Today on Perspectives, Carl Hetu, the Canadian Director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association joins us in studio.
Here’s a look at some events and activities happening across the country that you might want to check out if you live in one of these areas.
The Archdiocese of Halifax – Yarmouth is celebrating the building of a new church! On August 9, Archbishop Mancini will bless the land for the new St. Marguerite Borugeoys parish in Upper Tantallon, N.S.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country on August 8, the Our Lady of Good Counsel youth group in Surrey B.C. is taking to the stage with a musical production called “His Dream, Our Realities” to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco. Details here.
Cheridan Sanders learns about life on the Rig, as she chats with Alison Carey about faith, work-life balance and what it’s like living 120 miles out to sea.
When you imagine reaching out to the peripheries, setting up shop in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico isn’t exactly what comes to most of our minds.
But one thing I have found you can always count on, no matter how far or inaccessible a human community may be, Christ always finds a way to reach them.
And so here enters Alison, a Deepwater Process Control and Automation Engineer, who is no stranger to adventure as she lives and witnesses in one of the toughest working environments on the planet.
Find out what it takes to live at sea and how opportunities to witness are found even in the most unlikely of places.
How did you come to work on an oil rig? I suppose it’s not something you wake up one day and say you’re going to do? Or is it?
I am a process control engineer (my degree was chemical engineering) and I am based out of the Covington Louisiana (LA) office, but spend around 60 days offshore per year. My main workplace is the office but I am an operation support engineer which requires me to make “field visits” (to our outlying deepwater platforms- some are as far as 120 miles off the coast of LA). Before moving to LA, I worked in the gas plants and oil fields in West Texas and New Mexico. Before that, I was an operations process engineer at a refinery in Philadelphia.
What is your day to day like?
When I am in the office, I work on control systems, monitoring the oil/gas/water separation process via our automation and computers. I interface with the operators daily asking them to make adjustments and finding ways to run the process smoother. I am focused on what we can “topsides” which means that my work boundary starts once the oil arrives at the platform (I am not involved in drilling or production) and ends when our products reach their respective pipelines (to the sales point). When I am offshore, I spend my time working in the control room (the most common visual for a control room would be NASA’s Mission Control Center where one can see all the temperatures, pressures, flow rate, etc. of the fluids moving through our pumps, separators, compressors, treaters, heaters, etc.). I make adjustments to run the process smoother, so we can increase our throughput in a safe and reliable manner.
What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve encountered so far? What was the role of your faith in that experience?
Work/ life balance can be very stressful at times with my job. I think this is true with any career. Do we let our career become our God? When I first started working, especially at a union refinery in the Northeast, I dealt with a lot of hostility. I was severely outnumbered as a female there and struggled with gaining/earning respect. This is not a problem in the Gulf due to (in my opinion) the culture of the people I interact with and also due to some maturity and personal development on my behalf.
Is there anything that surprised you when you started working out in the middle of the Gulf?
I have a great respect for the people who work a 14 day on / 14 day off schedule. They sacrifice so much to provide for their families. This puts great strain on relationships and lifestyles. They do hold Bible Studies and prayer sessions offshore on Sunday nights at many locations, giving the employees a sense of community even though they cannot be with their families. There is a lot of risk with the work we do offshore. In many cases, it can become a life or death situation. People take care of one another, they look out for one another’s safety and well-being. There is a sense of brotherhood that engulfs you when you step off the helicopter and onto the platform. There are so many offshore coworkers who I know would do anything for me- this is the definition of a true Christ-like person. There is an overwhelming sense of ownership and pride that one can sense in this environment from most of the crew.
What are the people like that you work with? How would you describe the environment on the rig?
When you are in the offshore environment, there is a significant pull to get along. At the end of the day, you do not leave work. You have to live with your coworkers so this creates a different environment. Sure there are people who do not get along, but it’s less common than in the office environment. I am also one of the few if not the only female out there. Sometimes this can be awkward, as no one likes to be outnumbered, but once people get to know me, they treat me as an equal or sometimes better. Although my job is not vocational (like a doctor, teacher, etc.) I still see my purpose is to help others in any way. It can be difficult to live offshore for long periods of time because it is so isolated. I keep myself busy and try to make the best out of it. As far as what are the people like? They are normal people. They love their families. They take pride in the work they do which provides energy and a way of life to others.
You’ve recently graduated with a Masters of Pastoral Studies from Loyola, what did you take away from that experience? Has your worldview changed at all?
I graduated with my Masters of Pastoral Studies last year from Loyola. It allowed me an opportunity to grow my faith on an intellectual basis. I was using this for working with the RCIA program at my local parish. The program definitely changed my worldview. I was introduced to a new network of people who carried the same concern about how our careers and faith intersected. Spending the time at Loyola allowed me to grow in empathy for others, especially those I work with. Not everyone is viewing life from the same vantage point, and even when talking to other Catholics about their work and faith, the viewpoints were not the same. This realization changed my worldview in that I need to have more patience with others and need to come to them at their own starting point. Jesus approached his disciples as they were out fishing, doing their jobs. This is where Jesus meets me as well.
Something I read recently that describes a little more on the Catholic perspective of the workplace:
Author Chris Lowney wrote a very engaging article about the newly canonized St. Peter Faber. The focus of the article is on the impactful life of St. Faber and the business consideration of his work and teachings
Here is a one paragraph excerpt –
But Faber implicitly challenges businesspeople that their talents are only being used well when they maintain a proper perspective on life. Business and money-making are not the highest ends: “If there were not such a harvest of souls to reaped,” Faber writes. Our destiny lies beyond this world, and we’re here for purposes beyond what we can sell, trade, build, buy, flaunt or own during this short earthly sojourn. That includes, if we are businesspeople, remaining aware that our every business decision impacts, for better or ill, the lives of employees, customers, shareholders and communities.
How do you give witness to the faith in your day to day encounters?
One of the focus areas for my studies is the fact that the faith needs to be lived out. A lot of people justify their dedication by being immersed in ministry. However, practically speaking, we spend most of our time at our jobs. I recall being in high school and our religious teacher telling us we did not have to be sisters or nuns to be holy. We can make any job holy as long as we keep our focus on God, and remember as St. Paul challenges us, that we are always serving God regardless of the task. Keeping this at the forefront of my mind is a daily challenge but one that I am called to do. In an environment as fickle as the energy business, one must be ready for constant change and for a dog-eat-dog world that any for-profit corporation can become by means of their inherent structure. In other words, we come to work to make money, not for social betterment or for a deeper cause.
There are always those among us who are poorer in something. For example, one “ministry” in my job is mentoring younger engineers. It’s a true labor of love to take the time required to prepare them for his or her career. I am mentoring one young lady right now who I took under my wing when I saw she was struggling with some of the same situations I had been through. This empathy provides me a way to mimic Christ in the work place. The poor will always be with us, Jesus prophesized. The poor can be anyone in need- someone who does not have the same amount of knowledge or confidence and needs a little help.
There is also a cliché about engineers and operators and how the two are oil and water. Historically there exists much animosity between these two. As you can imagine, a bad relationship between an engineer and operator can create a daunting work environment when trying to convince a control room operator to make a change when he has been operating that system just fine for 20 years. It takes some finesse to do this successfully- something I learned from a few good mentors and bosses by watching them interact and ask questions with respect and listen to the offshore personnel. This also becomes a way to witness my faith- you will know what I believe by how I treat others. This is my goal. Sometimes I struggle with personality conflicts and with egos and all the messiness that exists when many people are required to meet a common goal. It is how we handle and conduct our business that shows what we truly believe.
Power of authority and position can be resorted to too often in this environment. I would rather people do what I ask because they respect my knowledge and skills rather than doing it because I said so. In order to reach this level with others, significant effort is required to know and honor them as individuals and see how we can work in unity to reach a goal that is beneficial to both.
The Producer Diaries
Cheridan Sanders, a Producer at Salt and Light Television, reflects on her experiences as she travels the world telling Catholic’s stories.
In the name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jesus said on the cross, “”Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Let us pray for the Church in China and all the Christians and may the peace be with us always. May Mother Mary pray for us and we, especially all the persecuted Christians are always in her care. We pray:
Our Father, Who art in heaven Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!
In the name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Today on Perspectives, a landmark Catholic archeological discovery is made at the site of the Jamestown settlement, a group of US Senators plan to defund Planned Parenthood, growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and a look ahead to the 133rd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus.
Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis calls for the release of captive clergy in Syria and opens registration for World Youth Day, the longest serving US Cardinal dies, the Church ends its presence in Antarctica and the Archdiocese of Washington launches the Walk with Francis Challenge.
In his General Audience yesterday, Pope Francis prayed for the dire and violent situation facing Syria. He specifically brought to the attention of the world, the yet unknown whereabouts of three clergy who were kidnapped in the country in 2013: Italian Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, Syriac-Orthodox Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo and Greek-Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi also of Aleppo.
That anyone would see it fit to abduct and hold prisoner members of the clergy, regardless of their denomination, is nothing shy of cowardly and barbaric. However this is the reality of the level of conflict and war embroiling much of the Middle East and parts of North Africa today. The conflict in Syria has long been the epicenter of the violence; where out of rebel groups have grown the ranks of such groups as ISIS, which now control large swaths of land. It is here that we also hear most frequently of kidnappings involving the clergy, those whose mission it is to minister to the people God.
In and among the horrors of this conflict that should offend anyone, be they Christian or not, there is an added personal dimension for me. In August 2012, I had the opportunity to interview Father Dall’Oglio here in our studios. He was in the midst of a whirlwind press tour that had him going to various media outlets across North America, speaking about the conflict in Syria. To then hear a year later that he had been abducted, came as a bit of a cold dose of reality. To this day, his specific whereabouts along with the identity of his kidnappers remain a mystery.
Since the rise of ISIS, we have seen unspeakable tragedy in countries such as Syria and Libya. Christians especially, have paid an incredible price in these destabilizing conflicts that frankly have no visible end in sight. However they often seem a world away, like stories, removed and often detached from the day-to-day toils of our comfortable standard of living. Yet, hearing Father Dall’Oglio’s name read allowed by the pope this week was yet another sobering reminder, that these are real people who are in danger. These are real people whose lives are being threatened. These are real people who are dying senselessly in a program of destabilization. The pedigree of violence and fear dominating places like Syria becomes very real, when I stop and think that someone whose hand I shook and whose eyes I looked into is living such horrors.
To all our readers, continue to pray for the three clergy mentioned above, and for all of those who are suffering as a result of these conflicts.
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)
A household name for many, the Knights of Columbus have grown into the world’s largest lay Catholic organization. But, surprisingly, there’s still a lot of mystery that surrounds these noble men. In light of the upcoming Supreme Convention, we thought you might want to find out why the Knights remain the ‘Strong Arm of the Church’.
Don’t forget to tune in for Salt + Light’s live coverage of this year’s 133rd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus.
With summer finally in full gear across the country, our dioceses and their news outlets have also gone into summer schedule. So this week Coast to Coast brings you a look at some events across the country you might want to check out.
If you’re in Edmonton and you are planning to go to World Youth Day Krakow in 2016, you know that we are now one year away from the big event! To make the milestone, Archbishop Richard Smith (a veteran WYD Participant) is celebrating Mass with all WYD participants at St.Joseph’s Basilica in downtown Edmonton.
(Pope Francis listens attentively to speakers at the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Bolivia on July 9. Photo courtesy of CNS)
In two years Pope Francis has said enough about the global economic system to spark both enormous enthusiasm and heavy criticism. The story is still developing, but after his recent trip to Latin America, the prevailing sense is that it will climax when he sets foot on US soil for the first time in September.
Personally, I’ve never seen Francis so comfortable, at home and in his element as he was during his week-long trip through Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay last week. Evidently he felt totally free to speak his mind and heart to his native Spanish speaking audience. And when he spoke about economics, the message was clear.
Of the many and consistent critiques Francis made of the current economic system last week, none was more powerful than the address he gave to the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia—one of the poorest countries in Latin America.
The message simply stated at the beginning was, “land, lodging and labor are sacred rights for everyone.” The problem is that this is not the reality. “We want change,” he said, from “an unfettered pursuit of money,” or—as Francis described it—“the dung of the devil.”
“Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home [the earth].”
Francis continued by encouraging the Popular Movements and the people of Bolivia to be the change they want to see; to take control of their own lives and lead by example: “The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites,” he said, “It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize.”
It was by no means the first time Pope Francis has blasted the current economic system. Since the publication of his 2013 exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, the critique has been piercingly clear and consistent. Because of this, it has drawn criticism from the capitalist faithful—many of whom are in the United States—who deflect the Pope’s criticism by saying he doesn’t fully understand economics and shouldn’t be involved in making policy.
Well, oddly enough, the Pope actually agrees. In that same address to the Popular Movements the Pope for the first time said that he doesn’t have the specific solutions to the socio-economic problems of the world:
“Don’t expect a recipe from this Pope. Neither the Pope nor the Church has a monopoly on the interpretation of social reality or the proposal of solutions to contemporary issues. I dare say that no recipe exists.”
A few days later on the return flight to Rome, the Pope was asked about his economics message and the criticism it sparks in the United States. The Pope, again for the first time, acknowledged that he hasn’t studied the criticisms:
“I heard that there were some criticisms from the United States. I heard about it, but I haven’t read about it, I haven’t had the time to study this well, because every criticism must be received, studied, and then dialogue must be ensue. You ask me what I think. If I have not had a dialogue with those who criticize, I don’t have the right to state an opinion, isolated from dialogue.”
The anticipation is mounting… It appears the showdown will finally happen when the Pope arrives in Washington in September. What the Pope will say in his address to the American Congress is anybody’s guess, but we can be confident that it will factor in the predominantly American criticisms of his economics message. That will be something new, a development in the Pope’s expression of his own ideas.
Finally, we might be tempted to think that the Pope’s humble admission of ignorance of his critics is typical of the man whom the world knows as simple, humble and innocent. But I would call him subtly shrewd. The Pope essentially outlined the process for the discussion by emphasizing dialogue through encounter. Ideas and theories—economic or otherwise—can live in the clouds. The people affected by the implementation of those ideas and theories can only live on the ground. And that is where the Pope will finally meet his critics face to face.
On Further Reflection
In the complex world of the 21st century there are more questions than answers. The challenge for the Church is to find new and effective ways of bringing the Gospel message into the conversation. For her part, the Church can act as a much needed voice of dialogue, reason and charity. On Further Reflection invites readers to go beyond the headlines to see the deeper realities affecting the Church and society. Sebastian Gomes is a producer and correspondent for S+L TV.