Howard County parishes join new
George P. Matysek Jr.
Giving voice to the concerns of the people of Howard County is the mission of a
newly-launched community action group unveiled June 11 at St. Augustine in
More than three years in development, “People Acting Together in Howard”
(PATH) is made up of more than 30 religious congregations, schools and other
organizations, including the parishes of St. Augustine; St. John, Columbia; St.
Alphonsus Rodriguez, Woodstock; and St. Paul, Ellicott City.
“We have a very strong private sector in Howard County, the lowest
unemployment practically in the country and a strong public sector,” said Hector
R. Rodriguez, a parishioner of St. John, Columbia, and one of PATH’s lead
“What’s missing is the civic sector,” he said. “Working together, we can
speak for the whole community and have a place at the table for the ordinary
citizen.” Part of a network of organizations in the Industrial Areas Foundation
that includes Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), PATH will
likely focus on affordable housing, transportation and youth issues in its early
stages, according to Mr. Rodriguez.
“We will have conversations so citizens can share their heart-felt concerns,”
he explained. “It’s out of those conversations where we see what some of the
common denominators are.” Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, eastern vicar, blessed
the new organization during its kickoff celebration and commissioned the
leadership team. Protestant, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders were also
present, along with elected officials and candidates for public office.
Bishop Rozanski is the program director for Beyond the Boundaries, an
archdiocesan program that promotes collaboration across geographic and cultural
lines. “It was a privilege to see over 400 people from both Catholic parishes
and all sorts of other religious denominations come together to support the
cause of decent housing for our working class, good public transportation –
especially for our elderly, and for addressing the situations that lead to
juvenile crime,” Bishop Rozanski said.
PATH is in conversation with other Catholic churches in Howard County that are
interested in joining the group, Mr. Rodriguez said.
Of the three candidates for county executive, only C. Stephen Wallis, who did
not attend the Sunday evening meeting, agreed to support all the group's
requests. Democrat Ken Ulman and Republican Christopher J. Merdon, who both
attended, said they could not commit to spending $30 million a year on housing
or to requiring that 25 percent of all new housing be for moderate income
families. "One hundred twenty million dollars in four years is not reasonable or
doable," Merdon said.
Ulman said no to the specifics but yes to the goals. Among County Council
candidates, three Democrats - Mary Kay Sigaty of District 4, Jen Terrasa of
District 3 and Don Dunn of District 5 - agreed to all the group's requests. Dunn
did not attend the meeting. Tony Salazar, a Republican running in District 1,
had the most "no" answers - four out of six. He did agree to support convening a
summit on youth issues and meeting with PATH three times per year.