Continuando el testimonio del V Encuentro Nacional en la Reunión del ministerio social católico de 2019

El mes pasado, más de 550 profesionales del ministerio social, estudiantes y voluntarios parroquiales se reunieron en Washington, D.C., para dejar fluir la justicia y reflexionar sobre cómo llevar el mensaje de restauración y reconciliación a sus comunidades. La Reunión del Mministerio Social Católico (CSMG por sus siglas en inglés) desafió a los participantes a convertirse en mensajeros de la justicia y en constructores de la paz mientras analizaban las preocupaciones urgentes nacionales e internacionales como el racismo, la justicia restaurativa, la inmigración y la pobreza. La delegación de la Diócesis de Joliet reflexionó sobre cómo la CSMG 2019 les permitió continuar viviendo el llamado del V Encuentro Nacional al discipulado misionero.

Enave - CSMGDespués de participar en el V Encuentro Nacional (una reunión en el otoño de 2018 para reflexionar sobre los dones y desafíos que enfrentan los católicos hispanos en los EE. UU.) los líderes de la Diócesis de Joliet nos sentimos con energía para responder al llamado al discipulado misionero de nuevas maneras, incluyendo la planificación estratégica y la creación de nuevos comités, incluso uno centrado en la justicia social.  Once líderes nos unimos a una delegación más grande de la Diócesis de Joliet para participar en la Reunión del Ministerio Social Católico, donde dialogamos con la comunidad católica en general sobre los temas del racismo, la justicia restaurativa, la inmigración y más. Nos unimos a otros participantes para incidir en el Capitolio el 5 de febrero, incluyendo otros grupos de Illinois, para alzar nuestras voces abogando por preocupaciones internacionales y nacionales y por defender la dignidad de nuestros inmigrantes.

En resumen, usamos nuestra voz diocesana para abogar por una legislación que refleje la dignidad de todas las personas. Entendemos que la incidencia requiere un compromiso a largo plazo. Es por eso que la delegación de Illinois (incluida la Diócesis de Joliet, la Arquidiócesis de Chicago y otras) se reunirá una vez más en dos semanas para compartir informes y copilar las ideas sobre los esfuerzos futuros de nuestras dos oficinas en torno a la justicia social. Estamos increíblemente agradecidos por la oportunidad que nos dio la CSMG para aprender de los expertos y continuar construyendo una comunidad activa dedicada a la búsqueda de la justicia para todos.

¡Yendo más profundo! 

Obtenga más información sobre cómo puede responder usted al llamado al discipulado misionero suscribiéndose a nuestro nuevo boletín informativo bilingüe trimestral Iglesia en salida siendo sal y luz.  Este boletín informativo le ayudará a descubrir oportunidades de formación y desarrollo de liderazgo para todas las generaciones y ministerios y proveerá a los discípulos misioneros materiales catequéticos gratuitos, recursos litúrgicos y contenido interactivo para poner la fe en acción.

 

 

Continuing the Witness of the V National Encuentro at the 2019 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

Last month, over 550 social ministry professionals, students, and parish volunteers met in Washington, D.C., to let justice flow and reflect on bringing the message of restoration and reconciliation to their communities. The 2019 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) challenged participants to become messengers of justice and builders of peace as they unpacked pressing domestic and international concerns such as racism, restorative justice, migration, and poverty. The delegation from the Diocese of Joliet reflected on how CSMG 2019 enabled them to continue to live out the call of the V National Encuentro to missionary discipleship. 

Enave - CSMG

After participating in the V National Encuentro (a convening in Fall 2018 to reflect on the gifts and challenges of U.S. Hispanic Catholics) leaders from the Diocese of Joliet were energized to respond to the call to missionary discipleship in new ways, including strategic planning and new committees—including one focused on social justice.  Eleven leaders joined a larger delegation from the Diocese of Joliet to attend the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, where they engaged in dialogue with the larger Catholic community around the issues of racism, restorative justice, immigration, and more. We joined other participants to advocate on Capitol Hill on February 5th—including other groups from Illinois, to raise our voices advocating for international and domestic concerns and defend the dignity of our immigrants.

In short, we used our diocesan voice to advocate for legislation that reflects the dignity of all people. We understand that advocacy requires a long-term commitment. That is why the Illinois delegation (including the Diocese of Joliet, Archdiocese of Chicago, and others) will be gathering once again in two weeks to debrief and brainstorm about future efforts of our two offices around social justice. We’re incredibly thankful for the opportunity that CSMG gave us, to learn from experts and continue to build an active community dedicated to the pursuit of justice for all.

Going Deeper! 

Learn more about how you can respond to the call to missionary discipleship by subscribing to our new quarterly bilingual newsletter, Iglesia en salida siendo sal y luz. This newsletter will help you discover opportunities for formation and leadership development for all generations and ministries and will equip missionary disciples with free catechetical materials, liturgical resources, and interactive content to put faith into action.

World Day of Peace 2019: Good Politics at the Service of Peace

“Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.” – Pope Francis, 2019 World Day of Peace Message

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An annual papal message for the World Day of Peace (Jan. 1) has been released every year since 1968. Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message for 2019, entitled Good Politics at the Service of Peace, is a call to political participation. He reminds us that the Gospel calls us to raise our voices for the common good, for “politics is one of the highest forms of charity.” Advocating for and with communities who are oppressed, disadvantaged, or excluded is a response to our baptismal call to love all members of the Body of Christ, in imitation of Christ’s love.

How can we use our political and social systems to seek peace?

In announcing the theme for this year’s World Day of Peace on January 1, 2019, the Vatican made note of the call to all of us to engage with our civic systems saying, “Political responsibility belongs to every citizen and, in particular, to those that have received the mandate to protect and to govern.” Instead of indifference, cynicism
or thinking our voices do not matter, we believe the Gospel calls us to raise our voices for the common good, for “politics is one of the highest forms of charity.” Advocating for and with communities who are oppressed, disadvantaged, or excluded is a response to our baptismal call to love all members of the Body of Christ, in imitation of Christ’s love. God created human beings as social and relational creatures, made in his own image. We are called to reach out and build relationships of love and justice, making love visible in structures and policies through political engagement. Two areas in which we are called to protect human dignity is in our “concern for the future of life and of the planet, of the youngest and littlest.”

We must work to ensure that the dignity of all is protected is through our political, social, and economic systems. As Pope Francis teaches us in his World Day of Peace Message, these systems must always work to promote peace in our communities. Catholic Social Teaching demands that politics must have a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, and not be used to promote violence or marginalize those in poverty. Instead, “Good politics is at the service of peace.”

What Can You Do? 

  1. Pray. Pray for the grace to approach all political and social issues from a starting point of faith, love, and a spirit of generosity. You may also try one of the prayer practices at bit.ly/9WaysPray to enrich your experience of prayer for
    peace.
  2. Learn. Civic participation and faithful citizenship requires us to understand the political and social issues that impact our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Visit USCCB resources on Catholic Social Teaching and civic engagement
    to further your knowledge. Read stories of hope to learn how faith communities are answering the call to work for peace and justice.
  3. Act. Join tens of thousands of Catholics to advocate for policies that support justice and peace in the U.S. and those experiencing poverty or conflict around the world. Take action today by visiting confrontglobalpoverty.org. Join 500+ Catholic Advocates on Capitol Hill for the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (Feb. 2-5, 2019).
Going Deeper!

Learn more about the World Day of Peace by checking out these accompanying resources, including a two-page handout ( also available in en Español) to reflect on Pope Francis’ important invitation to all Catholics and people of good will.

For more ways to raise your voice for the common good throughout the month of January, join us for Poverty Awareness Month! An online and print calendar (also en Español),  longer daily reflections (also en Español) and a pastoral aid for Sunday, January 27, 2019 (also en Español) includes daily ways to learn about poverty, get inspired by how communities are responding, and take action with others. You can also sign up to receive the daily reflections by email.

A Life Unlike Your Own Can be Your Teacher

SCWhat the world needs from the Church now more than ever is its missionary mindset. By that, I do not mean a new evangelization program. I mean a deeper commitment to the Incarnation.

We often think of the Incarnation as God making Himself known to us, but the opposite is also true. As Mike Gable, Director of the mission office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, says: “Before he set off for his own ‘mission trip’ to build God’s reign, Jesus spent 30 years learning how to humbly listen and befriend widows, lepers, and Samaritans. He reflected long and hard on his own cultural experience in prayer with God and his friends before acting.”

Even during his public ministry, we can see Jesus’ attitude of humble listening in action. In his exchange with the Canaanite woman in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ initial remarks to her are harsh, but he genuinely listens to what she has to say and, ultimately, allows himself a change of heart (Mt 15: 21-28). By hearing out the plea of a desperate mom looking to save her sick child, Jesus crossed the cultural divides of his day.

Jesus’ missionary attitude has inspired countless missionaries after him, including St. Columban and the missionary society named after him.

St. Columban (c. 550 – 615) was an Irish missionary who left his home country to preach the good news to continental Europe. First arriving in what’s now modern-day France, he clashed with the local community over thorny cultural differences and rebuked political powers for their immoral conduct. Those powers forced him into exile. He died in Northern Italy on November 23rd, now his feast day.

Former Irish president, Mary McAleese, says of St. Columban: “[he] transcended ethnic, confessional, and political divides by embodying the Christian message that we are all pilgrims on a journey to another homeland . . . [he] was a man who crossed borders—literally and figuratively.”

1,300 years later, his spirit was reimagined as the Missionary Society of St. Columban, a congregation of priests and lay missionaries formally established in 1918. Originally conceived as a mission to China, over the decades it has journeyed to 17 other countries. Today we serve in parishes, but also organize humanitarian projects and work for justice.

One of our Society’s oldest commitments is to migrating people. “Because missionaries move from their own country and culture into another society and culture,” says Columban Fr. Sean McDonagh, “Columbans have been very sensitive to the plight of migrants in the contemporary world.”

While Columbans are intentional migrants, our closeness to forced migrants has been a hallmark of our history. Our early experiences in China were shaped by the devastating floods of the 1920s, which caused massive internal displacement, and World War II, which caused massive continent-wide displacement. In the 16 countries where we currently serve, migration has been an ongoing phenomenon for one reason or another for the last 100 years.

The particular sensitivity that Fr. McDonagh talks about has become a defining feature of our charism. Every day we try to make the empathic leap that Jesus himself made when we encounter the Canaanites of our time. It’s our way of making real an attributed teaching of St. Columban: “a life unlike your own can be your teacher.”

Border wallWe put this teaching into practice across the world in a number of ways. In the United States, in particular, 30 years ago we decided to walk alongside the people of the borderlands. In the face of violence, we’ve worked with local communities to create parishes of peace and refuge. In the face of economic exploitation, we’ve petitioned governments and organized protests.

Several years ago, we decided to invite others to participate in our border mission. We created the Columban Mission Center to host groups from all over the world to stand in solidarity with migrating people and the front-line communities that welcome them.

One participant said of her experience: “I learned to open myself to God and to open my mind and try to understand the situation of immigrants.” At the border, each of us is invited to follow the example of Jesus speaking with the Canaanite woman. The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, located in Washington, D.C., makes this invitation especially to policymakers in Congress and the presidential administration.

But we do not need to physically visit the border to let a life unlike our own be our teacher. The Columbans encourage people of faith to be missionaries wherever they are. One way you can do this in relation to the borderlands is to download our Border Solidarity Toolkit and engage in its activities for prayer, education, and action.

The world today badly needs a renewed spirit of cross-cultural exchange. We need to be more like the Church’s great missionaries. Not only do cultural differences enrich us and lead us closer to God, but they also allow us to transcend the trivial factionalism that even St. Columban encountered.

“For we are all joint members of one body, whether Gauls or Britons or Irish or whatever peoples [we come from],” St. Columban said, refashioning the words of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12: 12-27). If you replace Gauls, Britons, and Irish with Americans, Hondurans, and Syrians, this truth won’t look any different.

Wesley Cocozello

Wesley Cocozello is the Communications and Programs Coordinator for the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO), a ministry of the Missionary Society of St. Columban in the United States. CCAO works for structural change within the US and is guided by the Gospels, Catholic Social Teaching, and the experience of Columban missionaries standing in solidarity with marginalized communities and the exploited earth.

 

All quotations featured in this article, unless otherwise noted, are taken from Saint Columbanus: Selected Writings compiled by Alexander O’Hara (2015).

My CCHD Internship Helped Me Respond to Christ’s Call

CCHD postGrowing up in the South Valley of Albuquerque, NM, I was blessed to have been able to incorporate my Catholic faith into everyday life due to the extensive Catholic community in my neighborhood.  My parents taught me at a very young age about Catholicism, and I practiced best as I could. As I grew up I became more involved with my parish’s youth group and Confirmation leadership team. Since beginning to pursue my masters in social work, I’ve learned that my Catholic faith and social work ethics tie had in hand, so it has become clear that my faith has drawn me towards social justice.

When I decided to apply for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) internship, I was nervous because I applied once before and to no avail, I wasn’t picked, but I still knew that it was in my best interest to try again.  In the spring of 2018, my best friend sent me the internship description, and the same day, my mom sent me the same intern job announcement that was posted in our Archdiocese’s magazine, the People of God, so it definitely felt like God was speaking to me through those around me.

As you might be able to tell, I was chosen to be the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s office of Social Justice and Respect Life’s CCHD intern, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. Through the office I am working out of, I have been able to meet and work with Pastors, priests, deacons, CCHD funded groups, community organizations, youth ministers, Confirmation teachers, Catholic school superintendents, Catholic school teachers, and many Catholic individuals and families that are a part of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.  I have made many great contacts here in the Archdiocese, and I have been able to contact these groups through email, phone call, and even local community meetings, which has given me a great step up in starting to get the word out about CCHD, the annual national collection, as well as giving informative presentations.  The topics I have been presenting on are Catholic social teaching, the two feet of love in action, sacraments and social mission, living the gospel through being disciples, an overview of CCHD, Catholic charities, and poverty awareness.

As the CCHD intern, I have been able to promote the CCHD collection and teach youth, and adults about what the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is and what it stands for, Catholic Social Teaching, and poverty awareness.  So far, I have given presentations to youth groups, youth conferences, Confirmation groups, and to adult faith formation groups.  I have seen a growing impact in the Archdiocese and a growing awareness of social justice that affects each group to whom I present.  As the CCHD collection approaches (November 17-18, 2018), I have been active in outreach and giving presentations to ensure that not only priests are aware of the collection and important work of CCHD, but Catholic parishes as a whole, including the youth, are informed and given the opportunity to could learn more about those living in poverty, as well as ways they can help if they are unable to donate to the collection.

A hope of mine as I continue my presentations and outreach to parishes, schools, and faith formation groups is to educate my fellow Catholics on why and how our faith ties hand in hand with social justice. Catholic Social teaching is the epitome of who Jesus Christ calls us to be. If I could have people understand this, I would be thankful to God for giving me a hand in molding His people to become socially aware to help those who are vulnerable and living in poverty.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has offered me a great opportunity to continue growing in my own faith and to help people learn, grow, and act in their Catholic faith so they can also become stewards and advocates for those living and overcoming poverty.  What makes my job a tad bit easier is knowing that I can rely on my fellow CCHD interns in dioceses throughout the country, as well as the resources that CCHD and USCCB provide me to ensure that my presentations and outreach are productive and are making a difference.

If I can offer one piece of advice for anyone considering being a part of CCHD, whether by becoming an intern, donating, participating in a CCHD funded group, or supporting CCHD on social media, I would say DO IT! As Pope Francis stated in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), “The poor person, when loved, ‘is esteemed as of great value’, and this is what makes the authentic option for the poor differ from any other ideology, from any attempt to exploit the poor for one’s own personal or political interest. Only on the basis of this real and sincere closeness can we properly accompany the poor on their path of liberation” (no. 199).

Going Deeper: 

This weekend, November 17-18,  is the CCHD Collection! Be part of the effort to break the cycle of poverty in the United States. Learn more about how to give!

Rachel Baca_CCHD Intern Photo

 

Rachel Baca is a masters of social work student currently fulfilling an internship in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Office of Social Justice and Respect Life as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development intern.

 

We Need YOU! Add Your Voice to the CSMG through the Diversity Outreach Initiative.

The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) has been bringing a collective voice on issues of poverty, war, injustice, and the promotion of human life and dignity to Capitol Hill for over three decades.  Since its beginning, offices within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have joined forces with over a dozen Catholic ministry partners, including Catholic Relief Services; Catholic Charities, USA; Catholic Climate Covenant; Society of St. Vincent de Paul; and the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (which I direct) to sponsor this important annual gathering of social justice leaders from throughout the United States.  Through networking, plenaries, and workshops, participants gain an understanding of possible social, political, and cultural transformations and inevitably grow stronger in their Catholic faith as they put it into action.

The Diversity Outreach Initiative (DOI) was established over a decade ago when CSMG planning leaders recognized that important voices were missing from the gathering and visits to Capitol Hill.  These leaders decided to take action to ensure that the CSMG would more fully reflect the rich diversity of the Church. Thanks to the DOI, the Church’s social ministry has been strengthened as we reach out to Catholic ethnic, racial, and disability communities, encouraging members to lift up their voices and share the richness and diversity of their gifts to further our mission.  As part of the commitment to ensure the participation of diverse communities, the DOI offers scholarship funds which cover registration and housing expenses. Since its establishment, the DOI has enabled people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the gathering, including students, young professionals, and seasoned advocates.

Each year brings more opportunities for DOI participants to enrich the full gathering as they serve as speakers or panelists for plenary sessions, experts in workshop sessions and in various liturgical roles.  Over the years, DOI participants have shared reflections from their experiences during morning prayer.  Several of these past reflections stand out to me:

  • Last year, Adelson Da Silva (Korá is his indigenous name), a tribal leader, offered a traditional ritual prayer that witnessed to the sacredness of creation and our common responsibility to protect it.
  • A student from an Illinois university, David, who has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair, offered a reflection on the story of the paralyzed young man who was lowered down to Jesus through the ceiling, noting the creativity and commitment of the friends to create the access needed to bring their friend to Jesus. Of course, he urged us to go forth and do likewise!
  • The experience of Dreamers has been shared in panels, along with reflections by African-American pastoral leaders working in inner-city
  • Another year Renee, a pro-life disability advocate who also lives with cerebral palsy, focused on the richness of our Catholic social teaching which recognizes and upholds the dignity of every human person, including those which society tends to marginalize through lack of community-based services or even to eliminate through abortion and assisted suicide.

An exciting aspect of the DOI and CSMG is what happens when people return to their homes with a renewed commitment and heightened understanding of how to effect change in their local communities.  We hear back from students who organized events at their universities to raise awareness and advocate for systemic change.  We learn that anti-poverty advocates challenge the lack of affordable and accessible housing, armed with the resources and lessons learned at the CSMG.  We appreciate the feedback we receive from participants, such as Lauren who shared what attending CSMG meant for her: “I was fortunate to participate in the CSMG as a diversity candidate. It was extremely beneficial to me personally and to my Diocese. Not only did I learn so much about the Church’s position on important issues, but I was able to network and collaborate with my colleagues to plan for more effective dissemination of this information to the people we serve in eastern North Carolina.” – Lauren Green, Director of African Ancestry Ministry & Evangelization, Diocese of Raleigh.

Make plans now to join us for the CSMG 2019 from Saturday, February 2 through Tuesday, February 5 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Join the conversations on racism and restorative justice, advocacy with Asian and Pacific Island Catholics, restoring a just economy, engaging and accompanying migrants, affordable housing, ending poverty, assisting women in unplanned pregnancies, and ending the death penalty.  Learn more about CSMG here.  If you are a member of a diverse community served through the DOI, consider applying for a scholarship before November 26, 2018!

It is time to Act!  Time to Learn! Time to raise your voice for justice!  Join us for CSMG 2019!  We need YOU.

Janice Benton

 

Janice Benton, OFS is the executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) in Washington, D.C. and a professed Secular Franciscan.  

Four Reasons You Should Participate in the Young Leaders Initiative at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

yli-at-receptionThe Young Leaders Initiative at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering was created to give a voice to the emerging leaders doing important works of justice around the country. The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering recognizes the critical role young leaders play in shaping the future of the Church and thus wants to provide both space and a training ground for the next generation of leaders to hone their skills, make connections with others, and deepen their understanding of the ways Catholic Social Teaching informs anti-poverty work in the Church.

As a campus minister at The Ohio State University, I brought a group of students to the Young Leaders Initiative at the 2018 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering. My students and I were able to leverage that experience to have a profound impact on their work back on campus. Check out some of the ways the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) can be a touchstone for you, your students, and your leadership organizations to move from passionate understanding to concrete action.

taking-notes-concentrating

1) Deepen your commitment to justice: Finding and connecting with peers from colleges and universities across the country is a powerful motivator for students. It’s helpful to know that they aren’t the only ones struggling to make their voices heard or make a difference in their community. Right then and there at CSMG students are empowered to make their voices heard in the halls of Congress to protect and support people suffering the impacts of poverty and injustice.  Mary Chudy, a 2018 Young Leaders Initiative (YLI) participant from The Ohio State University wrote, “CSMG showed me that a student’s voice mattered to legislators. I had never done a full legislative visit before (especially not in D.C.). Being in Columbus, it especially showed me how imperative it was for me to be more involved with advocacy and legislative visits, and that my story mattered.  It was also a great opportunity to interact with and advocate alongside inspirational advocates of peace and justice from both the national and international spheres. It gave me lots of creative ways to approach further programming on my own campus, through being part of the leadership team for the CRS Student Ambassador Chapter on Ohio State’s campus. CSMG gave me the tools and connections I needed to create impactful programming for entire Newman Center community, including a social justice-centered Stations of the Cross, Simple Solidarity Meals, and a Candlelight Vigil on the evening of Holy Thursday in solidarity with migrants and refugees.”

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2) Making connections is key: CSMG provides opportunities to make long-lasting, professional connections that can go on to benefit both students and campus ministers alike. Because of the wide variety of Catholic organizations all present at CSMG, students have the opportunity to see the many ways there are to put faith into action and effect real change in local and national organizations. Learning about the breadth and depth of the Catholic Church’s commitment to putting Catholic Social Teaching into practice is like adding fuel to the fire for students already committed to justice. Introducing the systems and organizations by which we put the Gospel call into action, is a powerful tool in connecting the teachings of Jesus to the work we do every day.

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3) Engage in our call to ADVOCACY: This one is so important it warrants ALL CAPS. Doing the work of charity and direct service is obviously important. But we are called to more. The invaluable advocacy training that happens at CSMG puts a frame around the Gospel call to justice. Justice requires we speak out against systems of oppression. At CSMG our voices are awakened and re-energized to utilize this opportunity to share the stories we’ve heard and the experiences of poverty and injustice we know firsthand. We are given both the tools to lobby and the time to meet with our legislators and implore them to make some important changes. Despite the cynicism about government today, constituent visits and calls still make up the most important factors for legislators making a decision on a bill. This is a real tool where students can learn by doing and a central part of CSMG is mentoring others into this role. Imagine the impact you could have on your local legislators after opening the door to advocacy.

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4) Takeaways for your ministry: Do you have a project you want to launch this year? CSMG will give you the space, time, and tools to craft the why and how of launching a new project. On Ohio State’s campus, we saw several new initiatives grow out of the work we started together at CSMG. Cella Masso-Rivetti, an Ohio State student leader states: “Sending several of our Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassadors to the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering as part of the Young Leader Initiative bolstered our chapter’s confidence and dedication to bringing social justice to campus. Through Lent of 2018, our group worked to bring our Newman Center and Ohio State campus community to a close encounter with our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters.  After Holy Thursday Mass, our chapter led a Vigil Walk, in which we held placards with the message ‘We Stand With Our Brothers and Sisters who are Refugees and Immigrants’ and carried candles through the dark in a solemn procession around campus.  CSMG gave our chapter the social justice expertise, tools, and support to carry out this event and other events aimed at Lenten Encounter through the semester.”

Interested in learning more about YLI and CSMG 2019 in general? Check out this webpage learn more and complete the interest form. Scholarships are also available for students from diverse communities through our Diversity Outreach Initiative. Contact Emily Schumacher-Novak (enovak@usccb.org) for more information!

Austin

Austin Schafer serves as Pastoral Associate for Campus Ministry at St. Thomas More Newman Center on The Ohio State University’s campus. He is also the co-chair for the Young Leaders Initiative at the 2019 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering. Austin wrote about how influential attending CSMG was for his student leaders on campus.

 Catholics Make a Clear Impact Toward Death Penalty’s End

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Catholic Mobilizing Network

Ending capital punishment in the United States is within reach.  We are living in a moment in history when it is possible to both glimpse the death penalty’s downfall and experience its cruel grip at the same time.  The movement to end the death penalty is steadily growing and Catholics have the power to significantly embolden it in the United States.

Glimpses of hope can be seen in the five people exonerated and released from death row in 2017, bringing the total number of exonerations to 161.  Last year for the first time since 1974, Harris County, Texas–the country’s most egregious user of the death penalty–neither executed nor sentenced anyone to death. Public support for the death penalty is on the decline and measuring at its lowest level in 45 years.  Death sentences and executions are among lowest in history.  The death penalty is on its way out.

But we aren’t there yet.  The death penalty’s dark shadow surfaced just last month when three states–Alabama, Florida, and Texas—for the first time in a decade scheduled executions on the same day.  Recent repeal efforts in Utah and Washington State failed. Capital punishment hangs on and snuffs out all possibility for restoration and redemption in the 31 states that have it.  We still have a lot of work to do.

Capital punishment won’t end in the United States without a persistent demand from Catholics that there is a better way.  Last October, Pope Francis reminded us that the death penalty “heavily wounds human dignity.”  During his historic visit to the United States in September 2015, Pope Francis shared inspiring words for working to confront our broken criminal justice system: “I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”  The resurrection hope that our Holy Father speaks of is the strength we need to end the death penalty once and for all.

Catholics are playing a significant role in the declining public support for capital punishment.  Catholics are influencing legislators, speaking out in the media, and bearing public witness to end the practice.  At the beginning of 2018, when the Washington State legislature considered a repeal during its 60-day legislative session, Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg, from the Archdiocese of Seattle, offered a compelling testimony before the state legislature. A tireless advocate and inspiring activist in that state, Sr. Joan Campbell, mobilized her own grassroots network to contact key legislators and push for repeal.  Washington’s Catholic Conference and Catholic Mobilizing Network collaborated closely to mobilize thousands of Washington Catholics to contact their state legislators to urge repeal.  Washington State moved farther than ever in this year’s initiative and registered a clear advance toward state abolition.

The state of Louisiana is set to consider a repeal of capital punishment as its spring legislative session begins. Archbishop of New Orleans, Gregory Michael Aymond, recently released a short video calling on Catholics to join the work to end the death penalty. And pro-life directors from each of Louisiana’s 7 dioceses gathered for a briefing about how to educate and empower parishioners to advocate for passing the legislation.

Much progress has been made. But we’re not there yet. The work of ending the death penalty will take all of us, at every level in the Church.

 

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy is Managing Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network.

Going Deeper

Catholic Mobilizing Network recently launched Faith and Action First Fridays, a simple tool developed to point Catholics to the areas where they can have the most impact in the death penalty debate.  As a way to bring Christ’s mercy to the broken system of capital punishment, each month CMN will feature timely and useful educational materials, prayers, and advocacy actions for that month.  Your prayers and actions will amplify the tens-of-thousands of actions made by people around the country who seek an end to the death penalty.

“Rise, Take the Child and His Mother” and Flee to Egypt: A Scriptural Refrain that Echoes with Today’s Migrants

A family was in flight from a brutal regime. Not knowing where to turn for safety in their own land, they packed what they could carry and fled to a nearby welcoming country, where they waited, protected until a change in national leadership finally made it safe to return home.

The story is familiar to Christians. The Gospel of Matthew (2:13-23) tells the story of the Holy Family escaping the brutal rule of Herod the Great. They fled to Egypt, where they were safe from what Matthew describes as Herod’s order to kill all boys younger than age 2, in order to eliminate the Messiah whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi.

But it also is the story of many of the contemporary 65 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, whether to safer parts of their own countries or to adjacent nations.

The Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, observed on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, just after Christmas, is the second Scriptural story during the season to focus on their status as migrants – the first being Mary and Joseph’s trek to Judea to register for the census just before Jesus was born.

The experiences of Mary and Joseph resonate with today’s immigrants and refugees. Sometimes people leave their homelands with every intention of returning quickly: “as soon as I earn enough to buy my family a house in my country;” “as soon as the soldiers and rebels stop fighting in my city;” or “as soon as the police can get rid of the gang tormenting my children.”

Others flee situations so difficult they assume it’s a one-way journey. Wars, famine, environmental destruction, crime, political and religious oppression or inescapable poverty can all compel someone to permanently leave home.

People in all of these situations are served by the 330 nonprofit immigration organizations that make up the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC. The members of the network range from one- or two-person operations like the Crosier Community in Phoenix, to large, archdiocesan Catholic Charities agencies with numerous staff attorneys and accredited representatives who assist thousands of immigrants a year.

The last year brought a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety for many immigrants. Among the major unsettling actions and proposals were: the cancelation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA; the termination of Temporary Protected Status for several countries and impending decisions on cancelation for several more; changed priorities for deportation and other enforcement; increased use of detention for people who had no criminal records; changed criteria for visa approvals; reductions in the number of refugees admitted; and proposals to eliminate a foundational principle of American policy, family-based immigration.

Through it all, the members of the network established by the U.S. bishops in 1988 to serve low-income immigrants have stepped to the fore.

In the Archdioceses of Miami and Boston, that has meant significant efforts to help Haitians whose TPS status will expire in 2019 to figure out their options. Is there a relative living in the U.S. whose legal status would allow them to sponsor their TPS-holding family members?

In dozens of cities, that has meant legal services agencies gathered staff and volunteers on evenings and weekends to help screen thousands of immigrants from around the world, to evaluate whether they might have overlooked a path to legal residency in the United States. In a project to screen 3,000 immigrants in southern states last spring, 15.4 percent of the people whose applications were reviewed were found to have a likely path to legal status. Several people turned out to already be U.S. citizens—derived from having a citizen parent, typically—but were unaware of it.

And throughout the country, reaching out to vulnerable immigrants has been as essential as sharing know-your-rights materials, teaching families what documents they should prepare in case someone is unexpectedly taken into custody for deportation and as simple as providing a card to carry with an immigration attorney’s phone number. Meanwhile, in response to inquiries from parishes and other faith communities about how to help immigrants, we’ve developed resources to guide discernment for shaping a community response.

The year ahead will likely be even more difficult for millions of immigrant families, as policies changed in 2017 are fully implemented. As we begin our 30th year as CLINIC, we will remain vigilant and attentive.

Patricia Zapor is Communications Director at Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

 

 

Going Deeper
Visit www.sharethejourney.org to find inspiring stories of hope and to learn about ways to take action in support of refugees and immigrants, such as resources for parishes, and how to send a letter to your legislator. Take action by being part of the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) in Washington, DC, February 3-6.

Turning a “contemplative gaze” toward our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters

Building on his September launch of the “Share the Journey” campaign in support of migrants and refugees, Pope Francis’ Message for the 51st World Day of Peace (Jan. 1) invites Catholics to embrace those who endure perilous journeys and hardships in order to find peace. He urges people of faith to turn with a “contemplative gaze” towards migrants and refugees, opening our hearts to the “gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their houses, in their streets and squares.”

In his Message, Pope Francis echoes St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, pointing to war, conflict, genocide, ethnic cleansing, poverty, lack of opportunity, and environmental degradation as reasons that families and individuals become refugees and migrants.

Four “mileposts for action” are necessary in order to allow migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and trafficking victims the opportunity to find peace. These include:

  1. Welcoming, which calls for “expanding legal pathways for entry” and better balancing national security and fundamental human rights concerns;
  2. Protecting, or recognizing and defending “the inviolable dignity of those who flee”;
  3. Promoting, which entails “supporting the integral human development of migrants and refugees”; and
  4. Integrating by allowing migrants and refugees to “participate fully in the life of society that welcomes them.” Doing so enriches both those arriving and those welcoming.

How can we, as Catholics, respond to Pope Francis’ powerful words in this year’s message?  What are we called to?

Here are three ideas.

  1. Pray with a “contemplative gaze.” Pray for the grace to approach issues around migrants and refugees from a starting point of faith and prayer.
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    Encounter the stories of migrants and refugees on this handout and at ShareJourney.org and then pray for those families and individuals.
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    You may also try one of these prayer practices to enrich your experience of prayer for our migrant and refugee brothers and sisters.
  1. Learn. Visit ShareJourney.org to read the stories of families and individuals who are migrants and refugees and to learn how you can respond. Visit WeAreSaltandLight.org to learn how faith communities are answering the call to welcome migrants and refugees.
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  2. Act. Join tens of thousands of Catholics to advocate for policies that support migrants and refugees in the U.S. and those experiencing poverty or conflict around the world. For current action alerts, visit ConfrontGlobalPoverty.org and JusticeForImmigrants.org.

Together and with God’s help, we can seek peace for all people, including those who are migrants and refugees.

This text is excerpted from the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development handout for the World Day of Peace 2018, which is also available in Spanish.