I was so excited by the connections that God kept bringing together after our time at the CLS conference. Just a couple weeks after returning, my old supervisor at Penn, Megan, e-mailed Ted about a Penn GSE professor who is involved in doing some research with Saint Thomas Aquinas church in a South Philly neighborhood. Ted and I had already heard about Saint Thomas because of their diverse Mass line-up reflecting the demographics of their community – Indonesian, Spanish, Vietnamese, and sometimes Haitian Creole, in addition to English. They have a history of reaching out and recognizing the many needs in their community. We had immediately thought this could be a great site for one of CLCP’s bi-monthly legal clinics. Gerald, the Penn professor, felt exactly the same. Over a delicious Thai meal in this South Philly neighborhood with Gerald and Megan, we heard all about his involvement with Saint Thomas, and the vision that the Monsignor has for a Social Justice Center, right on the church grounds! Would CLCP consider joining with and providing support for the Monsignor’s vision?
We have yet to meet with the Monsignor to discuss the possibility, but the idea of a partnership is a dream that has now been planted. CLCP is still young in some ways. They have an incredible network of attorneys built over its 10 years of operation, but the administrative infrastructure is just now in a process of being strengthened, and a third clinic site is already slotted to open on January 12th in West Philly. So a question to consider is how quickly can CLCP expand – how quickly should it expand, given the work there is to be done in establishing the main office and gathering support?
So, we have yet to see what may become of our meeting in South Philly, but it was still an exciting exchange that we so appreciated. There is real potential for ministry in Saint Thomas’ neighborhood! And, the molasses cookies at Megan’s house afterwards were a real delicious treat J