Hello beautiful people of the Internet,
I am Carolina Luna Casas. My family calls me Caro. For those studying Spanish, you would understand why my friends jokingly call me Expensive Moon Houses. My name is the first thing most people learn about me. It is the one word that will define me forever and I love that that word is Carolina. I especially love my name when it is pronounced correctly (Ka-ro-lee-na). I was almost named Clara because I was born on the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi. St. Claire was one of the followers of St. Francis who left everything to help the poor. She founded the order of the Poor Clares who leave the material world and focus on improving the poverty level in their communities. My aunt who is a Poor Clare in Puerto Rico would always ask my dad to buy me cookies that the Poor Clare’s bake and sell in Denver. She would include a note saying I was born on St. Clare’s day for a reason and that I must make her proud. I never knew how I could possibly make her proud but I did know that I wanted her to keep requesting cookies for me because they are delicious! On the day I was born, I was introduced to social justice and I continued learning about it through the example of my parents. My parents introduced me to Catholic social justice by not only thanking God for our blessings but also using those blessings to help those who needed them more than we did.
I also learned a lot about Catholic social justice from my high school. I went to Arrupe Jesuit high school in Denver, Colorado. This school was modeled after Cristo Rey Jesuit high school on the south side of Chicago. This school is the most contemporary Catholic social justice movement that I know. John P. Foley S.J. and many other Jesuits who wanted to improve the Catholic education system in the Latino community of Chicago founded the Cristo Rey Jesuit high school. The problem with opening a private Catholic school that would serve the Latino students of Pilsen was that many of the student’s families could not afford to pay for a private institution. One of the young workers helping the Jesuits think of a way to fund the school jokingly said, “Why don’t we just make the students work?” It was from that joke that the corporate work-study program (CWSP) began. Cristo Rey Jesuit high school was founded in 1996 with this CWSP, which has students attend school four of the five days of the week and dedicate one day to an entry-level job at a professional company. The students receive corporate experience and learn to be independent in the professional world. The money students receive from working is used to pay for their tuition and to keep the school running. The Cristo Rey schools have two missions. The scholarly mission of the school is to educate students and prepare them for college. This is vitally important for the community the Cristo Rey schools serve. The students who attend these schools come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and have few role models in their families who attended and graduated from high school and/or college. Every student who has graduated from a Cristo Rey school has been accepted to college. It is right to say that Cristo Rey is fulfilling its scholarly mission. The Cristo Rey Schools’ most important mission is that they work to make their students men and women for and with others. Not only are these schools helping students break the glass ceiling and further their education but they are also teaching students the importance of receiving an education: using their blessings to help those who need them more.
It is precisely because of my parents and my high school that I am so excited to be a part of the Ramonat seminar at Loyola University Chicago. I grew up around people who lived their life promoting Catholic social justice. Being around people who love social justice made me really passionate about it. I am excited to fuel my passion by learning more about an immensely important figure in Catholic social justice. Coming into the class all I knew about Dorothy Day was that the soup kitchen I volunteered at back home was created in her honor. I worked with the Denver Catholic Worker Soup Kitchen. The men and women who helped organize this group were such kind souls. If Dorothy Day inspired all of the soup kitchen workers to give their time and money to feed the homeless I am excited to see what she will inspire in the Ramonat Seminar scholars. I know this year will be filled with inspiration and self-discovery. I can’t wait!
Until next time,
Expensive Moon Houses 😀