The faith-inspired professional journey of CNEWA Canada’s national director, Carl Hétu, was featured on the front page of last week’s issue of the Canadian newspaper The Catholic Register of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Mr. Hétu recounts how his parents’ example and his lifelong passion for social justice led to his current work with the pontifical agency. Read an excerpt below:
Social justice came naturally to Hétu. He took to looking out for others like his parents had — they met through their work with an organization called La jeunesse ouvrière chrétienne (Young Christian Workers), a Church-led initiative founded by Fr. Joseph Cardijn in 1925 to provide vocational assistance to young people. The social justice teaching of the Catholic Church formed the moral foundation of their family. Hétu’s mother was a social worker supporting disadvantaged people with health issues, his father a trade union leader fighting for workers.
As a teenager Hétu embraced social responsibility and was deeply involved in student politics. Angered by any injustice he saw in his school environment, he wasn’t afraid to put his body on the line in defence of someone who was being beat up or discriminated against for one reason or another.
Through the years he’s been able to transfer that passion into the positive action through faith, which has defined his work at CNEWA.
Driven by the parable of the good Samaritan, Hétu believes the work of the Catholic Church goes far beyond responding to incidences of injustice or need. It also involves working to understand the systemic issues that cause injustice. It’s faith in action inside and outside of the four walls of the church that defines Catholicism and is continuing to bring the teachings of Jesus to people all over the world.
“Never underestimate the teaching of the Church that is done via the schools, hospital services, providing help for the elderly, handicapped, refugees and the displaced,” said Hétu.
“All of that work is done in the name of Jesus, serving all, transforming all. Despite the small number of Catholics we continue to do God’s plan, to teach about being kind with your friend. Like the good Samaritan, we don’t care about your religion or if you’re a good person when you are in need. You might have been the worst person and maybe you deserve to be beaten up on the side of the street but that gesture to help that person could transform them to maybe become a better person.”