As we look ahead to the New Year, I hope that all of us can pause to reflect on 2015. Last year was filled with significant events.
Let me be clear, there were some incredibly dark moments for us as a nation, as well as our world.
We live in an age where mass shootings occur with disturbing frequency. The attack in San Bernardino, Calif., struck fear in many hearts, especially on the heels of the tragedies in Paris, where terrorists killed 130 people. The events of June 17, where a young man opened fire in a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., feel like a distant memory.
Each time gunfire erupts and victims are laid to rest, our nation’s leaders get restless and debate the merits of gun control. The same restlessness occurred after the train derailment in Philadelphia on May 12.
We must ask ourselves, what does change look like? What am I willing to do to affect change? Meanwhile, as we enter a presidential election year, voters must sift through the sound and fury from the campaign trails.
However, there was measurable progress made last year. In April, President Barack Obama made an executive decision to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. A step towards thawing the icy relations was necessary and, hopefully, will help the citizens of Cuba, who suffered most from the isolationist policies.
In Newark, an ambitious federal initiative called My Brother’s Keeper has gained momentum. The program focuses on fostering the personal growth of young men of color by addressing critical issues such as education, mentoring and parent engagement.
At New Community, we remain committed to our mission to serve the most vulnerable. In 2015, our Extended Care Facility began offering specialized care to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We’re moving forward with the supportive housing complex called Better Life, which focuses on veterans and the chronically homeless, and anticipate closing in the near future.
As Pope Francis eloquently stated, “Mission is never the fruit of a perfectly planned program or a well-organized manual. Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven. Mission is born of a constant experience of God’s merciful anointing.”
There was a thread of bittersweet losses that NCC endured, with the passing of many dear friends, including Carl Brinson, Bob Curvin, Jim Du Bose, Adrian Foley Jr. and, most recently, Art Wilson.
Life is cyclical in nature. As we enter 2016, we must learn from the past year and choose to either be weighed by cynicism or serve as agents of hope and change.
by Monsignor William J. Linder