Leaders from 22 parishes and missions in the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville and 5 local nonprofits, participated in bilingual 'Recognizing the Stranger' leadership training sponsored by CCHD, the Organizers Institute and Mission & Ministry Impact. They were joined by Bishop Daniel Flores who spoke at length about the Synod, the disciplined art of listening it requires and what it will take to rebuild the church.
Ministry leaders from several counties learned how to put their faith in action through institutional organizing practices designed to strengthen their parishes and fortify their communities. The sessions covered baptism and the mission of the church, relational power and how to build an institutional team to carry out the work of the Church by examining the work of Nehemiah.
With support from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), and as part of the second phase of the Recognizing the Stranger strategy, parish leaders from California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington participated in a two-day meeting to prepare to lead training sessions for Spanish-Speaking immigrants.
The training focused on the "Eucharist at Corinth," a fundamental component of the leadership development curriculum. The training was hosted by the Souther California Education FUnd (SCEF) in Los Angeles, California.
Almost three dozen clergy, religious and lay leaders from Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and Mississippi convened at Holy Trinity Catholic to learn how to teach key pieces of the Recognizing the Stranger curriculum.
Sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), 'Train the Trainer' sessions like these are designed to expand the training capacity of the effort as the strategy reaches into nineteen dioceses across the US.
Sessions were led by senior organizers of the Organizers Institute of the South and West IAF and included in-depth discussion of theological reflections on the Eucharist at Corinth and the Beatitudes.
At a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) General Assembly reception in Baltimore, Pima County Interfaith (PCI) organizer Ana Chavarin was awarded the Cardinal Joseph Bernadin New Leadership Award. Each year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) honors individuals, like Ana, who "demonstrate leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions."
Having worked with PCI for the past four years, Ana was originally nominated by the Diocese of Tucson’s Office of Human Life & Dignity. Said Sr. Leonette Kochan, the department's former director: “Ana's Catholic faith motivates and inspires her role as a parent, faith community member, and leader in the wide range of social outreach initiatives in which she participates. Her courageous determination and the support of others found expression in her life of service to others, especially in programs that empower the lives of others. As a person who faces economic struggles as a single parent of four children, Ana also leads by example in balancing family life with work, while pursuing a college degree.”
In 2018 she won a US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) award for Hispanic Catholic Leaders and was also recognized by the Arizona Daily Star for her community achievements (see links further below).
[In photo, Ana Chavarin prepares Spanish-speaking parish ministers for leadership. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Alliance for the Common Good.]
Once Cheated, Community Leader Now Helps Others Speak with United Voice, Catholic News Service [pdf]
Neto's Tucson: Ana Chavarin is a Single Mom, an Immigrant and a Success, Arizona Daily Star [pdf]
Only a few months after Spanish-language leadership development training was held in collaboration with the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, immigrant parents have begun to organize to better advocate for their children in public schools.
An opportunity emerged when Sandra, a member of El Carmen Catholic Church in San Antonio, attempted to join her son at his elementary school for lunch. She was barred from entering the campus due to a district policy that parents present a Texas ID. Sandra does not have -- and cannot obtain -- a Texas ID. When COPS/Metro leaders requested a meeting with the Superintendent to discuss the policy, they were denied.
Soon, close to 70 COPS/Metro leaders from El Carmen Catholic joined Sandra at the next Southside ISD School Board meeting and stood by her as she directly addressed the board. “I want to be part of his education. I want to be there every step of the way. But the district is not allowing me to do so at this time, and I would like that to change.” COPS/Metro is requesting a change to the policy so that all parents can access their children's schools.
That night, the Board President alerted leaders that the Board would work with COPS/Metro to resolve the issue. Officials from the district also agreed meet with leaders to resolve the issue.
[Photo Credit: Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio]
San Antonio Parents Without Texas IDs Barred from Southside ISD Schools, Texas Public Radio
Southside ISD's ID Policy Has Some Parents Complaining it Leaves Them Out of Kid's Schooling, San Antonio Express-News
"...parishes are strengthened, unified, and revitalized."
With a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the Interfaith Education Fund piloted a program in fall of 2016 called Recognizing the Stranger, a multiyear regional approach to the immigration issue, in seven southwestern dioceses.
This year, it is expanding into 19 dioceses across the west and southwest US. Says Senior IAF Organizer Joe Rubio, "The Recognizing the Stranger strategy works with local parishes to identify, train, and mentor immigrant leaders to build connections among themselves and with nonimmigrant allies in their parishes and the broader community. It’s a collaborative effort among clergy, leaders, and organizers to develop capacity to tackle tough issues."
According to CCHD Director Ralph McCloud, "Recognizing the Stranger is particularly successful because it captures the connections between what happens at Mass on Sunday morning, how families live their lives throughout the week, and how parishioners interact with members of the broader community. I have been impressed that participants seek true change. In the process, parishes are strengthened, unified, and revitalized."
Click links below for local stories of parish work and additional details about the strategy.
Program Trains Leaders to Put Faith into Action, Texas Catholic - Dallas
Milestones: Catholic Campaign, TMO Offers Leadership Training for Hispanic Parishioners, Texas Catholic Herald - Houston
Parish IDs Bring Relief to Immigrant Community, Dallas Catholic Magazine
ID Parroquiales Traen Alivio a Comunidad Inmigrante, Revista Católica de Dallas
Spanish-Speaking Leaders from Archdiocese of Los Angeles Join Bishop for Training on Habits & Practices of Leadership
Thanks to a generous grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Interfaith Education Fund, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Archdiocese and local organizations One LA and ICON, prepared 76 immigrant leaders in the habits and practices of leadership.
The two-day training, held at John Bosco Tech High was organized to allow participants to reflect and act on the mission of the church for the greater good of our communities. Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell joined the trainees on both days of the course, inspiring many to take next steps to become leaders in their parishes.
85 Spanish-speaking leaders from twelve immigrant Catholic parishes participated in a three-day leadership development training to prepare to engage fellow parishioners -- both documented and undocumented -- in the formation of a strategy that responds to the interests of immigrants, and the community as a whole. The training was delivered in collaboration with the Dallas Area Interfaith, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). [In photo, Auxillary Bishop Greg Kelly stands with participants who completed the training.]
Upon completion of the training the leaders committed to working with Dallas Catholic Bishop Edward J. Burns on his newly formed Immigration Task Force, and to organize in their parishes around congregational needs.
Follow up meetings with clergy, immigration, law enforcement officials and elected officials have been scheduled since the training.
The training was co-sponsored by the Interfaith Education Fund.
Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church hosted the Southern Arizona Interfaith - PCICEO Hispanic Leaders group for a training on "Poder." Twenty-five leaders, many of which attended a 3-day Spanish training last November, discussed power, conducted house meetings and planned for the future with Fr. Vili Valderrama. Participating parishes included: St. Cyril’s, Sacred Heart, St. Monica’s, St. Augustine Cathedral, St. Christopher’s, Our Lady of Fatima, Sacred Heart, St. John’s and San Martin de Porres.
Those who attended the November training are now organizing sessions on immigration and other topics in their parishes, including a Know Your Rights and Citizenship forum put together by the leadership team of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church with Catholic Community Services (in right photo). Immigration lawyer Amy Fairchild-Haer dispelled common rumors and answered questions. Msgr. Raul Trevizo, Pat Alvarez, Sofia Rodriguez and Lorena Santos led house meetings and distributed a “Plan de Preparacion” for parish members.
Training was also conducted at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic and St. Cyril of Alexandria Catholic churches.
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.]