Department of Social Concerns 
Catholic Charities of St. Cloud

Spring Newsletter 2013

In This Issue
Rural Life Celebration
Diocesan Ministry Day
Pope Francis
Immigration: An Interns Experience
Immigration Action
The Farm Bill
Human Trafficking
Quick Links

Social Concerns Website

 

CCHD Website

 

Justice For Immigrants Website 

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SAVE THE DATE!
The next local
PARISH SOCIAL MINISTRY TRAINING
OCTOBER 19TH, 2013
 
9:00-3:00 PM

Be sure to mark your calendar now!

A Spring filled with Activity

for our Sisters and Brothers who are Marginalized 

kathylanger


Hi and Happy Spring!

 

There are so many exciting things happening these last days of the legislative sessions with some that, as people concerned about Catholic social teaching, strike at our hearts.  I am talking about immigration, the Farm Bill, and Human Trafficking, just to name a few.  In this newsletter you will get some usable information about each of these issues.  Be sure to note that our Church is very active on each of these issues.  Phone calls, emails and letters to your legislators are greatly needed!  They do make such a difference, especially when a number of us get our messages to them.

 

We have included some information that you can use in your parishes as immigration reform legislation is being considered.  The 'Gang of 8' legislation will be debated for the next 3 months or so and it is a great time to get rid of some of the myths that are out there about our immigrant sisters and brothers.  This material will do just that.  I have recently attended most of the pastors' deanery meetings and given some of this information to them.  You will find it under Immigration Action below.  

 

I hope to see many of you at the upcoming events that we are promoting in this newsletter; the Rural Life Celebration on August 18, Diocesan Ministry Day on September 30 and the next Parish Social Ministry Day on October 19.  One per month to add to your calendar. Hope you do!

 

Our work is never ending and often it seems like the victories for those suffering in poverty and are vulnerable are few.  BUT...and yes, there is a huge BUT!  BUT we know that the work we are doing is the work of Jesus.  He told his disciples that when we clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, etc.  we are doing it for him.  Is that enough to keep us going?  Is that enough to make us want to do more, to love more, to act more?  Is that enough to help us realize that every single effort is worth it?  I believe with all my heart that we can make a difference and that difference changes us too.  It helps us to love and accept and understand and love some more.  I believe!  Let's believe together and keep doing the work!  It is worth it! 

 

--Kathy  

SAVE THE DATE!!
Rural Life Celebration
Onamia, MN
Sunday, August 18th
11am to 2 pm

The day will begin in downtown Onamia with an outdoor Mass at 11:00 a.m. with Bishop Kinney or his representative presiding. A guest speaker, free lunch and local entertainment will round out the day. This year's focus will be on small town rural living and will showcase the contributions of the Onamia/greater Onamia area. Look for this event to highlight the unique character of this rural community. 
The parish cluster of Onamia, Vineland, Wakhon and Hillman will host the event. Please join us in August as we celebrate everything that's good about small town living!
Diocesan Ministry Day 2013
SAVE THE DATE!

Diocesan Ministry Day
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH

7:30 AM -4:15 PM

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:
Fr. Fred Kammer

He is a priest, an attorney, and a member of the New Orleans Province of the Jesuits.  Currently he is the director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute, Loyola University New Orleans.  From 1992 to 2001, he was the President/CEO of
Catholic Charities USA, the nation's largest voluntary human service network.  Prior to that he worked primarily in legal services for the poor in Atlanta and in Catholic Charities in Baton Rouge.

Workshops include topics like immigration, Farm to School initiatives, Global solidarity, Fair Trade products and more. 
Pope Francis Calls for a Church

Vulnerable, in the  Streets, and filled with LOVE 

 

In a short period of time, Pope Francis has made a significant impression on people across the globe. With his humble, servant-heart he has led people back to the Spirit of Christ. He is refreshingly committed to simplicity, interfaith dialogue, bridge-building, humility and he fights for social justice. He is the first pope- of Jesuits, of the Americas, and of regions south of the equator. 

 

We offer these quotes from Pope Francis for your contemplation and prayer....


"We are enclosed in a narcissistic and consumerist prison...The  real power
is love, that which empowers others, that which arouses action, that which no chain is able to hold back, for even on the Cross or on the death bed one is able to love. One does not need youthful beauty, nor recognition or approval, nor money or prestige. Let love simply bloom... and it is unstoppable."
-----------------------------------------------------------

"We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one."

 

  

Rebecca's Immigration Immersion Experience


  
As a political science major, immigration is a hot topic we often discuss and debate about in class. Instead of merely talking about immigration, I was given the incredible opportunity to participate in an immigration immersion trip through Borderlinks. During this trip we saw the affects of our US immigration policy first-hand.
We spent time in Arizona, crossed the border and spent a few days in Mexico. Arizona is home to some of the most strict immigration law in the country. We saw that undocumented immigrants were stigmatized- almost to the point of being considered an "unclean," outcast group. The Arizona law makes it a crime for anyone to transport, assist, or help an undocumented immigrant. This even includes charities. They are not allowed to provide any services to them whatsoever.
We witnessed great poverty and heard many stories of brutal violence, injustice, abuse and exploitation. We saw the graves of those immigrants who had fallen in the desert on the path towards a better life. We saw immigrants shackled from head to toe in Operation Streamline, a factory-justice avenue for throwing undocumented immigrants in jail for committing no other crime than crossing the border. We saw how one 30-180 day jail sentence meant a death sentence for an entire family. We were told that the minimum wage in Mexico is $5/day- a gallon of milk is $4. We saw how difficult it is to obtain citizenship legally- not only very expensive, but the process can take three decades. We were told there are three main reasons immigrants cross the border: to work (because there is no economic opportunity at home), to unite with family and to escape crime and gangs at home.
If there is any verse that continued to flash in my mind, it was Matthew 25:40. Straight out of the mouth of Jesus, he proclaims, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did unto me."

It's a verse we're all familiar with, but how often do we really ask ourselves what that verse truly means, and more importantly, what it requires of us?  
I think if we thought of those "illegal aliens" as Jesus, we wouldn't call him illegal and we definitely wouldn't call him an alien. Our culture uses this language to dehumanize people we don't want to associate with. If they're aliens, why should we care about what happens to them? Aliens are creepy beings from another galaxy that are trying to take over our world. If that's how we think of immigrants, it's not hard to lack compassion for them.    

It's like abortion. If we call a living, breathing human being with a soul and a purpose a "fetus" or even worse, "a bunch of tissue" it's not as hard to end a life. 

More than anything, this trip provoked me to question our society. What if we were driven by cooperation instead of competition? The immigration issue really boils down to greed, selfishness, and getting what we want- when we want it- no matter the cost. We will kick down people if it means we can advance a step up. Your gain is my loss. We need to stop thinking of immigrants as these "illegal aliens" who are out to get us. To take our jobs. To drain our social services. To take our money.
Our desires are the same as those who cross the border for a better life- to be with our family, to be safe and to be provided for. If your family was threatened with poverty and violence, wouldn't you do the same?

-Rebecca
Immigration Action:
 Educate Your Parish and Act Legislatively
TAKE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION!



Learn More About Immigration:


Political Action:
 

Contact your district legislators:
Awareness In Your Parish:

 
The Farm Bill TAKE ACTION!
TAKE ACTION ON The Farm Bill!

Below you will find the most recent action alert from the USCCB.  Take time to add your voice to the debate.

May 9, 2013

 

Urge your Senators or Representative on the Agriculture Committees to support a Farm Bill that feeds hungry people, promotes stewardship of creation, supports family farmers, and helps rural America thrive!

 

Take Action Now!

 

ACTION: As a member of the Senate or House Agriculture Committees, your members are expected take up the Farm Bill very soon to consider how our nation's agriculture policies will impact hungry people at home and abroad, family farms, stewardship of creation and how to help rural communities thrive. Take this opportunity to call or e-mail your Senators or Representative on the Agriculture Committee and tell him or her to support a fair Farm Bill and to oppose cuts to critical programs that help people and communities in need. Urge the Committees to support policies that address:

  • Domestic Hunger and Nutrition: With continued high unemployment and a struggling economy, Congress should support access to adequate and nutritious food for those in need and to oppose attempts to weaken or restructure these programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); 
  • International Food Security and Development: The Food for Peace program saves people's lives in times of dire emergencies and combats chronic hunger in poor communities around the world. Support reforms to Food for Peace that give aid workers on the ground more flexibility to employ interventions best suited to local conditions and replace monetization. The Administration's budget proposed major changes to food aid that would provide similar flexibility. Urge Congress to adopt such flexibilities in authorizing legislation that also protects funding for emergency assistance and food security development projects;  
  • Farm Subsidies: It is important to continue a reasonable amount of support for our commodity and dairy farmers. However, given current high commodity prices and federal budget constraints, agricultural subsidies and direct payments can be reduced overall, and targeted to small and moderate-sized farms, especially minority owned-farms. Government resources should assist those who truly need assistance and support those who comply with environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices;  
  • Conservation and Stewardship: Support full funding for conservation initiatives that promote stewardship of the land and environmentally sound agriculture practices. These programs provide technical assistance and financial incentives for farmers and ranchers to adopt practices aimed at fostering healthy, productive and non-eroding soils, clean air and water, energy savings and wildlife habitat;  
  • Rural Development: Rural communities and small towns are the backbone of the social and economic life of America. Effective policies and programs are needed to encourage rural development and promote the culture and well-being of these communities.  

 

BACKGROUND:

The Catholic community brings both deeply rooted principles and experience to this debate. Through many programs and ministries rooted in our faith tradition, we feed and assist millions of people living in poverty both at home around the world, support rural communities and farmers in need, and help promote policies to care for creation.

 

The Farm Bill affects us all, but most importantly, it impacts those who are hungry, living in poverty, and struggling to keep farming a viable way of life. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in partnership with Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, supports important provisions in the 2013 Farm Bill that uphold the life and dignity of the human person and promote stewardship of creation.

 

CURRENT SITUATION:

Last year Congress chose to extend the current Farm Bill for one year but is now considering how to craft this legislation before it expires at the end of September, 2013. Both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees are soon expected to begin deliberation on the 2013 Farm Bill. In the House, there will be significant pressures to drastically cut the SNAP program, conservation programs and other programs that serve hungry and vulnerable people in need. The Senate will be considering lesser cuts to the SNAP program and how to restructure agriculture subsidies.

 

USCCB POSITION/CHURCH TEACHING:
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated that "Liberation from the yoke of hunger is the first concrete expression of the right to life." The U.S. bishops and their Catholic partners also remind Congress that food is a fundamental human right. In their recent letter they stated, "This is a crucial time to build a more just framework that puts poor and hungry people first, serves small and moderate-sized family farms, promotes sustainable stewardship of the land and helps vulnerable farmers and rural communities both at home and in developing countries."  

 

The USCCB and other Catholic organizations also recently joined with an additional 100 organizations, urging Congress to support and protect the SNAP program from cuts and changes that would harm vulnerable and hungry people in need. You can read the letter by clicking here.  

 

Take Action Now!   

Your voice is needed today to make sure that our nation's agriculture polices serve hungry people, protect those living in poverty at home and abroad, promote stewardship of creation and help rural communities thrive.  

 

For information, updates and alerts on the Farm Bill, see the USCCB Farm Bill page click here. Thank you for your continued dedication and advocacy.

 

 Join our Action network, and we'll send you updates on how you can speak out on important issues that impact human life and dignity.  

Dept. of Justice, Peace and Human Development | US Conference of Catholic Bishops

3211 4th St. NE, Washington, DC 20017-1194

(202) 541-3191 | JPHDmail@usccb.org | www.usccb.org/jphd  


Human Trafficking Legislation
The Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door Act has been sent to the Senate and House HHS Committees.

The Safe Harbor/No Wrong Door Act would allow more funding for anti-trafficking initiatives, particularly towards housing victims. Housing for trafficking victims is crucial and essential solution to prevent women and children from getting re-trafficked after being rescued. When a victim is rescued from trafficking she is often addicted to drugs, has prostitution charges on her record and her traffickers are desperately searching for her to kill her, her family, or entrap her back in the sex industry. After escape, victims cannot function "normally." The level of trauma these women and girls experience is so severe that they must go through intensive counseling and care to overcome it. They must have safe housing.

Please contact your legislators to push this bill. St. Cloud is one of the main trafficking centers in Minnesota.
Happy Spring!!
 
Sincerely,

Kathy Langer
Director of Social Concerns
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN
klanger@ccstcloud.org
320-229-6020

Doug Scott
Rural Life Coordinator
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN
dscott@ccstcloud.org
320-293-8975

Rebecca Kotz
Social Concerns Intern
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN
socialconcernsintern@ccstcloud.org
320-650-1657 
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, MN