The following comes from a December 13 Valley Catholic article by Joanna Thurmann:

“This is not your grandmother’s Mass,” chuckles Father Jon Pedigo at the beginning of his Misa de Solidaridad, while standing in front of the Newman Center at San Jose State University. And none of the faithful expect or desire it to be. In addition to the sacred liturgy of a regular Mass, the Misa also includes leadership training and community development.

On November 20, the Misa was followed by the first Congreso del Pueblo and a rally at City Hall. The goal was to focus commitment on shared values of inclusion, participation, and justice in response to post-election fears of harassment, mass deportations, the construction of a massive wall, and the registration of Muslims.

The Congreso included members from a host of community organizing and advocacy groups, as well as representatives from the Muslim and Jewish faith communities.

The bilingual Congreso was about forward-looking action. Discussions focused on vision, values, principles, and policies. Vision first meant defining what the nation should look like in terms of inclusion, participation, and justice. This led to identifying its most important values and principles and finally, the public policies that would move it toward that vision while promoting the principles.

Diversity, equality, opportunity, human dignity and rights, love and compassion topped the lists of vision and values.

Nonviolence, listening, and dialogue were its vehicles. The model of Jesus Christ himself – his vision for humanity, resistance to injustice, and hope at a time of oppression – served as prime example of the love, sacrifice, and the commitment that positive social change requires.

Dozens of large poster sheets were covered with plans and ideas, from peaceful protests, petitions, and rallies, to the establishment of sanctuary and safe spaces, and self-registering as Muslims in the case of a nationwide registry.

Pedigo, who is Director of Projects for Peace and Justice for the Diocese of San Jose, will be hosting the weekly Misa de Solidaridad and future Congreso sessions in the hope is that the process is used to connect other social movements together throughout the Bay Area and beyond. “This is what our faith requires of us,” says Pedigo.