Sunday, November 29, 2009

December 13: Ring Bells for Climate Justice!

A message from the Partnership for Global Justice:

Since time immemorial in cultures across the world musical instruments like bells and drums have been used to warn people of imminent danger – but also to call people to religious service, marking important moments in worship and seeking to connect to God.

Sunday 13 December marks the height of the talks at the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

At 3 p.m. – marking the end of a high profile ecumenical celebration at the Lutheran Cathedral in Copenhagen – all the churches in Denmark will ring their bells, and Christians around the world are invited to echo them by sounding their own bells, shells, drums, gongs or horns 350 times. We envisage a chain of chimes and prayers stretching in a time-line from the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific – where the day first begins and where the effects of climate change are already felt today – to northern Europe and across the globe.

Why 350 times?
1. 350 refers to 350 parts per million: This is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere according to many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments. For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 ppm of CO2, but now the concentration stands at 390 ppm. Unless we are able to rapidly reduce CO2 levels again, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt. By joining hands with Christians around the world we can have a greater impact in order to stop the destruction of God's creation and of human livelihoods.
How can your church or group join in?

2. Invite your parish to join this international celebration by ringing the parish bells at 3:00 PM, your local time.

3. Ring the bells at your Motherhouse and/or other possible sites. Spend some time in prayer at 3:00 PM, alone or with others, in gratitude for the gifts of Creation and in asking for the wisdom and courage to safeguard the environment. Go to
for a prayer service.

For more information go to

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sojourners Sign-on Letter to President Obama on Afghanistan

Sojourners hopes for 15,000 signatures to its sign-on letter. To read and sign go to and click on Faith in Action, Alert, Letter to President Obama.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Health Care Reform

An update on the health care vote from Catholic Charities USA:

As you may know, the U.S. Senate passed a procedural measure on November 21 by a vote of 60 to 39. This mechanism, known as cloture, requires a 60-vote majority and is needed to continue debate on the health care reform legislation so it can be taken up for a final vote.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) released language for "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (H.R. 3590) on November 18. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this bill will cost $849 billion over 10 years and will reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion.

After the Thanksgiving recess, the Senate will resume debate on health care reform. Immigration, abortion, affordability, and the public plan option are expected to be highly contentious issues. Unlike the House bill, the Senate language prohibits undocumented immigrants from purchasing health insurance through the exchange, even when using their own money. The Senate bill would expand Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, compared to 150 percent in the House-passed version. The House-passed version goes further in ensuring that no federal funds are used to cover abortion services compared to the current language in the Senate bill. It is expected that the House language on abortion will be offered as an amendment to the Senate bill.

Catholic Charities USA continues to work with the Catholic Health Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to ensure that no federal funds are used for abortion and that conscience protections are included in the final health care reform bill.

Catholic Charities USA will keep you updated on health care reform legislation.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Father Roy Bourgeois and SOA Watch Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Father Roy Bourgeois, MM, and School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) have been nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the world - the Nobel Peace Prize - for their sustained faithful nonviolent witness against the disappearances, torture, and murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians (peasants, community and union organizers, clerics, missionaries, educators, and health workers) by foreign military personnel trained by the U.S. military at U.S. taxpayer expense at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The candidacy of Father Roy and SOA Watch for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize has been officially submitted to the Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The official announcement was made by AFSC representative John Meyer on Sunday, November 22 at the gates of Fort Benning (home of the School of the Americas) during the annual November vigil to close the SOA.

"We are deeply honored, and deeply humbled, to be nominated for this prize for peace," commented Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient and a Catholic priest, who helped found SOA Watch. "This nomination is a recognition of the work of the thousands struggling against militarism across the Americas."

SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works through creative protest and resistance, legislative and grassroots media work to stand in solidarity with the people of Latin America, to close the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy that institutions like the SOA/ WHINSEC represent.

This weekend, SOA Watch is gathering by the thousands at the gates of Ft. Benning to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the killings of 14-year-old Celia Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos, and the six Jesuit priests she worked with at the Central American University in San Salvador in November 1989. Human rights defenders from Colombia and Bertha Oliva, founder of human rights organization COFADEH, Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras, which has been actively resisting the SOA graduate-led coup as part of the resistance front.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Initiative for a UN Decade of Peace

Worth noting again (thanks to Sister DeSales for the reminder):

The USG/UISG along with 40 other faith based groups are calling for an interreligious and intercultural decade for Peace. The objective is for people of different faith backgrounds, supported by UN structures, to do practical things together for peace. Fr. Daniel Le Blanc and Sr. Eileen Gannon, based in NY are representing the USG/UISG on this initiative. For more information see an article written by Daniel at: Visit the official web site at:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Help those who are ill stay home


The Healthy Families Act (H.R.2460/S.1152) will allow workers to earn up to seven paid sick days per year. These can be used for personal illness, taking care of an ill family member, birth of a child or adoption, and recovery from sexual assault or domestic violence.Higher paid workers often receive a paid sick leave benefit, but lower-wage workers who can't afford to miss a day's pay usually do not. For example, nearly 80% of food service workers have no paid sick leave. This is surely damaging to the common good.Paid sick leave is particularly critical during flu season, when low wage workers are often faced with the choice of going to work when they are sick (or sending a sick child to school), or missing a day and losing wages needed for food and medicine. You can send an e-mail via NETWORK's website -- an appropriate message will come up, based on your Representative and Senators' co-sponsorship status, either urging them to co-sponsor or thanking them for already being a co-sponsor.

Click here to send a message to your Representative:

Click here to send messages to your Senators:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Support SOAW

As you know from last week, four SCCs will be converging on Fort Benning to close the SOA -- Sisters Janice, Juliana, Andrea, and Immaculata. We remember them in prayer in a special way. If you're unable to go, but still want to be involved, here's an opportunity (as presented by the LCWR):
LATIN AMERICA MILITARY TRAINING REVIEW ACT HR 2567: As you know, some of our members will be present at the gates of SOA/WHINSEC in Fort Benning, GA next week. If you agree with calling for suspension of activities at the School but cannot be present, here is one more opportunity to ask your Representative in Congress to cosponsor HR 2567,offered by the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center in Spokane, WA:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Archbishop Dolan on Anti-Catholicism

Worth a read: Click here to read the blog post by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of NY regarding what he calls America's unpleasant pasttime -- anti-Catholicism.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Choosing Compassion

A message sent via the LCWR:

Michael Crosby, OFMCap, whom many of you know, asked us to alert you and your congregations to a new program he has created titled "ChoosingCompassion: The Paradox of Power." Mike says that the program is designed for groups working on quality of life concerns and relationships within congregations. You can read about the program and click into short clips on

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Remembering the Jesuit Martyrs

Thanks to Sister Joan Daniel for bringing this to our attention:

Click here to read John Dear's touching commentary on the 20th anniversary of the brutal deaths of six Jesuits, their cook, and her daughter at the University of Central America in San Salvador.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Counting Down to Fort Benning

We remember Sister Andrea and Sister Immaculata in our prayers as they prepare to converge!

From the SOA Watch:

GET READY FOR THE NOVEMBER VIGIL Nov. 20-22: Converge on Fort Benning, Georgia

Commemorate and Resist: Join thousands at the gates of Fort Benning from November 20-22, 2009. It is more important than ever to take a stand for justice in the Americas and to resist the militarization of our hemisphere. Over the past week, SOA Watch activists protested at the U.S. Southern Command in Florida and at a military base in Colombia, to speak out against the School of the Americas, the continuing SOA graduate led military coup in Honduras and the increasing U.S. military presence in Colombia. In several days, all of us will converge on Fort Benning, Georgia. Other protests in the lead-up to the November vigil are taking place at Fort Huachuca in Arizona on November 14 and 15 and on Friday, November 20 at the Immigrant prison in Lumpkin, Georgia. Human rights activists will also visit the Corporate Headquaters of Chiquita, Drummond & Coca-Cola on their way to the vigil toprotest against their crimes against people of Colombia! For a complete schedule of events for the convergence visit:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Human Trafficking Article in NY Times

The article, Running in the Shadows, appeared recently in the New York Times. Bradley Myles, Polaris Project's Deputy Director, is quoted in the article, highlighting the importance of awareness and understanding in identifying victims of human trafficking.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Movie: The End of Poverty? Think Again

The movie, The End of Poverty? Think Again opens in November in New York and California and other cities in December. It is a sort of “An Inconvenient Truth” for global economics, narrated by Martin Sheen. For more information go to: or

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Event in NY Metro Area

Art Installation: Actress Emma Thompson is telling a story of a young girl, Elena, who was forced into the global sex industry. This art installation is comprised of seven shipping containers each designed by a different artist interpreting one part of Elena’s story. This art installation will be in Washington Square Park, New York City, November 10-16. Thompson will be in the seventh container. For more information go to: “On the Media”, and click on Saturday, October 31.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Abortion and the Health Care Bill

As you may already be aware, the House narrowly passed its version of the health care plan late Saturday night. Abortion is being debated quite often in this attempt to pass health care legislation. Click here for Sunday's NY Times article, "Abortion was at Heart of Wrangling" and here for the letter sent to Congress by the US Bishops on Saturday. Click here to take action, thanking your Representatives and encouraging your Senators to make choices that promote the health and dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tell Key Senators: Protect the Poor in Climate Change Legislation

Especially for those of us in PA, NY, and NJ:

Take Action Now! Contact key Senators (see list below) now and urge that the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733, the climate change bill) now being considered:

Fully protect low-income individuals and families in the U.S. from any potential rise in the price of energy and other consumer goods resulting from the legislation by providing the same level of funding for low-income assistance as in the House bill;
Significantly increase the funding for international adaptation programs. At a minimum allocate $3.5 billion of funding generated by the bill to international adaptation programs starting in 2012 and increase rapidly to $7 billion annually by 2020 so that people living in poverty around the world can be protected from the effects of climate change.

Click here for the full action alert.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sad News from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

The SBS Leadership Team has sent out the following message:

This is to share the very sad news from the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament that one of their members, Sr. Marguerite Bartz was found dead on Sunday November 1st in the convent at Navajo, New Mexico. When Sister was not present for her Sunday responsibilities in Sawmill, NM and could not be reached by the pastor, he contacted another SBS, who also tried a number of times to contact her by phone and then decided to drive over to Navajo. Sister found the body. Foul play is suspected and the FBI is handling the investigation.

A Sister of Charity from Convent Station NJ is missioned with Marguerite in Navajo but was attending a community meeting in New Jersey and was not there this weekend.

As Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament we are deeply grieved at this time for the loss that Sr. Marguerite is to our congregation and in particular to the people of Navajo, NM whom she loved so much. We pray for her, for her family and the people of St. Berard’s.

Sr. Marguerite was a woman always passionate for justice and for peace.
She would be among the first to remind us that our vocation as Christians calls us to seek within our own hearts a spirit of forgiveness towards whoever is responsible for this deed.

It is our belief in the resurrection of Jesus and our own resurrection that provides comfort and hope for us. Sr. Marguerite along with St. Katharine Drexel, and so many SBS who have ministered for over 118 years throughout our country among Native American and Black peoples now understands completely the words heard so many times at funeral liturgies, “Life has not ended but changed.”

Sr. Pat Suchalski and the Leadership Team of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

African Synod Propositions

The Propositions from the recently-concluded Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops are being released. See for a complete listing. However, Proposition 47, "Women in Africa," bears special mention here:

Proposition 47 - Women in Africa

Women in Africa make a great contribution to the family, society and the Church with their many talents and resources. However, not only are their dignity and contributions not fully recognized and appreciated, but are often deprived of their rights. In spite of the significant advances made in the education and development of women in some countries in Africa, the development of girls and women is often disproportionate to that of boys and men; girls and women are generally unjustly treated. The Synod Fathers condemn all acts of violence against women, e.g. the battering of wives, the disinheritance of daughters, the oppression of widows in the name of tradition, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, trafficking in women and several other abuses such as sex slavery and sex tourism. All other inhumane and unjust acts against women are equally condemned.

The Synod Fathers propose:
  • The integral human formation of girls and women (intellectual, professional, moral, spiritual, theological, etc.);
  • The creation of "shelters" for abused girls and women to find refuge and receive counselling;
  • The close collaboration among episcopal conferences to stop the trafficking of women;
  • The greater integration of women into Church structures and decision-making processes;
  • The setting up of commissions on the Diocesan and national levels to address women’s issues, to help them better carry out their mission in the Church and society;
  • The setting up of a study commission on women in the Church within the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Voice of Quiet Love"

These are the words spoken by Monsignor Kenneth Lasch at the funeral of Father Ed Hinds. Thanks to Monsignor Lasch for saying these words and for posting them on his blog for all of us to read and reflect upon:

Death has a thousand faces and though we know it can happen at any time and may be prepared for it, we are never ready and it is never opportune. It is intrusive and unjust. And no matter the circumstances, it creates a void impossible to fill, a hole in our hearts, an empty place at our table.

But the tragic circumstances that resulted in Father Ed’s death also leave us with conflicted feelings of outrage and mercy—outrage at the unmerciful slaying of this gentle man of God and mercy for the man who became a victim of his deranged thinking. As Ed’s spiritual companion, I can state without equivocation, there was nothing in his life that could have provoked such a violent attack. In the words of one parishioner, “The only aspect of Christ’s life that Fr. Ed did not live out until this tragedy was Christ’s suffering and death.” As I reflected on her comment and Ed’s dying moments, it would not surprise me if I learned that he whispered the words of Christ as he hung on the cross: “Father, forgive him for he knows not what he is doing.” Another parishioner said it this way: “Putting on that white sacramental robe at Baptism 61 years ago was the most important reality for him because he certainly died with Christ on Thursday evening but how many people will know that he died with the sacred compassionate heart of Christ throughout his entire life.”

With Isaiah we believe that life does not end with death. We believe it is a passage to a new kind of life, to eternal life in which we are absorbed fully into the life of God – whole and complete. That is what salvation is about. It is for Father Ed, a solemn promise fulfilled because he lived in a manner worthy of his call – “with all humility, with gentleness, with patience, bearing with others through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” [Ephesians 4:1-4]

And so we will find a way not just to survive but to live fully in the light of the path paved by this humble shepherd who made such a difference in our lives with his ability to bring the Scriptures to life through his well-prepared and carefully delivered homilies and by his reverent celebration of the Eucharist that was the center of his live and ours.
Ed enjoyed a partnership with God in Christ that he took very seriously and though it takes some of us a long time to discover how our own partnership with God will unfold, Ed was quick to pick up the signs early in life. Father Gene Romano tells of Ed’s early desire to embrace the priesthood even as a young boy as he celebrated Mass at his home-made altar. But Father Ed was not a ‘hot house’ priest. Over time as he grew into his vocation, he became a wise mentor with an acute understanding of human nature and of the spiritual needs of those whom he served so well from the youngest to the eldest. He made time for everyone when convenient and inconvenient.

Father Ed tried to do his very best but he like us was not perfect. As many of you know, he found administration difficult at times and of late, he would wake early in the morning with those stomach butterflies we all experience from time to time when faced with a particularly difficult challenge or decision. He would be the first to confess his mistakes but that core spirituality implanted in his unique soul nourished so carefully during his early years with family gave him a resilience that enabled him to bounce back, never giving into defeat.

Ed mixed with the high and low. He made no distinction because in his view all people are God’s children.. He was very intelligent but modest and measured in his speech, never condescending. He shunned honors and accolades – no clerical bashes for Fr.Ed. He preferred instead to recognize the accomplishments of others. We would be hard pressed to find his photo in local newspapers or even in The Beacon. He needed no recognition for what he considered only his duty and responsibility. His dedication to this parish family was steady but his parish circle extended far beyond St. Patrick’s to Mt. Carmel in Boonton and St. Michael’s in Netcong. A loyal friend of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, he was a faithful visitor and celebrant at St. Catherine’s infirmary.

Sr. Jo Mascera of the pastoral care department at Morristown Memorial Hospital remarked to me on Wednesday how responsive Ed was to her call to cover for hospital emergencies when the parish ‘on call’ was unavailable.

Ed and I used to have monthly talks over tea and cookies. Whenever he came for spiritual direction, I always told him that he replaced my spiritual reading for the day —hot off the press, as it were! It was during these sessions that I realized how transparent Ed was and how pure his soul. He epitomized quiet love. He was blessed with a contemplative spirit and simple spirituality. I truly believed that he knew the God who lived at the core of his being, the God who was paving a path with him one day at a time and would bring all his hopes and dreams to fulfillment. I have no doubt that Ed’s hopes have been fulfilled and he is living his dream somewhere in this awesome universe.

But there is just one more testimony that I would like to share. It comes from a neighboring pastor:

Ed was a colleague, but more importantly, he was my friend, a genuinely nice guy; one of the last of a dying breed of gentle souls.

He fully respected the status of my ordination. He was a mentor, a role model, a confidant, a colleague, a friend.

If the entirety of our lives can be summed up in one story, here’s my story about Ed:
It was not long after the death of my daughter. I thought I was doing okay. The grieving process was progressing on course. “Thank you, I’m fine,” I heard myself saying, over and over again, to kind, caring people who asked how I was doing.

And then, one morning, I woke up and found that I couldn’t move my feet from the bed and put them on the floor. Neither could I take a full breath. My first coherent thought was, “I’ve got to get to Mass.”

The only place I could think of that was close by was St. Pat’s. There was an 8 AM daily mass there.

I got up and got dressed. I knew I wouldn’t be able to receive the sacrament in a RC Church but I was okay with that.

All I really needed at the time was to be in a small community of people who believed in the Resurrection. Who not only believed in but cherished the idea of Life Eternal. Who willingly and gladly entered into the paradox of understanding the Mysterium Tremendum et fascinans of God’s sacramental grace.

I pulled on my favorite old jeans and a hooded sweat shirt, put on my hat, coat and mittens and walked the block up to St. Pat’s and took a seat in the back. There were 8 or 10 people already in the church.

When it came time for communion, I sat in my pew, praying quietly to God, my head bowed, my knees bent, my hands and heart open.

Suddenly, I felt something being pressed into my hand. I opened my eyes and saw Fr. Ed standing before me, pressing the broken wafer into my hand, as I heard him say, “The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven.”

I took the broken wafer into my hand, gobbling it like a hungry beggar who hadn’t eaten in weeks. I hadn’t known how hungry I had been.

Right there in front of God and the people of God, I was fed and nourished.
I had received a foretaste of the heavenly banquet which my daughter now enjoyed. I was one with her and she with me and I experienced a wholeness and a healing that surpassed sublime.

What really broke my heart open was the risk this man took for Incarnate Love. For the Gospel. Right there, in the Roman Catholic Church, in front of God and the assembled faithful, he broke a rule, to feed a hungry, broken woman a broken piece of bread that filled me with wholeness and holiness of Life”.

Ed did not break any rules. He knew the heart of Christ.

As we continue to mourn his passing, we will continue to celebrate his life as we thank God for making him a part of our lives. I reckon this prayer of Thomas Merton was often on the lips of Ed Hinds:

I beg you to keep me in this silence so that I may learn from it the word of your peace and the word of your mercy and the word of your gentleness to the world: and that through me perhaps your word of peace may make itself heard where it has not been possible for anyone to hear it for a long time.

He was the voice of quiet love and we will miss his gentle smile forever.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bishops on Health Care Reform

From the USCCB website:

In an extraordinary call to Catholics to prevent health care reform from being derailed by the abortion lobby, the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops has sent bulletin inserts to almost 19,000 parishes across the country.

"Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them," the insert states. It urges readers to contact Senate leaders so they support efforts to "incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights" in health reform legislation.
"If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed," it adds.
The insert highlights the Stupak Amendment from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) that, it states, "addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights." "Help ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on the amendment," the insert states. "If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed."

A dramatic ad of a pregnant woman notes that the Hyde Amendment, which passed in 1976, has prevented federal funds from paying for elective abortions, yet healthcare reform bills that are advancing violate this policy. The ad message: "Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding and Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform."

The insert also directs readers to

Bulletin inserts were distributed to dioceses October 29, the day Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled the House health care reform bill and in expectation that they will show up in parishes in early November. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the USCCB; Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities; Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville, Centre, New York, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development urged fellow bishops to promote this campaign in their dioceses.

"The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion," said Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary for Communications, who helped organize the campaign. "Most Americans don’t want to pay for other people’s abortions via health care either. This impasse on the road to reform of health care can be broken if Congress writes in language that assures that the Hyde Amendment law continues to guide U.S. federal spending policy."

The Catholic bishops have a long history of support for health care reform based on its teaching that health care is essential for human life and dignity and on its experience providing health care and assisting those without coverage.