Faith and solidarity

Each New Year gives us an opportunity to reflect, and promises to bring change to everyone. 2017 supplies more than most, as a seat change in our nation's highest office brings new hopes and new uncertainties to us all.

With only a few weeks remaining in his tenure as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama delivered his farewell address in Chicago; reflecting on the past eight years and reassuring those of us anxious about America's future.

As I listened to President Obama's valedictory speech, I was particularly struck by two comments that he made. The first came when he spoke about his early work with Chicago church groups as a grassroots community organizer, saying: "It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss."

The second moment came as he began to talk about our democracy and our nation's founders, "they quarreled, eventually they compromised, and they expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that for all our outward differences, we're all in this together. That we rise or fall as one."

Our mission at Catholic Charities is to build a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people. Faith and solidarity are base tenants of Catholic social justice, and values we at Catholic Charities hold dear. Regardless of who holds the highest office in our country, these values are paramount to that pursuit.

We are guided by our faith to persevere through our own life's hardships, while also coming together as a community to help others of all faiths through the challenges they face as well. We are only able to do so when both the ordinary and extraordinary people among us are able to see beyond our differences and come together as one.

We see this coming together each and every day as staff and volunteers do their work. In our food pantries, in our family shelters, in our early childhood and adult education classrooms, in our programs for at-risk youth and in our family support programs, people committed to facing adversity are working together to make life better for those who live at the margins of our society.

It is a simple fact that neither the strongest nor weakest of us can live and exist well independently of others; that we are interdependent beings. Solidarity looks upon this interdependence not as a deficiency, but rather as something to be cherished. To go forth in love and service of our community bolsters us all.

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- Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.