Fr. Paul Bossi is a member of Western New York affiliate, VOICE Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. He is the Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church and was the first Vice President of VOICE Buffalo and past Vicar for Northwest Buffalo. Fr. Paul has been engaged in community organizing for many years and has been a VOICE Buffalo board member since 1996.
What issues and campaigns is VOICE involved in currently?
VOICE Buffalo is involved in a number of campaigns covering childcare welfare, the environment, education, and transportation and housing. The biggest issue of the past 2 years has been around our efforts fighting pay cuts and advocating for funding in child care centers. Additionally, we worked with a group called Coalition for Equal Justice to help our city fathers rebuild our waterfront on Lake Erie. We have been working on transportation reform as well. Right now we are in an effort to get two citizens on a board that currently has only businessmen. Currently, we are also working with our sister organization, NOAH, to improve social and economic atmosphere. This involves building better affordable housing, especially on the east side of Buffalo. We’ve also created a coalition which aims to end youth violence in schools in order to create a safer atmosphere. Finally, we want to recruit new congregations to continuously develop strong core teams. We’re constantly reaching out to new churches and trying to invite more clergy to our clergy caucus. We are working to consistently build VOICE and the Gamaliel network.
How do you see the Fire of Faith Campaign align with Catholic Social Teaching?
The Fire of Faith Campaign is aimed toward bettering the lives and living conditions of every person, which is something that goes hand in hand with Catholic Social Teaching and also with the views of VOICE. We are working hard around energizing our core team but also reaching out to more of our community members to rekindle our congregations. As Catholics we are taught that growing as a community is important, and the Fire of Faith mirrors these sentiments, and provides us with a way to grow and learn as a community. More specifically, VOICE focuses on many of the same issues as the Fire of Faith Campaign. We align around the Church and work within the community of Gamaliel.
How do you think training affects organizers?
Training is a critical part of being an effective organizer. It’s extremely important because it provides the methods we use to achieve our goals. We have a local full-day training coming up in August. In addition, we’re trying to get people involved in our churches sent to national training. We had five or six go to this past national training and we’re hoping to send even more to this year’s national training in Mundelein/Chicago. We had our general meeting Monday where we had testimonies of people stating that training is transformative and has been very important in their lives. You can always learn something from training, and because of this, training is not just for those who are new to organizing. We had a big group from VOICE who went to advanced training last month, including our president.