One of the lasting aspects of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is the establishment of the Pope Francis Legal Clinic at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.
The Order of Malta, which operates the medical clinic on the cathedral grounds, assisted in the rearrangement of space in the chancery to accommodate the clinic.
Greerty acknowledged the efforts of Tony Sanchez-Corea in creating the space, which includes a conference room and small reception area.
Greerty said Ken Hokenson, the former executive director for mission advancement of the diocese, put him in touch with Nico Herrera, another attorney who lives in the diocese who expressed interest in forming a legal clinic. Herrera has been recruiting volunteers to staff the clinic which, for starters, will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments will be made by telephone; at this time, there is no walk-in availability.
Greerty credits courses he took at the Dominican School, particularly philosophical anthropology with Rev. Michael Dodds, OP, and Catholic social teaching, with Sister Marianne Farina, CSC, with helping him develop the plan for the clinic.
"In an encounter with a client, you listen, gather the facts, ask questions," he said. "You look to what Aristotle would call the universal reasoning that is always true in human nature.
"You use your skill to find out what kind of a problem it is legally, and what the ramifications are and what the potential outcomes are.
"And then you use that special gift of Catholic imagination. Catholic imagination is like imagination on steroids. You look to what could be a better outcome than what the situation is."
Greerty offers a hypothetical case: Mary comes into the clinic.
She lives in the East Bay in a three-bedroom house with her husband who is elderly, her son, her daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. The son and daughter-in-law are separated, not divorced and the following complaints are:
The son curses loudly in the house even against his own father; he smokes in the house; drinks whiskey to excess; tries to have his new girlfriend come over and stay with him in "his" room; and gets behind in contributing to the family.
The mother has had enough, and they are behind on their mortgage. Is there anything we can do?
"There are all kinds of questions there," Greerty said. "That might require a home visit. We might have to go to the house some Saturday morning. We're not going to go to court for them. We're not going to litigate.
"A perfect outcome for us: Write up an agreement, and everybody signs it: There will not be a referral to one of our consultants," who would be able to get him evicted. "In exchange for that, you can stay there under the following conditions: A smoking porch will be created on the front porch and back porch but he will not smoke in the house. No whiskey is brought into the house. No more cursing at his father. The girlfriend is forbidden to come inside the house. He's to be respectful to his parents."
There would be 10 conditions, listed, and everybody signs it.
"That's an example of the way the imagination is used. How can peace be restored in that house and maintained."
Among the attorneys who have already volunteered to join Greerty and Herrera on the panel are: Bernard Cummins, Steve Burke, Thomas Hockel, Ethan Niedermeyer, Veronica Guinto, Steve Walker, Cyrus Johnson and Laura Seidl.
Among those who have offered to be consultants, Greerty said, are John Christian, Matt Guichard, Dan O'Malley and Lance Russum.
Establishment of the clinic is a response to Pope Francis' call to do more for our sisters and brothers on the periphery, Bishop Barber said in a letter announcing the legal clinic. Acknowledging Catholic Charities' work on immigration issues, the bishop said, "I believed we as a diocese could do more."
|Copyright © 2016 The Catholic Voice, All Rights Reserved. Site design by Sarah Kalmon-Bauer.|