Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkins, Poverty and Practice

Visiting the U.S. Census Bureaus website one can find a wide variety of information some useful and some not... For example they estimated “the potential number of trick-or-treaters in 2009 to be 36 million.” They also estimate that the “total production of pumpkins by major pumpkin producing states to be 931 million pounds in 2009.” While this is good information I am fairly certain that not all those trick-or-treaters will come by my house tomorrow night and am sure that I won’t have to carve all those pumpkins myself.

Even more interesting or relevant to me was the U.S. Census Bureau’s recent release of the results of the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS). This information, among other things, shows the poverty rates across the country. This year’s findings demonstrate that “no state had a statistically significant decline in either the number in poverty or the poverty rate.” It also showed that the majority of states saw increases in both the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2008 and 2009.

One conclusion from the report is the disparity in poverty rates on a regional and state level. The group Poverty Insights posted an insightful map on their website which clearly demonstrates that disparity: “Looking at the poverty rates by state we can see that high poverty is concentrated in the Southern parts of the country...” These are the same parts of the country where Glenmary Home Missioners has and continues to serve. The letter of St. James says;What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Glenmary Home Missioners ministry along with the assistance many others will continue to be in these rural impoverished areas of the U.S. where the Catholic Church is not yet fully present. Judging by the statistics, we have a lot of work ahead of us, anyone want to come along to lend a hand?

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