On Sunday, March 12th, over 100 parishioners and people from the community participated in a workshop on immigration hosted by Holy Spirit Church in Fairfield, California. Attorney and Catholic Charities board member Miriam Sammartino answered questions about the latest executive orders from the White House, how to respond if stopped by immigration, and how to be best prepared in a time of uncertainty.
Fairfield Interim Police Chief Randy Fenn and four officers participated in the workshop and pledged to work with the church and Common Ground to build a better relationship between law enforcement and the community.Read more
Before 150 leaders participating in an interfaith forum on refugee resettlement, Or Chadash leader (and immigration lawyer) Fred Klein told the story of Jewish refugees on the MS St. Louis ocean liner prior to the start of World War II. The refugees, all attempting to escape Germany, were not permitted to dock in Cuba or in the US, and had to return to Europe where many died in concentration camps. Mr. Klein argued that halting refugee resettlement for months is comparably immoral and will likely lead to many refugee deaths.
After presentations by speakers from the International Rescue Committee, Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Social Services, the 150 participants divided into 12 small groups for conversation on what constitutes a refugee, what the vetting process is like and how long placement usually takes. Participants are deliberating potential courses of collective action in the face of current refugee challenges.
"On June 17, Sr. Pearl Ceasar will assume her role as superior general of the Sisters of Providence, a congregation that spans the U.S. Southwest, Missouri, Colorado, California and Mexico.
After 40 years of community organizing, Ceasar is now working on transitioning out of her position as executive director of Project QUEST (Quality Employment through Skills Training), a workforce-development intermediary in San Antonio that prepares people for living-wage jobs.
But before diving in with grand plans as to the direction of her congregation, Ceasar said she plans to meet all the sisters individually "and see where their energies are.""Read more
COPA's organizing effort in East Salinas drew immigrants from the shadows for a meeting at St. Mary of the Nativity Catholic Church. The effort focused on relationship building, organized people and targeted action.
Seminary students of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific saw the power of story in action when they witnessed an assembly organized by the Marin Organizing Committee as part of the curriculum of a 5-day training. Said Portia Hopkins, a first year student in the MDiv program, “There was an enormous amount of power in the way they gathered people into circles and encouraged them to share their stories,” she said. The elected leaders who attended were visibly moved by the stories, says Hopkins, as was she.
Rev. Rafael Pereira of the Diocese of Nevada, a student in that diocese’s local formation program, said the event had biblical meaning. “The action at San Rafael was exactly living out the Gospel when Jesus fed the 5,000. It was a rainy day...and I could compare my feelings with the disciples, when they questioned Jesus. I thought that just a few people were going to show up due to the weather. When we got there and saw the large crowd, we became one community working together for justice and the needs of our brothers and sisters, for the common good."
Twenty-five parents, teachers, church members and school staff walked the North Elementary attendance area this past Saturday in Brighton and spoke with dozens of parents in the community. The walk was organized by the Colorado IAF in partnership with the Brighton Education Association and Northern Hills Church in Brighton.
The purpose of the walk was to strengthen relationships between the school and the community, increase parental engagement and, ultimately, make North Elementary the best it can be!
Southern Arizona leaders joined the Catholic Diocese of Tucson and Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization for a 3-day leadership development training conducted in Spanish with the support of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). The training was co-sponsored by the Interfaith Education Fund.
[In photo, Fr. Viliulfo Valderrama and organizer Ana Chavarin kick off training session.]
As part of a larger leadership development effort in the Northeast San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, the Southern California Education Fund is working with potential leaders at Roscoe Elementary School, educating them about Alliance School methods and practices to help them strengthen their institutional capacity.
One Sunday, over 60 people from current and potential Marin Organizing Committee institutions, that the Bay Area Organizing Committee (BAOC) trains, gathered for a research action around housing - and the effects of the housing crisis on children's education. There were stories of new mothers evicted for no reason within a week of giving birth, and school districts having difficulty hiring and retaining teachers because of the high cost of living.
Linda Jackson, trustee on the San Rafael School Board, and Mary Jane Burke, Marin Superintendent of Schools, both made commitments to help leaders get connected to other power institutions and key players in Marin.
Looking for a way to create a "tighter fit between the life of faith and public life," the Very Reverend W. Mark Richardson of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley turned to community organizers prepared the Interfaith Education Fund to help train its seminarians.
Says Rev. Susanna Singer, "Bishops were saying increasingly that community organizing is a good thing." The creation faith, she argues, is about God's vision of flourishing for humanity and the cosmos. "It means that the body of Christ, which is us now, has got to get out there now and be involved in the communities in which we live because that's where God's dream is going to come true."
"The intention is to train ordinary people both in giving them a conceptual framework for thinking about issues of power and self-interest and leadership as well as some of the practical skills of engaging people who are different than you out in the broader world," says Anna Eng, lead organizer for the Bay Area IAF.
The Church Divinity School of the Pacific not only offers the 6-day course each year in January, it participates as a member in the Bay Area IAF organization.
[In photo is the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson sitting in a class. Photo Credit: Episcopal News Service]
CDSP Prepares Seminarians for Public Life, Episcopal News Service
Public Ministry in Practice, Episcopal News Service