Strengthening faith, labor relationships critical to welfare of working people

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FR. CLETE KILEY
FR. CLETE KILEY

By REV. RUDY PULIDO

Strengthening individual relationships between faith and labor leadership bonded together by a shared interest in the welfare of working people is probably the most significant way to strengthen the relationships vital for both groups.

That was one of the single most cogent results from a special seminar attended by several dozen faith and labor leaders Sept. 25 to meet “The New Labor Priest,” Fr. Cletus Kiley, a priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago who has been recognized for his work in training priests on labor issues.

A Renaissance of Relationship: The Connection, Disconnection and Reconnection of Faith and Labor Groups was co-sponsored by the St. Louis Labor Council and the University of Missouri.

The first part of the seminar dealt with a historic perspective on the strong relationship between faith groups and organized labor.

The golden age of organized labor, the 1950s and 1960s, was also a golden age for the church. A rising middle class benefited both groups.

STEREOTYPES STILL EXIST

Organized labor during this time though was not without negative stereotypes as reflected in the popular culture of the day. Regrettably, Fr. Kiley stated, those stereotypes continue in the minds of some today.

Fr. Kiley planned the second part of the seminar to be a discussion on how the relationship of faith and labor faltered and how it could be strengthen.

The second part though became something other than planned. Understanding the group dynamic evolving within the group, Fr. Kiley allowed the group to take the second part of the seminar in another direction.

INDIVIDUAL BONDING CRITICAL

Participants from both faith and labor began discussing the importance of members from each group knowing one another as individuals bonded together by the shared interest in the welfare of working people.

Differences were acknowledged but the unity of purpose took center stage.

Fr. Kiley invited members to continue cultivating personal relationships between faith and labor leaders.

JOIN FAITH/LABOR BREAKFAST

He concluded by inviting each attendee to bring a colleague to the next St. Louis Faith/Labor Alliance breakfast at 8 a.m. on Thur., Oct. 30 at Maggie O’Brien’s, 2000 Market Street (across from Union Station) thus expanding the emphasis on interpersonal relationships between faith and labor.

(Rev. Pulido, the St. Louis Labor Council’s liaison to the faith community.)

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