As Catholics, we are called to participate fully in the political process of our nation. Pope Francis states that “…our political lives must be seen as an essential element of our personal call to holiness.” The November 3 U.S. general election will influence life in United States, and indeed, in the entire world, for years into the future.
‘”Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Here’s a great opportunity to reach out from the safety of your own home. Write letters of support to women and children held in detention at the Southwest border. This is a “can-do” project you and your friends – even small children – may be happy to do.
The Proyecto Dilley, a partner of the Immigration Justice Campaign in San Antonio, TX, serves immigrant mothers and children seeking asylum who are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, TX. Fifty three families detained in Dilley have been there for over 100 days. 35 of those have been there for over 300 days! They have waited out 3-10 months of depression, medical neglect, reheated food, nonexistent education, and the anxiety of an uncertain future, all just hoping for the chance to be safe in the United States. They have had to sue for their rights to a fair asylum process.
They are now watching guards come in to work after a weekend at the bars in one of the states hardest-hit by COVID-19, and then leave their masks off and hug the detained children. They have seen judge after judge decide they can’t force ICE to release them. They are now preparing themselves to be asked if they want to send their children alone to sponsors, or keep them detained in a congregate setting where their growth has stunted, development has been repressed, and behavior has regressed– and where Coronavirus is slowly but surely spreading among the staff.
These 53 families have no idea what future is in store for them. They would love to hear from people all over the country who are supporting them and rooting for them. That’s why we’re renewing our call for letters of encouragement for our detained families. Children are also welcome to send drawings. Unfortunately, due to rules, we cannot pass out any food or gifts of any kind, even stickers. Subject of the letters may include:
-your belief that they deserve justice
– your best wishes/prayers/blessings and encouragement to fight for their families
-your thanks to them for having the courage to seek asylum despite all the road blocks and bad treatment.
Please mail letters to: Mackenzie Levy, in care of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid , 1111 N. Main Ave, San Antonio TX 78212.
Put each letter in it’s own stamped but not yet addressed envelope. Place all envelopes into one larger package to send together. Mackenzie will collect all the letters, address the envelopes, and mail them individually to each family. Don’t forget the stamp on each envelope or make a check out to Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid to cover cost of mailing your letter.
The vast majority of the families speak Spanish; one family that speaks Haitian Creole and another Portuguese.
With the death of John Lewis on July 17, 2020, the baton passes to us to continue his life-long mission of respect and equal rights for all.
Exercising your right to vote is the least possible way to honor the life of John Lewis. VOTE! And work to facilitate the ability of others to vote.
Every person’s voice is needed. Continue John Lewis’s message. Vote in every election to support the ideals to which he devoted his life! VOTE to honor John Lewis.
Fr. Victor Clore of Christ the King Parish in Detroit provided Home Visitors of Mary with the following account of the life and courage of John Lewis, a true prophet, a witness of love and rights …
John Robert Lewiswas born in Troy, Alabama. His parents were sharecroppers. By the time he was six, Lewis had seen only two white people in his life. As he grew older, he began to experience racism and segregation. “White kids went to high school, Negroes to training school. We couldn’t take books from the public library.” John, called Preacher, was the odd child out. He loved books and hated guns.
At 15, Lewis first heard Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio. “Every minister I’d ever heard talked about ‘over yonder,’ where we’d put on white robes and golden slippers and sit with the angels. But this man was talking about the problems people were facing in their lives right now, black lives in the South.” He followed the Montgomery Bus Boycott, met RosaParks and King while still in high school.
He enrolled in the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville where aspiring black preachers willing to take campus jobs could attend free. Here he learned “New Testament pacifism” (how to love rather than strike the enemy tormenting you) and Gandhi-style civil disobedience (staying calm when punched in the head). These lessons guided Lewis (age of 20) and his friends as they formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). They conducted sit-ins aimed at forcing retailers in Nashville to allow black customers to use the stores’ eateries. He experienced his first arrest when police collared the quiet young demonstrators, not the roughnecks who had been knocking them off their stools.
In 1961 he became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, sponsored by an older group, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Seven whites and six blacks determined to ride from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans in an integrated fashion (James Farmer). States in the old Confederacy still enforced laws prohibiting black and white riders from sitting next to each other. The “Freedom Rides” aroused fierce resistance. Lewis was the first to be assaulted. He tried to enter a whites-only waiting room in Rock Hill, South Carolina and two white men attacked him, injuring his face and kicking him in the ribs.
“Get into good trouble!”
Two weeks later Lewis joined a CORE Freedom Ride bound for Jackson. “We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back.” In Montgomery, an angry mob met the bus, and Lewis was hit in the head with a wooden crate. “It was very violent. I thought I was going to die. I was left lying unconscious.” When the bus was firebombed, CORE gave up on the Ride, but Lewis and fellow activist Diane Nash and other SNCC riders refused to quit. They brought that Freedom Ride to a successful conclusion – although Lewis spent 22 days in the infamous Parchman Penitentiary. The Freedom Rides drew national attention and attracted recruits. Robert Kennedy began to enforce the Supreme Court decision against segregated facilities. SNCC gained confidence: “We now meant to push, we meant to provoke.” He became well known for his expression: “Get into good trouble!” In June 1963, Lewis was elected as chairman of SNCC. By this time he had been arrested 24 times. His courage and his convictions about reconciliation and nonviolence made him emerge as a leader.
As chairman of SNCC, Lewis was the youngest (age 23) of the “Big Six” who organized the August 28, 1963 March on Washington, along with SCLC Martin Luther King Jr., National Urban League Whitney Young, COREJames Farmer, NAACPRoy Wilkins and Labor UnionistA. Philip Randolph. These men and the organizations they represented grew the human rights struggle in the United States into a powerful movement for social change.
We do not want our freedom gradually! We want our freedom now!”
The August 28 March is famous for Rev. King’s “I Have a Dream,” but Lewis was assigned the keynote, and he drafted a fiery challenge. Randolph and the other more experienced men knew that President Kennedy was concerned that the march would inflame tensions with Southern politicians and set back the civil rights cause. They convinced Lewis to tone it down, because they knew the sound engineers would pull the plug on the microphones if the speeches got too bombastic. His “toned down” speech was still quite forceful: “If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington! We must say, ‘Wake up, America, wake up!’ For we cannot stop, and we will not be patient! We do not want our freedom gradually! We want our freedom now!”
We should all be working for the Kingdom of God in this real world
The contrast with his elders symbolized Lewis’ unusual role in those tumultuous years. At one point he rejected the advice “Don’t get arrested, get a lawyer.” Handcuffs and truncheons never dulled his belief in confrontation. Yet he stoutly maintained his belief in nonviolence, based on his faith in Christ, and he explicitly opposed the militant black nationalists. He always believed that we should all be working for the Kingdom of God in this real world, by following the Sermon on the Mount, and loving one another.
SNCC openedFreedom Schools, and in 1964, Lewis coordinated “Mississippi Freedom Summer.” Mississippi made it practically impossible for black persons to register and vote. The Freedom Summer was a campaign to convince people of the importance of voting, and to help them register. Lewis traveled the country encouraging college students to spend their summer working in this project, and at the same time they would learn of the perils of African American life in the South. Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, from New York, worked as a team along with James Chaney, a local African American youth. They conducted sessions in a Methodist church. Then the church was set on fire. On the morning of June 21,Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner set out to investigate the burning. They were waylaid by the KKK, who chain-whipped and killed them. If this was meant to scare off the civil rights activists, John Lewis became more galvanized in his conviction that racist hate had to be confronted and defeated.
Lewis still bears scars on his head from the Edmund Pettus Bridge incident.
On March 7, 1965 – now known as “Bloody Sunday” – Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr. and fellow activists led 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridgein Selma, Alabamain a voting rights campaign. At the end of the bridge, they were met by Alabama State Troopers who ordered them to disperse. When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and beat them with night sticks. Lewis’s skull was fractured. Before he could be taken to the hospital, he appeared before the television cameras calling on President Johnsonto intervene in Alabama. Lewis bears scars on his head from the incident.
In 1966, as the War in Vietnam dragged on, he co-founded the Southern Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam. In 1968, Lewis joined Robert Kennedy’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. He was with the entourage in Los Angeles when Kennedy was assassinated. Although the murder devastated him, campaigning sharpened his own interest in seeking public office.
In 1986, Lewis ran for U.S. Congress for Georgia’s 5th District (the north side of Atlanta), and won by 75%. He was reelected 16 times. Lewis was one of the most liberal congressmen ever to represent a district in the Deep South. He drew on his involvement in the Civil Rights Movementas part of his politics. He made an annual pilgrimage to Alabama to retrace the route he marched in 1965 from Selma to Montgomery. That trip became a tradition in Washington among lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, eager to associate themselves with Lewis and the movement. Now that Lewis has died, there is a movement to rename the Pettus bridge after him.
Will I ever be able to vote for a Black person?
After Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination for president, Lewis said, “If someone had told me this would be happening now, I would have told them they were crazy, out of their mind, they didn’t know what they were talking about … I just wish the others were around to see this day. … To the people who were beaten, put in jail, killed, who were asked questions they could never answer [“Will I ever be able to vote for a Black person?” ] It’s amazing.”
Time magazine included him in list of “living saints.”
The last survivor of the “Big Six,” Lewis kept striving for black-white amity. Time magazine included him in a 1975 list of “living saints.” The New Republic in 1996 called him “the last integrationist.” Taylor Branch, a civil rights historian said: “His most distinguishing mark was steadfastness. He showed lifelong fidelity to the idea of one man, one vote – democracy as the defining purpose of the United States. “John Lewis saw racism as a stubborn gate in freedom’s way, but if you take seriously the democratic purpose, whites as well as blacks benefit. And he became a rather lonely guardian of nonviolence.”
On Inauguration Day 2009, Obama, the country’s first black president, gave Mr. Lewis a photo with the inscription: “Because of you, John.” It joined a memorabilia collection that included the pen President Lyndon B. Johnson handed him after signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. His last public appearance came at Black Lives Matter Plaza with D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser on a Sunday morning in June, two days after taping a virtual town hall online with former president Barack Obama.
John Lewis served the role of conscience of the Democratic caucus on many matters. His reputation as keeper of the 1960s flame defined his career in Congress. When President George H.W. Bush vetoed a bill easing requirements to bring employment discrimination suits in 1990, Mr. Lewis rallied support for its revival. It became law as the Civil Rights Act of 1991. It took a dozen years, but in 2003 he won authorization for construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall In 2012, when Rep. Paul C. Broun proposed eliminating funding for one aspect of the Voting Rights Act, Mr. Lewis denounced the move as “shameful.” The amendment died. President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died of pancreatic cancer: “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”
“We are living the wounds of many years of injustice”
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, joined his voice to those of other U.S. bishops in sorrow and pain brought on brought to the forefront by the death of George Floyd I Minneapolis. “We are living the wounds of many years of injustice.” See letter below. Or click Here.
U.S. Conference of Bishops chairmen issued a similar statement … “We are broken-hearted, sickened, and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes. What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences.” “This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion.
The coronavirus has been slower to take hold in Africa than on other continents according to the numbers released daily by the World Health Organization. But Nigeria is beginning to emerge as one of several places in Africa where the pandemic is taking its terrible toll. The Sisters Home Visitors of Mary are trying to cope – continuing their missions of serving, caring, teaching and daycare as best they can.
This post highlights recent activities of Sisters Patience and Monica at the St. Gabriel Chaplaincy located in the Durumi area of Abuja, capital of Nigeria. Srs Patience and Monica coordinate and teach catechism for children who attend local public and private schools. Classes are normally held on Saturday and Sunday afternoons but have currently been suspended.
As many as 130 students attend, divided into classes corresponding to their next upcoming sacrament: prayer class for the youngest children, Baptism class, First Holy Communion class and Confirmation class. Building a community of faith with lives centered on Christ and His teachings.
The Sisters Home Visitors of Mary in Nigeria appreciate your thoughts, prayers and support as Covid-19 ravages the world.
May 15 – 24 is Laudato Si’ week marking the 5th anniversary of Holy Father Pope Francis’ encyclical letter “Laudato Si’ – On Care For Our Common Home”. The opening words form a poetic picture of it’s powerful message on the care of our Home, the Earth:
“… our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”
The COVID-19 pandemic heightens our awareness that EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS CONNECTED. Let us together acknowledge and rejoice in that fact. And let us together – connected – build a better tomorrow on this earth. All it takes is one good person to restore hope! (Laudato Si’ #71)
You are invited to join with brothers and sisters around the world in the Prayer below at noon on May 24th. Who will you invite to share with you? Learn more about Laudato Si’ week at Catholic Climate Covenant.
Immigrants and their families often face a grueling reality in this global corona virus pandemic. This is a time, friends, when we are reminded that our suffering occurs in solidarity with one another and with all of creation. The words of Etty Hillesum, the Dutch writer and spiritual seeker who died in Auschwitz, may speak to our current condition: “I am not alone in my tiredness or sickness or fears, but at one with millions of others”.
See excellent current information resources for immigrants (and others!) HERE.
Strangers No Longeris reaching out for much needed support in this time of great need. Might you be able to donate part of your stimulus check?
Happy Easter! Yes, Happy Easter. As we experience the greatest of Christian holy days may you see the beauty of God around you and within you. Our Christian faith is centered in Life – as exemplified by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – despite the current suffering and dying around us. Through it all let us not lose sight of trust and hope. We are anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us hold each other in love and prayer along with the many families suffering at this time.
For those who are particularly vulnerable, we pray for safety and protection.
For all who experience fear or anxiety, we pray for peace of mind and spirit.
For affected families who are facing difficult decisions between food on the table or public safety, we pray for policies that recognize their plight.
For those who do not have adequate health insurance, we pray that no family will face financial burdens alone.
For those who are afraid to access care due to immigration status, we pray for recognition of the God-given dignity of all.
For our brothers and sisters around the world, we pray for shared solidarity.
For public officials and decision makers, we pray for wisdom and guidance.
Father, during this time may your Church be a sign of hope, comfort and love to all.
In the interview with “La Stampa” newspaper , published on Friday, Pope Francis speaks of the sorrow and pain that “everyone” is experiencing due to the coronavirus.
The only way to survive this situation, he says, is by sticking together. The Pope invites us to live this moment “with penance, compassion and hope”. We need “humility”, he adds, “because too often we forget” there are dark times in life as well. “We think they can only happen to someone else. But these times are dark for everyone”, he says. Pope Francis explains that the season of Lent “trains us to show solidarity with others, especially those who suffer”.
The Pope emphasizes the importance of prayer, recalling how the Apostles turn to Jesus to save them during the storm (Mark 4:35-41). “Prayer helps us understand our vulnerability”, he says. “It is the cry of those who are sinking, who feel they are in danger and alone. And in a difficult, desperate situation, it is important to know that the Lord is there to cling to”.
All are suffering
Pope Francis makes no distinction between “believers and non-believers”. People are weeping because they are suffering, he says. “Everyone” is suffering. “We are all children before God”, he adds.
A delightful afternoon was held at Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary convent in Detroit on February 16, 2020, when guest speaker Arlene Reese presented an entertaining lecture on “The Rivers of Detroit”. This friendly “Tea” event helped raise funds for HVM ministries in Nigeria. Guests mingled and enjoyed heavenly Tea and snacks prepared by HVM associates.
Arlene Reese is a gifted and energetic woman who is herself a poet and celebrated librarian at Detroit Public Library. Her lively presentation was based on her research at the library, including facts on the Detroit River’s role in the Underground Railroad, photos of items found on the bottom of the river over the years (!!!) and stories of the Boblo boats and the Purple Gang mobsters running rum from Windsor to Detroit during prohibition.
Ms. Reese’s presentation closed to long applause with her recitation of American writer Langston Hughes’ 1920 poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”:
I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.