Inspiring, connecting, and mobilizing the Catholic Church.
Spring 2021

An Interview With Bishop Joseph Strickland
of the Diocese of Tyler

In 2018, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland joined the Cross Catholic Outreach board of directors. Today, he serves alongside six other U.S. Catholic bishops who provide oversight and guidance to our ministry. In January, we traveled to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Tyler to speak with Bishop Strickland about our mission of helping the poorest of the poor.

CrossRoads:
Bishop Strickland, what led you to support the work of Cross Catholic Outreach?

Bishop Strickland:
I believe you have a great mission, and Catholics in the Diocese of Tyler and throughout the United States have a great desire to reach beyond our borders to offer assistance to the world. I’d known some priests who were involved in taking the mission to various congregations around the United States, so I was happy to support the work of Cross Catholic, and when Archbishop Rodi invited me to join the board, I was happy to do so.

CrossRoads:
You have a new book, “Light and Leaven,” and in it, you write that all of the problems in the world have one answer: Jesus Christ. You say that if we want to feed the world, first we do it with the Body of Christ. Can you expand on that?

Bishop Strickland:
If we listen to the Gospel, Jesus Christ is a gift to humanity.… Reaching out to the poor is not an accessory, but it’s who we are. It’s what we are about because we are reaching out to our neighbor — as Christ says, to our brothers and sisters.

CrossRoads:
In your book, you also talk about the “right approach to social justice,” meaning that our temporal efforts at helping others can be less effective if we leave God out of the picture. You say that when people have a relationship with Jesus, when their hearts are converted and when they are guided by Catholic social teaching, then they’re going to do justice; then they will feed the hungry and pursue the good. How does Cross Catholic Outreach promote that vision?

Bishop Strickland:
I think it helps to inform people what the needs are around the world of brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ… sometimes very simple basic needs: water, shelter, clothing, food. Cross Catholic helps people be in touch with those needs.

CrossRoads:
Saint Pope Paul VI coined the phrase “integral human development” and used it often in talking about our duty to help others. Bishop Strickland, how do you define that phrase?

Bishop Strickland:
Integral human development is about the whole person. It’s every aspect. It’s feeding, but also nurturing the mind, nurturing the spirit. It’s recognizing that we need community and supporting families. When Saint Pope Paul VI spoke about integral human development, he was speaking about every dimension of the human person.

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