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Issue Date:  November 16, 2007

Program can change lives

JustFaith is an intensive adult formation program in Catholic social teaching. Centered on parish-based small groups, JustFaith leads participants through a 30-week study, using books, lectures, videos and prayer.

The program includes two weekend retreats and participants must agree to about four hours of study a week.

The organization’s mission statement says, “The aim of JustFaith Ministries is to enable people of faith to develop a passion for justice and to express this passion in concrete acts of social ministry.”

JustFaith was founded in 1989 by Jack Jezreel, a lay parish minister in Louisville, Ky. According to a March 25, 2005, NCR article, Jezreel set out to create a program that would set itself apart from the typical sparsely attended parish social concerns meeting.

Inspired by the success of parish-based catechumenate programs, Jezreel decided he needed to demand more of people’s time and brainpower.

He handpicked the more than 25 books and videos shaping discussion questions that cover everything from globalization to racism to poverty and modern- day saints. Over the years he has developed partnerships with Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

About 450 parishes in 84 dioceses have adopted the program, and it has been known to change lives.

The 2005 NCR story told of Carol Zwaans, who became a vegetarian because of the program’s readings and gave up work in the banking industry. Chacha Guerrero changed her shopping habits to patronize local businesses. Manson King convinced his parish to purchase a St. Martin de Porres statue to raise awareness of black saints.

An April 2007 story in the Milwaukee archdiocesan Catholic Herald told of Patty Holley, who left a corporate accounting job to work for nonprofit companies that “help raise people up.” Others in Holley’s group joined the Ignatian Volunteer Corps.

“The program doesn’t end after 30 weeks,” Jezreel told the Catholic Herald. “People in some ways don’t know what happened to them until a year or two later. In some ways, God’s spirit disorients before it reorients.”

-- NCR staff

National Catholic Reporter, November 16, 2007

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