by Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director
Friday March 31st was Cesar Chavez Day. Most of us know Chavez as an advocate for migrant farmworkers. Did you know that it was his Catholic faith that drove his unyielding commitment to improving conditions for the poor?
It was a Catholic priest that Chavez met who ministered to Mexican American migrant workers who ignited his lifelong passion. The priest shared with Chavez about the Catholic social teachings on the rights of workers. According to the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults Chavez said, “I would do anything to get Father to tell me more about labor history. I began going to the bracero (guest worker) camps with him to help with the Mass, to the city jails to talk with the prisoners, anything to be with him.”
Chavez’s work includes founding the United Farmworkers union, as well as staging a massive consumer boycott of table grapes, in which he asked the Bishops of the United States to support the boycott. Chavez once said, “I am convinced that the truest act of courage is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice.”