Broken and Shared: Food, Dignity, and the Poor on Los Angeles’ Skid Row Book Review

Broken and Shared: Food, Dignity, and the Poor on Los Angeles’ Skid Row
By Jeff Dietrich
418 pages, Marymount Institute Press, $29.95

If you are wandering in the 50-block area known as Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles and you ask directions to Hospitality Kitchen or where the Catholic Workers serve meals to the homeless, no one will know what you are talking about.

“This place,” explains Catherine Morris, the gentle Catholic worker, “is and always has been known among the people as ‘The Hippie Kitchen.’ Since the beginning.”

Catherine is author Jeff Dietrich’s wife, who, together with various community members, has run the Catholic Worker Movement in Los Angeles since 1970. When NCR asked me to review Jeff Dietrich’s book and attend the launch at Loyola Marymount University this past Sunday, I knew I needed to visit the kitchen to have an idea of their work in Los Angeles, a visit long overdue.

Click here for the complete  review: http://ncronline.org/news/people/wheat-war-life-poor

Prof. Theresia de Vroom, Cathy Minhoto, RSHM, Jeff Dietrich, and Martin Sheen at the launch of "Broken and Shared" just after a reading.

The Way with Martin Sheen – don’t miss it!

The panel for the special screening of THE WAY last Saturday night in Los Angeles; photo by Frederic Charpentier

On Nov. 5, Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in collaboration with Mt. St. Mary’s College Chalon Campus, hosted a screening and panel discussion of Emilio Estevez’s new film “The Way.”

 The main attraction, besides the film, was the participation of the film’s star, Martin Sheen, his eldest son writer/director, Emilio Estevez, and producer David Alexanian. The panel was moderated by communications professor Dr. Craig Detweiller of Pepperdine University. Other panelists were Jesuit Fr. Eddie Siebert, president of Loyola Productions and chaplain to CIMA, the Rev. Scott Young, executive director of the University Religious Conference at UCLA, and me.

I had the honor of interviewing Sheen about the film for NCR, so being part of this event was an added grace. I can’t think of another way to put it.

“The Way” is the story of California widowed father and ophthalmologist, Tom, who goes to France to bring home the body of his son, who died in an accident just as he was to embark on the famous Camino to the Shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He finds three companions along the way, a pilgrimage that changed him from choosing a life to living it, opened up his view of the world from his small little golf course to countries and people he never thought about, that healed a father-son relationship, even in death, and celebrates the divine hope of reconciliation, even in a church that can be, as the character Jack says, a “temple of tears.”

For more click here for Sr. Rose’s blog on NCR

I took this photo with my iPhone; a little blurry but you can see how much we laughed!

 

Urban Mystic: The Video for the 19th anniversary of the LA riots

On this day in 1992, four Los Angeles Police Department officers were acquitted of the beating of Rodney King and Los Angeles erupted in rioting. The beating of King, which had been video tapped, the trial and acquittal were seminal events in the history of race relations in this country.

Last year I interviewed the Rev. Scott D. Young about his annual pilgrimage to the site of the flash point of the civil unrest following the acquittal of the police officers in the Rodney King case.

NCR published the article and it can be read here: Urban Mystic at the Crossroads

I believe this outtake captures the essence of Scott’s passion for the city, a true urban mystic.

You can read Scott’s blog at The Culture Vulture Report

Sympathy for Delicious: Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut

Dean O’Dwyer (Christopher Thornton) is an aspiring DJ known as “Delicious D” on the Los Angeles underground music scene. A motorcycle accident leaves him in a wheel chair and he ends up sleeping in his car on Skid Row.

Fr. Joe (Mark Ruffalo) ministers to the homeless by organizing and serving meals and finding temporary housing shelter for those who will accept it. The priest notes how depressed the young man is and brings him to a healing service where people are “slain in the spirit.” Dean is skeptical but inexplicably he discovers he has the power to heal others. It is very confusing and a lot to take in.

Thornton and Ruffalo in "Sympathy for Delicious" that opens today in NY, LA and DC on May 5.

Meanwhile Dean, now a minor celebrity, joins a rock band and decides to market his abilities as a healer. This is not out of compassion. It seems an almost passive-aggressive reaction to God’s caring for others but not for him. Fr. Joe advises against this, but must confront his own personal faith issues as he tries to guide others. When Dean’s healing abilities fail when they are needed most, he is forced to confront his demons and accept the fact that sometimes the healing you get from God is what you need, not what you want.

Click here to continue reading

For locations and times click here

Religious Education Congress 2011: A vibrant human mosaic

The labyrinth

 

ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Ask anyone who participated in the Religious Education Congress March 17-20 how they would describe the event in terms of art, and they will tell you: It’s the people. Ask author/speaker Jesuit Fr. James Martin and he will tell you that the congress — not Disneyland across the street — is the happiest place on earth.

Charity Sr. Edith Prendergast, who heads the Los Angeles archdiocese’s Office for Religious Education, told me that she loves the congress for its poetry and beauty. “It is an authentic expression of the life of the church and people come to be enriched.”

At the opening ceremony, people from various cultures and costumes processed in the arena that holds 6,000; there was a lovely liturgical dance, and the music and singing engaged everyone. Prendergast presented our new archbishop, José H. Gomez, “the chief catechist of the archdiocese,” with the illuminated Gospels and Acts of the Apostles from the St. John’s Bible from Liturgical Press. After Gomez opened the congress in prayer, he introduced Prendergast. When she got to the lectern to give her presentation, she said, “You will hear from the archbishop later.” Then she paused and turned back to the archbishop and said, “That is, if it’s OK with you.” It brought down the house.

Click here for the entire article: Religious Education Congress 2011: A vibrant human mosaic.

Mirtha Vespi talks about Congress and Magnificat Ministries

 

 

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