Well, we’re barely into this new year. This is usually a time when folks think about people of the past year and look forward to the next. So will I.
Last year saw the rise and demise of two remarkable men. Both are of great age. (I’m starting to call anyone older than I am, a person of great age.)
Jorge (cool name) Mario Bergoglio, in an unanticipated development, became Pope Francis after his predecessor did something not done in centuries; namely retire. The pope has the platform and the high profile to be heard, seen and heeded.
In a short time Pope Francis has generated, for lack of a better more theologically appropriate word, quite a buzz.
He hasn’t changed a thing about the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church. Changes in these matters take time, sometimes eons of time. But he has changed the tone and emphasis of the focus of the church. He’s talking about less scolding and warning about what not to do and more about lifting up and feeding those in distress and need. He’s done this with words and more powerfully, in his actions with the poor, the ill, the marginalized.
When it comes to issues that seem to divide the church and our society, I have already found myself using one of his profound comments — who am I to judge?
Hopefully, his witness will guide us in our families, our communities, in our nations, to lift up those in need.
The other man is Nelson Mandela. Earlier I used the word “demise” in regards to him, but reaching 95 years in a life so amazing, and passing on to your reward, is hardly a “demise.”
Anyone would be hard pressed to find someone more revered by a larger number of people than Nelson Mandela.
From prisoner to president. He had 27 years to foster and breed disdain and hatred for the people and the system that had unjustly imprisoned him.
But what did he do? He found ways to reconcile with the people and the system that had kept the majority of his countrymen including himself, in a kind of semi-slavery.
Sadly, in so many places today we can see how political power is fought for and used to the detriment of the people who are supposed to be served by those in power. And not just in faraway places, but here at home.
My hope for the new year is that we and our leaders are moved more in the direction that these two titanic figures have shown. From Congress and the White House to the Statehouse and governor’s mansion, to the City Council and City Hall in Calumet City, may we and our leaders tend to those in need and reconcile their differences for the common good.
SOME GOOD SIGNS
The Calumet City Fraternal Order of Police, the Calumet Memorial Park Distinct, Victor Care, and Calumet City Recourses as well as others, individually and in groups, worked to see that numerous families that could use a little lifting up were taken care of. May that spirit continue and expand through this new year.
With more that a few buildings abandoned and/or torn down in Cal City, it was neat to see one go up. Well, not actually go up, but a 12-unit apartment that had been uninhabited for at least three years has been completely rehabbed. It was cool to see some Christmas lights twinkling in one of the windows. I’m taking that as a good omen.
And there is a new business going up on Sibley on the site of the old Lincoln’s sandwich restaurant.
Happy and a hopeful new year everyone, and thanks for reading.
The opinions are solely those of the writer. George Grenchik is a longtime Calumet City resident and retired instructor at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.