Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Happy Summer! Welcome!

Welcome to the summer issue of Faith Doing Justice!

This is a time when we try to catch up in the office - take vacations and do some planning for the upcoming year. Yet, it seems to be a busy time...the pace of the world goes on relentlessly and we can only hope that what we do makes a difference in the world around us.

I rejoice that because of the generosity of people throughout the diocese, we were able through CCHD to fund seven local projects working to empower the poor in our diocese. With the help of the U.S. bishops' Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform, we are beginning to look seriously on the important issue of immigration reform and a diocesan committee is being formed to implement the Campaign. This summer, mission groups from throughout the world will visit our parishes for the annual mission co-op appeal.

Throughout the diocese and the local community, people are working on behalf of others - to improve schools, support immigrants, defend life, support the rights of workers, to advocate for debt relief for the world's poorest nations, and pray for peace.

In this year of the Eucharist, I am reminded of the words of Pope John Paul II, "We cannot delude ourselves: by our mutual love and in particular by our concern for those in need, we will be recognized as true followers of Christ. This will be the criterion by which the authenticty of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged." (Mane Nobiscum Domine #28).

We have much to celebrate!

In This Issue...

Upcoming Events - Summer 2005

Sunday, July 17- Friday, July 22

Social Action Summer Institute, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. A social justice symposium with presentations on spirituality 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.

Friday, July 29 - Thursday, August 4

PICO National Leadership Training, Jesuit Retreat House, 300 Manresa Way, Los Altos. A week-long training for organizations in the PICO network; such as the local groups, People Acting in Community Together (PACT) and Peninsula Interfaith Action (PIA). For organizations exploring affiliation with PICO and for individuals considering a career as an organizer. $500. For more information, contact PACT at (408) 998-8001 or PIA at (650) 965-9550.

Save the Date:

Wednesday, September 7

Parish Social Justice Liaison Breakfast Meeting, St. Clare Parish Hall, 725 Washington Street, Santa Clara, 7:30 - 9:00 am.

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

"Matamoros Banks"

"Over rivers of stone and ancient ocean beds,
I walk on sandals of twine and tire treads,
My pockets full of dust,
My mouth filled with cool stone.
The pale moon opens the earth to its bones;
Meet me on the Matamoros banks."
-Bruce Springsteen, "Matamoros Banks"

Every year, thousands of migrants without authorization cross the US border with Mexico seeking a new life, a job, a way to support their families. Some don’t make it. Since 1994, over 2,500 deaths have occurred. The actual death rate, however, is likely to be higher as many are never found and some that are found are not reported. They die of dehydration, of exposure, from the heat of the desert. Recently, with the return of triple digit temperatures, deaths are again being reported in the Arizona desert.

“Come and Look at My Brother in His Coffin”
Jose Luis Hernandez Aguirre tried desperately to find work in the maquiladora plants near Mexicali but was unable to do so. With a wife and two children, ages one and seven, Jose needed to find a job that would put food on the table. A smuggler told him of the high-paying jobs across the border and offered, for $1,000, to take him there. Joined by his brother Jaime and several others, the group headed for the United States with hope. After one day, his brother Jaime called and reported to the family and Jose’s sister, Sonia, that Jose was lost. Jaime could not make the trek in the desert, but Jose wanted to continue on the journey. Four days later, Jose’s body was found in the desert. His sister Sonia borrowed a truck to retrieve Jose’s remains. Upon her return, she encountered another group of migrants heading to the United States. “Why do you want to risk your lives like this?” she implored. “Come and look at my brother in his coffin.” (Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, USCCB, January 22, 2003)

What would drive someone to such desperate measures – to an uncertain future, to give a lifetime’s saving to a coyote to smuggle them across the border, perhaps to suffocate in an overcrowded boxcar or van or in the trunk of a car?

Current migration to the United States from Latin America is largely motivated by economic necessity as well as social and political considerations. Jose in the story above was unable to find work – he hoped to find a way to support his family and this need drove him to his death. Each year, other migrants, desperately seek refuge in the US; seek a piece of the American dream, or perhaps just some money to send home. At a recent talk in Tucson, Bishop Gerald Kicanas spoke movingly about an experience during a recent trip to Mexico.

"I stopped in the church in Altar which is situated just off the square where large numbers of young migrants, wearing knapsacks wander, waiting for the right opportunity to venture north. As I entered the church, I noticed a number of young men scattered around the church. Some were sitting, some kneeling. As I watched some signed themselves with the sign of the cross. Some were mumbling prayers aloud. I looked at their faces. They seemed scared, determined, desperate. They sought God’s help. I wished that those who look on these migrants as 'illegals,' 'criminals,' even 'terrorists' could see that they were just the poor wanting a decent way of life, a job, some way to support their family. Work drives them north. Love for their families drive them north. A decent human life drives them north."
(Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, Conference on Trade, Tucson, Arizona, April 15, 2005)

The reasons for the lack of economic opportunity in Mexico and other countries in Latin America are many including economic and development models that have been unable to help the poor. The implementation of trade policies such as NAFTA has negatively impacted the poor, particularly in rural areas. Mexican farmers find it difficult to compete with the low prices of highly subsidized agricultural industry in the US. Recently, with the Dominican Republic-Central American (DR-CAFTA) trade agreement due to be ratified, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been calling on Congress to evaluate the agreement not just on economics, but on a set of ethical principals such as how it affects the livelihoods of small producers and impoverished people, workers rights and the environment.

Migrants at the border are often treated as criminals by civil authorities. Rather than significantly reducing illegal crossings, an increased militarization by border patrol agents has pushed migrants to take routes in which their lives may be in danger and have increased smuggling operations. In addition, recently, at the Arizona/Mexico border, a highly armed citizen group, the “Minutemen” lined the border determined to stop the flow of immigrants into the United States. Their goals, they said, were to provide national security. They are not the first such group and are seeking to extend their reach into California.

Interestingly, according to a recent study on immigration by Working Partnerships USA of San Jose, heightened militarization at the border actually increased the number of undocumented immigrants living in California.[1]. When crossing the border became more difficult and the risk of traveling back and forth each year could no longer be justified, these immigrants settled in the US permanently. Essentially, it has been counterproductive. This report also outlines the many positive contributions that immigrants have made to the local and state economy.

We are a nation of immigrants, yet every day thousands of immigrants are suffering; families are separated, often for years until they can legally be reunited. US residents, who want to reunite with family members, must often wait 10, 15 or more years before visas for their relatives become available. This situation is unacceptable and goes against our values and Catholic Social Teaching. Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity that must be respected. Catholic Social Teaching affirms the right of the United States to protect national security and control its borders, but only insofar as the control over the border promotes the common good. The common good is not served when the basic human rights of the individual are violated.

It is estimated that between 8 and 10 million people in the US live on the margins of society for lack of proper documentation. Border enforcement strategies have resulted in thousands of deaths. A growing public anti-immigrant sentiment has led to more restrictive immigration laws and policies. Additionally, root causes and conditions that compel people to leave their homes out of desperation and a lack of opportunities must be addressed if an effective immigration policy is to be achieved.

To address these concerns, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops along with a coalition of 20 Catholic groups is calling for a comprehensive program of immigration reform. Saying that the nation’s immigration system is “broken and badly needs repair,” Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope was officially launched on May 10, 2005 in Washington, DC.

The four goals of the Campaign are:
· To educate Catholics about the benefits of immigration and immigrants to the nation.
· To strengthen public opinion about the positive contributions of immigrants.
· To advocate for just immigration laws that promote legal status and other protections for immigrant workers and their families.
· To organize Catholic legal networks to assist immigrants to access the benefits of any reforms in immigration law.

For additional information on the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform, see the website: Justice for Immigrants

To learn more about this campaign in the Diocese of San Jose, please contact Linda Batton at (408) 983-0158 or by email at batton@dsj.org or any member of the Diocesan Human Concerns Commission.

Key Documents for Further Study -

· “For the Dignity of the Land, For the Dignity of Mexico,” by the Mexican Conference of Bishops, January 29, 2003.
· “Strangers No Longer: A Journey of Hope,” US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano, January 22, 2003.

[1] The Economic Effects of Immigration in Santa Clara County and California, Louise Auerhahn and Bob Brownstein, Working Partnerships USA, September 2004.

Justice for Immigrants - The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform

Learn about Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope, The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform. Understand the Catholic Social Teachings that inspire Justice for Immigrants. Meet the Justice for Immigrants Coalition - the Catholic organizations behind this Campaign. Take action to educate ourselves and inform our legislators.

To learn more about this campaign in the Diocese of San Jose, please contact Linda Batton at (408) 983-0158 or by email at batton@dsj.org or any member of the Diocesan Human Concerns Commission.

Delegation from Diocese Attends Tucson Conference on Trade Agreements

(left to right: Martha Campos, Gloria Cutshall, Terrie Iacino, Lupita Vital, Linda Batton)

On April 14-16, 2005, a delegation from the Diocese of San Jose traveled to Tucson to attend "Crossing the Borders of Trade," a leadership conference on trade agreements.

Attending the conference for the Diocese were Linda Batton, Terrie Iacino and Lupita Vital from the Office of Pastoral Ministry and Gloria Cutshall, member of the local grant committee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), and Martha Campos of SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network.

The conference began with a focus on social analysis and theological reflection. Dr. Daniel Finn of St. John's University opened with a reflection on trade agreements and the economic principles that guide them. Sister Maria Riley, OP of the Center of Concern added an analysis highly critical of NAFTA and CAFTA, a trade agreement currently under consideration by Congress.

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and Bishop Jose Ulises Macias Salcedo of Hermosillo, Mexico then offered insights on the moral principles that the Church believes must underlie trade agreements. Both bishops stressed the importance of the preferential option for the poor. Bishop Kicanas stated, "The moral test of a trade agreement is not simple the enrichment of a few, but the betterment of many." He went on to say that trade agreements should lead not just to an exchange of goods and services, but also to "decent jobs, wages, and working conditions for all and should not contribute to the migration of human beings because of the absence of opportunities in their homelands." They encouraged nations to follow the ethical guidelines for trade agreements established by the Vatican for the fifth ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Cancun, Mexico, in September, 2003, which include:

  • People are an end, not a means of trade policy.
  • Trade agreements should conform to the demands of Catholic social teaching.
  • Trade agreements should benefit people, not just markets.

During the next day, all the participants went on a Borderlinks immersion trip across the border to Nogales, Mexico. When there, they met with maquilla worker organizers, environmental officials, and ordinary residents of the colonias, or unincorporated neighborhoods in Nogales.

The final day focused on action and there was a choice of workshops on advocacy, the environment, worker justice, human trafficking, and farmers.

Resources to Learn More about CAFTA:

  • Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty. This joint campaign of CRS and the USCCB calls for the U.S. to make overcoming poverty central to trade policy, starting with agriculture. Visit www.crs.org/globalpoverty.
  • The Joint Statement Concerning the U.S. Central American Free Trade Agreement. This joint statement between Central American and U.S. Catholic bishops urge members of Congress to evaluate CAFTA on a set of moral criteria. To read/download, see www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/jointtradestatement.htm.

To Take Action:

Visit the CRS website, www.crs.org/actioncenter.cfm to send a message to your member of Congress.

Prayer for Migrants/Oracion por Migrantes

Loving and merciful heart of Jesus,
I pray for my migrant brothers and sisters.
Have mercy on them and protect them
from mistreatment and humiliation
in their travel.

They are identified by many as dangerous and poor
because they are strangers.
By the grace of God, let us respect and
value their dignity.

Touch our hearts with your goodness, Lord,
when we see them as they travel.

Protect their families until they return
home, not with a broken heart
but with their hopes fulfilled.


Corazón de Jesús
lleno de amor y misericordia,
quiero pedirte por mis hermanos Migrantes.

Ten piedad de ellos y protégelos,
pues sufren maltratos y humillaciones
en su caminar, son señalados
por la mayoría como peligrosos,
y marginados por ser extranjeros.

Haz que les respetemos y
valoremos su dignidad.
Toca con tu bondad el corazón
de cuantos los vemos pasar.

Cuida a sus familias hasta que regresen
a sus casas, no con el corazón roto
sino con esperanzas colmadas.

Asi Sea!

Monday, June 27, 2005

CCHD Grants Awarded to Local Organizations Working for Justice

$90,000 in grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has been awarded to seven local community-based, self-help groups for the Diocese of San Jose!

Since it was established by the U.S. Catholic bishops in 1970, CCHD has assisted people to rise out of poverty through empowerment programs that foster self-sufficiency. The funds available for grants are raised by an annual collection in all parishes in the United States. A quarter of the funds are retained by dioceses and are available for local grants to smaller projects or new groups. All groups must meet the grant criteria by working toward institutional change and involving low-income people in the decision-making processes. All grants are reviewed by a diocesan CCHD grant allocation committee of experienced community leaders and recommended by the bishop. This year, the following groups were awarded funding:

National Grants:

Local Grants:

These groups are working to educate the community and empower the poor in areas related to homelessness, affordable housing, access to health care, quality education for children, support of immigrants and immigration law reform, fair employment for day workers, and protection of the environment and workers against toxic agents. These projects have helped low-income people to change their lives by creating opportunity where none existed before and providing the means for them to find solutions to their community's problems.

For information on how you can help support CCHD and the annual appeal in November, contact Linda Batton at batton@dsj.org.

Statistics and information on poverty in the United States and a poverty quiz is available on the website www.povertyusa.org. Take a look!

Mission Groups Set to Visit Parishes During the Summer Mission Co-Op Program

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Each year as part the annual mission co-op appeal, each parish in the diocese is assigned a missionary group or diocese to visit over a weekend during the months of July-September.

The mission co-op appeal is part of the activities of the Pontifical Mission Societies and has long been a tradition in our diocese. In addition to providing tangible support for their mission activities, parish communities have the opportunity to learn about the needs of others in the global community.

This year, groups will be visiting from the Philippines, Tanzania, Ecuador, Peru, Haiti, India, and Jamaica. Also visiting are many mission-sending societies and religious communities with missionaries assigned throughout the world.

In addition to speaking during the assigned weekend Masses, some missionary groups have mentioned that they would be available to speak at other parish activities and meetings such as youth groups, Just Faith groups, RCIA or religious education classes, and others.

To learn more about the group visiting your parish and the date of their appeal, or to contact them, you can call (408) 983-0128 and talk to Sylvia or call Linda at (408) 983-0158.

Father Bill Leininger Honored by Immigrant Rights Group

On May 12, 2005, Father Bill Leininger, retired priest from the Diocese of San Jose and long-time community activist was honored with an Advocate Award from SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network). In giving the award, Mr. Gil Villagran, SIREN Board Member recalled Fr. Bill's four decades of solidarity work with the poor, including being a part of the founding of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) over thirty years ago.

Father Leininger last served as pastor of Church of the Transfiguration in San Jose from 1981-1997 and is a current member of the Human Concerns Commission for the Diocese and a member of the CCHD local grant committee. In receiving the award, Father Leininger said that he didn't feel he should be singled out; that it is really about being part of a movement. He mentioned that he has always felt welcomed in the Mexican-American community and felt that it is his family. The work of justice, he said, is not just to do, but to see yourself as part of one family. He spoke of the need to get people involved to be that force that fights against injustice.

SIREN was initiated in 1987 and is the leading immigrant rights organization in the South Bay. Its mission is to empower low-income immigrants and refugees in Santa Clara County through direct services, community organizing, leadership development, and policy advocacy. SIREN has received grant funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) through the Diocese of San Jose.

Community Leaders Meet at Forum on Local Schools

(Photo courtesy of ACORN)

On May 21, a forum of parents, educators and elected and community leaders met in San Jose at a forum on schools. The forum was sponsored by San Jose ACORN, a local community organizing group as part of The Great Schools NOW! Campaign, a coalition of ACORN, the Service Employees International Union Local 1877, the California Teachers Association and California PICO.

A panel composed of Assemblymember Joe Coto, school board members from San Jose United and Alum Rock School District, parents and community members outlined the challenges facing parents and schools and looked for common ground.

Alma Chavez, parent to two children with special needs spoke about the impossible task she faced in getting help for her children's education. The panel outlined a lack of funding for schools as a major barrier in providing quality education for children. Assemblyman Coto stated that funding in California for schools is not at a level that will allow schools to adequately meet the needs of children. He pledged to advocate for increased support for local schools. San Jose Unified School District Board member, Jorge Gonzales stated that the district has lost $10 million last year due to the suspension of Proposition 98 funds. The need for stability in school boards and school staffs was stressed. It was also expressed that better relationships between parents and teachers needs to be developed so that there is mutual understanding between parents, educators, elected officials and leaders in the community.

In the future, ACORN will be working extensively on school reform. They have pledged to knock on 200-250 doors per week! If you would like to be part of this effort, contact Alejandra Arostegui at (408) 293-1536.

Just Faith Materials Available for 2005-2006

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If you've heard about Just Faith and would like to know more about it or you would like to get started, this is your opportunity! New introductory materials are available for 2005-06.

Included in these materials is a flyer, a general overview, and the starting documents and registration. If you would like more information or to have this material sent to you, contact Linda Batton at batton@dsj.org or see the website at www.justfaith.org.

Just Faith is an adult formation program in social justice. It is jointly sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services. Participants meet weekly over 7-8 months. In the Diocese of San Jose, over 200 people have participated in the program to date!

Just Faith Launches New Program for Just Faith Graduates

Just Faith II: Skills for Social Ministry, a new program for Just Faith graduates, has just been introduced. This program is designed to familiarize participants with some of the tools of social transformation. While Just Faith has a focus of formation and transformation, Just Faith II has a focus on skills development. Over eight months of biweekly meetings, participants are introduced to both contemplative and action skills that allow the work of justice to be done effectively.

For more information on this exciting new program including the program flyer, the Getting Starting document and a registration form, contact your Just Faith coordinator or Chris Breu at chris@justfaith.org.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Labor Day Speak Out - September 3-4

Labor Day in the Pulpit Weekend on September 3-4 provides an opportunity for your parish hear the voice of a worker and a chance to lift up those who work for the good of the community and serve the most vulnerable members of our society.

This event of having speaker has been a tradition in our diocese and is coordinated through The Interfaith Council. For information, contact Rev. Carol Been at (408) 269-7872 x577 or carol@atwork.org.

Deanery Mass for World Peace at St. Athanasius

St. Athanasius Parish in Mountain View offered the first deanery Mass for World Peace on May 4th. According to Pastoral Associate, Mike Cavera, it was a great success. About 150 people turned out on a rainy night and $1,473 was raised for Catholic Relief Services. Sister Elizabeth Avalos gave a talk. Mike says, "It looks like we will be making this an annual event in our deanery." Congratulations, St. Athanasius!

Operation Rice Bowl

Thanks to the generosity of the many parishes and schools who participated in Operation Rice Bowl, the Lenten program of fasting, prayer, and giving through Catholic Relief Services, over $32,000 was raised this year! A quarter of the proceeds or $8,000 remains in the diocese and will be awarded to local hunger alleviation programs. Last year, Loaves and Fishes, Martha's Kitchen, the Social Ministry at the Cathedral, and St. Joseph Table in Gilroy received funds.

Materials on Operation Rice Bowl which consist of Parish Manuals, Educator Booklets, family calendars, posters and cardboard rice bowls will be sent to parishes and schools prior to Lent in 2006. To volunteer to be a coordinator, contact Linda Batton at batton@dsj.org.

Victory on Debt Relief!

Due in no small part to the efforts and advocacy of the Catholic community over the last ten years, the finance ministers of the major industrialized countries (the G-7) committed to canceling at least $40 billion of debt owed by poor countries, freeing up substantial new resources for investments in health, education and poverty reduction. This commitment, expected to be formally adopted in the next few months would immediately benefit 18 heavily-indebted countries and eventually as many as 20 others.

To stay updated on this and other global and domestic issues including the G-8 Summit scheduled for July 6-8 in Scotland, see the website at www.usccb.org/sdwp. Sign up for a legislative network to advocate for the poor around the world.

New Website - EndRoe.org

EndRoe.org is a new easy-to-use website that provides a way to let U.S. Senators know that support for Roe v. Wade should not be used as a litmus test for judicial nominees. It also provides tools for Church leaders including bulletin announcements and a flier. This web page is supported by the U.S. Bishops' Secretariat for Prolife Activities and the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment.