The NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice invited Sr. Tina Geiger, RSM and Sr. Marian Wehler, OSB of The Catholic Rural Ministry to convene a roundtable discussion on Wednesday, November 20 at the Carone Center in Oil City. Two sister lobbyists from Washington D.C., Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS and Sr. Emily TeKloste, SP, posed the question: “It is essential that there be rural perspectives considered on the federal level if we are to create any healing in our nation. Will you help us to bring the perspective of your community back with us to Washington?”
What followed was a lively discussion between over 25 community members, representing social services organizations, education, human services, the faith, business, and health care communities. Several local leaders who were not able to attend submitted responses in writing to Sr. Campbell.
The meeting was designed to be listening session. Noted challenges included generational poverty, the shortage of some health and mental wellness resources, and the complexity of communicating information throughout the community. Transportation was identified as an obstacle that impacts people across income groups and generations, a problem that can be complicated and expensive to solve.
Venango County is uniquely collaborative, as groups commonly meet to tackle ongoing needs. Judge Lobaugh spoke of the Children’s Roundtable and Pastor Randy Powell shared the work of Mustard Seed Ministries. These are just two examples of people and organizations working together to accomplish what anyone alone could not tackle.
The day ended with each attendee sharing what they loved about living in Venango County. This was a wonderful reminder of what our region has to offer.
Hope is a communal virtue. – Sr. Simone Campbell
This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s December 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.