Browsed by
Tag: justice

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.”

 

Mercy and Love

Mercy and Love

While my closest friends may be on the other end of the state, technology makes it quite convenient for us all to catch up with one another, and be in the same space together. At least, perhaps not the physical space, but at least operating in real time! My friends and I are doing a “book club” during Lent on the novel, Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson. Not an easy read, by any means. I’ve started the book, probably about four times now, and yet, each time, I find myself re-reading paragraphs, hesitant to move on from what I had just read. Processing each sentence takes time, and putting myself in the scene, is even more difficult to grasp.

I’m grateful for my friends, and that tonight on my drive home from my cousin’s house, I had time to catch up with my friends and laugh and catch up with one another. What started off as a joking, “Where did you see Christ in your life lately?” question (yeah…we do that), we ended up talking about it. And conversing about it. Our realities are all so different! From working in a high school, to another getting his PhD in Economics, to another working at a university, to another being a Vice Principal at a high school, we are all doing very different things, but the foundation for all of us are forever rooted in the same soil. Pretty awesome that we will forever have that to share with one another.

God has been working in these close friendships of mine – no matter the distance. Friendships that have lasted for over 10 years? Yes please. Thank you God, that I have friends that I can continually look to for support, guidance, love, and laughs!

Closed Doors, Sunshine, and Prayers

Closed Doors, Sunshine, and Prayers

We should always abandon ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with limitless confidence in His help. — Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Took off my earrings, put on one of my Mother Cabrini necklaces, put my missionary rosary ring in my pocket, and I was good to go.

As I was driving over, I remember praying to God and thinking: “God, why did you place it on my heart to serve the people at the jail? Couldn’t I just feel called to read books to children at  library?” I didn’t receive an answer back, so I spent the rest of my drive over in prayer. I figured that was all I could do at the time. So I drove on through, followed the signs, parked my car, and met up with the other catechists who were going to train me.

Walked through the metal gates, and I was there! After two visits to the Sheriff’s Office to eventually get my fingerprints approved, I was cleared. A day later, I was here, about to lead a communion service for some of the women in the jail.

Showed my ID, got my badge, and the door buzzed us in.

Prior to this experience, I was heavily involved with prison ministry in the Philippines, working with juveniles and women (sometimes men), and in New York, I accompanied Sr. Eileen, a Sister of Charity to Rikers Island (it’s a long post!). It had been over two years since my last experience in the jails (in the Philippines), but I was back. The setting here in California looks quite different.

So there I was, found our way to the Chaplain’s room, gathered our material and started getting a rundown on the facilities. Every six feet or so is another door that you have to wait at, before it will open for you to enter. Loud noises, green doors, friendly officers. Long corridors.

Did I mention loud doors? You can imagine how heavy the doors are in this place.

We got to the unit, we checked in, and I remember just staring. Staring at the cells and their closed doors, looking right back at the women whose faces were looking right at mine through the small windows, and then the officer made the announcement that the Catholic community was here for a communion service. The women came, helped us gather chairs and we started the service outside. The sun was shining, and it was hot, so we moved over to the shady area of the courtyard.

As soon as I sat down, and circled up with the women, I remember thinking to myself, “It’s good to be here.” And peace came over me. Whew!

We went through the communion service, up until we were reflecting on the Gospel. A few of the women started sharing their thoughts, and after about ten minutes, sure enough there was a lockdown. Ah!

A lockdown is when all visitors must leave and all inmates go back to their cells. As soon as I saw officers running and yelling, “lockdown! lockdown!,” I got up, and suddenly forgot what the protocol was! I remember hearing about it a couple of weeks ago at one of the orientations, and then I immediately forgot, being completely frazzled and freaked out at all of the commotion.

Eventually, we got to the exit, turned in our badges, got our IDs, and signed out. Just like that. (This is not a surprising scene. It happens fairly often! I just don’t know if I’ll get used to it!) I remember thinking to myself, “What in the world just happened?” One minute we were in prayer mode, and the next minute, boom – out the door we were!

The other two catechists and I finished the prayer service in the parking lot, and we consumed all of the hosts since they were already consecrated. So much Jesus running through my system! Lord knows I needed it at that moment.

I still couldn’t believe what I had experienced, but I remember driving back and thinking to myself, “Dear God, please take care of the women today.” As an outsider, processing what I had witnessed was difficult. Seeing these things and experiencing these things on a daily basis, I can’t even imagine.

I’m still in awe in some ways when I think about how God has placed this ministry on my heart. Why? Still, I have no idea, but I feel grateful to be blessed with this ministry and to be trusted with serving the community in this capacity.

Here we go! Prayers welcome. 🙂

 

Image: “Freedom” | CC BY 2.0

Kinship at The Mission in West Virginia

Kinship at The Mission in West Virginia

One of the days in West Virginia, my work crew and I spent the morning/afternoon at The Mission in Clarksburg. The Mission is a facility that provides food, clothing, various services (psychological, spiritual, social, etc.), and shelter. Upon learning more about the mission of The Mission, I became certain that this was a truly blessed place.

When we first arrived, we met members of The Mission community in the cafeteria. Pastor Chris was speaking about knocking on the door and Christ greeting us, and he challenged us to ask ourselves, “Would Christ know who you were if you knocked on the door?” Or would he say, “I don’t know you?” He challenged us to be open to Christ in our lives and to seek to know Him better too. The ten minute sermon that Pastor Chris gave to the community was enough to make the people say, AMEN. The passion and message that Pastor Chris gave was powerful. Some of the students said to me, “Why can’t Catholic Church be like this?”

We then went on a tour of The Mission, and I was in complete awe the entire time. He led us from the food pantry, which acts like a pseud0-distributor of resources to other organizations in need, then to  the donation center which collects different hygiene products, clothes, and other items that others may be in need of. Here, he told us something very powerful, “Our goal here, is to not have to say “no” to anyone. Some people come in and they ask for some cans of food or hygiene items, and before we could even say anything, they say, but I don’t have ID. Is that OK?” He continued to say, “The way we see it here at The Mission is that it doesn’t matter. ID or not, we’ll try to help you out. Jesus’ Kingdom does not work with IDs, and if we’re going to do His work, we have to be open to anyone and everyone at the same time.” Sometimes people come to The Mission asking for help paying their electricity bill. If The Mission isn’t able to help, sometimes they will post these needs on Facebook, and sure enough, help comes along.

WHAT?!?! It was pretty amazing.

Afterwards, he led us to the Computer Lab room where different meetings happen and this is a place for people to come in and look for job opportunities and do research for other needs that they may have. Later, he took us downstairs to the clothing distribution center, which was a HUGE warehouse that packed 1100 lbs of used clothing into these firm stacks, and they would ship them off to be sold to developing countries, and all proceeds go right back to The Mission. The Mission also has a thrift shop too, to continue its self-sustainable efforts. Pretty cool!

IMG_0685
Bales of clothing ready to be shipped off!

Before we were led to the warehouse of packed clothing, Pastor Chris took us downstairs. I didn’t quite know where we were going, but before I knew it, we were in a huge room with 36 bunk beds, and this, we were later told, was the shelter for men who needed a place to stay. Some stay in the Welcome Room for days, weeks, months, sometimes years. When there is another vacancy, another person is welcomed to take his spot. There was also a room set aside for females too.

This place just blew my mind. Everywhere we went, Pastor Chris truly reflected the face of Christ. He knew people’s names, he addressed them by name, even those who were suffering with schizophrenia on the streets, gave them time, and attended to them, even while he was taking us on a tour. In a way, it reminded me of Father Greg Boyle and how he reminds us about kinship. Pastor Chris knew kinship. He reflected that, and it was beautiful to witness.

IMG_0702
The Mission: Clarksburg, WV

That day at The Mission, I saw a different side of the West Virginia region that I otherwise would not have been able to imagine. Grateful to have been invited to share in the lives of the people I met at The Mission that beautiful Thursday.

 

In Light of Recent Events…

In Light of Recent Events…

 

Dialogue.

I, too, have been following the Zimmerman case since it began, and it has become pretty standard that our household TV would be set to the news to stay updated on the latest happenings in the trial. Well, the verdict has been reached. The cases have been made, the jury has deliberated, and the responses continue on social media, the TV, newspaper, and in dinner conversations. And that’s not even it!

‘The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.’ – Malcolm X

…Please use media responsibly.

Right now, I wish I was in a classroom and my professor would tell me that my assignment would be to study the media and its role and influence in the Zimmerman case. I would also like to write a paper on the inappropriate, incorrect names that were provided to the TV station regarding the Asiana plane crash as well as the slew of racial jokes, slurs, and comments that followed that tragedy. AND conduct research as to why those comments are so easily embraced and retweeted among individual members of society. That would only be the beginning! At the same time, I also want to do research on the increase of cyber-sex trafficking that is on the rise in Southeast Asia, as internet cafes continue to pop up like mushrooms, with young boys increasingly becoming victims as much as young women.

Ugh!

No, I am not in a classroom (yet!), but my background in media criticism (at least as vouched through USD), desires to investigate these stories more closely, and start uncovering more bits of truth as to what’s really going on here. What’s happening underneath it all?

DSC_6795

Perhaps, in a way, this would be more of a personal search to find truth in these events, and start organizing concrete solutions, create action steps, and get movin’ on making societal change. Dialogue is so good, but only when it happens. Listening. Speaking. Listening more.

I was happy to find two responses to the Zimmerman case from:

  • NETWORK Lobby (a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace—educates, organizes and lobbies for economic and social transformation) and the
  • Institute Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy (an international community of Roman Catholic women whose mission is emphasized through the Spiritual and Corporal Acts of Mercy)

…but have yet to find other notable responses from other Catholic women religious congregations. Or other notable Catholic religious congregations who I assume pray for peace and justice in our world on a daily basis. What is their response? Not a criticism, but just an observation.

IMG_1363

The other day during our morning rosary at Church, the group stated their prayer intentions. Everyone went around, prayed for their families, illnesses, good health – all really important things. I prayed for the Zimmerman case and for the families, and all communities that have and will be affected by this case. I mean, let’s face it – the verdict happened that evening prior. It was pretty fresh. As I spoke, the group nodded and I heard people say, “oh yeah…” Afterwards, someone said to me, “oh! I was surprised that you brought that up!”

Why? ‘Cause it’s controversial?

It was in that moment that I thought to myself – we go to church, join in community, sing songs, pray, spend time with Jesus, but then, as we sit down in the pews, do we forget what’s going on around us and go with our tunnel vision? We can’t afford to do that. There’s too much work to be done.

I feel like the headlines give great testament (depends which station and paper!) to important current events that truly need our immediate attention, prayer, thoughts, and action. Yes, we need to build up ourselves so that we can better serve others, and speak, and collaborate and empower, but let’s not get stuck in that. Mother Cabrini prayed with one hand on the Bible and one hand on the newspaper. She had it right. And the sisters continue that practice! Perhaps we can also start incorporating that into our routine?

…ok, that was a sidenote. 🙂

IMG_1598

In light of what has been happening locally and internationally, there is still goodness, and I believe, a whole lot of hope. Otherwise, why or how could we keep going? How would the dialogue continue? Movements are happening.

I am happy for the convictions that have appeared on my Facebook newsfeed, regardless of individual opinions with regards to the latest news happenings. Yes, I have chosen to dismiss many comments and later resorted to “deleting” friends because of my low patience for misinformed and ongoing rants, but others, I applaud for their well-thought out statements and examining of the issues (to whatever extent they are capable of). At least there are people paying attention!

A vast majority of us have smartphones, or phones with access to social media sites, and unknowingly, have power with the messages we choose to share, articles we choose to circulate, and ideas we desire to spread. I hope we all take that seriously and start taking responsibility for our actions and influence in society.

Please use media responsibly.