According to Michael Okińczyc-Cruz, CSPL was founded through one on one meetings. In the spring of 2017, several Catholic leaders in the Chicagoland area wanted to do faith-based community organizing, they came together and the organization was founded in June/July 2017.
CSPL works in the Western suburbs of Chicago – Maywood, Broadview, Melrose – these areas are deeply impacted by poverty, racism, and inequality. Michael believes people who have been marginalized have a significant role to play in the liberation and progressive development of their own communities. “The goal is to give voices of leadership to those who have been impacted by poverty and racism. During this time of profound fear and despair, it is important to support those who must be at the center of leadership and give them the hope to rise up and organize. These leaders must organize to develop creative and courageous solutions that reflect their deepest values.”
Currently, CSPL is promoting a National pilgrimage to El Paso for a weekend of action and training Oct 9-14.
CSPL offers leadership trainings for those who want to learn more about faith-based community organizing. “We believe that every person has the fundamental right and responsibility to be engaged in civic and democratic life and to work for the Common Good, as the Catholic Social Teaching tradition emphasizes.” CSPL’s leadership trainings provide grassroots leaders with the resources to effectively organize for social change in a manner that is deeply rooted in and inspired by the Catholic spiritual and theological traditions.
“There are numerous organizations in the Chicago area that do community organizing, we are one of many, but the most important thing is attending the leadership training to learn how to effectively organize in the community that you live in.”
Visit CSPL’s website to see the work Michael and the Coalition have been doing and learn more about ways to get involved.
Michael is an adjunct assistant professor at IPS and is the Executive Director and a co-founder of CSPL. CSPL is a non-profit organization committed to addressing social, racial and economic justice issues through grassroots leadership development and community organizing grounded in the Catholic spiritual and theological traditions.
A first-generation American, Michael has been a faith-based community organizer for 8 years, he has worked to address issues related to criminal justice, mental health, corporate bank accountability, immigration reform, refugee rights, public transportation, workforce development and workforce diversity on a local, statewide and national level.