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   The Event   
EVENT:What Spreads, What Breaks, What Mends
   A Conversation with Angel Garcia and Richard Smith
Date/Time:June 18, 2022, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Location:Zoom
Fee:No Charge
Description: On the surface the subjects of our authors' works seem worlds apart. They share, however, a common theme. Both present communities in crisis and individual and communal attempts to survive and thrive amidst larger inimical conditions: in one case a deadly pandemic, and in the other challenges faced by a Latino immigrant community. To state the obvious, in addition to being interesting, the discussion will be extremely topical.

Angel Garcia's first book, The Kingdom Began in Puerto Rico, is set in the historical context of a changing world and a changing Catholic Church. It follows Fr. Neil Connolly’s path through the South Bronx, which began with a Church program to address the postwar great Puerto Rican migration. Fr. Neil served the largest concentration of Puerto Ricans in the Bronx from the 1960s to the 1980s as they struggled for a decent life. In the war against drugs, poverty, and crime, Connolly created a dynamic organization run by the people and supported Unitas, a peer-driven mental health program for youth. Frustrated by the lack of institutional responses to his community’s challenges, Connolly challenged government abandonment and spoke out against ill-conceived public plans. Ultimately, he realized that his priestly mission was in developing new leaders, and supporting two unique lay leadership programs, the Pastoral Center and People for Change.

Richard Smith’s Not a Soul but Us won the 2021 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize and has recently been released by Bauhan Publishing. The book is a verse narrative set in a medieval English village, where the plague pandemic has wiped out half the population. Left behind are a twelve-year-old shepherd boy and his dog, who keep their flock alive through a brutal winter—and then must figure out how to reconnect with the world around them. In the words of poet Meg Kearney, judge for the 2021 May Sarton Prize, the book “drives to the heart of what we humans are capable of when boiled down to our very core in the struggle to survive—and how it’s not our intelligence or our resiliency but love and the non-human animals that save us. Timely, remarkable, and unforgettable, these eighty-four sonnets are so well crafted that we cease to notice the form, swept away as we are by the current of the story and its song.”

Angel Garcia was the Executive Director of South Bronx People for Change, a Church-based direct action and membership organization co-founded by Fr. Connolly. Born in Puerto Rico, and a graduate of Princeton University (English Literature), and Pace University (MBA), he is a long-term resident of the South Bronx, a lapsed Catholic, and has volunteered on social justice, environmental and political campaigns, and an affordable housing board, happily recruited by Connolly.
After graduating from Princeton with a degree in English, Richard Smith worked in publishing for twelve years and then retooled as a clinical psychologist, earning his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He maintains a private clinical practice in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.
Contact: Bruce Petersen or Kathryn Reimann
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