By Peter G. Sánchez
The youth group at Christ Our Light Parish in Cherry Hill recently met a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, who shared her tribe’s history of welcoming the stranger and urged her audience to do the same.
Betty Adkins, a Christ Our Light parishioner, is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe from Mashpee, Mass., which is a part of the Eastern Woodlands population, known for its cultivation and diet of maize, beans and squash, with fish.
In the 17th century, Adkins told the youth, the Wampanoag celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the Plymouth Pilgrims, who were religious refugees from England.
As her people welcomed the pilgrims, she said, so must Catholics in the Camden Diocese welcome immigrants coming to the United States for a better life. The Catholic faith urges us to recognize them as equals and advocate for justice on their behalf, she said.
The main focus of the night was to educate youth about the Two Feet of Love: Social Justice, and Charitable Works.
Social justice was equated with working to improve social, political and economic issues by improving the education system; extending legal protection to the unborn; and expanding access to affordable housing.
Youth were encouraged to volunteer at homeless shelters; donate to food pantries; and tutor their peers.
Through Adkins’ “peaceful” speech, said youth minister Sherin Green, the youth are better equipped to advocate for equality and justice for the underprivileged and marginalized in society. “The Catholic Church needs to respond,” she said.