Appalachian Bishop’s ‘This Land Is Home to Me’ Set For Poetic Reading at Swint Hall

Wheeling Jesuit University’s Appalachian Institute invites the public to celebrate with a poetic reading of the Appalachian bishops’ pastoral letter, “This Land is Home to Me,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24. The event will take place at the RATT in Swint Hall.

“This is Land to Me” is a powerful pastoral letter within the Catholic Church on powerlessness in Appalachia. It was signed by the Catholic bishops in the region and written in 1975.

Beth Collins, director of WJU’s Appalachian Institute, said Wheeling Jesuit was “instrumental in the letter as WJU was the site where the letter was promulgated and signed.” The signing took place on the WJU campus Feb. 1, 1975.

The letter, according to West Virginia Encyclopedia, “is recognized to be one of the most significant statements to emerge from the U.S. Catholic Church and has become a model for groups all over the world that are interested in writing on matters of social justice.”

More than 200,000 copies of the pastoral letter are in circulation; it has been translated into several languages.

Dr. Paula Makris, WJU associate professor of English, is heading the celebration. Students in undergraduate poetry classes will read excerpts of the letter and other Appalachian work that is relevant to the topic of place and home.

Representatives from the Catholic Committee of Appalachia also will be on hand to discuss the importance of the letter and how its words still hold true 40 years later. In addition to the poetry readings, music and refreshments will be available.

The Clifford M. Lewis, S.J. Appalachian Institute was founded in 2002 with a mission to promote research, service and advocacy for and with the people of Appalachia to build healthier, stronger and more sustainable communities. The institute carries out its mission by coordinating service and experiential learning immersion trips for more than 25 schools from across the country, facilitating student and faculty research and community engagement opportunities, presenting public forums and workshops throughout the academic year and managing sustainability programs on WJU’s campus.