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Si, Se Puede!

Si, Se Puede!

Above Photo taken from KPCC

Today we celebrate Cesar Chavez and we are grateful to his leadership as a role model for social justice and nonviolence. What many do not know is that Cesar Chavez, is that he joined the Filipino worker strikes as well.

Here’s an excerpt from the United Farm Workers website on the strike:

The 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike and Boycott

On September 8, 1965, Filipino American grape workers, members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, walked out on strike against Delano-area table and wine grape growers protesting years of poor pay and conditions. The Filipinos asked Cesar Chavez, who led a mostly Latino farm workers union, the National Farm Workers Association, to join their strike.

Cesar and the leaders of the NFWA believed it would be years before their fledgling union was ready for a strike. But he also knew how growers historically pitted one race against another to break field walkouts. Cesar’s union voted to join the Filipino workers’ walkouts on Mexican Independence Day, September 16, 1965. From the beginning this would be a different kind of strike.

–Cesar insisted the Latino and Filipino strikers work together, sharing the same picketlines, strike kitchens and union hall.

–He asked strikers take a solemn vow to remain nonviolent.

–The strike drew unprecedented support from outside the Central Valley, from other unions, church activists, students, Latinos and other minorities, and civil rights groups.

–Cesar led a 300-mile march, or perigrinacion, from Delano to Sacramento. It placed the farm workers’ plight squarely before the conscience of the American people.

–The strikers turned to boycotts, including table grapes, which eventually spread across North America.

But Cesar knew the strikers’ greatest weapon was simply their decision not to quit, to persevere no matter what the odds or how long it would take. The strikers had to be prepared to risk everything—beginning with their financial security.

Here’s another article on the strike.

Today, we pray that we may have the same boldness and confidence in social justice that Cesar Chavez modeled for us through his commitment to working on behalf of human rights and human dignity.

Here is another one of my favorite quotes from him:

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”


L’Arche: A Place of Grace

L’Arche: A Place of Grace

Today, my student caught me off-guard as she comes into my office, stands in front of me, and says, “Ms. Catalan, can we talk about something?” I say, “Sure, of course! Aren’t you in class right now?” “Yes,” she answered, “but it’s for class, so my teacher said it was OK.” I asked her what she needed help with and she replied, “I need to process our L’Arche trip for my project.” Here we go!!

The topic: Grace. Wow – not an easy topic, but in some ways, not a difficult topic either – rather, a topic that causes pause, reflection, and contemplation when explored deeply.

In that moment, we reminisced about the trip, shared highlights and unpacked them a bit more. Why does that moment stick out to you? What did you learn in that moment? What is challenging about what you encountered? How will you allow that experience to affect your future interactions with others or affect the way you view the world?  A couple of kleenex later, the connections started to be made between the dots, and shortly after, she came back to ask follow-up questions.

Some of us will never be able to go inwards and reflect on deeply moving encounters and experiences. For high school students to take this upon themselves and acknowledge the need to process experiences…wow – I am moved. I am grateful that my workplace cares about our students enough and so values the education found in immersion trips, that these trips are ingrained within our school’s values. I am grateful that I can talk faith topics and social justice topics with students, and these conversations are encouraged. I am also grateful to be a part of immersion trip experiences that I am confident will stay with my students and perhaps shape them in amazing ways for the rest of their lives. That in itself is pure gift!

What a beautiful day this was!

Right Relationship [ethical trade]

Right Relationship [ethical trade]

When placed in the right company, my adrenaline will rush, my excitement level will increase, and I am ready to get to work! That’s exactly what happened tonight, as our Global Solidarity Team discussed our upcoming Ethical Trade Workshop that will launch the Ethical Trade initiative in the Diocese. Catholic Relief Services has recently shifted their “Fair Trade” component to “Ethical Trade” and our Ethical Trade Ambassadors are ready to showcase this in a month. I’m so excited about it!

Rather than simply focusing on how to determine what is considered “ethical trade,” or “fair trade,” this Workshop will focus on what it means to be in right relationship with others, and how this is directly related to our decisions as consumers. What is the connection between us and the earth? How can we be in right relationship with others, while being conscious of our choices in this world?

I saw God today in the energy and enthusiasm in the room for these things that are so important. In a culture that is always seeking the most recent updated product, seeking the most flashiest, coolest, most cutting edge product(s), learning about ethical trade has drastically changed the way I view things.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

In this Lenten season, I am brought back to reflect on my needs vs. wants. I am brought back to think about the very hands that make the items I wear. While I don’t think it is prudent of me to dispose of all of my clothes which are not ethically made (probably an upwards of 90%+ of the items I own), I can certainly limit the amount of purchases I make, especially if it is not essential.

I am a work in progress, aren’t we all?! Learning more about ethical trade is so interesting to me, and I am looking forward to hosting an awesome workshop for our Diocese. More to come!


Who Will Tell Your Story?

Who Will Tell Your Story?

This evening, I had the great opportunity to watch Hamilton at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. I have seen many musicals in my time, and Hamilton was simply AMAZING! I was blown away by the musical – choreography, lyrics, music, ENERGY…it was so powerful and intense! I loved each of the musical numbers, but three lines notably stuck out to me from the song, “Who Lives, Who Does, Who Tells Your Story.”

And when my time is up
Have I done enough?
Will they tell my story?

I often reflect on the life I lead, and seek to make sense of the things I did well, and the things I did not handle so well. Perhaps that’s why I am grateful for the Examen. This provides me with a daily exercise that I can use either at the end of the day, or even throughout the day. The relationships I hold in my life can hopefully point towards what the story of my life is, and I seek my best to maintain those relationships the best I can. I often get caught in busy-ness, however, I believe many of those busy times are spent with people I care about – through work, ministry, and personal life. I think that’s a good thing!

I do hope though, that my story contains the words: she did the best she could with the gifts she had.

Pray for the Farmers

Pray for the Farmers

Pictured: Coffee beans from the hills of Yagyagan in Northern Luzon, Philippines

It’s been a super busy week with different events going on at school, but I am so grateful that each of the “busy” things I have going on right now, are really good things. Sure, there’s the tedious busy work that just needs to get done…and not all of it is super fun, but today, we had the great privilege of having Javier from JSM Organics come and share his story AND FLOWERS with us!

Many of us don’t take time to think about where our vegetables, fruits, and flowers come from. I know that prior to a few years ago, I never took extra time to think about the origins of my clothes, or why Forever 21 was so cheap or thought twice about the difference between organic and non-organic food. Learn more about Ethical Trade (via Catholic Relief Services) here!

Javier shared his experiences about what life was like as a farmer starting off on low wages, and now, shares his current set-up as a landowner who runs an organic farm and provides his farmers with just wages. Researching the different videos out there and reading about the plight of migrant farmers, especially here in California is mind-blowing to me. Who knew that California farms (specifically in Salinas, CA) provide the majority of strawberries and lettuce that are distributed to the rest of the United States?!?

I have yet to visit the farms and meet the migrant workers, but I know that many parishes in the Diocese take time to meet these farmers and do work alongside them. I hope to make a visit this year!

One thing is for certain: Every time I say a prayer before eating our meal, I take time to recognize the hands that truly brought the food to our table. From the farm, to the cashier at the grocery, there are many hands involved, and unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I know that there were unfair wages paid.

This past April, Pope Francis focused his prayer intention on Farmers: