Author: Fr. John

The Catholic Bishops of the United States (USCCB) have requested Catholics call their Congressional representatives on Monday in support of Dreamers:

“We are also announcing a National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers. This coming weekend, we will be asking the faithful across the nation to call their Members of Congress next MondayFebruary 26, to protect Dreamers from deportation, to provide them a path to citizenship, and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.

“Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters. We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity now in a special way. Now is the time for action.”

Helpful suggestion:

1. Please call 855-589-5698 to reach the Capitol switchboard and press 1 to connect to your Senator (press 2 for Representative). Once you are connected to the Senator’s offices, please ask the person on the phone to deliver this simple message to your legislator:

“I urge you to support a bipartisan, common-sense, and humane solution for Dreamers:

Protect Dreamers from deportation and provide them with a path to citizenship.

Reject proposals that undermine family immigration or protections for unaccompanied children.

As a Catholic, I know that families are not ‘chains,’ but a blessing to be protected.

Act now to protect Dreamers, our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

Latino Enrollment Initiative

I recently attended the Latino Enrollment Initiative with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at Notre Dame. Amy Weidner and Barbara Blad attended with me. It was very interesting, information, and challenging.

The statistics were overwhelming:

  • by 2020, Latinos will be the majority of Catholics in the U.S.
  • Latinos who attend Catholic schools are 42% more likely to graduate from high school.
  • Latinos who graduate from Catholic schools are 2.5 times more likely to graduate from college than their peers in public schools.
  • 54% of Catholic parents with school age children are Latino.
  • Children who attend Catholic school are much more likely to attend Mass.
  • Children who attend Catholic school are much more likely to practice their Faith, attend Mass, be leaders in the Church, to vote, and to be engaged in civic life.

Parishes need to see their schools as a ministry which evangelizes all the children of the parish. The school has to be welcoming, accessible, affordable, and culturally appropriate.

Province Assembly

Over 300 Holy Cross priests and brothers gathered at the University of Notre Dame for a province assembly. It wasn’t a meeting to make decisions, nor was it exactly a spiritual retreat. Many described it as a family reunion.

But in a way, even though not legislative or a retreat, it provides the opportunity to reflect on our values and decide how we should act on them. Bishop Robert Lynch, the retired bishop of St. Petersburg, FL, provided some thoughts to help us to think and to guide us.

He spoke of the Church entering a new epoch. It’s a time for a Christian Humanism. Our values of faith need to guide us to heal, not hurt.

The bishop of San Diego talks about an economy that kills. One might say that’s an overstatement, but the reality is that some people cannot afford both food and medicine; the result is that they die sooner than they should. There are others who live in fear of their families being torn apart by deportation. There are others who are caught up in mass incarceration and who may never fully participate in society again.

Our call is to help heal, not hurt.

Dream Hoarders

Dream Hoarders

Richard Reeves book’ Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why Is That a Problem, and What to Do about It and his New York Times editorial (June 10, 2017) paint a picture of society where “American society is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top.”

He says that the upper 20% of U.S. society has it pretty good, and despite claims that people can be upwardly mobile, there are three ways the upper middle class has things rather closed.

Peter Temin in The Vanishing Middle Class seems to go a step farther. He seems to add intention to the equation. The upper middle class has set up a world for themselves and is not very interested in the well-being of the rest of society. He seems them as disinterested in investing in their education, health care, and opportunities. It becomes very difficult if, not impossible, to move upward.

Reeves says that there are three main reasons:

First, housing. There is a long history to housing. African Americans often point out that many white Americans made their biggest financial gains through the increase in value of their housing. For many white families this was housing which was partially financed by the federal government under programs initiated by Frank D. Roosevelt. African Americans were clearly excluded by FDR as a way of getting Southern support. While white Americans were able to get new homes financed with federal help, black Americans were redlined. Land and housing increased in value usually faster than money. (Cf. Peter Temin, The Vanishing Middle Class).  Zoning laws limit the size, cost, and value of homes. Some people are kept out of certain areas.

Second, education. Public schools are organized by geography. The best public schools are located in the wealthiest school districts; even within the school districts, the schools in the wealthier areas always have the best resources. The top level colleges and universities usually have legacy admissions. Students of graduates have either an automatic admission or at least a better chance of getting in. Reeves points out that the United States is the only country in the world where that still happens. Because of admission standards and cost and legacy admissions, less wealthier students are less likely to get in to the top universities.

Third, internships and entrance to employment. Many jobs now require some kind of internship. Who knows whom is often the key as to where people get internships and opportunities for employment.

It reminds me of the words of Jesus to Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar: “Everything is fixed, and you can’t change it.” It may not be fixed, but it is very hard to break into the upper levels.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo by David Hayes-Bautista is an historical explanation of why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the United States, but it is almost unknown as a holiday in Mexico.

The Mexicanos in California had gone from being a part of Mexico to a part of the United States.  Although there were many guarantees of rights in the treaty between the United States and Mexico, they were frequently not observed after California became part of the U.S. Their lot had changed, and they felt very much threatened during the time of the U.S. Civil War. The Confederacy professed both slavery and white supremacy; if the Confederacy won the war, slavery could be extended to the Pacific. The French intervention in Mexico threatened democracy there. Both wars were going badly from the perspective of democracy and equality. The Battle of Puebla in Mexico was the first hopeful sign of a turn toward hope.

Since then Cinco de Mayo has been a sign of hope, been a patriotic U.S. holiday, a rallying point in the Chicano movement, and commercialized. “And with mighty hand and outstretched arm…..”now been theologized……Ooops, I made that one up.

I highly recommend this book. It explains a lot and shows how an idea can be used and celebrated in different ways over the decades. It’s available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle.

The difference between church work and the work of the church.

The difference between church work and the work of the church.

Rev. Robert Linthicum makes a distinction between church work and the work of the church.

Church work is all the work that is done around the church building and the church office. There are many tasks that go into preparing for the worship service, for the religious education classes. There are many chores that must be done to keep the building clean, maintained, and safe. These tasks are not always easy, and they are important. They are meant to help build up the church community, make services possible, and enable ministry.

But the work of the church is about the Kingdom: a kingdom of love, justice, and peace. We are called to learn about the Kingdom of God, to celebrate that Kingdom, and to proclaim and build that Kingdom. We are sent into the world to make that Kingdom as present as much as we can on earth. One of the temptations of the church is to remain busy with all the church work and never get to the work of the church. We need to remember that the church work is to prepare us for the work of the church.

Easter Sunday 2017

Easter Sunday 2017

Easter Sunday morning always comes early for a pastor. The vigil went late into the night. It was after midnight when I left church. A whole (mostly new, different) crowd was ready at 7:30 a.m. for Mass.

The day went on with the other Masses. There was an Easter egg hunt for the kids at the 2:00 p.m. Mass.

A good time was had by all!