Mundelein deacon addresses poverty
Deacon Gary Kupsak of St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Mundelein received the Building Bridges Award from Catholic Charities for his social justice work. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 12, 2012 8:46AM
MUNDELEIN — Promoting social justice is part of Gary Kupsak’s job as a deacon at St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Mundelein. Introducing the face of poverty to members of his faith community through the Just Neighbors program came naturally to the Hawthorne Woods resident.The recipient of the Building Bridges Award for his work in the Catholic Charities of Lake County program, designed to promote social awareness of poverty, Kupsak is hoping Just Neighbors will get people to advocate for the poor. He is presenting the program to the deacons in his Vicariate of the Chicago Archdiocese to share with members of their parishes.
Q. What is the Just Neighbors program?
A. It shows, especially to people who may not have an understanding of what everyday poverty is, the face of poverty. It (the program) makes the assumption that poverty is one of the main contributors to social justice issues. It has to do with human dignity. We should be concerned about our brother.
Q. How long is the program?
A. It’s a nine-week program that meets 1½ hours each week.
Q. What good to you hope comes from Just Neighbors?
A. That it will build up to where, hopefully, the people who participate get involved. They can become advocates by developing a soup kitchen or a food pantry. Introducing people to poverty, hopefully, will encourage them to get involved in advocacy for poverty. Some parishes form social justice committees to show how they can advocate for the poor.
Q. Why did you want to get involved in this social justice awareness program?
A. As a deacon, when I became ordained, I had three major responsibilities: to assist at liturgical functions, to proclaim the gospel and preach, and to become involved in social justice.
Q. What is your profession?
A. I was a policeman for 32 years and police chief for Vernon Hills. Police work and the ministry are very closely related. You’re working for the common good of people.
Q. What do you hope members of your church take away from the Just Neighbors program?
A. To potentially get them to make more of an effort than just dropping off a check. It’s easy to just drop a check in the poor box. It’s much better to look within their hearts and ask, how can we involve ourselves in helping humanity? We’re focusing on the people who are trying to do the right thing.