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FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

Pope Francis declared a World Day of The Poor to be celebrated every year on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The Pope’s message (see below) is rich and challenging.  He is once again calling on Christians to seek out the poor and marginalized. His message on the importance of encounter is at the center of this document.  How are you, your church and your community responding to the Pope’s challenge?  We would love to hear what you or your church are planning…let us know! -James Murphy, Catholic Worker

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
19 November 2017

 Let us love, not with words but with deeds

 

  1. “Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn3:18).  These words of the Apostle John voice an imperative that no Christian may disregard.  The seriousness with which the “beloved disciple” hands down Jesus’ command to our own day is made even clearer by the contrast between the empty words so frequently on our lips and the concrete deeds against which we are called to measure ourselves.  Love has no alibi.  Whenever we set out to love as Jesus loved, we have to take the Lord as our example; especially when it comes to loving the poor.  The Son of God’s way of loving is well-known, and John spells it out clearly.  It stands on two pillars: God loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:10.19), and he loved us by giving completely of himself, even to laying down his life (cf. 1 Jn 3:16).

Such love cannot go unanswered.  Even though offered unconditionally, asking nothing in return, it so sets hearts on fire that all who experience it are led to love back, despite their limitations and sins.  Yet this can only happen if we welcome God’s grace, his merciful charity, as fully as possible into our hearts, so that our will and even our emotions are drawn to love both God and neighbour.  In this way, the mercy that wells up – as it were – from the heart of the Trinity can shape our lives and bring forth compassion and works of mercy for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in need.

  1. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him” (Ps34:6).  The Church has always understood the importance of this cry.  We possess an outstanding testimony to this in the very first pages of the Acts of the Apostles, where Peter asks that seven men, “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (6:3), be chosen for the ministry of caring for the poor.  This is certainly one of the first signs of the entrance of the Christian community upon the world’s stage: the service of the poor.  The earliest community realized that being a disciple of Jesus meant demonstrating fraternity and solidarity, in obedience to the Master’s proclamation that the poor areblessedand heirs to the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3).

“They sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45).  In these words, we see clearly expressed the lively concern of the first Christians.  The evangelist Luke, who more than any other speaks of mercy, does not exaggerate when he describes the practice of sharing in the early community.  On the contrary, his words are addressed to believers in every generation, and thus also to us, in order to sustain our own witness and to encourage our care for those most in need.  The same message is conveyed with similar conviction by the Apostle James.  In his Letter, he spares no words: “Listen, my beloved brethren.  Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?  But you have dishonoured the poor man.  Is it not the rich who oppress you, and drag you into court? … What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works?  Can his faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled”, without giving them the things needed for the body; what does it profit?  So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead’ (2:5-6.14-17).

  1. Yet there have been times when Christians have not fully heeded this appeal, and have assumed a worldly way of thinking.  Yet the Holy Spirit has not failed to call them to keep their gaze fixed on what is essential. He has raised up men and women who, in a variety of ways, have devoted their lives to the service of the poor.  Over these two thousand years, how many pages of history have been written by Christians who, in utter simplicity and humility, and with generous and creative charity, have served their poorest brothers and sisters!

The most outstanding example is that of Francis of Assisi, followed by many other holy men and women over the centuries.  He was not satisfied to embrace lepers and give them alms, but chose to go to Gubbio to stay with them.  He saw this meeting as the turning point of his conversion: “When I was in my sins, it seemed a thing too bitter to look on lepers, and the Lord himself led me among them and I showed them mercy.  And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of mind and body” (Text 1-3: FF 110).  This testimony shows the transformative power of charity and the Christian way of life.

We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our occasional volunteer work, or of impromptu acts of generosity that appease our conscience.  However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people’s needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life.  Our prayer and our journey of discipleship and conversion find the confirmation of their evangelic authenticity in precisely such charity and sharing.  This way of life gives rise to joy and peace of soul, because we touch with our own hands the flesh of Christ.  If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist.  The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.  Saint John Chrysostom’s admonition remains ever timely: “If you want to honour the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honour the Eucharistic Christ with silk vestments, and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness” (Hom. in Matthaeum, 50.3: PG 58).

We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.  Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.

  1. Let us never forget that, for Christ’s disciples, poverty is above all acall to follow Jesus in his own poverty.  It means walking behind him and beside him, a journey that leads to the beatitude of the Kingdom of heaven (cf.Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20).  Poverty means having a humble heart that accepts our creaturely limitations and sinfulness and thus enables us to overcome the temptation to feel omnipotent and immortal.  Poverty is an interior attitude that avoids looking upon money, career and luxury as our goal in life and the condition for our happiness.  Poverty instead creates the conditions for freely shouldering our personal and social responsibilities, despite our limitations, with trust in God’s closeness and the support of his grace.  Poverty, understood in this way, is the yardstick that allows us to judge how best to use material goods and to build relationships that are neither selfish nor possessive (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 25-45).

Let us, then, take as our example Saint Francis and his witness of authentic poverty.  Precisely because he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, Francis was able to see and serve him in the poor.  If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization.  At the same time, I ask the poor in our cities and our communities not to lose the sense of evangelical poverty that is part of their daily life.

  1. We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is.  Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.  Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money.  What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference!

Tragically, in our own time, even as ostentatious wealth accumulates in the hands of the privileged few, often in connection with illegal activities and the appalling exploitation of human dignity, there is a scandalous growth of poverty in broad sectors of society throughout our world.  Faced with this scenario, we cannot remain passive, much less resigned.  There is a poverty that stifles the spirit of initiative of so many young people by keeping them from finding work.  There is a poverty that dulls the sense of personal responsibility and leaves others to do the work while we go looking for favours.  There is a poverty that poisons the wells of participation and allows little room for professionalism; in this way it demeans the merit of those who do work and are productive.  To all these forms of poverty we must respond with a new vision of life and society.

All the poor – as Blessed Paul VI loved to say – belong to the Church by “evangelical right” (Address at the Opening of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 29 September 1963), and require of us a fundamental option on their behalf.  Blessed, therefore, are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: they are hands that bring hope.  Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity.  Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange, with no “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes”: they are hands that call down God’s blessing upon their brothers and sisters.

  1. At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church aWorld Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.  To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus’ preferential love for the poor.

I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father.  This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter.  At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity.  God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded.

  1. It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.  They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday.  The kingship of Christ is most evident on Golgotha, when the Innocent One, nailed to the cross, poor, naked and stripped of everything, incarnates and reveals the fullness of God’s love.  Jesus’ complete abandonment to the Father expresses his utter poverty and reveals the power of the Love that awakens him to new life on the day of the Resurrection.

This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them: it will be a favourable moment to encounter the God we seek.  Following the teaching of Scripture (cf. Gen 18:3-5; Heb 13:2), let us welcome them as honoured guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently.  With their trust and readiness to receive help, they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply and to abandon ourselves to God’s providence.

  1. At the heart of all the many concrete initiatives carried out on this day should always beprayer.  Let us not forget that the Our Father is the prayer of the poor.  Our asking for bread expresses our entrustment to God for our basic needs in life.  Everything that Jesus taught us in this prayer expresses and brings together the cry of all who suffer from life’s uncertainties and the lack of what they need.  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he answered in the words with which the poor speak to our one Father, in whom all acknowledge themselves as brothers and sisters.  The Our Father is a prayer said in the plural: the bread for which we ask is “ours”, and that entails sharing, participation and joint responsibility.  In this prayer, all of us recognize our need to overcome every form of selfishness, in order to enter into the joy of mutual acceptance.
  2. I ask my brother Bishops, and all priests and deacons who by their vocation have the mission of supporting the poor, together with all consecrated persons and all associations, movements and volunteers everywhere, to help make thisWorld Day of the Poor a tradition that concretely contributes to evangelization in today’s world.

This new World Day, therefore, should become a powerful appeal to our consciences as believers, allowing us to grow in the conviction that sharing with the poor enables us to understand the deepest truth of the Gospel.  The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practise in our lives the essence of the Gospel.

From the Vatican, 13 June 2017

Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua

Francis

Original Link: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/poveri/documents/papa-francesco_20170613_messaggio-i-giornatamondiale-poveri-2017.html

Rich Man’s War; Poor People’s Blood

Hancock Reaper Drone Base Entrance
Blocked by Huge Dollar Signs Dripping with Blood
Rochester Catholic Worker among 7 Arrested Delivering War Crimes Indictment to Hancock  Reaper Drone Base
Monday, 25 September 2017, 9 AM.
      Seven members of the grassroots group Upstate Drone Action once again were arrested as they delivered a citizen’s war crime indictment to the chain of command at Hancock Air Force Base.  Upstate Drone Action also placed a huge dollar sign [$] dripping with “blood” in the main entrance way to the base. The six-foot high dollar sign dramatizes what the group believes determines the many overseas wars the Pentagon/CIA engages in: corporate greed.
      Hancock AFB, near Syracuse, N.Y. hosts the 174th Attack [sic] Wing of the NY National Guard. The 174th is one of two Reaper drone Attack Wings in NYS. Piloted from Hancock, the MQ9 Reaper drone is an unmanned, satellite-directed assassin flown over Afghanistan.  CIA also uses such airborne robots for its clandestine, illegal, lethal missions over Northwest Pakistan and other majority-Islamic nations and oil lands.

      According to “LIVING UNDER DRONES: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Practices in Pakistan,” published by Stanford University and New York University Law Schools, such missions are responsible for the deaths of many hundreds of noncombatants, including women and children, in that region.

     According to Julienne Oldfield, “The Hancock Reaper terrorizes whole communities, generating desperate refugees.”Mark Scibilia-Carver adds that “U.S. taxpayers fund this terrorism keeping the pot boiling and creating enormous ill will toward the United States – instead of funding health, education and infrastructure here.”

     Today’s action at Hancock’s main gate is simply one episode in Upstate Drone Action’s persistent nonviolent campaign to expose Reaper drone war crimes. Since 2010 there have been some 200 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock in about a dozen such street theater actions. These have resulted in extreme bails, maximum fines, Orders of Protection, and incarcerations…as well as some acquittals.

Those arrested:

Ann Tiffany, Syracuse

Dan Burgevin, Trumansburg, NY

Ed Kinane, Syracuse

Harry Murray, Rochester

Julienne Oldfield, Syracuse

Mark Scibilia-Carver, Trumansburg, NY

Rae Kramer, Syracuse

Father Bob Reiser, S.J. Book Review of Dorothy Day: The World Will be Saved by Beauty.

Hennessy, Kate. Dorothy Day: The World Will be Saved by Beauty. New York: Scribner, 2017.  Reviewed by Bob Reiser, S.J., McQuaid Jesuit.

Reiser

This past summer, in a hurried attempt to get to my annual retreat on time, I quickly grabbed the recent biography of Dorothy Day written by her youngest granddaughter Kate Hennessy entitled, Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty. While not necessarily evident at first, the biography developed into a meaningful retreat companion, helping me discover something about Dorothy Day and the journey to God.

Throughout her life Dorothy Day experienced the deep and painful tensions that often characterize our human experience, and her granddaughter shares them with fervid honesty. While not always easy to read, the biography is a “witness” to a real person’s search for God in both the aspirations as well as in the failures of love. In sharing her grandmother’s story as she does, Hennessy remains faithful to her grandmother’s “long loneliness” while at the same time reveals a “beauty” of faith that places Dorothy Day, according to Pope Francis, among the company of great Americans.

Hennessy’s biography begins with an account of her grandmother’s immersion in the unconventional Bohemian lifestyle of the early twentieth century. Colored by hard living, Day’s search for meaning took her through the streets of Greenwich Village in the company of figures such as Eugene O’Neill. Her journey led her to the women’s suffragist movement, and into a cold jail cell where she was confronted by life threatening violence and hunger. At the same time, however, she also found herself drawn at odd hours into quiet churches for contemplative respites, to the mere “tolerance” of her friends.

Her journey also took her from the heights of romantic relationships to the heartaches of loves lost. Hennessy courageously tells the story of a sexual dalliance that ended with an abortion and a civil marriage that dissolved into divorce. She shares the story of Forster Batterham, Dorothy’s true love that in the end could not survive her religious inclinations and his anarchist bents. Yet in spite of all this, or better because of it, Dorothy Day ultimately found herself in a profound moment of conversion at a hunger march in Washington, DC, and in a fortuitous meeting with Peter Maurin on a doorstep in New York.

The Catholic Worker movement, like the rest of her life, was also colored by contradiction. While she was interested in writing for and editing the Catholic Worker newspaper and giving speeches that supported the effort, Peter Maurin penned “Easy Essays,” focused on the houses and farms, and cherished roundtable discussions and “clarity of thought.”  In the Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day struggled with the conflicts of an institutional church, the tedium of serving the poor, frustrations with younger volunteers, and the surrender to advancing years.  Yet, in the midst of it all, the Catholic Worker moved forward.

In many ways, Dorothy Day’s vocation was incompatible with her role as a mother.  While Hennessy develops beautiful images of a mother and daughter enjoying a seaside cottage in Staten Island, she also reports how Tamar was shuttled from school to school, from caretaker to caretaker. Dorothy Day’s travel schedule and her commitment to those who came to her door for care, often times competed with the needs of her daughter. In addition, Dorothy Day’s faith was so devout and unbending that Tamar and her children eventually left the church.  Yet, even though their relationship was so often rife with tension, it was also characterized by forgiveness and dependence on one another, and they were close to the end.

Dorothy Day has been quoted as saying, “Don’t call me a saint, I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”  Kate Hennessy refuses to dismiss her grandmother’s life. Rather, she lays it bare, and in so doing reveals a journey of faith forged deep within the complexities of life, and in those around her. It ultimately encouraged me, on my retreat and beyond, to follow my own authentic pathway to God. After all, isn’t helping others on their journeys of faith what being a Saint is really all about?

Roundtable Discussion: Dorothy Day on the Eucharist

In celebration of the Diocese of Rochester’s Year of the Eucharist

Roundtable Discussion of Dorothy Day’s writings on the Eucharist

Friday, September 29th

Mass: 5:30PM, Simple meal following celebration

Roundtable Discussion starts at 7:00 PM

St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality (402 South Ave)

dayicon

Please join St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality and Avanti! for Mass, a simple meal and a roundtable discussion. Our discussion is inspired by Bishop Matano’s recent letter about the Eucharist, where Catholic’s are encouraged to more deeply understand “the source and summit of the Catholic faith.” Led by Avanti! members Elizabeth and Mary PIetropaoli, the discussion will draw from selected writings by Dorothy Day on the Eucharist. All are welcome!

About Avanti! (Italian for Go Forth!) A new local group dedicated to promoting Catholic Social Teaching through conversation, prayer, and action. Avanti! is inspired by the writings of St John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis, especially Pope Francis’  exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, where we are called  to “go forth” and serve through word and deed. Avanti! and St. Joseph’s House are planning future events in October and November, inspired by Pope Francis’ June letter declaring November 19th the World Day of Solidarity with the Poor.

About the Roundtable Speakers: Elizabeth Pietropaoli is beginning her 14th year in high school education, and has a BA and Master’s Degrees in theology. Mary Catherine Pietropaoli holds a BA from Providence College and is beginning her seventh year in education.  Sister Grace Miller, from the House of Mercy, will also share her thoughts on the Eucharist.

Roundtable Discussion: Kate Hennessy

BeautyKate

Roundtable Discussion with Kate Hennessy on her book: 

“Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother”

Saturday, September 23rd at 6:00 PM

St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality (402 South Ave)

 

Join Dorothy Day’s granddaughter, Kate Hennessy, as she discusses an “intimate portrait” of her famous grandmother. Her memories give a new and refreshing view of the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, a woman mentioned by Pope Francis in his visit to the US Congress and now under consideration for Roman Catholic canonization.

Copies of Kate Hennessy’s book are available at Greenwood Books (123 East Ave in Rochester (585) 325-2050) and will also be sold at St. Joe’s the night of the event.

Kate Hennessy is a writer and the youngest of Dorothy Day’s nine grandchildren. She is the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother, published by Scribner. She has worked in collaboration with the photographer Vivian Cherry on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance, and her work has appeared in Best American Travel Writing.

The Legacy of Our Nonviolent Grandparents

DayGhandi

Dorothy Day and Mohandas Gandhi:

The Legacy of Our Nonviolent Grandparents

Friday September 22 at 7:00 PM

Nazareth College Forum (Shults Center)

A discussion on “Dorothy Day and Mohandas Gandhi: The Legacy of Our Nonviolent Grandparents”. Martha and Kate Hennessy (grandchildren of Dorothy Day) and Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mohandas Gandhi) will have a group discussion about their peace-making grandparents.

 Sponsored by the Nazareth College Peace and Justice Program

and St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality

Rochester Black Land and Liberation Initiative

Written by the Rochester Black Land and Liberation Initiative

Liz McGriff of Rochester is taking the Black Land and Liberation Initiative national day of action local!

40 Acres. 40 Cities. One Day.

LAND IS POWER. LAND IS LIBERATION. LAND IN THE COMMONS.

Support Liz McGriff as she takes part in a nation-wide day of action led by the Black Land and Liberation Initiative on June 19th (Juneteenth) 2017. This local peaceful action starts in the parking lot at East High on June 19th at 5:30 PM.  Liz will then lead a walk to her home (618 Cedarwood Terrace) in order to re-occupy her home.  The Black Land and Liberation national day of action is happening in 40 other cities across the nation.  The difference for Liz is that she already reoccupied her home after being evicted…twice!  She has the courage to fight for her home and has spent the last few years helping other local residents fight for their homes. She is calling on all her brothers and sister (especially her black brothers and sisters!) to walk alongside her as she continues the struggle to fight an eviction from MidFirst Bank, a bank based in Oklahoma City with no ties to the Rochester community.  Make our voices heard and meet her at 5:30 PM on Monday June 19th in the parking lot at East High School. 40 Acres. 40 Cities…including Rochester!

Liz’ Story: Liz McGriff purchased a three-bedroom colonial at 618 Cedarwood Terrace back in 2001. She paid $56,550 via a Federal Housing Authority mortgage loan. Her payments were $636 a month, payments she made diligently up until she hit financial troubles during the nation’s economic downturn in the late 2000s. And still, she made payments when she could while she sought a mortgage modification. In total, she estimates, she made more than 13 years of payments totaling nearly $100,000.

Liz’ requests for modifications were denied, and lender MidFirst Bank foreclosed for the first time in April 2014.  Liz was evicted in April, 2015. When authorities came unannounced to remover her they were met with resistance.  The police and the MidFirst Bank backed down because of public outrage.  According to bank documents supplied by Take Back the Land, the lender has told McGriff it is preparing to convey the property to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (and collect FHA mortgage insurance on the property). But, the lender offered McGriff the opportunity to buy back the house — assessed at $73,000 — for no less than $129,720.45.  The house was eventually conveyed back to HUD in June 2016 where they informed her she could stay in the house until they completed an investigation.  To date, Liz has not seen the results of their investigation.  In January 2017, HUD conveyed her home back to MidFirst.  MidFirst and the City Roots Community Land Trust of Rochester negotiated to purchase the home.  MidFirst denied both offers and has begun the process of evicting her. She is to appear in court on June 20, 2017 to fight for her home.

Questions for the Rochester Black Land and Liberation Initiative?  Email:takebackroc@riseup.net or call (585) 653-8362

More about Black Land & Liberation!

The Black Land and Liberation Initiative is a vision, strategy and training program grounded in black liberation and anchored by black leadership. Our aim is to develop diverse and interdependent strategies that move us away from the current extractive economy which depends on the violent enclosure of land, labor, culture, power, wealth and spirit. We are asserting the fundamental right to the resources required to create our own productive, dignified and sustainable livelihoods through our own free labor and self-governance. Key among those resources is land. We will co-create strategies for transformation which are grounded in a long-term vision, guided in the resilience, culture, and creativity of our ancestry, rooted in our sovereignty, and which we can begin putting into place NOW.

The Black Land and Liberation Initiative is anchored by BlackOut Collective, Movement Generation and a diverse cohort of Black organizers from across the country. We are working with groups of folks across the country to launch a trans-local, Black-led land reclamation and reparations initiative co-created by us and the participants. We are guided by reverence for ancestral knowledge, black love, and collective responsibility.

A Call to Reclaim!

On Juneteenth 2017 (Monday, June 19th) Black people across the country will be taking back land and reclaiming space, from vacant lots to empty school buildings. We are taking back land that should be used for the good of the people; land that has historically been denied access to Black people. Through these actions, we will confront the institutions that have been built off the extracted wealth of Black bodies and Black land and the individuals who have profited from them.

Why Land?

Land is essential in the fight for self-determination and liberation for Black folks. The Call to Reclaim is an intervention to shift the national narrative to incorporate both reparations from a land-based lens as well as to make the connections between land and liberation for Black folks. We see Black folks collectively engaging in land reclamation with the goal of shifting our relationship to the land, engaging in healing while creating hubs for movement work to be housed, cultivated and birthed. We believe Black folks, in this moment, can call on our Maroonage legacy to support the creation of Black safe spaces.

We call for a return of accumulated wealth to black people in the US and black people across the diaspora. We call for a release of stolen land. We vow to work with integrity and build partnership with those whose lands were stolen and with the land itself. We vow to continue the struggle, to build black community, institutions, and power until we are returned what is rightfully ours.

For more information visit: http://blacklandandliberation.org/

Juneteenth, A Short History: Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question   For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

Source: www.juneteenth.com

Rochester-Haiti Networking Event THIS FRIDAY

Greater Rochester Haiti Networking Event

Friday, May 12, 2017

6-8pm

St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality

402 South Avenue, Rochester

Rochester-Haiti Connections:  So many local Rochester groups collaborate with groups in Haiti!  We might be able to share resources, facilitate networking and communication, provide advice or consultation in our group’s specialties, or co-host events such as speakers, discussions or Kreyol lessons.  When I lived in Haiti I was part of a similar group called the Cap Haitien Health Network, which serves as an inspiration for setting up something here in Rochester.

Networking:  Please join us for this Rochester-Haiti networking event (and an early celebration of Fèt Drapo) on May 12 to learn about the projects other groups are working on!  We’ll provide some food–maybe even some Haitian food–and some space and time for representatives of local groups working in Haiti to share about their programs.

Information:  Please RSVP to sabeie@rit.edu if your group can send a representative.  Whether you can come or not, please add your groups’ info to this Google Doc so we can collect all the local groups who work in Haiti:  https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1m800_-BPNCkcHgMEGPgrAlm-vKL8Jm-9Dc23399aiRc/edit?usp=sharing

Please share this event with others who work in Haiti,

We hope that you can join us and bring your favorite Haitian proverb!  “Yon sèl dwèt pa ka mange kalalou.” (You can’t eat okra with one finger.)

Mèsi,

Sarah Brownell (sabeie@rit.edu)

 

A March Against Humanity: An article on the Women’s March on Washington

In response to the event of our President Elect preparing to enter into office, I found myself searching my mind for an idea to make public my support of those whose “humanness” is now being even more blatantly threatened. Through my curious nature I surfed the web and I discovered the Women’s March on Washington. I was intrigued, and then the next thing I knew I was on a 13 hour bus ride to Washington D.C., mentally prepared for anything to happen or so I thought.

I stayed the weekend at the D.C. Catholic Worker House and began to try to understand the difference between what I wanted to see happen at this march and what may actually happen. I packed a small bag and was on my way to the march with a pastor, an older generation Catholic Worker, another Catholic Worker friend from Las Vegas and a few nuns from Michigan who held up their map of land-based nuclear missiles proudly. Trying to prevent myself from having a panic attack at the sight of more people than I had ever seen in my entire life, one other Catholic Worker and I slipped through cracks in the crowd, hopped a fence and breathed it all in.  I took time to look around at the many shades of pink that I seemed to be swimming in. Sign after sign was “Get your rosaries off my ovaries”, “My body my choice,” “Planned Parenthood” or “Congratulations, now I’m an activist.” I felt my normally joyful demeanor melt into a dark cloud that hung over me for a bit of time. My intention at the March was to help stand in solidarity with those who are unheard, misrepresented, mistreated and unwelcomed among our nation and have been for a very long time. I was looking forward to immersing myself in a group of individuals, mainly women, who were standing for similar issues with the intention of vocalizing that we stand together through all the turmoil. However, yet again, there was little attention and focus on the issues of racism, deportations, police violence, women’s health or even the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Some may disagree and say that there WAS emphasis on women’s health at the March because there were signs that read, “My body, my choice,” and many banners in support of Planned Parenthood. This march was clearly  catering to pro-choice beliefs and hardly anything else. I felt my eyes fixate on a little girl who was holding up a sign that had a hanger with dripping blood that read, “Never again.” After seeing that I felt sick to my stomach. There are so many pertinent issues that long for well-deserved attention and yet, what gets attention is the fact that many women want to be able to decide to have an abortion or not. Why are our priorities so focused on having power to choose life or death? We choose death when we decide to not stand up for our brothers and sisters. We choose death when we judge others for being a part of a different religion than our own, if any. We choose death when we use violence to silence situations we aren’t ready for or those we disagree with. As much of a struggle it is to admit it, when we decide what lives and what dies we insist on playing the role of God.

My heart breaks everytime I hear about someone forgetting that non-violence is something that has worked. There is a reason why Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day wanted to “create a new society in the shell of the old.” We have lost sight of what it means to be good and maybe that is because we have never known how to be good. These are not new issues that we are facing, but we can adapt to new paths in this world to be able to live each day with joy and give up on embracing death.

We have reacted to this presidential term as if this is the first time we have seen discrimination, but it never ended! I believe this is another example of white privilege and it is about time that white people, including myself, acknowledge the fact that their voice is loud, louder than the rest. There is still a disconnect that there are issues that have existed for years that have not been straightened out. Of course there are other problems that exist that need to be addressed, but what about the voices that are continuously being ignored? I am looking forward to the day when we can all put our personal agendas aside and become the people of the UNITED States of America, united with each other, united in Christ.

Haiti: Christmas in Prison

By James Murphy
Going through pictures on my phone recently, I came across images of a twelve-year-old girl, Esterhazy, and her five-year-old brother, Junior, that I took in Haiti last year. Their father has been in prison in Haiti since July 5, 2016. Francius Dauphin Estimable (Johnny), was arrested and charged with arson. I believe that his arrest, and the fact that he is still being held months later, are politically motivated. Since his imprisonment he has lost weight and has developed a serious vision problem. I don’t know if his children are aware of these details, and I can’t imagine what they are going through. Christmas is around the corner and Dad will not be with them to celebrate. What other holidays, birthdays and other milestones in their lives he has missed I can only guess.

esterhazy Esterhazy on the left, playing with friends

juniorJunior at home

Johnny has deep ties to the Rochester area. He worked to create a sister city program with Honeoye Falls, has hosted groups from the Rochester Institute of Technology and was instrumental in helping St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality open a sister Catholic Worker, Pen ak Pwason (Fishes and Loaves), in his hometown of Borgne, Haiti. This Catholic Worker feeds one-hundred elderlies four meals a week in a country with no social safety net. Johnny also created Foundation Dauphin, which helps seventy-five poor children attend school, supports teachers, operates a mobile library, and provides free after school programs in computers, band, and sewing. A couple of summers ago, Johnny came and celebrated Mass at St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality and we shared a meal afterwards. I remember it clearly because, by chance, there were five people at the Mass and meal who spoke French fluently, so communication was not a problem. Only the Holy Spirit could have put that many french speakers at the table that night.

In addition to cultivating relationships internationally to better his community, Johnny also worked locally to improve the life of the residents of his hometown. Mr. Estimable served his community as assistant mayor from 2007-2011 at the request of rural community and farmers’ organizations. He helped bring paved roads to town and revitalized the beach area. He also provided extensive support to earthquake survivors and spearheaded a cholera prevention program. His term ended in 2011 and a new mayor was appointed without local elections being held. He peacefully turned the office and paperwork over to the new mayor without resistance and awaited the next round of elections.

Local elections were held in October 2015 and he ran for Mayor under the Verite (Truth) party. Although initial local vote counts pointed to the Verite party’s victory for both mayor and depute, the official results from Port-au-Prince showed they were both defeated. I was there during the elections and remember the elation of the community when his victory seemed imminent. I left a week after the elections sure that his victory, by a landslide, would be upheld. In our own country we have become increasingly distrustful of election results, but it still seems impossible to negate landslide victories. Not so in Haiti, and this result demonstrates the depths of corruption that exist in Haiti. In my opinion, Johnny sits in a prison because of what he did after the elections: He and the dupute candidate challenged the results through the courts. The depute’s election results were overturned, but Johnny lost his case on a technicality.

He was discouraged after losing the court case, but decided to move on by starting a business and continuing his work with children instead of politics. While he was letting go of politics, his opponents must have felt he was still a threat. The new mayor was installed on July 1, 2016. That same night, the mayor’s office was set on fire and shortly afterwards, another building burned on the outskirts of Borgne. Jonny was eventually accused of both and was arrested and imprisoned on July 5, 2016. Since his arrest, Estimable has gone through all the court proceedings on the first arson charge. He brought in witnesses and video showing he was in Port-au-Prince when the building burned. We thought he would be released when suddenly he was accused of burning down a different building outside of Borgne. His lawyers then brought in different witnesses who attested that he was in fact in Cap Haitien on that day. All of the court proceedings finished by the end of August, but the judge has still not judged in the case. The judge was on vacation all of September and Johnny has not been called before the bench since then. Justice, it seems, is permanently on vacation in Haiti. Because of this, his young children will not spend Christmas with their father and a community loses a member that has the ability and connections to improve their lives.

Sarah Brownell, a professor at RIT, and a long time Catholic Worker, has known and worked with Johnny for years. He is her daughter’s godfather. She has worked tirelessly over these past few months to secure his freedom. She has called or written every organization and person she can think of. It’s gotten to the point that when she reaches out to new contacts, they have already heard of his case. Despite all this, Johnny still sits in prison as 2017 approaches.

A Catholic Worker delegation, led by Martha Hennessy, are travelling to Haiti in the coming weeks to make a plea for his freedom. In a few days, Christians the world over will celebrate the birth of Christ. Soon after Jesus was born, the Holy Family was on the run from Herod’s edict to kill all children under the age of two in Bethlehem. The Holy Family found safety in Egypt. Johnny and his family have not been so fortunate and his family suffered through the Advent season. Please pray for Johnny, Esterhazy, Junior and all political prisoners and their families the world over.