Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Strangers No Longer" - New DVD Available on Immigration

“Strangers no Longer” invites us to open our hearts and minds and identify with today’s immigrants. It invites us to look into our past and notice the similarities that exist between ourselves and our ancestors when they came to this great land and those who are arriving now. We are made aware of the many global implications that cause people to migrate to the USA, including our need for more workers. It helps us to understand problems that exist with our current immigration system and underlines different solutions and activities that can be undertaken to fix what is broken. It reminds us of our moral responsibility to actively live our faith and our obligation to be a voice of change so that newcomers are strangers no longer.

1. Call to Welcome
2. Our Immigrant Heritage
3. New Realities
4. Living the Faith & Credits

Run Time: Short Version 16 minutes * Long Version 22 minutes
Both Versions w/ Spanish Subtitles

The DVD has an accompanying study guide in Spanish and English which is available to download at This DVD can also be ordered via this same website or to borrow it from the Diocese, contact Sylvia at 408-983-0128.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Advent Greetings!

Advent blessings! As I always say, this year has passed all too soon. We are all busy with many things this Christmas season - I hope you will take a few moments to see the many things that are happening in our Diocese and local community.

Many blessings to you and your loved ones this season of Advent.


In This Issue...

Interfaith Council Hosts Hearing on Hotel Workers - January 17, 2007

Note: The following message is from Rev. Carol Been of the Interfaith Council. Many of the 14,500 pledges gathered were from parishes in our Diocese! Congratulations to the many parishes who participated and to Fr. Bill Leininger who organized the Catholic response.

Dear friends and colleagues,

You have been part of an amazing groundswell of support for hotel workers. In the fall we gathered 14,500 pledges supporting dignity and justice for these workers and in November presented the cards and broke bread with management on the first day of negotiations at the Double Tree Hotel. It was inspirational to see workers who often feel isolated and alone experience the support of the religious community and to see management pray with us that the decisions made would sustain life.

As we become more aware of the working conditions in this industry it is the hotel housekeeper’s stories that are the most heartbreaking. Women, because of workloads that are impossible to bear, are living in pain morning, noon and night. One housekeeper, Lupe, recently fell as she was rushing to finish a far too heavy workload in far too short a time. She broke her knee. The hotel assigned a doctor to see her, he proclaimed her well enough to work if she stayed off her feet. A tactic often used to try and avoid a workmen’s comp case. In pain and on drugs, Lupe was forced to work or lose her job and the chance to see a doctor of her own choosing after a month. Unfortunately this is not an isolated story. In San Jose, whether you work in a union or non-union job, the workloads are too high and the injuries are too plentiful.

On Wednesday, January 17 4:30 – 6:30 PM the Interfaith Council is hosting a public hearing with worker testimonies and experts in work safety in order to raise awareness and begin to put pressure on the downtown hotel corporations to respond to the cry for justice from these women to lower their work quota.

Before we hear testimony, we will gather in Cesar Chavez Park for a short program and procession and then hold the hearing at 240 S. Market Street (directly across from the park).

Please RSVP if you can attend (clergy will process, wear clergy garb!) and announce this in your services.

Your presence will help make this an amazing event and it will be one more step toward saving the bodies and improving the lives of women whose careers are to serve our comfort.

May your light shine bright this holiday season!

Rev. Carol Been
The Interfaith Council
408-269-7872 x 577
408-266-2653 fax

Death Penalty on Hold in California

The death penalty is again in the news...on Friday, December 15, federal Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that execution by lethal injection in California is "broken" and procedures must be changed before more prisoners can be put to death. Judge Fogel's ruling will further delay executions in California where 650 inmates are now on death row.

The U.S. Catholic Bishops have been calling for an end to the use of the death penalty for 25 years. More recently, in March of 2005, The Catholic Campaign to End the Death Penalty was launched. For all of us, this recent news is an opportunity for teach clearly, encourage reflection, and call again for action in the Catholic community. The materials in the Campaign include a statement, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death. Click here to obtain the full statement.

Death Penalty Focus has also released information on the recent ruling and and message points. See their comments below:

Lethal Injection Message Points

Core Messages:
1) The death penalty is failed public policy which drains valuable resources away from programs that actually increase public safety and serve the needs of victims. So why are we trying so hard to fix it? Now is the time to abolish the death penalty.

2) Chaos and confusion dominate California’s executions making it inevitable that botched executions will continue to occur. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that the state blindly adopted the current lethal injection procedure from Oklahoma and began carrying out executions without any research, methodological investigation, and even more shockingly, without providing training to the prison staff.

3) California’s prison system is in crisis and the execution process is just one more example. The California prison system is turning a blind eye to the mounting evidence of mistakes and simply carrying on with business as usual. The prison administration has known for years that there are many problems with the execution procedures and it has refused to fix them; instead, making the process as secretive as possible, so that the public is kept unaware of the inhumane killing of prisoners.

For more information, visit the Death Penalty Focus lethal injection page:"

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holy Father's Message for World Day of Peace - January 1, 2007

Attached below, you will find the link to the Vatican website for Pope Benedict XVI's message for World Day of Peace on January 1, 2007. His theme is "The Human Person, The Heart of Peace."

Click here to view and download the message from the Vatican website.

Blessings and Peace,


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Journey to Justice Retreats - February 3 & 24, 2007

The annual Journey to Justice retreats have been scheduled for 2007 for JustFaith participants at the following dates and locations:

Sister Elizabeth Avalos, Linda Batton, and Elizabeth Lilly will facilitate these day-long retreat experiences.

Journey to Justice is the middle retreat in the JustFaith process. During this day, participants are led through prayer, Scripture reflection, and Catholic Social Teaching, especially as they relate to the preferental option for and with the poor and the building of solidarity across economic lines. A major and key portion of the day is devoted to an immersion experience with a CCHD funded group.

For information on this retreat and to sign-up contact your parish coordinator or Elizabeth Lilly at

Walk for Life San Francisco - January 20, 2007

The third annual Walk for Life West Coast will be held this year on Saturday, January 20, 2007. It will begin with Mass at 8:00 am at St. Mary's Cathedral, 1111 Gough St. at Geary, San Francisco. The Walk will start at 11:00 am at Justin Herman Plaza on Market Street. There will be a Info Faire at the end of the Walk at Marina Greens. An all-night Eucharistic Adoration preceeds the event beginning at 8:00 pm on January 19th at Saints Peter and Paul Church at 666 Filbert Street at Columbus.

Last year, over 15,000 people participated!

For more information on this event, see

Pro-Life Mass & Prayer Walk - January 22, 2007

A Pro-Life Mass at St. Nicholas Church in Los Altos on Monday, January 22nd at 11:30am will mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Following the Mass, a silent Prayer Walk will proceed 8 blocks to the Los Altos City Hall at 12:30pm. St. Nicholas Church is located 2 blocks south of Main St. on the frontage road west of Foothill expressway. The address is 473 Lincoln Ave. For more information, please call St. Nicholas Church at (650)948-2158.

This is the 23rd year that this annual event has been held and it is the only daytime pro-life event on the peninsula. Pastor Ken Gammons of the First Presbyterian Church of Mountain View will again deliver the invocation for the Prayer Walk. The featured speaker will be Carmen Caligaris, a volunteer in several local pro-life support organizations. The Prayer Walk is planned to coincide with the March for Life in Washington.

San Jose State Students Join in Effort to Rebuild Gulf Region

On Thursday afternoon, December 14, a simultaneous press conference was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gulfport, Mississippi, and San Jose, California to announce a "national call to students" to participate in Louisiana Winter this January 14-20. Louisiana Winter is being billed as this generation's Mississippi Summer, as teams of 20-40 students will spend five days educating and organizing in towns and cities throughout the Gulf Coast, culminating in a mass rally in New Orleans. In the first week of on- line registration, 80 students from 13 universities including San Jose State responded to the call. If current numbers continue, 100's of students from around the nation will participate.

The goals of Louisiana Winter are: to turn the nation's attention to the Gulf Coast; to have students witness first-hand the social suffering of post-Hurricane Katrina; and to promote the immediate passage of the GULF COAST CIVIC WORKS PROJECT. If passed by Congress, the GULF COAST CIVIC WORKS PROJECT will hire 100,000 Gulf Coast residents to rebuild New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf coast. The residents will be provided temporary housing, and then rebuild and repair houses, schools, levees, parks, and other civic buildings.

For information on the project, click here on Gulf Coast Civic Works Project or "Louisiana Winter." See also,

Evening Program with President of Catholic Charities USA - January 16, 2007

Save the Date!

January 16, 2007
7:30 PM

The Gift of Time and Talent:
Gospel Values in Action

A Conversation with
Rev. Larry Snyder
President of Catholic Charities USA

Hosted by

Mr. Greg Kepferle,
CEO of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

Parish Social Justice Teams/JustFaith Alumni
With your passion for justice come be refreshed and affirmed
in the call to parish social ministry and energized by the vision
of engaging parish volunteers in works of charity and justice.

Please join us this evening
to hear just how your important works partner with
Catholic Charities USA: providing help, creating hope!
and Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County: changing lives for good!

Place: TBA
Watch for Further Announcements!

What is CLEM?

Are you curious? I hope so!

One of the components of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan is:

"The recruitment, development and support of lay leaders to meet the changing needs of the Church. "

"There can be no doubt that God is calling us to embrace the gift of vocation to lay leadership." (Renewing the Church, Pastoral Plan of the Diocese of San Jose, p. 21)

The Diocese of San Jose is blessed to have many dedicated, competent men and women who have been entrusted with roles that entail ministerial leadership within parishes, hospitals, schools, church organizations, and diocesan offices.

In our parishes, especially are a number of laymen and women who serve as Lay Ecclesial Ministers in collaboration with clergy and other lay staff members.

To recognize this new category of ministers, the diocesan Council for Lay Ecclesial Ministers (CLEM) was established in March 2006. Ecclesial Lay Ministers are recognized with a commissioning ceremony. Several have been commissioned already in the fall.

In our Diocese, Lay Ecclesial Ministers:

  • Are authorized by the bishop to serve publicly in the local church
  • Work in close collaboration with the ordained clergy
  • Have a significant degree of theological formation
  • Are recognized by the parish community as persons with authority
  • Are able to preside at services such as Good Friday and Funeral Vigils
  • Administer, facilitate, plan, train leaders, hire, manage budgets and calendars
  • Have at least five years of experience

The CLEM has been meeting regularly to plan retreats and other events. Please watch for further announcements including additional information in the Valley Catholic.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

St. Christopher Parish Liaison Quoted in New Justice Publication

The Social Justice Liaison for St. Christopher Parish, Tom Walsh has been quoted in the new book, "My Lord and My God: Engaging Catholics in Social Ministry" written by Jeffry Odell Korgen, Director of Social Ministries at the National Pastoral Life Center in New York City.

Tom is a graduate of the JustFaith Program at St. Christopher and was interviewed in connection with his experience in the program. Tom also traveled with Catholic Relief Services on an Immersion Trip to El Salvador.

In the book, Tom describes his decision after experiencing Just Faith to adopt a simpler lifestyle:

"I've been in the process of radically changing the way I live. The nine months that we went through JustFaith opened by eyes to how our world is and what I could do about it. It was like I have known this all my life and had never faced it, and now it was impossible not to face it. It was exhilarating.

In order to change anything at all, I had to start by changing the way I live my life. We now try to live more simply. As a result, our expenses are five hundred dollars a month less. The savings goes to Bread for the World and Catholic Charities. We cut our food budget by 40 percent. We cut our clothing budget 50 percent, entertainment by 80 percent..."

In our diocese, over 250 people have completed the JustFaith program and have had similar experiences. To find out about the program, see or contact Elizabeth Lilly at

To purchase a copy of the book, go to Amazon or to the National Pastoral Life Center at

New Website for Environmental Justice

As people of Faith, we are convinced that "the earth is the Lord's and all it holds….We believe our response to global climate change should be a sign of our respect for God's creation. (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, US Catholic Bishops, 2001)

In the past several months, several parishes have screened the film, "An Inconvenient Truth." Many are looking for next discover what can they do and where can they find more information on global warming and climate change.

There is a new website, "Faithful Stewards of God's Creation: A Catholic Resource for Environmental Justice and Climate Change," which is available at:

This website includes a compilation of Church teaching on environmental justice and climate change and other educational resources for parishes. Some additional materials are forthcoming and a printed kit is expected to be available through USCCB Publishing in January 2007. This is the place to go if you are interested in working further on this important issue!

"Sunday Stories" - Catholic Charities

Elizabeth Lilly, Director of Community and Parish Partnerships for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County has written a set of stories to connect Sunday scripture to the social service ministry of Catholic Charities.

Each reflection contains useful information on the local work of our Catholic Charities and opportunities for involvement. They make excellent parish bulletin announcements and are appropriate for faith sharing groups.

For a copy, click here.

"Picturing Mary" Documentary - December 21, 2006

"Picturing Mary" is a stunning new, high-definition documentary to debut December 2006 on public television. It explores how images of the Virgin Mary reflect numerous traditions, devotional practices, and cultures. The one-hour program leads viewers on a pictorial journey through history from earliest Christian times to the present day. It presents a fascinating array of art from twelve locations in eight different countries.

The documentary is a joint effort of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Communication Campaign and New York Public Television. The program is narrated by actress Jane Seymour and features quotations read by actor James Keach.

Locally, the documentary will be aired on KQED on December 21, 2006 at 9:00 pm. For additional information, see DVD copies will be available for purchase at $19.95 a copy from USCCB Publishing: or call 800.235.8722.

World Day of Migrants and Refugees - January 14, 2007

The Holy Father has issued a statement in honor of the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees to be celebrated worldwide on January 14, 2007. The theme for this year will be "The Migrant Family."

For a copy of the Holy Father's message, click here. The message specifically considers the various categories of migrants, with their families, meaning those who migrate for economic reasons, giving special attention to traffiking in human beings, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as foreign students.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Advent Reflections by Jim Balquist

By Jim Balquist

With the coming of Christ comes hope. While injustice is often highlighted in the stories that make our newspapers (if it bleeds, it leads), we also see hope...Like the hope reflected in the Nobel Peace prize recipient who developed and implemented microfinance tools to even the playing field and provide loans and other financial services to those in poverty - - - with great success. The article I read noted that "Poverty is a threat to peace and if poverty was a disease, then microcredit would be the best vaccine." Apparently the Nobel Prize Committee agreed.

Then there is the story of four families moving into homes resulting from Habitat for Humanity - - - and Kancetta Jones who, abandoned as a child and shuttled through foster services, at age 19 is now living alone (with the help and support of a local non-profit), working hard, looking forward to college, and incredibly, finding time volunteer at a Santa Clara child abuse shelter!

We see the presence of Christ in these stories - - but not the physical presence. In these stories, Christ is with us, in us, and His work is accomplished through us. Perhaps that is the hope we celebrate in this season.

Note: Jim Balquist is the Social Justice Liaison for St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish in Santa Clara. Jim is a graduate of the Institute for Leadership in Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose and is a Master Catechist. Jim and Ann, his wife, are members of the parish social justice committee. Jim writes a weekly column for the Parish Bulletin. Thank you, Jim for your contribution!