It is with great sadness to announce that this amazing person, artist extraordinaire, and our dear and longtime friend, supporter, and social justice and peace activist, John August Swanson, 83, joined the glorious Heavenly Cloud of Witnesses early Thursday morning, September 23. Funeral arrangements are pending the completion of the St. Camillus Center chapel renovation, which will host a large collection of John’s works.
See his Facebook page and website for more info about John and his beautiful artwork.
As the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese began a Jubilee Year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of Mission San Gabriel Arcàngel, a small contingent of Catholic Workers and supporters participated in vigils at Mission San Gabriel and at the Cathedral to ask questions, and listen to other Catholics who hold the complexity of the Church’s Mission history, and to invite other people of faith into a journey towards a more nuanced understanding of our troubled Mission legacy.
Would you like to be a part of expanding your understanding of the Missions? Do you know Catholics committed to the work of justice and healing? If so, please e-mail us at: [email protected]
As the Los Angeles Archdiocese begins a Jubilee Year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel founding, we at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker believe it is simply not possible to move “Forward in Mission” as a Church without collectively engaging all the facets of our Mission’s history and legacy.
As Archbishop Gomez recognized, “history is complicated. The facts matter, distinctions need to be made, and the truth counts. We cannot learn history’s lessons or heal old wounds unless we understand what really happened, how it happened, and why.” Unfortunately, as this Jubilee Year explicitly demonstrates, this is not our opportunity to do this.
Therefore, the Los Angeles Catholic Worker is preparing a project for the duration of these twelve months to invite our Catholic community to engage in this practice together. We will consider our faith’s Biblical impetus and theological justification for the missions. Together, we will explore the vast history of the missions and process the complicated questions that arise. We will build relationships with the local Native communities to listen and learn from their stories and hopes for repair. And then we will consider where and how the Spirit is inviting us to move today and into the future.
If you are interested in learning more or in joining this effort, please take a minute to fill out this brief survey. This will give us a little preliminary information about you and allow us to follow up with you to answer any questions and explain our next steps.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this invitation and know we look forward to connecting with you as we go.
The following op-ed written by Matt Harper appeared in the August 2021 Catholic Agitator.
For Roman Catholics in Los Angeles, the Most Reverend Jose Gomez serves as both the Archbishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the President of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. The ecclesiastical power available and responsibility shouldered by our shepherd has never been greater.
So, as more than 300 Catholic parishes in the Los Angeles Archdiocese consider opening their doors to indoor services this week, will the archbishop be having a three-day meeting to ensure last-minute safety needs are addressed? No, but he has instructed all churches to reopen and re-instated the requirement to attend weekly mass.
As the North American Catholic Church continues to reel from the discovery of 215 children’s bodies at the Kamloops Indigenous Residential School, will the archbishop be having a three-day meeting on how we repent and begin to repair the historic harm caused by the Church’s mission system and residential schools? No, but the Church continues to raise funds to repair the San Gabriel Mission after fire damaged parts of its structure last year.
And as the Los Angeles City Planning Commission prepares to decide the fate of Skid Row this Thursday—an area that has long been a hub of services, deeply affordable housing, and community for many of the unhoused in Los Angeles – will the archbishop be having a three-day meeting on how to ensure the Commission centers the dignity and needs of the unhoused neighbors of our Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels? No, even though the rezoning directly impacts the Cathedral.
Instead of doing any of these things, our archbishop, and other bishops from around the country, will be meeting to decide whether Catholic politicians who support abortion should be barred from receiving Communion. The urgency of COVID safety, of accountability for historic violence, of the possible destruction of the one region of Los Angeles willing to take on the needs of our unhoused neighbors appears to be less important than deciding what makes a person “Catholic” enough to deserve the body of the Broken One, the nourishment of the Holy One, the compassion of the Savior. I simply do not get it.
John August Swanson, 83, longtime social justice and peace activist, friend and supporter of the LACW, whose beautiful art adorns our house and soup kitchen, and appears on the cover of the August 2021 Catholic Agitator (see below), is in hospice care and needs our prayers. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers during this time of transition. (Photo courtesy of John August Swanson Studio)
John August Swanson’s serigraph and lithograph art have the power to deepen faith and truly inspire those who have seen his creations, which are in hospitals, churches, seminaries, universities, and museums around the world as well as in the Vatican. In 2005, John was one of 33 inaugural recipients (including Pope John Paul II, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and President Jimmy Carter) of the Mother Teresa Award for achievements that beautify the world.
John August Swanson created this comforting piece titled “Time to Heal” in 2016. This image is consoling friends and supporters as they hold vigil for this great artist. (Copyright 2016 by John August Swanson, Giclee, 16.5″ x 13.5″; photo courtesy of John August Swanson Studio)
This short video captures the depth of Swanson’s social justice commitment and also gives us a peek at his studio. As we keep vigil around the world for John, let’s take heart with his final exhortation in the film.
Visit John August Swanson’s Facebook page, and visit his Los Angeles Studio .
On Friday, August 6, the LACW, and others, gathered at the front gate of the newly-named Vandenberg Space Force Base (formerly Vandenberg Air Force Base) to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the criminal and immoral U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We vigiled for nearly two hours, then closed with a prayer service led by Dennis Apel from our sister house in Guadalupe, CA. There were no arrests. Below is a slideshow of photos of the event.
Hospitality Kitchen (aka The Hippie Kitchen) will be closed on Saturday, August 7. The L.A. Catholic Worker will travel north to Vandenberg Air Force Base, on the central coast near Santa Maria, to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the senseless and catastrophic U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We will protest against U.S. nuclear weapons policy, including missile testing at Vandenberg AFB, and call for an end to U.S. imperial war-making.
We will return to our regular serving schedule on Tuesday, August 10.
Never forget that the U.S. Empire is the ONLY nation in human history to use nuclear weapons, killing more than 200,000 human beings, all of whom were created in God’s image and likeness, leaving countless others to suffer from cancer and other illnesses related to radiation exposure. Now more than ever, we must redouble our efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, since they are now illegal under International Law with the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on January 22, 2021.
We the people MUST resist U.S. nuclear policy and tirelessly work to eliminate the most diabolical weapons ever made and U.S. imperial aggression that assures their use again.
Disarm and Repent! Abolish Nuclear Weapons. War No More!
The LACW soup kitchen will be closed on Saturday, July 17, due to pest control services rendered on Friday. However, volunteers are needed on Saturday for kitchen cleaning and restocking. If you are available, please consider joining us at 9:00 AM and commit to at least 1:00 PM. Call 323.267.8789 for further info. Thank you.
The annual Los Angeles Catholic Worker commemoration of the Good Friday Stations of the Cross has taken place since the 1970s. For the L.A.C.W., the Via Crucis (literally “the way of torture”) serves as a reminder of many ways that Christ is still crucified in our world today. This year, we gathered virtually to remember, to repent, and to recommit ourselves to the radical work of liberation to which Christ calls all people of faith.
This year’s stations juxtapose Jesus’s life and passion with the brutal history of displacement in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, which has long been in the crosshairs of Los Angeles politicians, business elite, and white Angelenos, and it has also been the Los Angeles Catholic Worker’s home for more than 50 years.
You can watch the recording of our live event from Good Friday on our Facebook page.