NATIONAL BIBLE WEEK 2017

From November 12–18, 2017, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops invites families, parishes, schools, and other Catholic groups to participate in National Bible Week.  This year, readings focus on immigration as part of the Share the Journey campaign. 

SUNDAY:  Read Genesis 12:1-9.  Imagine what it must have been like for Abram to migrate at 75 years of age.  What hardships would he have endured?  Do you think the decision to leave his homeland was easy or difficult?  Why?  How was Abram like modern day immigrants?

MONDAY:  Read Genesis 46:1-7; 47:1-6; and Exodus 1:6-14.  Why did Jacob (aka Israel) and his entire household migrate to Egypt?  Do people immigrate today because of similar hardships?  How were Jacob and his family greeted in Egypt?  Why were later generations oppressed?

TUESDAY:  Read Exodus 22:20-23; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33-34; 23:22; Deuteronomy 10:12-22; 24:17-22.  What are the laws pertaining to aliens and strangers?  Why are aliens often grouped together with widows and orphans?  What does it mean to you to love the alien as yourself (Lev. 19:34)?  Why is there an emphasis on how aliens and strangers are treated?

WEDNESDAY:  Read Isaiah 1:12-17; Amos 2:6-16; 8:4-8 and Micah 6:6-8.  Throughout the books of the prophets, the people of Israel are judged for what they don’t do.  What are some of the things they neglect?   What is meant by “justice” in these passages?  What does God really want from us?

THURSDAY:  Read Matthew 3:16-23.  Those who leave their homelands due to persecution or fear for their lives are called refugees.  Why does Joseph leave his homeland in the middle of the night with his wife and young child?  If the parents of the Innocents had been warned like Joseph, do you think they would have fled also?  Where are people fleeing for their lives and the lives of their children today?

FRIDAY:  Read Matthew 25:31-46.  What does Jesus mean by “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me?”  How are you welcoming to Jesus the Stranger?  What concrete actions can you take to welcome Jesus as a stranger in the future?

 

SATURDAY:  Read Luke 14:12-14; Romans 12:9-21; and Hebrews 13:1-6.  Depending on the version of the Bible you are reading, these verses either say “exercise hospitality to strangers” or simply “exercise hospitality.”  What does it mean to exercise hospitality?  What does it mean to “entertain angels?”  How do you exercise hospitality?  

Meet Your Neighbors

The best way to get to know someone is by listening to their story.  Below are 8 stories of immigrants.  Read their introductions, and to read their entire stories, follow the link included with each.

 

Ruth turned her dreams into reality thanks to DACA. What now?

Ruth* takes pleasure in doing simple things other parents may take for granted. One of the most notable is she can drive her kids to soccer practices, school and community service events without worrying about being stopped by law enforcement. But the joy and freedom Ruth experiences from taking her children to their activities may be in jeopardy.

Ruth came to the United States at age nine. Since she arrived, she always lived in fear of being separated from her family due to her legal status in this country. She was young when she made the U.S. her home and didn’t understand all the legal challenges she would later face.

Ruth says she was always forced to live in the shadows, not being able to fully socialize with other kids. She knew from a young age she could not do or enjoy the same activities they did, including simple things like going on road trips with her family.

As an adult, Ruth’s situation got even worse. She was not able to continue with her dream of going to college and becoming a prominent lawyer or working for law enforcement. In fact, she could not even obtain a simple job or drive, much less take trips with her kids or go to an emergency room without being asked for identification.

Continue Ruth's story....

 

Hanadi, Mohammed and Wafa cross over to independence

Hanadi, Mohammed and Wafa
Born in Damascus.
Living in Cairo.

Hanadi ran a homemade perfume business with her husband. Mohammed owned one of the country’s most successful engine repair shops. Wafa’s hair salon boasted five employees. In Syria, they were prosperous business people. But war and bombing forced them to flee their homes and businesses for the unknown of Egypt, where jobs are scarce — and discrimination and legal obstacles rampant.

Catholic Relief Services helps refugees through a project that provides business and legal training, and grants startup capital. Participants write business plans, and can take supplemental vocational training to bolster their technical skills. They receive ongoing legal and technical support. The project supports refugees and asylum seekers from all nationalities living in Egypt, but a significant proportion are Syrians.

“The goal is to go beyond short-term help and give refugees the tools and resources they need to become productive, self-reliant members of Egyptian society,” explains Yumiko Texidor, who oversees the project.

Continue their story.....

 

Kemal points refugees in the right direction

Kemal El Shairy
Born in Serbia.
Living in Serbia.

As the chief translator for Catholic Relief Services in Serbia, Kemal El Shairy is on the frontlines of our humanitarian response to the European refugee crisis.

A Ph.D. student in international relations at the University of Belgrade, El Shairy helps people at the heavily trafficked border crossings better understand their legal circumstances and potential next steps.

 “I only ask that people try to put themselves in others’ shoes. What would you do if this happened to you?”

“We are on call nonstop. People coming through need information. Many times they don’t know where they are, or they’re not sure if they’re going to be arrested, or registered, or whether they’ll be allowed to leave. So our main job is to explain things to them,” El Shairy says.

Continue Kemal's story....

 

 

Ali oversees deadly drought

Ali Hugur
Born in Somaliland.
Living in Somaliland.

“Even all the camels are dying,” says Ali Hugur, the mayor of Bali-Shireh, a district about a 3-hour drive south of Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa, on the border with Ethiopia. “We’ve lost 70% of the camels, with the 30% remaining in terrible condition.”  He adds that, in all his 59 years, he’s never seen such a horrific drought.

Drought-stricken Somaliland is little known to most people. It is a self-declared republic, independent of Somalia, but recognized by no other state, including Somalia.

According to the United Nations, 6.2 million people—more than half the country, and a number equal to the state of Massachusetts—are going hungry. Some 185,000 children could die of starvation if they don’t receive urgent medical attention within weeks. Meanwhile, there hasn’t been a good rain in over 2 years. And there are few aid agencies present.

Normally, families would be dispersed across the region, herding their animals toward good pasture and water, and pitching their homes of makeshift tents wherever they drove their animals. Now they are climate migrants, with camps springing up at an elementary school with a well, the only water for miles.

Continue Ali's story....

 

 

Gustavo waits to start over

Gustavo
Born in Colombia.
Living in Ecuador.

Colombia’s six-decade conflict between the government and Revolutionary Armed Forces continues to be one of the worst humanitarian crises in the Western Hemisphere. Armed guerilla groups, drug traffickers and human traffickers have forced millions of people—many of them poor—from their homes. An estimated 250,000 Colombian refugees have sought refuge in Ecuador.

Gustavo was a watch and jewelry maker in Colombia. Earlier this year, a group of men came into his workshop and took expensive gold and silver jewelry without paying.  They returned a few days later and demanded more. But when Gustavo explained that he needed money for materials, they assaulted him and sent a threatening letter to his home.

He moved with his mother to his sister’s house, but the same group—known for kidnappings and extortion—found him. Without stopping at his workshop to retrieve his tools, he herded his family — sister Martha, niece Luisa and mother, Clara — onto a bus, rode it to the end of the line, then found someone to take them to Ecuador.

Continue Gustavo's story....

 

Abdullahi breaks bread with new neighbors

Abdullahi Ali
Born in Somalia.
Living in Maine.

In Scarborough, Maine, Catholic and Muslim families shared a “Building Bridges Dinner.” The dinner was hosted by
 St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in late February 2016. For Abdullahi Ali, who is a native of Somalia and one of the organizers, breaking bread with neighbors is important for the community.

The idea for the dinner was proposed by Monsignor Michael Hencham more than a year ago after he heard a radio story about the anxiety and fear that many Americans have about Muslims resettling in the U.S. Members of both the Muslim and Catholic communities sharing responsibility for cooking the main courses in the parish kitchen. Others brought potluck-style dishes.

With more than 250 people in attendance, new and old acquaintances learned about each other’s lives and cultures – and saw their perceptions of each other change. 

Continue the story....

 

 

Toc gives refugees a voice

Toc
Born in Thailand.
Living in Oregon.

Toc, the Program Director of Catholic Charities Oregon, was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. Life was not easy. “When I was younger, I was so embarrassed. In school… I dreaded career day. You know how embarrassing it is in class to say that your parents don’t speak English, don’t know how to read or write, and they clean up after people? So I lied! I said they cater!”

“When I see refugees standing there with their light luggage, I know it’s the very beginning, and the sky is the limit.”

After her father passed away, Toc became increasingly reflective about her Laotian roots and her parents’ sacrifices. “I don’t know how my parents did it. I don’t care how many fancy degrees I have or what fancy title I hold, it will never amount to what they went through. They didn’t speak English. They cleaned toilets, proudly. They raised six kids. The three girls went to college, the three boys went in and out of prison.  When people say that’s unsuccessful, I say, ‘No, that’s pretty darn successful.’

“When I go to the airport, it’s hard not to see my family’s journey unfold in front of me. When I see refugees standing there with their light luggage, I know it’s the very beginning, and the sky is the limit. In some ways, I really worry about them, and in other ways, I am excited for them because I know they are going to make it. Because we did.”

Continue Toc's story....

 

 

Hiat, a mother on the run

Hiat
Born in Hama, Syria.
Living in the Athens.

Just a few years ago, Hiat had a husband, a home and a future. Today, she is in her thirties, a mother of six – and a widow.  Her late husband is one of tens of thousands of civilian casualties of the 5-year old civil war in Syria.

Before the war, Hiat lived with her family in the Syrian town of Hama. Her family lived a quiet, middle-class life. Muhammad, her oldest child, went to school, did his homework, and played tennis and soccer.

But things for Hiat and her family began to fall apart when the war started. The city of Hama is north of the city Homs, where some of the most intense and brutal fighting has taken place. Following the death of her husband, Hiat decided to leave Syria. With the war raging around them, there was so little food that people were starving. Like the structures around them, any semblance of community or society had collapsed.

Traveling to Europe without a male companion is not only difficult for a woman, it is dangerous. Smugglers are known to take vast sums of money from refugees for transportation when a cheap bus ticket would suffice. Hiat fears that some of her children might not survive the hazardous journey that many Syrians make to ultimately reach safe havens in Germany or Sweden.

Continue Hiat's story....

Why YOU are Being Asked to Write 1 of 10,000 Letters

WHY YOU ARE BEING ASKED TO WRITE A LETTER

The U.S. Catholic Church is deeply concerned by the many years of failure by Congress, whether controlled by Democrats or by Republicans, to address the plight of immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were young and who have no pathway to regularize their status. Started in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which the Trump Administration has announced will end by March 2018, has protected hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation. In our Archdiocese, many DACA youth worship in our parishes, attend our schools, and contribute to our communities. We urge Congress to provide a path to permanent residency for these young immigrants by passing the DREAM Act or similar legislation.

WHAT IS THE DREAM ACT?

DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors.  The DREAM Act would cancel removal [deportation]and grant lawful permanent resident status on a conditional basis to an alien who is inadmissible or deportable or is in temporary protected status who: (1) has been continuously physically present in the United States for four years preceding this bill's enactment; (2) was younger than 18 years of age on the initial date of U.S. entry; (3) is not inadmissible on criminal, security, terrorism, or other grounds; (4) has not participated in persecution; (5) has not been convicted of specified federal or state offenses; and (6) has fulfilled specified educational requirements.”  The DREAM Act is only for those who have been granted “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.”

WHY IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH INVOLVED?

Pope Francis has said, “An authentic faith – which is never comfortable or completely personal – always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it … If indeed ‘the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,’ the Church ‘cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice’” (Evangelii Guadium, no. 183). We can put our faith in action and care for refugees in our midst by contributing to the work of organizations like Catholic Relief Services, by volunteering to support local agencies that assist refugees in our own communities, and by using our power through our democracy, where our voice matters. We can ask our government to do all in its power to help organizations meet the immediate needs of refugees and to end the violence that forces people to flee.

HOW CAN I HELP?

You are being asked to write three letters: one for each of your senators and one for your representative. We’re asking Congress to do more to help refugees by funding poverty-focused international assistance, which can increase the capacity of agencies to assist and resettle refugees. Our message to Congress also emphasizes the need to end to the violence, and to encourage efforts to build inclusive societies in Syria and Iraq that will protect the rights of all citizens. It makes a difference when we lift up our voices together, but it’s also important that you personalize your message to your members of Congress.

document Sample Letter to Representative Warren Davidson (13 KB)

document Sample Letter to Senator Sherrod Brown (13 KB)

document Sample Letter to Senator Robert Portman (13 KB)

 

Please take a few moments to edit the letter by adding your name, a few lines about why this issue is important to you, and your signature and home mailing address. Please also fill in the blanks about this event, noting the name of our institution, your role here (e.g., student, parishioner, etc.). After you sign the letter, place it in the basket.

ONE PERSON’S STORY

Ruth takes pleasure in doing simple things other parents may take for granted. One of the most notable is she can drive her kids to soccer practices, school and community service events without worrying about being stopped by law enforcement. But the joy and freedom Ruth experiences from taking her children to their activities may be in jeopardy.

Ruth came to the United States at age nine. Since she arrived, she always lived in fear of being separated from her family due to her legal status in this country. She was young when she made the U.S. her home and didn’t understand all the legal challenges she would later face.

Ruth says she was always forced to live in the shadows, not being able to fully socialize with other kids. She knew from a young age she could not do or enjoy the same activities they did, including simple things like going on road trips with her family.

As an adult, Ruth’s situation got even worse. She was not able to continue with her dream of going to college and becoming a prominent lawyer or working for law enforcement. In fact, she could not even obtain a simple job or drive, much less take trips with her kids or go to an emergency room without being asked for identification.

When former President Obama introduced DACA, Ruth says her life completely changed. DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  Over 780,000 youth have received protection from the DACA program since its inception by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012. DACA provides no legal status or government benefits, but does provide recipients with temporary employment authorization to work in the United States and receive a reprieve from deportation.

Because of DACA, Ruth was finally able to come out of the shadows and obtain her dream job. She works at a school and is proud to serve her community.

With DACA, she could obtain a driver’s license, buy a house, and take her oldest son on a road trip to visit colleges. Most recently, she could help him achieve his dream of being accepted to a four-year university. Ruth has gone back to school to further her education, and soon she will obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

https://www.sharejourney.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/USA2015102409-680x452.jpgRuth says she would not have been able to reach most of the achievements she has now if it wasn’t for DACA. Her dreams continue. She hopes to finish her bachelor’s degree and help her daughter go to college by supporting her financially and emotionally.

 

 

POPE ANNOUNCES SHARE THE JOURNEY CAMPAIGN

On September 27, 2017, Pope Francis launched a global campaign to support immigrants and refugees around the world called “Share the Journey.” Our brothers and sisters often make perilous journeys, leaving their homelands because they are forced to flee their homes to escape conflict, poverty, persecution and violence . There are more refugees and internally displaced people now— over 65 million—than at any other time in recorded history . Our faith calls us to “love our neighbor,” to see Christ in those who are in greatest need, and to welcome newcomers seeking the security, peace, and opportunity they cannot find in their home countries .

We can join Pope Francis and the Church around the world, and share the journey with fellow children of God by:

Learning about their journeys . Read stories, watch videos, and pay attention to news that can help sensitize us to their reality . Then, share what you learn with others by:

Joining the #sharejourney campaign on social media!

• Meeting immigrants and refugees . Contact your local Catholic Charities agency to learn how you can join or support their programs that serve immigrants and refugees .

• Saying a daily prayer for all people, and especially children, who have fled their homes in search of peace and safety .

• Supporting the work of local and international Catholic agencies, like Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services, who help to care for the needs of immigrants and refugees in the United States and around the world.

Joining the following Week of Prayer & Action (Oct. 7-13) activities:

            Oct. 7-13:          Pray the Prayer for Global Migration 

                                      Sign Caring Commitment 

                                      Read Immigrants’ Stories Posted Around the Parish or Online

            Oct. 10:             Share the Journey Film Festival 

            Oct. 12:             Prayer Vigil & Walk to Madonna of the Trail Statue

            Oct. 14-15:       Stay After Mass to Write a letter in Support of DACA 

            Nov. 5:             Attend St. Martin’s Day Luncheon 

            Nov. 12-18:      Read About Immigrants in the Bible

            Dec. 16:           Attend the Parish Advent Retreat “The Journey” 

 

Learn more about and get involved in the “Share the Journey” global migration campaign at www.loveyourneighbor.us or www.sharejourney.org .

Sharing the Journey Film Festival

Join us for an evening of stories of migrants and refugees that can give us the gift of a deeper connection with Scriptures and the Eucharist. We’ll watch short videos produced by Fr. Dan Groody, who has worked with both Congress and the Vatican, in a one-evening film festival 

Tuesday, Oct. 10, from 6 – 8 p.m.

in the Forum at the Main Branch of the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St.

This film festival will offer insights and conversations to raise awareness about the plight of immigrants and refugees. This free event occurs during the international Week of Prayer and Service, which Pope Francis designated at the start of this two-year global Share the Journey campaign.

CHURCH ASKS FOR 10,000 LETTERS

The U.S. Catholic Church is deeply concerned by the

many years of failure by Congress, whether controlled by

Democrats or by Republicans, to address the plight of

immigrants who were brought to the United States when

they were young and who have no pathway to regularize

their status. Started in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood

Arrivals (DACA), which the Trump Administration has

announced will end by March 2018, has protected

hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation.

In our Archdiocese, many DACA youth worship in our

parishes, attend our schools, and contribute to our

communities. We urge Congress to provide a path to

permanent residency for these young immigrants by

passing the DREAM Act or similar legislation.

To that end, we are joining with the other Roman Catholic

dioceses in the State of Ohio on a campaign to generate

10,000 letters to our congressional delegates across the

state. Why this number? Since it began, there have been

nearly 10,000 total applications approved for DACA in

Ohio, including renewals. We encourage other Catholic,

faith-based, and advocacy organizations to partner with us

in this appeal to Congress to live up to its responsibilities to

protect these young people as a step toward fixing our

broken immigration system. We will collect these letters

between now and December 18, International Migrants

Day. For more information, please contact our Catholic

Social Action Office.

This effort is part of a two-year, worldwide “Share

the Journey” campaign to be launched by Pope Francis on

September 27, inviting all to share the difficult journey of

migrants and refugees through prayer and support. The

Archdiocese will collect letters between now and

December 18, International Migrants Day.

“The Church stands with these brothers and sisters

of ours who have journeyed great distances to find life,

security, and hope for the future in our own

communities. Not only that, but we walk beside them,

listening to their stories, helping bear their loads, and

celebrating the gifts of culture and faith they bring to

us. Through them, we are reminded of who we really are:

pilgrims on a journey from this life to a greater Kingdom.”

Website Sponsorships Available!

  • In the weeks ahead, our parish representative from Solutio, Inc., will be setting up the advertising for our website for the year.
  • Please consider participating in this effort since the revenue from the ads is what makes the website possible at no cost to the parish.
  • It’s a great way to get your name in front of the families in the parish.  Advertisements may be purchased for a business, family memorial, or you can sponsor an ad supporting Catholic Charities, Knights of Columbus, Vocations, etc.
  • Please give these ideas some thought. We need and appreciate your help!  If you are interested or just curious as to prices and want more information, please contact 937-504-5269 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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A LETTER FROM ARCHBISHOP SCHNURR ON NEW "SHARE THE JOURNEY" CAMPAIGN

Message for “Share the Journey” Campaign

September 27, 2017

Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr

On September 27, Pope Francis launched a two-year,

worldwide campaign called “Share the Journey.” As

millions of migrants and refugees look for a better life,

many of them fleeing war, persecution, and poverty, Pope

Francis invites us to share in their journey through prayer

and support. I would like to take this opportunity to

reiterate our solidarity with migrants and refugees in our

Archdiocese.

The Church stands with these brothers and sisters of ours

who have journeyed great distances to find life, security,

and hope for the future in our own communities. Not only

that, but we walk beside them, listening to their stories,

helping bear their loads, and celebrating the gifts of culture

and faith they bring to us. Through them, we are reminded

of who we really are: pilgrims on a journey from this life to a

greater Kingdom.

Many upcoming activities sponsored by the Archdiocese

and our related ministries can enable us to “share the

journey.” They will provide us with an opportunity to

encounter our fellow travelers in our communities,

appreciate their hopes and struggles, and advocate for

their dignity. These include:

 TODAY A presentation on the Catholic Church’s

teaching on migration, titled “Restoring Order and

Human Dignity” on October 1 at 7 p.m. at St.

Joseph Church (101 W. Pearl St., Wapakoneta OH

45895);

 A presentation by Fr. Daniel Groody on “Passing Over:

A Compassionate Response to Immigrants and

Refugees” on October 5 at 7 p.m. (with a light dinner at

5:30pm) at St. Albert the Great Church (3033 Far Hills

Ave., Kettering OH 45429).

In addition, ongoing opportunities for education and service

to migrants and refugees exist through Catholic Charities

Southwestern Ohio at (513) 241-7745 and Catholic Social

Services of the Miami Valley at (937) 498-4593.

For more information on any of these or other upcoming

events, please contact our Catholic Social Action Office at

(513) 421-3131, ext. 2660, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

As Pope Francis exclaimed, “Welcoming others means

welcoming God in person! Do not let yourselves be robbed

of the hope and joy of life born of your experience of God’s

mercy, as manifested in the people you meet on your

journey!” (2016 Message for World Day of Migrants and

Refugees) May our efforts together to share the journey

with migrants and refugees help straighten our own paths

as we approach our final destinations in God’s Kingdom.

RESPONDING TO RACISM AND EVENTS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 16, 2017

Archbishop Schnurr today sent this message to all priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, along with related homily suggestions, intercessions for use at Mass, and a prayer for peace by Pope Francis.

The bigotry and violence that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia emerged from the same sin of racism which can plague any community in America, including those of our own Archdiocese. And so, as we approach the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I echo for the faithful of our local Church the response of Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to these horrendous events and the resulting loss of life:

Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country.

We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love’s victory over every form of evil is assured. At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives. Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression.

As Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia observed, “[t]he wave of public anger about white nationalist events in Charlottesville is well warranted.” Such public displays of bigotry attack our very core belief about who we are as human beings, creations made in God’s image and likeness with infinite dignity. As members of one human family, no one of us can ever claim to be superior to another in God’s eyes, let alone our own.

More needs to be done than to simply hope that such events as Charlottesville do not happen again. I urge all of us to stand firmly against such public displays of hate by being daily mindful of everyone’s inherent dignity in our churches, schools, workplaces and families. I challenge us all to oppose harassment of anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, orientation, or faith tradition. When we find ourselves bystanders to harassment, we must find the courage to stand up for justice and equality. In doing so, we need to summon the grace to respond civilly and not perpetuate the cycle of violence, no matter how righteous our cause.

On September 9, 2016, the Feast of St. Peter Claver, the U.S. Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati made a commitment to be more proactive in addressing racism and violence through the Peace in Our Communities campaign. In the wake of current events, as we approach the anniversary of this Feast, I recommit our local Archdiocese to addressing this disgrace through prayer, dialogue and tangible action.

SAFARI REFLECTIONS AVAILABLE!

Scripture Safari 2017 is about to begin!  Our theme this year is "Fruits of the Spirit - Ours to Share."  So that you can participate in Safari at home, our Safari reflections for adults are available here in their entirety and on our Facebook page each day.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers….

Having been born at the height of the peace movement, it’s no wonder that my favorite songs growing up were “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth” or that Peter, Paul, and Mary still hold a place of honor on my iPod playlist.  My early years were filled with psychedelic peace sign stickers, and I went around chanting “Make Love, Not War” long before I knew what that phrase even meant.  Yet growing up in a conservative military family, I also knew that there was a controversy surrounding peaceniks, peace freaks, and hippies.  There was something divisive about peace, something scandalous about the movement I found so attractive.

I was to experience this polemic again as a young adult during the first Gulf War.  As a student at a Jesuit school which had ties to Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan (who were two of four churchwomen martyred in El Salvador in 1980) I was encouraged to study their lives and the writings of Archbishop Oscar Romero.  Here was a man who spoke powerfully of the duty and responsibility of Christians to make peace.  In his last homily, the one given moments before he was shot to death at his own altar, Romero again called on the fighters to lay down their arms and join in the celebration of the Eucharist, to engage in the rite of peace.  For me, the power of his words lay not in his martyrdom, but in the fact that he said them knowing his martyrdom was inevitable.  With great conviction, I joined with a handful of other students to start a chapter of Pax Christi on our campus.  We had little to suffer other than a few eyerolls from those who did not take our protests seriously, and to be honest, we accomplished little as well, but it was a learning experience for me.

I learned first that peacemaking is not popular.  Whether it’s making a plea for peace at a protest rally or at the lunch table, peacemakers are always seen as the ones disturbing the status quo.  It’s as though the world has a vested interest in conflict and resolving differences peacefully messes with that.  Second, it takes courage to be a peacemaker.  Standing up for peace doesn’t just make one unpopular, it makes one the target of whatever rage is fueling the conflict.  And third, as Christians, we aren’t just invited to be peacemakers, we are expected to be peacemakers.  Romero said we are called to be the “voice of the voiceless.” 

In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”  Then he went on quickly to say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so people persecuted the prophets who were before you.  You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored?”  These four verses tell us exactly what I learned as part of that little Pax Christi group.  As children of God, we are expected to be peacemakers.  It is part of our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ.  Through our peaceful actions and by spreading the call to peace, we make the Kingdom of God visible and tangible in this world.  This is our mission as the “salt of the earth.”  Sometimes, that’s a thankless job, but Jesus makes it clear that if we are to follow in his footsteps, peacemaking is our duty.

 

~ by Lisa Lenard

A Statement From the Archdiocese

Archdiocese of Cincinnati Statement Concerning Maribel Trujillo

April 6, 2017

 

The Trump Administration has repeatedly announced that its approach towards immigration enforcement would focus on public safety and removing criminal elements from our communities.  Today, we plea to our political leaders and law enforcement to live up to that in the case of Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a devoted wife and mother and outstanding member of her church and community. 

 

Maribel, a wife, a mother of four and an active member of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Hamilton, fled Mexico in 2002.  She currently has a pending asylum case, based on the situation that her family has been targeted by Mexican cartels because they have refused to work for them. 

 

Last year, when Maribel was close to deportation, thousands of Catholic faithful and other supporters throughout Butler County and Cincinnati sent letters, pleading for her to stay.  Immigration officials then responded by granting her prosecutorial discretion, considering her too low of a priority and no threat to public safety.  Maribel has been reporting regularly since then to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as instructed.  At her check-in appointment on Monday, she was told that she could remain at home as her asylum case was further reviewed.  Suddenly yesterday, ICE arrived at her brother’s house as she prepared to go to work, taking her into custody for imminent deportation without having the chance to say goodbye to all her children.  This is cruel and unacceptable.

 

Maribel has made a life in Ohio based on positive contributions to her church and her community.  She has no criminal history.  She is a lay leader at her parish, whose members are surrounding her with prayers that she be permitted to remain with them and her family.  Maribel’s children, ages 14, 12, 10 and 3, are all U.S. citizens.  Her 3-year-old daughter has recurring seizures and requires the attention and care of her mother.

 

 

We urge that prosecutorial discretion for Maribel be extended.  We fully respect the Department of Homeland Security’s duty to enforce our immigration laws, and we recognize that this is not an easy task.  At the same time, it is clear that the common good cannot be served at this stage by separating this wife and mother from her family.  Our community gains nothing by being left with a single-parent household when such a responsible and well respected family can be kept together.  We urge that our elected and administrative officials exercise mercy for Maribel.

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

I want to begin this reflection with two contrasting images:

First, the statue of Mary, serene and peaceful, standing on the snake she has vanquished.

Second, my grandmother, hoe in hand, beating the living daylights out of a snake, while she hollers in desperate tones, "Gene! Jack! Somebody help! There's a snake!"

I actually picked this beatitude to write about, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God", and subsequently remembered that "pure" has been a huge challenge to me.  I saw Mary in the statue mentioned above as the very essence of purity. And, in fact, the distinction is made that Mary is described as pure, not chaste, because chaste implies a struggle with temptation, which Mary was considered to be above.  I, on the other hand, am much more like my grandma, flailing madly, hollering for help; only the snakes keep putting themselves back together and presenting themselves for fresh battle.  I don't know if I can fully articulate this, but I am wanting to say something to you about the contrast between pure as a noun, and a state of innocence; and  becoming pure of heart as a process of change in which we are both active participants and passive recipients of grace.   When I think of "pure," I think of children...the purity of innocence, the purity of Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall, the purity of virginity...all of which suggests something already gone, long gone. In my earliest memories I was already not pure, already aware of things a really pure child would not know, assailed by feelings that a pure child would surely have been above. Only 4 and already jealous and greedy and a little sneaky.  I was drawn to the purity that I imagined Mary possessed, and lived in hope that confession could restore me to purity.  Maybe it did, but my humanity would resurface quickly. In high school it seemed particularly cruel to me that confession was only available on Saturday, leaving me to navigate cautiously through Saturday night, that most treacherous of adolescent nights, if I hoped to arrive at Mass on Sunday still pure. Now I am more drawn to "purifying", the verbiness of that versus the static, nounness of pure, and I think that I am in a constant state of being purified...and that the process of being purified will always be continuing.  In the fire of honest engagement with my heart I see all my messiness, and if I acknowledge it and bring it to God with humility, through the fire of that painful admission, I can become more pure of heart, more single in purpose. The first step of this (and the one I seem to be always engaged in) is simply the willingness to acknowledge that the snakes are there.  This purity is more about aligning myself over and over again with Christ, than it is about some elusive perfection.  If I am like my grandma, flailing madly, then I need to acknowledge this and not try to pretend I am Mary, standing on a snake that I am pretending is dead while in fact it is crawling up my leg. Fr. Kramer spoke recently about rooting out all that is contrary to the Gospel of Christ.  Amen. But first we have to acknowledge what is contrary, not hide the fact that it is there. Paul Tillich spoke about false faith which is putting our absolute concern in something less than the Absolute.  True purity of heart is putting our deepest concern in line with the deepest call. When I am aligned with that deepest call, the call to love without reserve, I can feel that flow of love, that generosity of the Holy Spirit and my life does flow on "in endless song".  In that flow it is absolutely true that I see God. I am far more receptive to His presence all around me, and I am empowered by His presence within me. 

 

 

~by Lou Ann Horstman

Blessed are the Merciful

Today’s Old Testament reading is from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Is 49:8-15).  It speaks of the limitless love we receive from our God.  The prophet asks: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?”  And then God reassures us that even should a mother forget, God will never forget us.

There is no limit to God’s mercy and love.

This reading reminds us that God’s mercy is not just some abstract theological concept.

It is real; it can flood our hearts and change our lives.

Blessed are the merciful – those who give away what they have received from God.

Maybe today is the day to forgive a neighbor or reach out to an estranged family member.

Maybe today is the day to seek God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Maybe today is the day to focus on Jesus’ words on the cross, “Father forgive them......”

Maybe today is the day to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive......” and mean it.

Maybe today is the day to open our hearts to both extend and receive the bounty of God’s unconditional love.

 

~ by Fr. Bill Kramer

Blessed are Those Who Hunger for Righteousness

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

Some years ago my sister and her husband decided to tear down their 150-year-old house and rebuild it.  A  contractor was found who drew up a good set of blueprints,

and from these plans a beautiful house was designed and built.

If we are to live a worthwhile and righteous life we too need a set of blueprints, a set of guidelines for ourselves.

Early in his ministry Jesus gave us a clear set of “blueprints” or principles  for living the Christian life. These Beatitudes are not a nine-step program for ethical perfection,

or a sure plan to get us to heaven. 

But the Beatitudes challenge us to look at all people and all sides, perhaps even those we would rather not see or deal with.

From his vantage point on that mountain, Jesus saw people of his day who had been overlooked by the so-called righteous elite,

  • the poor
  • the homeless,
  • those who had committed sexual sins
  • the odd ones
  • the deformed ones

He looked at them and called them by a name no one had ever called them, a name they would never have dreamed of calling themselves.

He called them, “BLESSED!”

If we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness, this beatitude challenges us to look at all people the way Jesus did, with eyes of love.

I therefore find it outrageous and appalling that our government would even consider removing over 20 million people from government-sponsored health insurance for the poor,

at the same time cutting taxes for the wealthy.

It seems to me that like hunger and thirst, the need for basic health insurance is a fundamental right of all our citizens.

As Catholic Christians we are called to reach out to the less fortunate.  A basic tenent of Catholic Social Teaching is the preferential option for the poor.

We are told very clearly in Matthew 25 that we will be judged by what we have done to reach out to the less fortunate.

As we follow Jesus’ blueprint for our lives, may we hunger and thirst for righteousness for all our brothers and sisters. 

Blessed are you who do this,

“be glad and rejoice,

for your reward in heaven is great!”

Deacon John Collins

Blessed Are the Meek

The eight points of the Maltese Cross represent the eight Beatitudes

 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” Most translations use the word meek for the third Beatitude. This word is challenging for me.  I am an extravert. Meek would not be a word that I would think of in describing myself. Meekness is not a word that appeals to me. It seems dangerous to be meek. A meek person would not stand up for what is right. They would be taken advantage of.   However, the two Bibles that I use with the youngest of our community come from the Good News Translation, which chooses the word “humble” in place of meek. Humility is a virtue that I see value in cultivating. A humble person does not boast. They do not seek fame.  They do not put themselves above others. You may feel that this is just semantics and these phrases would also describe a meek person, but please allow me to go further into humble- the word that speaks to me.

 I have been reading “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World”. This book was written by Douglas Abrams while conducting a week long interview with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (It is a wonderful book that I would highly recommend). One of the Eight Pillars of Joy that they identify is humility. I would like to take some pieces from that chapter to break apart.  Archbishop Tutu explains, “Humility is the recognition that your gifts are from God, and this lets you sit relatively loosely to those gifts.” This fits well with the Beatitudes. We are humble because although we may have done a lot of work cultivating our gifts; the gifts were first given to us. I love the image of “sitting loosely” with my gifts. Take a moment a picture what that would look like for you. Maybe if we can “sit loosely” we won’t be so invested in our own success. The Archbishop goes on to say, “Humility allows us to celebrate the gifts of others, but it does not mean you have to deny your own gifts or shrink from using them.” Living the Beatitudes takes away the competition; we want the best for all. That may mean I follow you or that you follow me. Probably it would be a little of both and a lot of walking side by side. Lastly, the Archbishop said, “God uses each of us in our own way, and even if you are not the best one, you may be the one who is needed or the one who is there”. That is a humbling thought. Just because you are the one being used, it doesn’t mean that you are #1. God didn’t call the best of the best. He calls all and uses who answers.

Whether you long to be meek or humble if we live out these virtues we are promised a great reward.  In the beautiful song, “We are the Light of the World” the songwriter, Jean Greif, used both meek and humble. I would encourage you to listen at https://youtu.be/77Qa7iOLdMU. If you want a less contemporary version there are others available on youtube.com.

 

~Patty Larger

Lenten Retreat Available Online

An online version of our 2017 Lenten Retreat is now available.  You can set aside about three hours to work through the retreat all at once OR work your way through the retreat in 15-20 minute segments.

pdf 2017 Lenten Retreat (341 KB)

Blessed are Those Who Mourn

Blessed are they who mourn
For they will be comforted.

This beatitude is hard for me because I feel like I have not mourned my parents George and Norma who have both passed. They are wonderful and loving parents.

In my life this be-attitude gets translated into “blessed are those who get to be around, share with, those who mourn.” In my role at St Joseph St Raphael I am blessed to walk with those who mourn. God is love and I powerfully experience love (God) directly in those who mourn. I can see love all over them, in their faces; feel love in their energy and the way they move. I am drawn to those who mourn because I feel in them Jesus who is “the way the truth and the life”. People who mourn seem much more real and alive to me. They are focused on the things that matters, that are real and last. It pulls me out of my unreal thoughts. Mourning is the result of and a precious part of love. A love that ‘never fails” Corinthians 13:8. You cannot miss, long for that which you never knew, experienced or loved. Our lives are a flowing whole that cannot be separated out into particular moments. Mourning means we love and we are blessed because God who is love will comfort us. This is a statement about God and who God is on our lives. Just like there is no mourning without love, there is no mourning without comfort. People often say “you will get over it”. When you lose someone you love that space, that emptiness becomes a part of you. That never gets filled up. You do not replace love because it never goes away it just changes. People who love would not and cannot have it any other way. Nine months, five years, 25 years that love is still there. We carry it in our hearts until we are fully united with that love. This makes sense of our own passing as a going home, deeper, lasting home. This is “the way, the truth and the life”. John 14:6 
 ~ by Deacon Norm Horstman

ASH WEDNESDAY REFLECTION

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:3

I’ve always loved the beatitudes, and the promise of deep blessing for the those who experience the brokenness of life most acutely. And yet, despite that love and connection, I would gloss over the blessing for the poor in spirit. I felt sorry for those “poor in spirit,” who had to wait until heaven for some relief. I didn’t understand the phrase, and I pictured these poor souls with grey skin and enlarged eyes, poor in body as well as spirit. It was a phrase that made me shudder.

Then my second son was born, and he would not sleep, which meant I didn’t sleep either. In the long nights, as I begged God for some relief and some rest, I heard a whispered reply to ask instead for “poverty of spirit.” I brought this surprising longing to my spiritual director, who helped me to see that I was being invited to ask for the grace I had already received: the poverty of spirit that comes when you have reached your physical limits, when you realize the fragility of your humanity, when you see how little you can do on your own and how much you are dependent on God. I entered a season of praying a colloquy, or conversation, with Jesus on the cross. It was there in the very limits of his humanity that Jesus showed me how he had lived the virtue of poverty of spirit, up to and especially in his dying.

As I have lived into my own poverty of spirit, years after those restless, sleepless nights, I’ve come to realize that poverty of spirit is always present. We are, each of us, the poor in spirit, limited in our humanity, wholly dependent on God. We just don’t always know it. We run from our poverty, hiding it away in the trappings of life and the mask of busyness. We make the mistaken assumption, like I did, that poverty of spirit is something “out there,” in others, to be either fixed or avoided.

Lent, this season when we journey with Jesus through his life and to the cross, is an invitation to inhabit our poverty of spirit, to breathe into our poorness. This is uncomfortable and challenging, a pulling of ourselves into the broken interior spaces we instinctively avoid. Mercifully, we know that we are journeying not just to the cross, but to the resurrection. And we have the promise that, as we are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is ours.

 

~ by Lauren Burdette

Fr. Kramer's Homily from Jan. 29, 2017

Reflection on the readings for the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, January 29, 2017

Zephaniah 2-3,3:12-13

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 5:1-12

Let me start by saying that I am not here to give you “alternative facts;” I am here to give you the Gospel truth.

 

How do you become a success?  According to the standards of the world success is measured by your wealth and the power or prestige you enjoy.  Some people preach theProsperity Gospel.”  This view of the gospel says that when everything is going well for you, when you have good financial and physical health it is obvious that you are favored by God.

 

The prosperity gospel and the way the world measures success would be completely foreign to the gospel Jesus preached.  All of the readings that we are given today tell us the real way of measuring success – God’s way.

 

The prophet Zephaniah preached at a time in the history of the people of God when things were not going well.  The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen and the southern kingdom of Judea was about to fall.  The faith life of the people and the political choices they were making was the direct cause of their defeat.

 

Zephaniah gives the people warnings and promises.  The warning in today’s reading says: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth…seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.”  In other words, turn back to God before it is too late.

 

The prophet then gives a promise.  I will leave a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly.”   In the Old Testament we are told that no matter what happens to the nation there will always be a remnant faithful to God and from these he will once again build up his people.  Then the prophet describes the characteristics of the remnant.  “They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue”.  God’s way to success is opening up for us.

 

St. Paul continues in the same vain by telling us that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something so that no human being might boast before God.” Remember that Jesus told us to enter his kingdom by the narrow gate.  Many of those who as Paul suggests “are something” are really something in their own mind.  They need to be careful – their heads might be too big to get through the narrow gate!

 

So far to become successful in the eyes of God we must be lowly, always seeking humility and justice, and always speaking the truth.

 

As we turn to the gospel we hear the familiar words of the Beatitudes.  The wonderful words of Jesus are the marching orders of the faithful Christian.  Jesus is saying to us if you want to be happy in this life and in the life to come live out these principles in your everyday life.

 

“Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit…”  You do not have to be in poverty to be poor in spirit. People who are poor in spirit know the proper place of “things” in our life.  Material possessions cannot make us happy.  If they could why do we keep getting more and more stuff?  Those who are poor in spirit  always have their eyes opened to the needs of others and if they see a need they are willing to give up what they have to help.

 

“Blessed (happy) are those who mourn...”  We all have things to mourn about in our lives.  It might be a death in the family, a lost job, a relationship that goes wrong.  Certainly we want others to comfort us in difficult times, but what about the times things are going great for us.  Jesus is telling us to open our eyes to the suffering of others.  Do we mourn for the person who dies in a car accident today?  Do we mourn for those who shot to death on our streets?  Do we mourn for those who are caught in war torn areas of the world?  Do we show the compassion of the Lord when we see these tragedies unfold?  Do we do anything to help?  Remember a characteristic of a successful person in God’s eyes is one who seeks justice and seeks to relieve suffering.

 

“Blessed (happy) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (justice)…”  The blessed or happy persons, in the eyes of God, are those who have their eyes open to the injustice in our world and when they see it they take action.   As disciple of the Lord we should always be ready to help the poor, to work against discrimination, to be a voice for the voiceless.

 

“Blessed (happy) are the merciful…” Pope John XIII said: “See everything; judge little; forgive much.”  How merciful are we toward others?  Do we forgive others or do we hold grudges?  How compassionate are we?  What about those who would like to come to our country just to be able to live and raise their families in peace?  What about those who helped our military and are now in danger?  What is our attitude when some in authority in our country want to take the natural resources of another country just because we can?  What do we think about when we hear over and over “America First?”  Do we understand that the constant teaching of Jesus is that God must be first and our neighbor must be second?  God gave us so much as a country not to keep it all to ourselves but to share with those in need – here and abroad.  With much blessing comes much responsibility.  We are reminded by St. Matthew (Mt 25: 31-46) that at the end of our lives, when we stand in judgment, we will not be asked about our sins (because if we are smart we will have already repented of our sins).  We will be asked how we loved God above all things and how we loved our neighbor as ourselves.

 

“Blessed (happy) are the peacemakers…” How are we at peace making?  In our homes, our work places or any place we find ourselves do we strive to get along with others? Are we always critical of others?  Are we always ready to stir the pot?  Jesus isn’t telling us to have peace at any price but he is telling us that when there are problems, the successful person in the eyes of God, is always ready to listen and be charitable toward those with whom they disagree.

 

“Blessed (happy) are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness (justice)…” The way of Jesus is not an easy way of life – his life cost him the cross.  When we stand up for our sisters and brothers we may have to suffer the scorn of those who do not know Jesus.  We need to realize that is part of our cross – remember Jesus always ask us to follow him.

 

When we try to make humility, justice, peace, truthfulness, and compassion part of our lives we become a success in the eyes of God.  We will also hopefully realize the truth with which Jesus concluded the Beatitudes: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

 

Our call from the Lord is to follow him.  None of us is perfect but I might suggest that we get up every day and ask for the grace to follow the Lord better than we did yesterday – the true measure of success.

 

~by Fr. Bill Kramer

 

ARCHBISHOP KARL J. ALTER SCHOLARSHIP

The deadline for submitting applications for the Archbishop Karl J. Alter Scholarship is Wednesday, April 19, 2017. The Archbishop Alter Scholarship Fund was established in 1964 to promote African American Catholic leadership. Its purpose is to assist graduating senior high school students in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who are African American and Catholic to attend a college or university. A scholarship recipient may choose to attend a parochial, private or public institution. The Archbishop Alter Scholarship is a four-year renewable grant (paid twice a year.) Scholarship candidates are urged to attend a four-year college/university. Scholarship candidates who choose to attend a two-year college or university will be considered. A scholarship candidate must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in order to renew the scholarship. For more information, please contact Deacon Royce Winters of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at 513.421.3131x2640, or on the Archdiocesan website.

 

 

USCCB Stand on Immigration Issues

The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which includes Archbishop Schnurr of Cincinnati) has issued the following statements in the wake of the Executive Order concerning the admission of refugees and immigrants to the United States.

 

USCCB Chairmen Express Solidarity With Muslim Community, Deep Concern Over Religious Freedom Issues, In Response To Executive Order On Refugees

 
January 31, 2017

WASHINGTON—On January 27, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order that, among other things: suspends issuance of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days; indefinitely suspends resettlement of refugees from Syria, which is also predominantly Muslim, subject to a possible exception for those who are "religious minorities" in their home countries and facing religious persecution; and suspends virtually the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days, also subject to a possible exception for such "religious minorities."

Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and Chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Most Reverend Oscar Cantú, Bishop of Las Cruces and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, jointly issued the following statement in response to this action:

We recognize that Friday evening's Executive Order has generated fear and untold anxiety among refugees, immigrants, and others throughout the faith community in the United States. In response to the Order, we join with other faith leaders to stand in solidarity again with those affected by this order, especially our Muslim sisters and brothers. READ MORE
 
President And Vice President Of The U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops Stand In Defense Of All Faiths In Response To Executive Order On Refugees
 
January 30, 2017
 "When did we see you a stranger and welcome you?"
 
Matthew 25:38

 
WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, have issued the following joint statement regarding the recent executive order on the new refugee policy announced by President Trump this past Friday. President Trump's executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days. The order also indefinitely stops the admission of Syrian refugees and for 90 days, bars individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries. 

 
Full joint statement as follows:

 
Over the past several days, many brother bishops have spoken out in defense of God's people. We are grateful for their witness. Now, we call upon all the Catholic faithful to join us as we unite our voices with all who speak in defense of human dignity.

 
The bond between Christians and Muslims is founded on the unbreakable strength of charity and justice. The Second Vatican Council in Nostra Aetate urged us to sincerely work toward a mutual understanding that would "promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom." The Church will not waiver in her defense of our sisters and brothers of all faiths who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors.

 
The refugees fleeing from ISIS and other extremists are sacrificing all they have in the name of peace and freedom. Often, they could be spared if only they surrendered to the violent vision of their tormentors. They stand firm in their faith. Many are families, no different from yours or mine, seeking safety and security for their children. Our nation should welcome them as allies in a common fight against evil.  We must screen vigilantly for infiltrators who would do us harm, but we must always be equally vigilant in our welcome of friends.  READ MORE
 
 
 
 

USCCB Committee On Migration Chair Strongly Opposes Executive Order Because It Harms Vulnerable Refugee And Immigrant Families

 
January 27, 2017

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump issued today an Executive Order addressing the U.S. refugee admissions program and migration to the United States, generally. The executive order virtually shuts down the refugee admissions program for 120 days, reduces the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States this year from 110,000 to 50,000 individuals, and indefinitely suspends the resettlement of Syrian refugees. In addition, it prioritizes religious minorities suffering from religious persecution, thereby deprioritizing all other persons fleeing persecution; calls for a temporary bar on admission to the United States from a number of countries of particular concern (all Muslim majority); and imposes a yet-to-be determined new vetting process for all persons seeking entry to the United States.

Regarding the Executive Order's halt and reduction of admissions, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration, stated:

"We strongly disagree with the Executive Order's halting refugee admissions. We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope. We will continue to engage the new administration, as we have all administrations for the duration of the current refugee program, now almost forty years. We will work vigorously to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed in collaboration with Catholic Charities without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones."   READ MORE
 
USCCB Committee On Migration Chair Responds To Trump Administration Sanctuary City Executive Order
January 26, 2017
WASHINGTON—Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas and chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Migration has issued the following statement in response to yesterday's executive order signed by President Donald Trump. The executive order would deny federal funding for jurisdictions that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. Bishop Vásquez says such an order could be injurious to local relationships between communities and law enforcement where building trust and supportive relations with immigrant communities is essential to reducing crime and helping victims. 
Full statement follows: 

I share the concern that all of us feel when someone is victimized by crime, especially when the perpetrator of that crime is someone who is in the United States without authorization. I urge our local, state, and federal elected officials to work together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that all persons — U.S citizens and newcomers alike — are protected from individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety. I am concerned, however, by the Executive Order issued by the President on January 25, 2017. This order would force all jurisdictions to accept a one-size-fits-all regime that might not be best for their particular jurisdictions.  

We believe in the inherent value of subsidiarity, and as spiritual leaders who minister to and live every day in our communities, we recognize the importance of relationships between local law enforcement and the people of the communities that they police. My brother bishops and I work to engage both local law enforcement and immigrant communities and help to foster dialogue between the two. We know that cooperative relationships between law enforcement and immigrant communities are vital. I fear that this Executive Order may be injurious to that vital necessity. READ MORE

 

 

Committee On Migration Chair Strongly Opposes Administration’s Announcement To Build A Wall At U.S.-Mexico Border, Increase Detention And Deportation Forces

 
January 25, 2017

WASHINGTON—President Donald J. Trump today issued an executive order to construct a wall at the U.S./Mexico border, to significantly increase immigrant detention and deportation, and to disregard the judgment of state and local law enforcement on how best to protect their communities.

The U.S./Mexico border, spanning approximately 2000 miles, already has roughly 700 miles of fencing and barrier that was constructed under the George W. Bush administration. In response to the decision to build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border, Bishop Joe Vasquez, Chair of the Committee of Migration and Bishop of the Diocese of Austin, stated:

"I am disheartened that the President has prioritized building a wall on our border with Mexico. This action will put immigrant lives needlessly in harm's way. Construction of such a wall will only make migrants, especially vulnerable women and children, more susceptible to traffickers and smugglers. Additionally, the construction of such a wall destabilizes the many vibrant and beautifully interconnected communities that live peacefully along the border. Instead of building walls, at this time, my brother bishops and I will continue to follow the example of Pope Francis. We will "look to build bridges between people, bridges that allow us to break down the walls of exclusion and exploitation.'"

In regards to the announcement of the planned surge in immigrant detention and deportation forces, Bishop Vasquez added:

"The announced increase in immigrant detention space and immigration enforcement activities is alarming. It will tear families apart and spark fear and panic in communities.   READ MORE

 

 

Immigration

 

Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration

The Catholic Church in the United States is an immigrant Church with a long history of embracing diverse newcomers and providing assistance and pastoral care to immigrants, migrants, refugees, and people on the move.  Our Church has responded to Christ’s call for us to “welcome the stranger among us,” for in this encounter with the immigrant, the migrant, and the refugee in our midst, we encounter Christ.

A rich body of Church teaching, including Papal encyclicals, Bishops’ statements and pastoral letters, has consistently reinforced our moral obligation to treat the stranger as we would treat Christ himself.  In the 2001 pastoral statement, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us:  Unity in Diversity, the Bishops of the United States called upon the Catholic faithful to a conversion of minds and hearts, imploring us to communion and solidarity with diverse newcomers, and entreating us to find new and meaningful ways to welcome our immigrant sisters and brothers into our parishes, schools and communities.  In 2003, the Bishops of the United States, together with the Bishops of Mexico, in the pastoral statement, “Strangers No Longer:  Together on the Journey of Hope” / “Juntos en el Camino de la Esperanza Ya no Somos Extranjeros” acknowledged that the current immigration system is badly in need of reform and offered a comprehensive set of recommendations for changing U.S. laws and policies to bring about a more humane and just immigration system in the United States.  READ MORE

Springfield Prepares to Welcome Immigrant Family

Like a beautifully laid mosaic floor, the Holy Spirit has brought together members of the Springfield community to welcome the Mesa family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. St. Joseph/St. Raphael parish is blessed to be among the tiles.

Mr. Mesa has already served our country for 20 years by working in the U.S. Embassy in the Congo. He and his family will be arriving in their new hometown in March.

While they already have temporary housing which is furnished, they will soon be in a place of their own and need basically everything to set up house-keeping. Also, since they are very limited in what they can bring with them, they will need many personal items for Mr. & Mrs. Mesa and their 5 children.

Their needs will be more than material as they will also need help acclimating to their new community, learning how to grocery shop, make doctor appointments, get a library card, and learning many other daily tasks. Due to our very limited public transportation system, they will also need a number of rides (including rides to mass) until Mr. and Mrs. Mesa learn to drive in the U.S. and save for a car.

There is already a tutor in place to teach the children English and help Mrs. Mesa increase her English vocabulary, but interpreters who speak French will also be needed in the early days after their arrival.

Please prayerfully consider how you can help welcome the Mesa family to their new home. Do you have furniture to donate? Could you buy a mattress set? Do you have extra kitchenware or small kitchen appliances which are taking up too much space in your own cabinets? Could you stock their bathrooms with toiletries? Are you willing to give the family a ride to mass on Sundays or one Sunday per month (two cars will be needed)? Do you have gently used toys for the younger children ages 8, 9, 10, and 13? Would you like to help throw a shower for the family within the first few weeks of their arrival?

The ways to help and be blessed by this family are endless. If you feel the Holy Spirit leading you down this path, please comment below & you will be contacted or call Lisa at the parish office at 323-7523.

The Catholic Position on Torture

With torture being a subject we are hearing about frequently on the news, Fr. Kramer and our pastoral staff thought it would be good to refresh our understanding of the Church's position.  Below are a number of resources which define and explain the Catholic Church's teaching on torture.

Does the Catholic Church condemn torture? This article from the American bishops summarizes the Church's position.

This statement was issued in 2014 ahead of a meeting between the Holy See and the United Nations Committee on the Convention Against Torture.  This article from the Vatican News Agency emphasizes the Holy See's strong commitment against torture.


In 2014, Pope Francis condemned torture as a mortal sin and called on Christians to do their part in abolishing all types of torture and in supporting victims and their families.


The Second Vatican Council taught in the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” (No. 27):  "Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit…all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honor due to the Creator."  This article explains why torture degrades both the victim and the perpetrator.

"What is the significance of Jesus' Crucifixion for the issue of torture?  The cross is an instrument of torture. The fact that our Savior was tortured to death should never be far from Christian discussion about torture.
In the Crucifixion God has absorbed the violence of the world and not given it back. God has taken on the position of the tortured in the world, the position of the victim. And if we don't see the whole world through those eyes, then we've missed something crucial about what it means to be Christian.  I think it was civil rights activist Dick Gregory who said that if Jesus had been around today, we'd all be wearing little electric chairs around our necks instead of crosses. We've just gotten so used to the cross that we often lose touch with its true significance. It was an instrument of torture reserved for common criminals in the Roman Empire."  Link to the article from which this excerpt was taken here.

 

 

 

 

The Giving Tree

Please remember our local Parent Infant Center during this Christmas season.

Just as the wise men brought gifts to the Christ child, we bring gifts to those children in need in our community.

ITEMS NEEDED:

ear thermometers, washcloths, bath towels, baby lotion, diaper cream, baby shampoo, diapers and wipes, infant sleepers, newborn and small onesies, infant toys such as teethers and rattles, nail clippers, brushes, socks, crib sheets, and any other baby items are appreciated.

 

 

Return items to the Giving Tree in the back of each church on Epiphany Sunday, January 8, 2017.

FILM AVAILABLE ONLINE

Sunday's St. Martin's Day presentation is available online. The movie is profound and illustrates a little known part of American history.
 
"'Slavery by Another Name' challenges one of America's most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The documentary tells a harrowing story of how in the South, even as chattel slavery came to an end, new forms of involuntary servitude, including convict leasing, debt slavery and peonage, took its place with shocking force -- brutalizing and ultimately circumscribing the lives of hundreds of thousands of African Americans well into the 20th century."
 
You can view the film in it's entirety here.

ADVENT RETREAT

 

Songs and Scriptures

 

Whether you missed our annual Advent retreat

or would like to go through it again,

you will appreciate our online version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lector Retreat Available Online

Our St. Joseph/St. Raphael Lector Retreat, held in October, gave us valuable insights on the Holy Scriptures.  Now this retreat is online and available to all.  National Bible Week is a great time to set aside some time to go through it.  The retreat takes about 90 minutes and is best with a partner, but you can do it on your own, too.

Daily Devotions from the USCCB

In honor of National Bible Week, the USCCB is offering 7 days of scripture meditations delivered to your inbox.  

Reading Scripture

Need some ideas for incorporating Scripture into your life or into the lives of your children?  Not sure how to choose a Bible or look up Scripture passages?  Want to find a good method of meditating on the Bible passages you read?  Here are pdf some helps (175 KB)in honor of National Bible Week, Nov. 13-19, 2016.

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