We live in turbulent and unsettling times. We seem to speak more of what divides us instead of the underlying values that unite us. We can all too readily become vindictive, harsh, and petty. At Catholic Charities, our staff and volunteers strive to be a counterpoint to the tone and tenor of our times. We strive to double down on our mission, which is to serve the poor and marginalized, advocate for social justice, and call all people to the ministry of Christ. Combining that determination with great joy, faith, and love, we embrace both the challenges and opportunities of 2019. What follows is an update on our programs as we begin the new year. … See the full article
Update, 11:45 a.m. Jan. 10: Sister Norma Pimentel is now scheduled to meet with President Trump on Thursday during his trip to the border, according to Brenda Nettles Riojas, diocesan relations director for the Diocese of Brownsville.
Dear Mr. President,
We welcome you to our community here in South Texas along the Rio Grande, which connects the United States to Mexico. I wish you could visit us. Our downtown Humanitarian Respite Center has been welcoming newcomers for the past four years.
When families cross the border, they are typically apprehended by authorities, held for a few days and released with a court date to consider their request for asylum. After they are released, we receive them at our respite center. By the time they find their way to our doors, most adults are wearing Border Patrol-supplied ankle bracelets and carrying bulky chargers to keep those devices powered up.
Helping these families has been our work since 2014, when tens of thousands of people, primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crossed into the United States through the Rio Grande Valley Sector, creating a humanitarian emergency in our community. Before the respite center opened, dozens of immigrant families, hungry, scared and in a foreign land, huddled at the bus station with only the clothes on their back, nothing to eat or drink, and nowhere to shower or sleep. They waited hours and sometimes overnight for their buses.
Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley first opened the center at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen and worked collaboratively with city officials and other faith denominations and nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army and the Food Bank, to provide newly arrived immigrants with some basic necessities. We have moved to a bigger facility since.
Every day of the year, from morning to evening, families coming over the border are welcomed at our center with smiles, a warm bowl of soup, a shower and a place to rest. Most families are exhausted and afraid, carrying little more than a few belongings in a plastic bag. They come in all forms and at all ages. Few speak any English. Most are in great need of help. Some days, we see 20 people. Other days, it’s closer to 300. In recent weeks, it has been very busy. Some stay a few hours, but many spend the night before heading on to new destinations. Since we opened, more than 100,000 have come through our doors.
We work closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Rio Grande Valley Sector, and our team has cultivated a culture of mutual respect and dialogue. Our center staff, in communication with the Border Patrol, prepares to receive groups of immigrants who have been released. We try to meet the need. It is vital that we keep our country safe, and I appreciate the work of the men and women in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection who are vigilant as to who enters our country. I pray for them daily.
Mr. President, if you come early in the morning, here is what you will see: The families who have spent the night are tidying up their sleeping spaces. Some are sweeping, some are helping prepare breakfast, and some are getting ready for their bus departure to other places in the United States. You will see volunteers arriving to offer a hand either preparing hygiene packets, making sandwiches, cutting vegetables, preparing the soup for the day or sorting through donated clothing. Others may assist with the intake or help a mother or father contact family living in the United States. People come from all over the state and beyond to help.
Later in the day, you will meet some of the children who are playing in our small play yard and the mothers and fathers who are watching over them. Some will be resting, as for many of them this is the first place since they left their home countries where they feel safe.
In the evening, another group of volunteers arrives to cook and serve a simple dinner of pizza or tacos, beans and rice, Sometimes local restaurants donate the dinner. Either way, the families who will remain for the night have a meal and prepare to sleep. In the morning, we send them on their way, a little better off but armed with a sign (that we give them) that reads: “ PLEASE HELP ME. I DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH. WHAT BUS DO I TAKE? THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!”
I am energized each day by the families I meet, especially the children. I am energized as well by the volunteers. They come from our local communities but also from across the United States. We witness daily how, working together, people of all faiths can focus on helping the person in front of us. Regardless of who we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.
As the Most Rev. Daniel E. Flores, bishop of our diocese, says, “We must put human dignity first.”
Sr. Norma’s letter appeared in the Washington Post on January 9,2019
Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota has an immediate opening in its Rochester office for a part-time Caseworker (32 hrs/week with the probability for additional hours) in its Guardian/Conservator Program.
The caseworker advocates for and acts on behalf of clients deemed incapacitated by the court. This position is responsible for case planning, obtaining and implementation of services, timely maintenance of case notes and files, and adherence to court deadlines. The caseworker will have regular contact with clients and providers and share the responsibility of the on-call service.
The successful candidate will have a strong desire to work with individuals in a manner that promotes their dignity and sense of self worth, be creative, organized, show ability to multi-task and possess a real passion for helping others. They must have the ability to meet deadlines and possess strong verbal and written communication skills.
Requirements include a BSW or BA in related field and have at least two years of practical experience in working with persons with mental illness and disabilities. The ideal candidate should be efficient, able to problem solve, and demonstrate leadership and collaboration.
Please email resume, cover letter, and a list of three work-related references to Pam Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org by January 25, 2019. No phone calls please.
“Rise up; take with thee the Child and His Mother and flee to Egypt.” – Matt 2:13
Mary and Joseph needed to leave Bethlehem hurriedly, leaving behind necessary items as they prepared for a long and difficult journey. They left as many refugees do in our world today—with the threat of death overshadowing them! …
Who: Katie Powell from Joint Religious Legislative Coalition
What: A profile on poverty in the Winona area
Where: St. Mary’s Church – The Commons
When: Monday, January 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Optional Potluck: 5:30 p.m. in the Commons. Main meal provided. Bring a dish to pass
Katie Powell is the Statewide Organizer at the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition — an interfaith advocacy non-profit that works to advance the common good at the Minnesota State Capitol. Katie spends most of her time working with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities and individuals across the state.
Before joining the team at JRLC, Katie worked in direct service at a food bank, overseeing programming for food insecure neighbors, and at a public benefits law firm, where she worked with people with disabilities to make sense of social safety net programs.
These experiences led her to advocacy work, where she is reminded regularly of the need to create a future that provides economic stability for all Minnesotans.
Charlie Warner of the The Bluff Country Newspaper Group wrote a great article about the SAIL program.
Every Monday and Wednesday morning the basement fellowship area of the Canton-Scotland Presbyterian Church is a flurry of activity. Various types of upbeat music, including polkas, ‘50s and ‘60s rock and roll and country western swing can be heard. No, it’s not a hootenanny. And no, it’s not a fledgling garage band practicing for its first gig.
Some 15 to 20 senior citizens spend an hour bending, stretching, lifting weights and dancing in an effort to improve their balance, strength and fitness.
They are participating in the SAIL Program, sponsored by Catholic Charities of Southeast Minnesota. SAIL stands for Stay Active and Independent for Life. The program, designed to keep seniors energized and fit, is funded through grants from the State of Minnesota. …