Father Gerry Souza, right, Catholic chaplain at the Suffolk County House of Correction in Massachusetts, speaks at a Massachusetts Communities Action Network rally in September. (Photos courtesy of Massachusetts Communities Action Network)
Leaders from Brockton Interfaith Community hold boxes of signed petitions for minimum wage and earned sick time campaigns in 2014.
Iolanda Silva de Miranda believes the Gospel calls people to act when injustice is present.
Massachusetts Communities Action Network, a congregation-based community organization, came to her parish, St. Edith Stein in Brockton, to talk about the need to raise the state’s minimum wage, Silva de Miranda knew she had to step up.
After hearing how some people work two or three jobs to make ends meet and feed their families, she got involved.
“That’s what God calls us to,” the native of Cape Verde said. “Mary was about to have Jesus and all the doors were closed. Nobody wanted to let her in to have a baby. Sometimes we don’t see those (people). We close the door to the people. We close the door to the more needy and we exclude people.”
It has been a few years since Silva de Miranda, 52, joined the Brockton Interfaith Community, a member of MCAN. She now is co-president of BIC and serves on the MCAN board.
MCAN, an affiliate of the PICO National Network founded in 1972 by Jesuit Father John Baumann, spearheaded the statewide initiative to raise Massachusetts’ minimum wage. It took time to organize, educate, seek signatures on petitions and seek endorsements, like the one from the Massachusetts Catholic Conference representing the state’s bishops.
But Miranda de Silva said the work was worthwhile, especially when voters approved the minimum wage ballot measure in November 2014. By January Massachusetts will have the highest minimum wage in the country at $11 an hour.
For its minimum wage campaign and efforts to gain medical leave for low-income workers, MCAN received the Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development during the recent snowbound Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington.
MCAN, a recipient of CCHD national level grants, has worked for more than 30 years to better the lives of low-income people in Massachusetts through congregational organizing and education, said Lew Finfer, the organization’s director.
Early in its history MCAN focused on affordable housing, gang violence and improving conditions in schools. As the economy faltered, especially during the Great (Read More)