“Is that ‘Clay Matthews’ reading at Mass this morning?”

By Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.

A Norbertine confrere noted, “I never knew that ‘Clay Matthews’ was such a popular lector at Catholic Masses.”

As a pastoral minister in the Green Bay community, I cannot help but notice the pluriformity of Packer paraphernalia on display at Mass every Packer Sunday. It is easy to take an informal poll at Mass: “Which Packer has the most popular jersey at church this morning?” Is that “Aaron Rodgers” distributing communion, “Clay Matthews” reading the First Reading, “Eddie Lacy” bringing up the offertory gifts, “Jordy Nelson” belting out “Be Not Afraid” from the cantor’s stand?

To be honest, I have been looking pretty critically at the garment industry lately—and it is not because I have begun to moonlight as a fashion designer. In the last few months, conversations with an eco-fashion designer and the organizer for the Human Thread Campaign have caused me to think twice about the question, “Where do our clothes come from?”

  • Are we aware of the working conditions of the men, women, and children (yes, I said children) in textile factories around the world (and some estimate that 97% of U.S. clothes are produced outside of the U.S.)?
  • Are we aware of the fact that it takes 700 gallons of water to produce one T-shirt (the growing of cotton is very water intensive)?
  • Are we aware of the amount of oil used to produce clothing with synthetic fibers?
  • Are we aware that the average American junks 70 lbs. of clothes a year (and that these garments don’t evaporate into thin air, but usually fill landfill space)?
Human Thread Campaign postcard
Human Thread Campaign postcard

We can respond as individual shoppers and lobby to change structures.

I work with a priest who jokingly mentions that he does not have need for a large closet; it only needs to hold five black clerical shirts! When I first met my friend Dan, I noticed that he wore colored T-shirts underneath his dress shirts. Now THAT is thrifty—getting extra mileage out of your workout T-shirts!

And we can support the Human Thread Campaign’s outreach to CEOs of the Kohl’s and Macy’s Corporations, asking them to offer one line of sweatshop-free clothes in their department stores (send your postcard before November 25, Black Friday). Can these corporate powerbrokers begin to ask their suppliers, “Where did these clothes come from?”

DISCLAIMER: This blog represents Br. Herro’s own opinions and experiences. It does not represent an official position or opinion of St. Norbert Abbey or of any other Norbertine.

In the News

Human Thread Campaign Presentation at St. Norbert Abbey
April 4, 2017

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