Bayou interfaith

2. Meet the Lideresas: women's justice circles

3. Voices of solidarity: workers centers and social enterprises

4. "Who's got the tickets?" Progress center for independent living

5. The power of Himdag: Tohono O'odham Community action

6. Jobs not jails: ex-prisoners and prisoners organizing for community advancement

Afterword: the end of the pilgrimage