By Frank Lesko, Coordinator of Justice and Peace

During tough economic times, we become aware of how important work is to our lives.  Without stable, gainful employment, we can become suddenly vulnerable without access to medical care or if we lose our housing.  We can face a questionable tomorrow when we once took for granted so many basic things.

We can see Labor Day with new eyes—it is not only a welcome rest from our labors, but it is also a time to appreciate the value of good, honest work.  A fair income from a hard day’s work is so important.

In their recent Labor Day Statement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops begins with a bold statement:  “As people of faith, we are called to stand with those left behind,” they say, urging us to “seek economic renewal that makes workers and their families a central concern.”  We need to get the economy moving, again, but we need to do it the right way so that all can share in God’s bounty.

When people are vulnerable, it is so easy to be exploited.  When you lose your job, you may find yourself willing to work for wages and in conditions that were once unacceptable to you.  Supply and demand can be a harsh mistress to serve.

Our sufferings in America may help us better understand the sufferings of others around the world.  The lack of good work compels many to immigrate, even if they risk breaking laws to do it.  Many people work 16-hour days in grueling conditions simply because there is no better option.  We would not want that for ourselves.

We support a just economy in different ways.  The Assisi Café has a commitment to serve only fair trade coffee.  Another way is through our Fair Trade Ministry.  We are building up to our annual Fair Trade market in the last weekend of October.  The products are bought and sold at a fair price.  The people who make and distribute these items earn a good, honest living for themselves.

In the weeks ahead, there will be articles, reflections and factoids in the bulletin to draw attention to Fair Trade.  To get involved in this exciting ministry, contact Suzanne Szymendera at 845-4885 or

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