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17806Father David Garretson: Priest and Labor Leader

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Apr 23 8:57 PM
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      http://oca.org/reflections/fr.-john-jillions/april-23-2013

      Father David Garretson: Priest and Labor Leader

      /Some aspects of this post may be controversial to some people and do
      not reflect an official position of the Orthodox Church in America. One
      of my aims for the /Chancellor's Diary /is to show the range of work and
      views in the OCA. That's one of the beauties of the Orthodox Church, its
      breadth and balance./

      Father David Garretson is pastor of SS Peter and Paul Church in South
      River, NJ and chair of the Metropolitan Council's Human Resources
      Committee. He is also a union organizer and negotiator. With the
      blessing of Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey, Father David
      continues his long-time service with the International Alliance of
      Theatrical Stage Employees. IATSE members work behind the scenes in the
      crafts that support all forms of live theater, motion picture and
      television production, trade shows and exhibitions, television
      broadcasting, and concerts.

      Bringing together both aspects of his vocation, this week Father David
      is participating in the Priest-Labor Initiative being held in Reno,
      Nevada and sponsored by the Catholic Federation of Priests' Councils.
      Last year he participated in the founding meeting of the Priest-Labor
      Initiative which seeks to give clergy tools to help workers---often new
      immigrants---facing unfair wages, hours and working conditions.

      Father David sees the union as a defender of the dignity of human beings
      and his work as an extension of his priestly ministry. He mentioned to
      me the Russian Orthodox Church's The Basis of the Social Concept, which
      affirms the right to private property but also gives priority to the
      dignity of workers.

      Continuing on earth the service of Christ Who identified Himself
      with the destitute, the Church always comes out in defence of the
      voiceless and powerless. Therefore, she calls upon society to ensure
      the equitable distribution of the fruits of labour, in which the
      rich support the poor, the healthy the sick, the able-bodied the
      elderly. The spiritual welfare and survival of society are possible
      only if the effort to ensure life, health and minimal welfare for
      all citizens becomes an indisputable priority in distributing the
      material resources. (VI.6)

      "My entire life has been within the labor movement," he says. "This is
      one of the reasons I became a priest. I was inspired to enter priestly
      ministry because it's my belief and my experience that the Christian
      church and the labor movement are the institutions that preserve human
      dignity, the icon of Christ."

      He works as a Special Representative for the IATSE and is responsible
      for negotiating contracts, organizing workers, and resolving grievances
      and disputes. Father David co-ordinated the technical labor for the 2012
      Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. He served in the same
      capacity in the centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and as an
      Orthodox Deacon at the time organized the inter-faith response to the
      Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta. For more on the IATSE see
      www.iatse-intl.org <http://www.iatse-intl.org/>.


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