“Justice means I love them all the same,” explains Patricia Devereaux, a local Blackfeet and parishioner of Little Flower Parish in Browning, “that’s what Jesus calls me to do.” For over a decade Patricia, Little Flower Parish, and the Blackfeet people have been inviting youth from across the diocese to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation for a week-long cultural immersion experience. The week is called Justice Outreach Project (J.O.P.) and it offers a transformative experience of faith through solidarity.
Not a “mission” to save or fix anyone or anything, the primary focus of J.O.P. is to build strong friendships among the Blackfeet and youth of our Diocese. Centered on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching (CST), young people, Youth Ministers and adult chaperones spend the week working, playing, and praying alongside tribal members. The immersion includes experiencing the rich culture and deeply rooted Catholic faith of the Blackfeet People.
“I have heard [CST] referred to as the ‘great, hidden treasure of the Catholic faith,” says Kevin Molm, the Manager of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry “We have always had profound experiences at J.O.P. and wanted to find a way to take the experience beyond the one week in the summer. And, we needed high-quality content to teach the principles of CST that was both accessible and relevant to youth in Western Montana.”
Over the past year, Molm has spearheaded a project to meet those challenges in a single project. The project is centered around an online curriculum that will be available throughout the diocese. It features the principles of CST as students explore papal, conciliar, and episcopal documents while the spirit and character of the Blackfeet give the course a real-world context with short, visually stunning videos from J.O.P. in 2018.
Funding came as a welcome surprise at 2017’s Son Light Gala to benefit Youth and Young Adult Ministry and Legendary Lodge. Mike Patterson, a long-time friend of Bishop Thomas and lifelong Catholic issued a generous donation challenge to other attendees. His challenge was fully funded with enthusiasm and Molm’s vision to further evangelize our youth Mike has since passed away while his hallmark generosity, that has touched many lives in our diocese, lives on in the hearts and minds of our young people and their families.
The course will be available online at dohyouth.org in July of 2019. Lessons will be offered as a core facet of youth ministry formation and catechesis but are available for any individual or group that is interested. A preview of the video content and introduction to J.O.P. is currently available at dohyouth.org.