Christina Gonzales is the lead organizer for Gamaliel affiliate, Justice Overcoming Boundaries (JOB). JOB is a community of institutions united by a desire to end isolation, to treat others with dignity and to seek justice, equality and opportunity in San Diego County. JOB’s priority is to organize communities to build a positive change and take action with issues such as comprehensive immigration reform, transportation and health. Christina grew up in a small, densely populated Latino community called Pilsen in the city of Chicago.
What is your relationship with Gamaliel and how did it begin?
My relationship with Gamaliel began as a young child watching my parents work with the organization. I witnessed organizing as the daughter of an organizer. I remember my mother working on an education issue in my community. There was an important education official who was expected to attend and his last name was Byrd. Of course he did not show up and to take his place the committee brought to the podium Big Bird! A room full of 800 people cheered. It was one of many experiences that exposed me to the power of organizing. It all started as a young child. I grew up in world of organizing and non-profit work and eventually followed the same path.
How do you see the Fire of Faith Campaign align with Catholic Social Teaching?
The Fire of Faith campaign pushes congregations to act on their beliefs and values. My Catholic social teaching came through my grandmother, parents and Fr. Joe. The focus of the teaching was the importance of community, the need to be in relation with those around you. I believe the Fire of Faith campaign aligns with these teachings. For example, with immigration reform, congregations are coming together because they understand the impact that comprehensive immigration reform can have on families and communities. What we are taught in our faith is to follow through with our actions outside of the Church.
What issues in your community have you been addressing and how have they aligned with the Fire of Faith campaign?
Through the Fire of Faith campaign, we have learned about so many issues occurring in our communities: health care, homelessness, deportations, abuse of systems, youth struggles, housing, transportation and an enormous sense of fear around these issues and others. JOB has placed focus on immigration reform, transportation and youth within our communities.