The Province Commission on Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation assists individuals and agencies in correcting diverse forms of injustice. The Commission promotes peace, aids the economically and politically oppressed, and safeguards the planet’s ecology. The Commission reviews grant proposals for programs that help the disadvantaged improve their lot, protect the environment, or help communities understand these needs. These recommendations are then forwarded to the Province Definitory for their approval and dispersal of funds. The Commission also fosters the social conscience of the Province through the dissemination of information and other appropriate means.
The five members of the Commission since 2018 are: friar Phil Ley, friar Jaime Zaragoza, Andrew Hennessey, Debbie Nichols, and friar Tom Smith. They meet two or three times each year. Friars of the Province send in 3% of their taxable income to The St. Francis Fund, which can assist projects in both the United States and foreign countries. The Fund has supported efforts in immigration work, education for self-reliance in Haiti, victims of sexual violence in Uganda, and the work of Franciscans International, among many others. They have also provided information for friars on Laudati Si’, Fratelli Tutti, and social consciousness. Currently, they are beginning efforts with a volunteer to promote the goals and platform of Laudato Si’ in our friaries, ministries, the Province, and other Franciscan entities. Below are some of the recent projects that the Commission recommended for funding:
• Education for students with disabilities in Sudan. This grant will help students with disabilities get a better education and hopefully transition them into schools where they can access increased programming and realize their full potential.
• Piggery Project to help women in Sudan. This project will allow women to become self-sufficient through training to care for livestock while also learning life skills to advance their own lives.
• Vocational training for students, Ngabirano, Uganda Girls Project. This project will empower youth, beginning at age 15,
through education and training in carpentry, tailoring, and business.
• Fighting Sexual Violence among women, Uganda.
This project attempts to identify the underlying causes of injustice and abuse and work to change attitudes and the system perpetuating sexual violence.