Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Welcome to the Online Justice Newsletter

Pentecost Blessings! Welcome to the third edition of the online Justice Newsletter for the Diocese of San Jose. I hope that this BLOG is keeping you informed and that you will continue to give me feedback about how to make it useful to you in the future.

I am told recently that there is something known as "sticky" websites. This means that they aren't boring but are so interesting that you stay on them. I am pleased to say that in the three months we have had this web-log, there have been over 800 "hits" and you are staying on an average of two minutes. I hope to make it so interesting in the future that you will stay on for even longer.

There is much to report. In the past month, we have witnessed the death of one pope and seen the election of another. In our state, we have seen the growing anti-immigrant sentiment, battles over the budget, and the introduction of new legislation to legalize assisted suicide.

I hope that you will take a moment to review some of the articles which follow...

In This Issue...

Upcoming Events - May and June 2005

Thursday, May 12

SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights, & Education Network), 2nd Annual Fundraiser - To Help Support Immigrant & Human Rights in the South Bay, 5:30 - 8 pm, at Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA), 510 S. First Street, San Jose. Suggested donation $50. Father Bill Leininger will be one of the recipients of the Advocate Award. Includes dinner, special guests, music and dancing. RSVP Diana Jauregui (408) 286-5680 x101 or diana@siren-bayarea.org.

Saturday May 14 - Saturday, May 21

Affordable Housing Week in Santa Clara County. For a calendar of events including free homeownership seminars, tours of low-income housing, exhibits, a homeless services fair, and groundbreaking ceremony for new Habitat for Humanity Projects visit the website www.affordablehousingweek.org or contact Vanessa Cooper at (408) 282-1133, email vcooper@charitieshousing.org.

Saturday, May 14

Community Rally & Forum for Extremely Low Income Housing, 3 - 6 pm, La Trinidad United Methodist Church, 370 S. King Road, San Jose. Bring your family, testimony, and ideas to a community hearing on ELI housing. Part of Affordable Housing Week. Sponsored by La Trinidad United Methodist PACT, Comite Cesar Chavez, SIREN, Mayfair Improvement Initiative, Community Homeless Alliance Ministry (CHAM), Affordable Housing Network. For questions, call (408) 295-4463.

Saturday, May 14

Pax Christi of San Jose Meeting, 3:30 - 5:30 pm, St. Julie Billiart Parish, 366 St. Julie Drive, San Jose. Group meets every second Saturday of the month. All are invited. For more information, contact Tim Gray at timnmaryann@yahoo.com.

Sunday, May 15

Deanery 7 Meeting for Campaign against Racism, 2:30 pm, St. Julie's Parish, 366 St. Julie Drive, San Jose. Meeting of Spanish-speaking community of St. Julie's to begin campaign in response to anti-immigrant concerns. English translators will be available. Other deanery representatives are welcome.

Monday, May 16, 23, & June 6

"The Road to Solidarity: The Living Witness of Archbishop Romero," Preparation & Educational Meetings for Participants in El Salvador Immersion Program, 7-8:30 pm, Diocese of San Jose, 900 Lafayette Street, Santa Clara, 3rd Floor, St. Joseph Conference Room.

Saturday, May 21

San Jose
ACORN Forum on Neighborhood Schools, 10 am - 12pm, 1010 Ruff Drive, San Jose. ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is the nation's largest community organization of low to moderate income families working for social justice and community change. For additional information, contact Alejandra Arostegui at (408) 293-1520 or caacornsjro@acorn.org.

Monday, May 23

Immigrant Day in Sacramento. The California Immigrant Welfare Collaborative (CIWC) and the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (ICIR) invite immigrants and their advocates to attend the Ninth Annual Immigrant Day. The day includes an opportunity to meet with elected officials and will focus on immigrant contributions to California's economy and culture. For more information, contact Larisa Casillas at (408) 286-5680 x102.

Thursday, May 26

"Whatever Happened to Joy?": A Day of Prayer and Reflection, 9:30 am - 3 pm, Presentation Center, 19480 Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos. Registration at 9 am. All catechetical, liturgical, youth and young adult, and justice leaders are invited. Facilitated by Timothy Mullner, contributing author of "Continuing the Journey: Celebrating 40 Years of Vatican II." $32. To register, contact Semi Gurbiel at gurbiel@dsj.org by May 5.

Saturday, June 4

Just Faith Spring Gathering & Day of Reflection, 10 am - 3 pm, 10251 Kenny Lane, San Jose. A potluck gathering of Just Faith participants sponsored by the Just Faith Alumni Committee. For additional information, contact Diedre Sorvino at west@mklm.org.

Monday, June 6

Town Hall Meeting: "Let's Make Our Valley More Welcoming Towards Immigrants," 7-8:30 pm, St. Patrick's Proto-Cathedral, 389 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose. Invitees: Santa Clara County Supervisors James Beall and Pete McHugh, Mayor Ron Gonzales, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Congressman Mike Honda. Organized by the St. Patrick PACT Local Organizing Committee. For more information, contact Daniela Santos at (408) 998-8001 x15.

Tuesday, June 7

Parish Social Justice Liaison Breakfast Meeting, 7:30 - 9 am, Diocese of San Jose, St. Joseph Conference Room, 3rd Floor, 900 Lafayette St., Santa Clara. Note change in location.

Saturday, June 11- Sunday, June 19

"The Road to Solidarity: The Living Witness of Archbishop Romero" - Catholic Relief Services is sponsoring a delegation from the Diocese of San Jose to travel to El Salvador. This immersion program includes four educational pre-trip sessions and follow-up on return. Contact Joe Hastings for more information at jhastings@catholicrelief.org.

Save the Date!

Sunday, July 17- Friday, July 22

Social Action Summer Institute, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. A social justice symposium with presentations on spirtuality and social justice, effective diocesan and parish social action ministries and a variety of issues and skills workshops at both advanced and introductory levels. Jointly sponsored by the Roundtable, USCCB Dept. of Social Development and World Peace, Catholic Charities USA, CCHD, and CRS. Registration available at http://www.nplc.org/roundtable/events.htm.

Note: For additional listings, see Socorro's List. To subscribe, email luquehere@speakeasy.com.

Creation's Covenant

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Not content with perfecting the orchid,
no God insists on a world awash in daisies
and dandelions.
Not satisfied with a simple sparrow
God imagines eagles, ostriches
and swans then throws in a
penguin or two just for fun.

God continues to create a universe of miracles for us to discover, savor and enjoy where a single blade of grass or grain of sand contains the secrets of the stars and a century for the tortoise or single day for the gnat is time enough.

Listen to the symphony of languages while gazing at our human family through kleidoscope eyes. See reflected in a million different faces this sublime truth: not all rainbows reach the skies.
From Maryknoll Magazine, May/June 2005, by J.R. Veneroso, M.M., Used with Permission

Prayer for Peace - Pope John Paul II

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
To you, Creator of nature and humanity,
of truth and beauty, I pray:
Hear my voice,
for it is the voice of the victims of all wars and violence among individuals and nations.
Hear my voice,
for it is the voice of all children who suffer
and will suffer when people put their faith
in weapons and war.
Hear my voice,
when I beg you to instill into the heart
of all human beings, the wisdom of peace,
the strength of justice and the joy of fellowship.
Hear my voice,
for I speak for the multitudes in every country
and every period of history who do not want war
and are ready to walk the road of peace.
Hear my voice,
and grant insight and strength so that we may always
respond to hatred with love, to injustice with total dedication to justice,
to need with sharing of self, to war with peace.
O God, hear my voice,
and grant unto the world your everlasting peace.

Being with the Poor...

By Rosana Madrigal, Saint John Vianney's JustFaith

This is an invitation of sorts. It is not an easy invitation to accept. It is not from me. It is the invitation we all get from Jesus to work with and for the poor. It was not an easy invitation to accept, at least for me it wasn't. I have a difficult time working being with the poor. I would much rather be with the sick. But, several years ago, someone in our JustFaith Group heard the Holy Spirit and decided we should serve breakfast at the San Jose Family Shelter.

Usually, it is easy to hide from the poor in the kitchen. After all, we are making breakfast. However, the last time I went, I took two friends and there was no room for us in the kitchen. Jim McEntee would say we need to be with the poor. In Spanish, he would say convivir con el pueblo. So, told my friends to sit down with the families.

It was the best experience ever! I helped a single mom with her three little girls. She had a three-year-old, a two-year-old and a one-year-old and she huge expecting another child. I feed the two-year-old, a beautiful African-American toddler with big brown eyes and an even a bigger smile. When she finished eating, it was my turn to eat. She asked me if she could sit on my lap while I ate. Wow! What a treat to be with the poor!

The members of Saint John Vianney go every other month on the third Sunday to prepare and serve breakfast starting at 7 AM. But, you can go anytime.

You can sign-up to prepare and serve a meal. Perhaps, you would prefer to help in other ways. You take the parents to the social service agencies and help them through the maze of securing assistance. The need is huge, but you can help. "With God all things are possible." Mark 10:27

The San Jose Family Shelter is located at 1590 Las Plumas, where Las Plumas dead ends with Highway 101, off King Road, between McKee and Berryessa, in San Jose. San Jose Family Shelter, 408-926-8885 or www.sjfamilyshelter.org

Editor's Note: Thank you to Rosana for sharing her experiences and inviting others to participate. Let me know if you also have something to share.

Affordable Housing Week in Santa Clara County - May 14-21

Did You Know?...
  1. The median price of a home in Santa Clara County is $664,000 ( as of January 2005) and only 22% of County residents can afford a home.
  2. Over 200,000 low-income households are in need of affordable housing countywide, including over 80,000 extremely low-income families.
  3. More than 43,000 County residents pay over half of their income for housing (2000 Census).
  4. A renter needs an annual gross income of $47,268 to qualify for a 2-bedroom unit.
  5. Santa Clara County is the least affordable place in California to rent an apartment. Fair market rent in 2005 for a two-bedroom unit averages $1,313 per month.
  6. Annual population and employment growth data for 2003 showed a 162,000 deficit of housing units in Santa Clara County. (Source: Charities Housing)

Charities Housing, as part of their committment to developing and supporting affordable housing will be sponsoring an Affordable Housing Week in Santa Clara County from May 14 through May 21. Offered during the week is an extensive list of useful and informative activities.

Included in the Calendar of Events are free home ownership seminars for first-time buyers of all income levels which will offer information, financial education, credit tips, and goal planning. These eleven evening and daytime workshops will offered at locations throughout the County. Included also are tours of affordable housing, a Homeless Services Fair in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, a photo exhibit, and a groundbreaking ceremony for new Habitat for Humanity Projects.

For information, visit the website at www.affordablehousingweek.org. For information in Spanish, contact Sandra Nava at (408) 846-0290.

Co-sponsored by Citibank, Wells Fargo, Housing Trust of Santa Clara County, and Silicon Valley Citizens for Affordable Homes.

"Assisted Suicide" Bill Introduced in California Legislature

On February 17, 2005, AB654, the California “Compassionate Choices Act,” was introduced in the California Assembly. AB 654 would give doctors the power to prescribe lethal drug overdoses to patients for the purpose of causing death.

Currently, this bill has passed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee with a vote of 5-4. The next stop is the Assembly Appropriations Committee. As of this writing, no hearing date has been set.

On November 10, 2004, the California Catholic Conference issued the following statement in opposition to this bill:

CCC Will Oppose the Proposed 2005 "Assisted Suicide" Bill
Unfortunately, once again the California Legislature will be asked to consider a bill to legalize physicians assisting patients to commit suicide. In the past, the people of the state have voted against a ballot initiative legalizing "assisted suicide" and the Legislature has rejected bills that would do the same thing. It is evident that both the electorate and their elected representatives have chosen a more sophisticated and compassionate response to end-of-life issues.

A dying person's request for death is almost always a cry for help coming from his or her fear of helplessness and abandonment. And the medical community knows that such a request which is met with adequate palliation, treatment for depression and/or loving comfort care will in almost every case be rescinded. In addition, lived experience has demonstrated that if those who are dying are embraced by their families and their communities, they will not seek death, but will live their last days well.

Legalizing "assisted suicide" in California is not good public policy because of the inevitable social injustices that will follow. The pressure to make the "choice" will increase with the burden of illness, age or diminished economic status. Predictably and pragmatically the disabled, the elderly and the poor will not be fully welcome to partake in community resources when they have the "other" option.

The California Catholic Conference actively opposed the previous attempts to legalize "assisted suicide" in California and pledges to once again join with many other groups and individuals to lobby vigorously against any attempt to pass such a law.

In addition, several years ago the California bishops, through the California Catholic Conference, launched a statewide educational effort, Embracing Our Dying, to address the moral, medical, legal, and practical aspects of end-of-life issues. Most of the resources developed for this effort are available to the public on their web site,

Ideas for Action: “What Can I Do?”

1. The California Catholic Conference (CCC) and the Alliance for Catholic Heathcare have joined a coalition, Californians Against Assisted Suicide. You can sign up at their website for updates.

2. Check out the CCC website for the most current updates. Also on the website are brochures on "How to Lobby," "How a Bill Becomes a Law," and the text of the bill.

3. One page backgrounders available from the CCC in English and Spanish. These backgrounders give a history of the effort to legalize assisted suicide in California, Church teaching, and comments. They can be reproduced and distributed.

4. Call, write, or visit your legislator. To find your legislator, log on to the Legislative Council of California website, and enter your zipcode.

California Catholics Gather at State Capitol for Lobby Day

On April 26, 2005 Catholics from all over California gathered at the State Capitol to raise their voices on behalf of those who are poor, vulnerable, or voiceless. Over 800 participants gathered downtown at the Crest Theater for an inspirational program and Mass.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMsgr. Eugene Boyle, retired priest from the Diocese of San Jose and member of the Diocesan Human Concerns Commission was the homilist at the Mass. In his homily, Msgr. Boyle said, "Searching for the signs of the times in the spirit of Jesus will mean recognizing all the forces working against humanity as forces of evil...lack of respect for the sacredness of life, which promotes abortion, stem cell research with embryos, and assisted suicide; racism and xenophobia, which is the dark side of the immigration debate; individual and corporate greed, which is the basis of widespread economic insecurity and poverty...failure of present government to recongize the state budget as a theological statement that should especially include funds for education and health care..."

After the morning program and Mass, the group marched to the steps of the Capitol for a rally followed by lunch in Capitol Park. The afternoon was designated for visits to the legislators.

Speakers at the rally addressed the following key issues:

AB654 Legalization of Assisted Suicide/Legalizacion del suicido asistido
It would legalize assisted suicide for individuals diagnosed with a terminal illness who have six months of less to live. The California Catholic Conference opposes the bill.

AB696 Food Security/Garantias alimenticias
A package of measures designed to reduce paperwork and administrative barriers to food stamps and CalWORKS benefits. We support the bill.

AB930 Naturalization Funding/Fondos para la naturalizacion
It would provide funding to local governments, faith-based and community organizations to assist legal permanent residents in becoming naturalized citizens. This bill is sponsored by Catholic Charities. We support it.

In addition to the above, the California Catholic Conference identified a number of other bills as either major or significant.

According to the Legislative Calendar, June 3 is the deadline for all bills to clear their House of Origin.

For additional information and current updates in Spanish and English, see the website for the California Catholic Conference, http://www.cacatholic.org/.

Update on California State Budget

by Al Hernandez, Lobbyist with the California Catholic Conference

The Governor’s May Budget Revise will be released this Friday, May 13, at 1:00 PM. The California Catholic Conference will put out a summary of the analysis by middle of next week which will also be posted on the web site.

Sources familiar with the fiscal health of the state estimate that Dept of Finance (DOF) will announce about $3 billion in additional revenues than what they projected in January. The additional revenues are mainly the result of improving signs in the economy and a tax amnesty program initiated at least last year that has been operating around the clock. We may expect decreased projections of caseload growth in many social service programs, thus releasing some of the pressures on the budget. Lastly, political observers close to the budget process are of the opinion that there may be some gimmicks or accounting tricks left to put out some of the budget deficit into future years. Despite the slightly rosier economic outlook, the deficit will remain a stubborn gap in the $10 billion range, maybe in the high 9’s to low 10’s, instead of double digits.

Nevertheless, by all indications the Governor still opposes any tax increases and some budget lobbyists think that Republicans are more likely to go along with user fees (e.g., parks or services), which some of them have proposed through legislation, than to try to close some of the loopholes in the tax code as pertains to corporations, high end consumption of luxury goods, or commercial property tax.

To any of you who are betting people, some of us are willing to bet that serious budget discussions will not begin until about the first half of June, and the truly serious, serious discussions will take place beginning in late June. Seasoned lobbyists are predicting that we will have a Budget not by June 30, but soon thereafter (mid-July)?

Budget Subcommittee process: Hearings conducted by the various budget committees continue in earnest and should be wrapping up within the next 2 weeks. Thus far a good number of the actions taken by Members consist of rejecting the Governor’s proposals and recommending higher funding levels, albeit at a reduced dollar amount than in previous years. This is happening along partisan lines, pretty much across the board. As an illustrative example, key budget committees voted to reject or change key components of Governor Schwarzenegger “Medi-Cal Redesign” such as: questioned and recasted a mandatory Medi-Cal managed care proposal, rejected the proposal to impose premiums on Medi-Cal patients, and raised the proposed cap on dental coverage for adults on the program.

Naturalization funding. We are making excellent progress towards securing money in the budget for citizenship assistance services and NSP. The Assembly Subcommittee No. 1 (De La Torre-chair) voted for $5 million on May 4 and the Senate Subcommittee No. 3 (Ducheny-chair) approved $1.5 million on May 5, with a possibility of augmentation once the May Revise numbers are released. The discrepancy simply means that our NSP budget item will go to Conference Committee, which is not a bad thing. A budget issue that is sealed in conference has buy in from top party leadership and is therefore less likely to be blue penciled (line item veto) by the Governor before he signs the state budget. DO NOT expect the funding level to remain as high as 5 million—usually the difference is cut in half during Conference Committee deliberations.

Budget Conference Committee: Once the Subcommittee deliberations are completed, the two versions of the Budget go to what is called a Conference Committee formed by both Houses. We already received reliable information that two of the Senate conferees will be Sen. Migden and Sen. Chesbro. There will be 6 legislators appointed to Conference Cmte. Senator Midgen is chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Assemblywoman Judy Chu will be the counterpart Appropriations chair in the Assembly. We are counting on Ms. Chu to be our champion for NSP, which she has done exceedingly well in the past.

Today, two days after Mother’s Day, various groups are conducting a rally on the Capitol Steps to protest the Governor’s budget cuts. Women and mothers bear the brunt of the proposed budget cuts. Some facts pointed out by the organizers of the event and in a recent analysis by the California Women's Law Center:

  • 4 out of 5 CalWorks recipients are moms and grandmothers. The budget proposes grant cuts totaling $160 per month.
  • 3 out of 5 of SSI/SSP recipients are senior and disabled women. The budget proposes a grant freeze of $33 per month.
  • 3 out of 4 in-home care givers are women. The budget proposes cutting their state-funded wages from $10.10 per hour to the minimum wage of $6.75 per hour.
  • Almost all child care providers are women. The budget proposes cuts that will lower their earnings or even cost them their jobs.
  • 3 out of 5 Medi-Cal recipients are women. The budget proposes cutting and capping medical services and adding new premiums for families of up to $27 per month.

Jim McEntee Honored at County Government Offices

Last September, Jim McEntee, Sr., a true hero in our community died suddenly. On September 25, 2004, Jim was awarded posthumously, the first Lumen Christi Award for Social Justice by the Diocese of San Jose at the Justice Symposium at Santa Clara University.

For twenty-seven years, Jim was the director of the Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations. He helped establish the Second Harvest Food Bank, the Emergency Housing Consortium, the Asian Law Alliance, and many other non-profits that have helped thousands in our community. His life was dedicated to peace and social justice for all people. Father to nine children, Jim was a Catholic priest before leaving the active priesthood to marry Ann. Together, Ann and Jim modeled a partnership devoted to God, family, and community.

On Wednesday, May 11, from 3 - 5 pm and again from 7 - 9 pm, a public hearing in the Board of Supervisors Chambers in the County Government Center at 70 West Hedding St. in San Jose, the community was invited to come and share remembrances and stories of Jim and vote for their choice of a County facility to be named in his honor.

Sponsored by the Jim McEntee Legacy Committee and the Human Relations Council, the Office of Human Relations, SIREN, BAYMEC, Amnesty International, Asian Law Alliance, Islamic Networks Group, Community Homeless Alliance, MT25.org, St. John Vianney Parish Just Faith, and the Diocese of San Jose.

"Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve" - CRS Wristbands Available

Image hosted by Photobucket.comSilicon wristbands from Catholic Relief Services are available from the Diocese for distribution to parishes, schools, and youth groups in appreciation of their contributions to the tsunami relief efforts. As of April 2005, over $470,000 has been forwarded to CRS from contributions received at the Diocese to support CRS' emergency relief and development efforts in Southern Asia. A tremendous response!

These bracelets, were inspired by the millions of people who were affected by the terrible tsunami and the outpouring of support from Americans. The wristband is a colorful way to show support for the survivors and their families and all the programs that help the suffering overseas.

To order your free wristbands, contact Sylvia Blanch at (408) 983-0128 or blanch@dsj.org. Orders will be filled in quantities of 50.

Catholic Relief Services and Santa Clara University Sign Agreement

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

On May 4, Santa Clara University and Catholic Relief Services signed a partnership agreement. In this agreement, Santa Clara University committed to integrate international concerns into syllabi across disciples, expose students to the needs of the poor overseas through campus ministry, and to provide access to students, faculty, and administration to global solidarity programs. In turn, CRS will provide internships, service learning and immersion opportunities, consultation services, speakers, programs and materials.

In signing the agreement, Fr. Locatelli, president of Santa Clara University, highlighted the common interests between the two organizations in the solidarity of the one human family and the needs of the poor throughout the world. Signing the agreement for CRS was Ken Hackett, President of CRS. Bishop Patrick McGrath was present and offered the closing prayer congratulating the University and CRS for this new partnership.

CCHD, CCUSA, and CRS Form Just Faith Partnership

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services have formed a new partnership to promote and support parish and diocesan involvement in the Just Faith program.

In the Diocese of San Jose, over 200 people have participated in the Just Faith program which provides parishioners an intensive opportunity to explore Catholic Social Teaching through weekly small group meetings, retreats, and immersion experiences in the community.

The partnership will help the organizations increase support for their missions to engage the U.S. Catholic community to work with and on behalf of the poor and vulnerable.

Read more about it at www.justfaith.org or www.usccb.org/cchd/JFPartnershipPR.doc.