Saturday, August 31, 2013

Have you registered to join the Fast Action for Immigration Reform?

Although we've mentioned it several times previously, this is another gentle reminder to register to join with people of faith from across the country to demonstrate your solidarity with immigrant communities by fasting for 40 days from September 9 to October 18.  Click here for more information and here to register. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ask your local NBC affiliate to air "Women & Spirit"

You will recall the Women & Spirit exhibition that traveled the country from 2009-11.  To capture the essence of that exhibit, the documentary Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America was produced.  Now, the possibility exists to air the documentary on NBC's "Horizons of the Spirit" series.  Local NBC affiliates have the discretion to air the documentary between September 15, 2013 and March 15, 2014.  It is up to us to contact our local NBC affiliates to encourage them to air the documentary. Here's how to do that:

1. Find your local NBC station, using the online NBC Directory at, or your local phone directory.

2.  E-mail or phone the station with a message, such as:  "I am a local resident and viewer and I've learned that the documentary, Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America, will be available for broadcast on your station starting September 15.  I understand it's part of the NBC "Horizons of the Spirit" series and that information about the program is on the NBC Universal APT system.  Are you aware of it and do you have plans to broadcast it?  This is the virtual untold story of the nearly 300-year history of Catholic sisters in the U.S. and how they have helped shape our nation's social, cultural and spiritual landscapes.  Many people in your viewing area are becoming interested in the program.  I will help spread the word about any broadcasts.  Can we count on your station to air this program?"

 3.  Direct your sisters, associates, ministry partners and others to this sectionof the documentary website and ask them to make contact with NBC as well:  The more contacts made to a station, the better chances that the film will be aired.

4.  Consider urging local business to offer to advertise during the program if it is aired locally.  This, too, will increase the likelihood of a local NBC station airing the program.

5.  If you learn of a broadcast, please e-mail and consider spreading the word by organizing a group viewing session.
Building on the success of the Women & Spirit traveling exhibit, the documentary's availability to NBC is a great opportunity to use mass media for millions to see this incredible, 300-year-old story that includes our history and our present day ministries.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

USCCB Labor Day Statement

As we enter into Labor Day weekend, we have an opportunity to "take stock of the way workers are honored and respected. . . . Unfortunately, millions of workers today are denied honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse and exploitation" (Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop of Stockton, CA and chair of the Committee of Domestic Justice and Human Development of the USCCB).  Click here to read Bishop Blaire's Labor Day statement in its entirety.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Human Trafficking and Super Bowl 2014

The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking has released the details for training to be a team leader or to be part of the team that reaches out to local hotels to train their staff to identify victims of human trafficking and to develop protocols for responding to victims of trafficking.  The training takes place on September 9 for leaders and on September 16 for all other volunteers.  Go to the coalition's website to learn more about the tasks involved and to register for the training.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

NJ Residents: Has Your Municipality Acted?

As we know, January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  But, did you know that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has designated January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day in New Jersey?  Additionally, municipalities in New Jersey have begun to proclaim January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.  Click here to learn if your municipality is among them and to learn what to do to make that happen if your municipality is not among them.

Why is this important when we already have a national day?  One word -- awareness!  The more people who can be made aware of the existence of human trafficking, the better we become as individuals, neighborhoods, towns, states and nations.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"I Have a Dream"

Wednesday, August 28 is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the Emancipation March on Washington.DC.  This site provides information about commemorations of this event throughout the country.

Many materials are available to mark this event.  Smithsonian magazine has published this Oral History of the March on Washington, which is worth reviewing.  (Go to for much more information.)

On Sunday, August 25, Pax Christi USA Executive Director Sister Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN will participate in a panel discussion on "A Catholic Conversation on Race, Religion and the March on Washington" at Holy Redeemer Church in Washington, DC.  Go to the Pax Christi USA website for more information.

The USCCB's Committee on Cultural Diversity issued a statement, "March on Washington Anniversary: Time to Face Unmet Goals."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Catholic Leaders and Changes in Immigration Policy

On September 8, a coordinated message about immigration reform will be delivered in  many Catholic parishes across the nation.  Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy at the USCCB, is quoted in this article from the New York Times, indicating that the Catholic bishops will push for passage of a legislative overhaul that includes a path to citizenship.

Additionally, Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton, PA recently issued this letter on immigration reform.  Readers in the Scranton Diocese will be able to link from Bishop Bambera's letter to their elected officials in Washington to send a message about immigration reform. 

Remember, too, that the Interfaith Immigration Coalition urges us to participate in 40 days of "Fast Action" for immigration reform.  Click here for more information.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chemical Attacks in Syria?

Although these are not 100% confirmed stories, it appears likely that chemical weapons have been launched at the rebels in Syria, killing about 700 people.  More information is available through most news outlets today, including this one from the BBC.  Let's continue to pray for Syria and for Egypt and continue our efforts to become "channels of peace" in our corners of the world.  Here's a video reminder, "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace," also known as the "Prayer of St. Francis."
(E-mail subscribers click here if you do not see a video embedded in your e-mail.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Interfaith Worker Justice

Are you familiar with the work of Interfaith Worker Justice?  Click here to learn more.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Christians and Christian Churches in Egypt

According to the Associated Press, nearly 40 Christian churches were looted and torched and 23 others have been heavily damaged in less than a week in Egypt.  Additionally, AP reports, three (presumably Franciscan) Sisters have been paraded through the streets like prisoners of war before a Muslim woman offered them refuge.  Click on this story for more information and continue to pray for peace in Egypt.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Feast Day of Padre Alberto Hurtado

August 18 is the feast day of Padre Alberto Hurtado, SJ, a Chilean saint and founder of Hogar de Cristo, who was canonized in 2005.  Click here to learn more about him at (don't miss the video clip at the bottom of the page) and here to read Padre Hurtado's reflection, "Christ Stumbles through our Streets."

Friday, August 16, 2013

Pray for Egypt

We continue to pray for Egypt.  This link will take you to a CNN story about Christian churches that were torched in Egypt.  This one links to a brief NPR interview with a woman religious in Cairo regarding a convent and school that were set on fire; and this one links to an NBC report, including an interview with NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin answering questions about Egypt.

At this point, it is estimated that 525 people have died in the clash between security forces and protesters. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Liturgical Considerations for September 11

As we mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, the USCCB offers liturgical considerations -- ranging from using Masses for Various Needs to adding intercessions appropriate to the day.  The specific considerations are available here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Status of Jesuit Priest in Syria Still Unknown

At this moment, there are unconfirmed reports that Rev. Paolo Dall'Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest, has been killed in Syria by jihadist rebels.  However, that report has not been confirmed by the Vatican or by the Italian government.  Things are changing moment by moment, so pray for everyone in Syria, especially Father Dall'Oglio.  Click here to read the NCR blog post.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Catholic Relief Services and Population Research Institute

Recent accusations by Population Research Institute (PRI) against Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have caused many folks to scratch their heads, wondering where the truth might be found.  These attacks provide a good reminder that we should always research both sides of a story before believing and/or spreading it.  So, click here to begin to explore the PRI side of the story and here to begin to explore the CRS side of the story.  Perhaps it is a good time to remember that very little -- especially global relief efforts -- can be explained in "black and white" terms.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another NYT Maryknoll Article: Sisters for Life

In anticipation of the induction of Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, MM -- founder of the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic -- into the National Women's Hall of Fame (NWHF) in October, the New York Times published this article, "Sisters for Life."  Frankly, the article is not so much about Mother Mary Joseph, but about the order she founded -- and that is, most likely, the way she would have wanted it.

Click here to read the Maryknoll Sisters' press release about this honor for their founder.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Called to Serve

Have you read Called to Serve: A History of Nuns in America by Margaret McGuinness?  What did you think?  Click here to access a review of the book in America by Sister Camille D'Arienzo, RSM.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Maryknoll Sisters At Work in the World

Click here to view the multi-media presentation on the Maryknoll Sisters by The New York Times.  Be sure to click "play" to hear the audio and be sure to view all 16 slides.  In the audio portion, Sister Janice McLaughlin, currently the president of the Maryknoll Sisters, quotes Mother Mary Joseph Rogers's admonition as she sent sisters to the missions:  "If anyone is going to change, it is going to be us."  Good advice for all:  If we are going to "change the world," it begins with our own transformation.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Making water out of "thin air"?

UTEC engineers have constructed a method of extracting drinking water from the humidity in the air.  Watch this brief video from Lima, Peru to see how this happens.  This is incredibly significant for places like Lima, where there is less than one inch of rainfall per year.  (E-mail subscribers:  Click here to view the video if you do not see it embedded in your e-mail.)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chaput: Security, Immigration reform and human dignity

Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, writes in  "Most undocumented immigrants in the United States -- the vast majority -- never commit a violent act, have no desire to undermine the common good and contribute productively to American prosperity. . . . [Blocking] any serious new reform legislation . . . would be more than a political error.  It would be a bitter human tragedy."  Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer 2013 Resources from JFI

Click here to access Summer 2013 resources -- including Parish Kits, videos and other advocacy materials -- from Justice for Immigrants.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fast Action for Immigration Reform

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition has planned 40 days of "Fast Action for Immigration Reform" from September 9 to October 18, during which we are asked to fast, pray and advocate for immigration reform in the United States.
  • Why September 9?  That is the day Congress returns from its August recess.
  • Why prayer and fasting?  Because prayer and fasting are common to many faith traditions; because faith leaders have often fasted in the face of suffering, violence or injustice; because prayer and fasting can be acts of solidarity; because prayer and fasting have the power to transform our hearts, the hearts of our community and the hearts of our elected officials.
  • Why prayer and fasting about immigration reform?  Because of the importance of hospitality and solidarity to our faith traditions; because immigrants are human beings made in the image and likeness of God; because immigration reform is in the hands of our elected officials right now.
During the next few weeks, this blog will post information about immigration reform and the fast action.  Please prayerfully consider your own action -- and, perhaps, the action of your congregation, community, family or other group -- toward praying, fasting and advocating for humane, just and fair immigration reform in the United States.

In the meantime, go to to be better educated about immigration reform and to to learn about what others are doing and, perhaps, to commit to your own action. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Graduation Advice: Try to Be Kinder

The author George Saunders recently delivered the Commencement address at Syracuse University.  The beginning of the speech chronicles several regrets in his life, including a seven month illness brought on by swimming in a river in Sumatra that was laden with monkey feces.  (The point:  He's had some "major league" regrets.)  What makes this speech so remarkable, however, is what Saunders regrets most in his life:  failures of kindness.  The speech has been reproduced in the New York Times Magazine (click here for access) and is well worth the short amount of time it takes to read.  Still need convincing?  Here's an excerpt of the conclusion of the speech: 

"... To the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Theresa’s.  Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place.  Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been.  I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful."

Hopefully, this wisdom will spread far beyond Syracuse University's class of 2013!