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Despite the 2020 season of shutdowns, Let’s Go Fishing Eden Prairie discovered it was still there, in the mix of everything, positively influencing people’s lives; including those seeking social justice in North Minneapolis.
For the 2nd year, Let’s Go Fishing Eden Prairie was asked to host a group of gang members, young African American adults ages 16-20, united by a Minneapolis non-profit organization called Emerge Minneapolis.
Thanks to LGF Board Member, Mike Gruidl’s connection with Father Bury, a 90 year-old priest and peace activist, Let’s Go Fishing Eden Prairie was called again to action to serve the community of North Minneapolis in a fun, loving way.
Perhaps the best way to describe the most recent experience is to start by recalling the first trip in 2019. According to Father Bury, it began with a meeting with the young adults conducted by the “experts” in North Minneapolis. One by one, the experts spoke to the gang members, young African American men who agreed to seek the services and support of a Minneapolis non-profit called Emerge Minneapolis.
First, a police officer lectured the young men. Then, rehabilitation counselors preached about the horrors of jail. The last authority on the line-up was wearing a Roman collar. Father Harry Bury had been watching the group closely. He saw their eyes glaze over. He noticed the defensiveness in their crossed arms. So, he prayed to the Holy Spirit for inspiration. What to say?
“How would you like to go fishing?” When the gang members got over their surprise, the response was unanimous: yes! None had ever been fishing before. None, in fact, had ever been in a boat.
Father Bury swiftly arranged for a pontoon ride on Riley Lake in Eden Prairie. Six of the young men showed up, donning life jackets and sharing laughs with the elderly priest, their staff director from Emerge, and the volunteers of LGF, as they all fished.
Afterward, one gang member told Father Bury it had been the most fun day of his life. These guys see life differently now. One of the young men told Father Bury, “I finally feel like I have a chance in the world now.”
On July 25, 2020 the second trip with the Emerge group took place. Fifteen young men were expected, but only 13 made the trip. Both pontoons went out and 72 fish were caught on Pontoon #1 alone. Lunch was served and the mayor welcomed our guests to Eden Prairie and invited them to come back.
That night, Father Bury said two boys did not make the trip because one was incarcerated and had to appear before a judge. The other boy’s girlfriend had been shot and killed the night before. We were wondering what the 13 boys who did make the trip with LGF were thinking, feeling, and doing.
Father Bury reported the 13 boys who went fishing with LGF had a blast and wanted to know if they could come back and bring their siblings next time. So, despite all of the shutdowns in 2020, the Let’s Go Fishing Mission to share the healing benefits of being on the water and catching fish was again confirmed. Let’s Go Fishing is still there in the midst of everything. Let’s Go Fishing continues to positively influences people’s lives, including those who have a need for social change in North Minneapolis.
This is a current reminder for all of our Let’s Go Fishing Chapters to never loose sight of the LGF Mission and to remain open to new opportunities to serve.
We look forward to hearing about your new stories of LGF service to our communities in need of our service.