There are perhaps no more valid words in Scripture than these, “The poor you will have always with you.” ~ John 12:8. Our founder, Bl. Francis Jordan, was dedicated to preaching the Gospel through new and convincing ways to many, especially and increasingly to the poor and marginalized. More often than not, responding to the signs of the times brought Bl. Jordan and his followers in close contact with the poor.
As the 1970 Provincial Chapter got underway, social activist Fr. Luke McArthur, SDS, helped to set the tone by sharing the first ordinance, “Today, the problem areas of poverty, racism, and war stand as the greatest threats to the People of God as they seek to find a peace-giving, compassionate, forgiving and living Christ. This 1970 Provincial Chapter, therefore, charges the American Province to involvement in the present problem areas of poverty, racism, war, and other current crisis areas.”
A commission was formed to educate and collaborate with other religious orders and agencies. By early 1972, the first gathering of the Justice and Peace Commission convened in Milwaukee, WI. From 1976 through 1989, Fr. Luke ministered as pastor at St. Pius X Parish in Wauwatosa, WI. His passion was evident, and many justice and peace initiatives and projects took root, including but not limited to welcoming two Cuban refugees to live with them in the rectory until transportation, jobs, and housing could be arranged, the formation of a group in Wauwatosa in response to concerns that the area was not open to racial integration, and support of a petition in 1982 calling for a referendum to freeze nuclear weapons. Fr. Luke left the parish in 1989. He moved into full-time ministry, serving individuals and families who were poor and homeless through the Community Advocates and Project Second Chance program. He was a voice for the voiceless and worked to defeat the injustices he saw.
Today, Salvatorians worldwide advocate for the marginalized by continuing to support justice and peace for the poor and at-risk youth. St. Pius X Parish, led by Fr. Paul Portland, SDS, since 2013, remains meaningfully committed to justice and peace. One such example is the parish’s Lenten Living Waters project which has been helping to build wells in remote villages in Tanzania since 2012. Fr. Paul shared, “I am blessed to be a part of the St. Pius X community, as we continue the ministry of bringing the goodness and kindness of Christ to others, especially those most in need.”