5 activists on how faith inspires their work

These five writers are driven by God to work for justice in the world.

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

(James 2:14–17)

“Faith without works is dead,” writes the author of the Epistle of James. Catholic social teaching reflects this call to feed the naked, clothe the hungry, and welcome the stranger, with its focus on human dignity, the preferential option for the poor, and ecological justice.

The following reflections are by people who took this call to heart: dedicating their professional and personal lives to act for justice and to create the kingdom of God on Earth. Whether welcoming immigrants, advocating for nonviolence, or helping victims of sexual violence heal, these five writers are driven by their faith to work for justice in the world.


One woman heeds the call to love with reckless mercy

By Vanesa Zuleta Goldberg

To know what it means to love our neighbor as Christ loves us, look to our brothers and sisters at the border.


How St. Francis led one activist to fight for ecological justice

By James Ehlers

For this environmental activist, being a brother to all is an easy call to follow.


One advocate helps abuse survivors move toward wholeness

By Mariá Balata

A heavily religious background and feminist social justice values lead to a vocation of advocacy.


After arrest, an activist affirms his pledge to peacemaking

By Ken Butigan

Lifelong activist Ken Butigan makes peace the heart of his vocation.


One man’s mission to provide housing and human connection

By Paul W. Hamann

Following Christ’s call to compassion means meeting people where they‘re at, says this activist.

This article also appears in the November 2021 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 86, No. 11, pages 10-15). Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Image: Unsplash/Chris Henry