Kathy Zielinski of St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, shares how she and her congregation have supported small farmers for over 20 years with Equal Exchange. Many thanks to this amazing church for their years of partnership. See their Fair Trade website for more info.
20 Years of Justice
St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center has been promoting Equal Exchange Fair Trade coffee for over 10 years. It was always Equal Exchange, and definitely all Equal Exchange products long before the Fair Trade coffee team records started here in 2003.
The St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center structure includes a variety of ministries, two of which perform actions providing fairly traded Equal Exchange coffee to our parishioners:
- The Community Life Ministry hosts the Hospitality Coffee Gathering after morning Masses every Sunday during the academic year. All are welcome as the St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center’s Community Life Ministry serves Equal Exchange coffee along with breakfast snacks.
- The Peace, Justice and Care for Creation Ministry promotes Fair Trade through education and the sale of Equal Exchange products in the vestibule after Sunday masses on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. The permanent display in the rear of the church promotes Fair Trade practices through promotional materials from Catholic Relief Services and Equal Exchange.
Equal Exchange coffee is also served in the office kitchen, at committee meetings, and in the parish center whenever church groups get together. We are able to serve it exclusively because our pastor, Fr. Al Hirt, is deeply committed to Fair Trade. His support permits us to offer Equal Exchange products at cost to our parishioners. Under his guidance the parish budget pays for all the monthly Equal Exchange orders. The parish is then reimbursed with the funds from all sales to individuals for home use.
Sundays Hospitality Coffee Gathering is a Community Time
The Hospitality Coffee Gathering is social time for parishioners to sit and talk and relax and visit after mass. Groups sip on Organic Fellowship Blend coffee or tea while eating doughnuts and pastries. On the food table a basket is available for a freewill gift/donation. Funds help pay for the coming week's doughnuts and rolls.
It is not so much just a time to serve coffee, yet we have learned if there is no coffee the crowd disperses quickly. Thus we host gatherings serving high-quality, organic Equal Exchange Fair Trade Fellowship Blend Coffee.
The Gatherings moved last year to expand from the back hallway of church to the basement of the parish center/the old school cafeteria. We now have space to spread out, allowing all to sit down around a table to talk and encouraging the increased communications within our diverse community.
It’s About the Mission
The mission of the Peace, Justice & Care of Creation Ministry is to inspire parishioners of St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center to live the gospel message of justice through education, advocacy, charity and solidarity.
Equal Exchange fairly traded products are some of the tools we use for all four components of our mission. Working for social justice is an essential part of our call as Christians. We strive to live a life integrating the gospel teachings into the actions and decisions of our lives. The materials offered by the Equal Exchange Interfaith Program create powerful tools to put reality into our educational offerings.
As believers and seekers we make the conscious decision to support Equal Exchange Fair Trade through our purchases. We advocate for fairer trade as a model for a global economy rooted in people-to-people connections, justice and sustainability. A system of exchange that promotes economic justice, reduces global poverty, and honors and protects the environment.
We will continue to learn, we will continue to drink coffee, we will continue to eat chocolate.