New film on St. Faustina makes one-night-only debut Oct. 28

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – A new film on the life of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun whose visions of Jesus led to the Divine Mercy devotion, will have a one-night-only showing Oct. 28 (and December 2) on more than 700 screens across the United States.
The 90-minute movie, “Love and Mercy: Faustina,” will also have some features about St. Faustina surrounding it, according to Marian Father Chris Alar, who is seen on-screen during the film.
The movie was directed by Michal Kondrat, who may be familiar to some Catholics as the director of “Two Crowns,” a 2017 film biography of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who died in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

Kamila Kaminska stars in a scene from the movie “Love and Mercy: Faustina.” The new film on the life of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun whose visions of Jesus led to the Divine Mercy devotion, will have a one-night-only showing Oct. 28, 2019, at about 700 screens across the United States. (CNS photo/courtesy of Kondrat-Media)

The filmmaker approached the Marians of the Immaculate Conception – Poland’s first native-founded religious order for men back in 1670 – which as a congregation has a special devotion to St. Faustina. It was a member of this order who weaved his way through Nazi- and Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe to journey to the United States and spread the word of the nun, for whom he had been her spiritual director.
Father Alar added that news of the Divine Mercy devotion – which is simply “love in action” – is “great and powerful and incredibly necessary,” because St. Faustina was told by Jesus the message for the end times: “’If you don’t pass through the doors of my mercy, you must pass through the doors of justice.’ Very few people are aware of it. Even Catholics.”
Father Alar wanted to caution potential viewers about one theme the runs through part of “Love and Mercy: Faustina” they may find problematic: the suicide of the painter who, at St. Faustina’s direction, painted the image of Jesus with red and white rays emanating from his heart to represent the blood and water that flowed from his side after being pierced in his side during his crucifixion.
The painter, Eugene Kazimierowski, was indeed a Mason, as the film noted, “but he converted” before being called upon to paint the Divine Mercy image, Father Alar told CNS. It is also true that he painted himself as Judas, but “not because he was siding with Judas and wanting to betray Christ, but because he was a sinner and wanted to repent of his sins.”
As for the suicide, “what isn’t said in the movie, not out of despair or lack of trust in God’s mercy (did he kill himself). The Nazis were coming, and he was for sure in an area that the Nazis were occupying and he would have been taken prisoner,” Father Alar said. “And he had information about different things that the Nazis knew he knew. He knew for sure he would have been taken, detained and tortured. It’s never a good decision to take your life, but one that he did fully and freely of his own free will.”

(Editor’s Note: This movie will be showing in several Mississippi locations including: Malco Madison, Cinemark Pearl, Malco Oxford, and Malco and Cinemark Tupelo. To find a nearby theater and to order tickets, go to https://www.fathomevents.com/events/faustina-love-and-mercy.)

Looking at Elizabeth Warren’s child care plan through a pro-life lens

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – In February, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a leading Democratic presidential aspirant, made a splash when she unveiled one of her many plans, this one on universal child care.
It may have gotten lost in the pileup of plans laid out subsequently by Warren and a raft of other presidential hopefuls. But the question is whether Warren’s child care proposal has the secondary effect of being a pro-life plan.
Not that Warren herself would call it pro-life; in May, she revealed another plan, about three-fourths as long as the child care plan, titled “Congressional Action to Protect Choice.”
Still, the child care plan deserves scrutiny under a pro-life lens, especially given the reasons why women say they get abortions.
In a Guttmacher Institute survey conducted in 2004 – the last time such a poll on this topic was conducted – economic reasons are cited most often and are in the highest percentage of responses. Women were asked to name up to four reasons.
“Can’t afford a baby now” was cited by 73 percent of the women. “Would interfere with job/employment/career,” was mentioned by 38 percent. “Can’t afford a baby and child care” – a reason that wasn’t even on Guttmacher’s radar when it conducted the same kind of survey in 1987 – was mentioned by 28 percent.
It’s not as if Congress has been paralyzed by inaction on child care like it has on so many other issues. Last year, it passed a $2.4 billion funding increase for the Child Care and Development Fund, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump, The total kitty got raised to $8.1 billion distributed to states to fund child care for low-income families. Even a decade of funding at that level represents a slender fraction of the estimated $687.5 billion federal outlay Warren envisions for her plan over 10 years.
What the federal government cannot or will not do, at least for now, states are interested in picking up some of the slack. Fifteen governors were elected last November on platforms that included improvements in early childhood development. Many of the successful governors pledged funding for universal or optional public pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds as part of their campaign platforms.
The issue resonates among voters. A 2018 poll conducted by GBA Strategies, a public opinion and strategic consulting firm, found 54 percent of parents called finding quality, affordable child care in their area either a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” problem, with the numbers spiking for parents of minor children of any age – including 83 percent of parents of kids under age 5.
Moreover, 64 percent agreed with the statement that “we nee to raise the bar on quality, safety and reliability at all child care centers” and “government has a critical role to play” on the issue, while 68 percent agreed that “our public policies should be designed to help families afford the costs of child care and early learning.”
Which brings us back to the Warren plan, under which “the federal government will pick up a huge chunk of the cost of operating these new high-quality options,” she says. “That allows local providers to provide access for free to any family that makes less than 200% of the federal poverty line. That means free coverage for millions of children.”
For those with more income than that, child care costs would be “capped at no more than 7% of that family’s income,” Warren said. “That’s a heck of a lot less than what most families are paying for high-quality child care now.” She cited percentages of 9% to 36% of a family’s total income as typical child care costs today for just one child, with the numbers going up for multiple children – and the costs exacting a huge toll on single mothers.
“Nobody would be required to enroll in this new program,” Warren said. “But right now, millions of families can’t take advantage of child care because of its cost – and millions more are draining their paychecks to cover high costs.”

A volunteer helps Samuel Roberts put together a train track Aug. 19, 2016, at a free child care center at St. Stephen Church in Old Hickory, Tenn. In February, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a leading Democratic presidential candidate, unveiled her plan for universal child care, which she said would be paid in part by an “ultra-millionaire tax.” (CNS photo/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

She touts it as “a win-win-win.” “Parents get the security of knowing there are affordable and instructional child care options for their children. That gives them the freedom to choose the best work and child care situation for themselves,” Warren said. “Kids get high-quality early learning opportunities that put them on track to fulfill their potential.”
Meanwhile, “the economy gets a huge boost. More than a million child care workers will get higher wages and more money to spend. More parents can work more hours if they choose to, producing stronger economic growth,” she added. “And a generation of kids will get the early instruction they need to be healthier and more productive members of society after high school and beyond.”
The plan would be paid for what Warren calls an “ultra-millionaire tax” on those with a net worth of at least $50 million that would generate an estimated $2.75 trillion over 10 years.
Michael New, a visiting assistant professor of political science and social research in the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America in Washington, disputes the notion that Warren’s plan would have a secondary pro-life effect.
New said he has not seen evidence that “any kind of provision of government benefits – welfare, child care – has any impact on the abortion rate,” he told Catholic News Service Sept. 26, adding there’s “no substantive body of research providing universal child care of any kind” makes a difference.
He said a study soon to be published indicates that stronger enforcement of child support laws brings down the abortion rate, but “it’s only one study. It’s not wise to invest a lot of credence in one study.”
While “I don’t deny there’s an economic component” to Warren’s plan, New added, “we just don’t see the body of evidence.”
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren is correct that there are too many barriers facing mothers and fathers pursuing work-life balance and the possibility of both a fulfilling career and a happy family life. Access to child care is a critical way to strengthen American communities, especially to give mothers’ options when it comes to making life-affirming choices,” said a Sept. 26 statement from Tom Shakely, chief engagement officer of Americans United for Life.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, did not mention Warren by name, although her own statement, issued Sept. 25, addressed Warren’s plan.
“We need a national conversation on how to help young families prosper, after children are born and before. As an advocate for pregnant and parenting students, I invite politicians from every party to talk about how to help families prosper, and that includes families whose children are in the womb. Some ideas are going to be better than others, but it’s striking how so many who argue for government programs for young children don’t offer the same support to preborn children,” Hawkins said.
“There’s a cognitive dissonance among politicians who can’t see the humanity of a child before birth. I would ask politicians who call themselves pro-child and pro-choice at what point do you offer an infant your support and protection?” she added. “Our policy needs to support and embrace children, born and preborn, and their parents at every stage of life.”

Christ our Hope

WASHINGTON D.C. (CNS) – Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of Kansas City, Kan. and Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, celebrated the launch of Respect Life Month with a statement. Archbishop Naumann encouraged Catholics discouraged by attacks on human life to “hold fast to Christ, our Hope.”
Archbishop Naumann’s full statement follows:
“Although we must cherish, protect, and defend human life year-round, the Catholic Church in the United States sets aside each October as Respect Life Month.
This year’s theme, “Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life,” is particularly suited for our times. While attacks against human life seem to grow ever more numerous and callous, we know that Christ has conquered sin and death. Through our Christian hope in the Resurrection, we are given the grace to persevere in faith.
Jesus asks us to be as leaven in the world, to bring His light to the darkness. Our daily activities take each of us to places only we can go, to people only we will meet. May we allow Christ to renew and strengthen us, that He may work through us in each moment of every day.
Be assured of my prayers for you and for our common efforts to bring about a world in which every life is cherished. And so, together, may we hold fast to Christ, our hope.”
New parish resources have been developed around the theme of “Christ our Hope” and are available at www.usccb.org.

Catholic organizations in Florida marshaling aid for Dorian victims

By Catholic News Service
MIAMI – In the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s brutal blasting of the Bahamas, Catholic organizations in Florida continued to raise funds to aid victims there.
The best aid from individual Catholics is monetary donations. Money can be used to buy supplies in bulk and get them delivered promptly and to reboot the local economy, enabling communities to start getting back on their feet. Money also ensures the items sent are actually the items needed – not just immediately after the disaster but months later, when recovery is ongoing.
“It’s the agencies that are on the ground providing the help, they really know what is needed. So it’s best to give them the resources so they can purchase locally what is needed. It helps to get businesses back up and running locally,” Peter Routsis-Arroyo, director of the Archdiocese of Miami’s Catholic Charities, told the Florida Catholic, Miami’s archdiocesan newspaper.
Arroyo noted the “tremendous amount of manpower” and agency funds required to organize, pack and ship donated items. “If we had just turned that money over to them, there’s none of those costs involved in that,” he said.
Not to mention that some items may only be needed the first few days.
“Maybe they need MREs (meals ready to eat) for the first two days, but that’s it,” he said. Other needs will arise as reconstruction begins, Arroyo added.
The Catholic Church has a distinct advantage, though, when disaster strikes anywhere: an interconnected network of churches and agencies with deep roots and deep knowledge of the affected communities.
The Miami Archdiocese has many links to the Archdiocese of Nassau. Priests from Miami’s Metropolitan Tribunal helped Nassau set up its tribunal a decade ago. For years, representatives from the Bahamas Women’s Auxiliary have joined members of the Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women at their annual convention – sometimes bringing Nassau Archbishop Patrick C. Pinder with them.
“We’ve been in constant contact with Archbishop Pinder,” Routsis-Arroyo said, adding that what he’s dealing with “is overwhelming.”
“He sends us a list of what he needs and it’s easier for us to collect monies, purchase in bulk, not have to pay taxes or anything. And then we have friends of the agency who will ship it for free to him. And then he knows how to get it to whoever he knows on his end,” Routsis-Arroyo said.
Those “friends” include shipping companies and wealthy individuals who offer to cover the costs or deliver the goods free of charge.
Normally, relief work in a foreign country is done by the U.S. bishops’ overseas agency, Catholic Relief Services. But Routsis-Arroyo explained that CRS doesn’t have any offices in the Bahamas “so they work with the archbishop and the local Caritas,” which is part of the international network of agencies under the umbrella of Caritas Internationalis
When Dorian slammed into the Bahamas, Knights of Columbus of Florida went into action.
The first order of business: texting with a fellow Knight of Columbus by the name of Patrick Pinder.
“We are in touch with Archbishop Pinder of Nassau by text,” said Ronald Winn, a resident of Pensacola and state disaster response chairman for the Knights of Columbus.

A man hangs his clothing amid the rubble of destroyed homes Sept. 6, 2019, after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. In the wake of Hurricane Dorian’s brutal blasting of the Bahamas, Catholic organizations in Florida continued to raise funds to aid victims there. (CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters)

The Knights’ Florida Council has had a long relationship with the Knights in the Bahamas, which is considered part of the Florida jurisdiction. When Dorian hit the Bahamas, the texts between the archbishop and the Knights in Florida were traded back and forth.
Winn was prepared to respond to the bishop and his people. Since, July 1, the Knights have stepped up service efforts with their new Disaster Response Program. Once Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas, the organization developed a fundraising campaign posting information about it on their state and supreme council websites.
“Things change day by day,” Winn told the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of West Palm Beach. He added that some Knights have offered to navigate their own boats to the Bahamas to deliver items.
The Knights’ disaster response program arose following the destruction Hurricane Harvey wrought in Houston in 2017.
Florida State Deputy Scott O’Connor of Pembroke Pines in the Archdiocese of Miami said in a statement, “We have a much more defined program with people and contacts, and we are also working directly with Catholic Charities because they already have an infrastructure in place.”
The Boca Raton-based Cross Catholic Outreach, is providing assistance to the Bahamas with shipments of food, medicines and other critical resources. Cross Catholic Outreach has already shipped over 540,000 meals to help affected families and children.
To get resources in quickly and distributed effectively, Cross Catholic Outreach is working with Catholic Charities of Miami and Archbishop Pinder of Nassau. The first shipments included scientifically formulated meals designed to do more than satisfy hunger.
“It’s important to address hunger with nutrient-rich meals,” said a statement by Cavnar, president of Cross Catholic Outreach. “The food we are shipping is created for situations like this, and it will go a long way in keeping people healthy as they face the stresses and hardships ahead.”

(Contributing to this story were Ana Rodriguez-Soto in Miami and Linda Reeves in Boynton Beach.)

Renowned journalist Cokie Roberts, lifelong Catholic, dies at age 75

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Cokie Roberts, a broadcast journalist and political commentator who spoke publicly about her Catholic faith and her admiration for the Sacred Heart sisters who taught her, died Sept. 17 due to complications from breast cancer. She was 75.
Roberts, who died at her home in Bethesda, Maryland, was an Emmy award-winning reporter, author and frequent keynote speaker at Catholic college graduations. She was described as “a true pioneer for women in journalism,” by James Goldston, president of ABC News, her longtime employer. He said her “kindness, generosity, sharp intellect and thoughtful take on the big issues of the day made ABC a better place and all of us better journalists.”
She was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and was listed one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting by the American Women in Radio and Television. She also was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress in 2008.
Roberts started her radio career at CBS and in 1978 began working for NPR covering Capitol Hill, where she continued to work as a political commentator until her death. Roberts joined ABC News in 1988 and during her three decades there, she was a political commentator, chief congressional analyst and co-anchor with Sam Donaldson of the news program “This Week” from 1996 to 2002.
She was born in New Orleans in 1943 with the full name Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs and was nicknamed “Cokie” by her brother.
Roberts attended Catholic schools in New Orleans and Bethesda, run by the sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart. During her career, she also wrote eight books, including a book with her husband, Steve Roberts, also a journalist, called “From This Day Forward” about their interfaith marriage. Steve is Jewish.

Cokie Roberts, a Catholic, who was the daughter of politicians and grew up to cover the family “business” in Washington for ABC News and NPR over several decades, died at age 75 Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington of complications from breast cancer. She is pictured at Georgetown University in Washington April 4, 2014. (CNS photo/Phil Humnicky, Georgetown University)

Cokie Roberts’ roots are both political and Catholic. She is the daughter of Hale Boggs, the former Democratic House majority leader and representative from New Orleans, who died in a plane crash in 1972. Her mother, Lindy, was elected to fill his seat and served nine terms. Lindy Boggs, who died in 2013, was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Vatican in 1997, a post she held until 2001.
Over the years, Roberts addressed big Catholic gatherings including those of the National Catholic Educational Association, Catholic Charities USA and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
In a 2014 interview with America magazine by Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, who died the following year, Roberts said: “There is no way to talk about my faith absent the Society of the Sacred Heart. The women who were my teachers and remain my dear friends mean the world to me. They took girls seriously in the 1950s – a radical notion, so there was never any ‘grown-up’ need to reject them, only to thank them – and they keep the faith.”
When asked about her family’s Catholic and Democratic background, Roberts said it’s “an interesting balancing act in all kinds of ways to try to convince people that I am a fair-minded journalistic observer while coming from a family that has been strongly identified for many decades both politically and religiously.”
She said she also had made clear her “continuing commitment to Catholicism – as opposed to many who say, ‘I was raised Catholic.'” She said she didn’t think she had been “discriminated against officially” as a Catholic woman, but she also answered the question about this with her own question: “Are there people in this society still who think that to be a believer is to be a little bit simpleminded? Sure. And to be a Catholic, still a little simpler still? Yes,” she said.
That didn’t stop her though from being public about the role of faith in her life and in others’ lives.
During a 2009 LCWR meeting in New Orleans, she told the sisters that their vitality extends beyond their numbers and can best be seen in the lasting effects they have had on students and others they are serving.
“You wonderful, holy, awe-inspiring women – you women of spirit – have taught us well. Your teaching will go on, constantly creating a better world for the people of God, corralling the chaos to create a better quality of life for others that you can be proud of.”
She also praised the church’s efforts to help the poor at a 2006 Catholic Charities USA convention in Minneapolis where she said: “It seems to me that your issues are actually the ones that Jesus talked about.” She also challenged the conference participants to educate parishioners about the “option for the poor,” a Catholic social teaching that puts the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
A funeral Mass was held Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.
Roberts is survived by her husband, her children, Lee and Rebecca, and her six grandchildren.
A statement released by her family said she will be missed “beyond measure, both for her contributions and for her love and kindness.”

(Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.)

40 Days for Life begins Sept. 25

Pro-lifers will join peacefully in prayer in the name of the unborn as part of 40 Days for Life, a national campaign, Sept. 25-Nov. 3 in dioceses and archdiocese across the nation. The national campaign is held during the fall and at Lent to encourage people to pray and fast for the end of abortion and to take a stand for life.
Pro-Life Mississippi will hold a prayer gathering at the public right-of-way near Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a state-licensed abortion facility, located at 2903 N. State St., Jackson. Prayerful plan to gather on the sidewalks at the spot from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
For information, contact Barbara Beavers or Tammy Tillman 601-956-8636 or 601-940-5701 or plm@prolifemississippi.org. For more information, visit Jackson 40 Days for Life on Facebook.

Visiting priest brings healing and liberation to area Hispanics

By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Father Dirk Kranz of the Diocese of Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, spent three days with Hispanic families here in the Diocese of Jackson, which helped to help bring about healing and hope to those in the wake of recent immigration raids, that left many in crisis and grieving the possible separation of loved ones.
Father Kranz, better known in the Hispanic world as Father Padre Teodoro (or Padre Teo for short), is a much-sought-after speaker, evangelist and director of San Miguel Arcángel Foundation for Healing and Liberation, an apostolate of volunteer lay and professionals dedicated to ministering to both individuals and families.
The “Luz y Vida” Prayer Group of Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson headed up by Orlando Marín and Ivan Varela extended the invitation to Father Teo, who visited Aug. 16-18 at various locations and venues. He was accompanied by Susana Godoy, a recognized therapist, who is a volunteer with the San Miguel Arcángel Foundation and a specialist, who provides therapy to support people facing day-to-day challenges.
Father Teo’s visit included meetings with diocesan leaders at the chancery and his programs included dynamic talks, question and answer sessions, prayers, Masses and anecdotes entertaining and inspiring all.
The presence of Father Teo was highly anticipated in the diocese and beyond as word spread of his arrival. According to the website Catoliscopio, Father Teo is one of 10 most popular Spanish priests, who make the most “noise” on social networks.
Father Teo, who has a doctoral of theology and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, speaks five different languages. He has faithful followers on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. On Facebook alone, he has over 400,000 followers, a testimony of his popularity and ministry of spiritual healing and liberation, apparently much desired by souls of all ages and walks of life.


Father Teo spent much time in the diocese at St. Jude Parish in Pearl. Father Lincoln Dall, St. Jude pastor and vicar general of the Diocese of Jackson, welcomed him on behalf of the diocese. As part of the day, Father Teodoro and Father Dall concelebrated Mass.
Aug. 17, Father Teo led a healing retreat with prayer at Richland Community Center in Richland. Hundreds of Hispanic Catholics from the diocese and various states turned out to participate after word spread about his visit.
Special guest on hand was Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity Father Roberto Mena. A native of Guatemala and radio host on Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) Spanish radio, Father Mena is commissioned by Pope Francis and wears the title “Missionary of Mercy.” In total, 1,000 priests from around the world are blessed with the honor and the duty to go out among the people delivering the message of God’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
During the conference, Father Mena was there offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation to all those who wanted to meet Christ and experience his forgiveness and peace in the confessional. The lines were long with people of all ages.
Father Teo’s visit concluded on Aug. 18 with time spent at the Cathedral of St. Peter. The priest’s whirl-wind visit was short, but apparently, he touched many hearts and brought spiritual healing and peace to many souls.

(Conferences, Mississippi Catholic’s interview and Q&A sessions will be available, in Spanish, on YouTube and Facebook of “Padre Teodoro”)

Community comes together

CARTHAGE – With approximately 80 families affect in the parish of St. Anne, the community and those touched by the plight around the country are coming together to face coming challenges brouch on by the ICE raids on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
St. Anne Carthage has been collecting food and supplies to distribute to families directly impacted by the raids until the community stabilizes.
When visiting for assistance, those affect have been able to meet with attorneys to help guide them through the legal process.
Father Odel Medina is worried about how the families will survive and belies it could take up to six months before affected families find work again.

Cartaghe – photos by Joanna King

Forest – photos by Rebecca Haris

ICE raids – how to help click here

Bishops of four Mississippi churches condemn ICE raid, roundup of workers

By Catholic News Service
JACKSON – Mississippi’s Catholic bishops joined with the state’s Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran bishops in condemning the Trump administration’s Aug. 7 raid on seven food processing plants in the state to round up workers in the country illegally.
Such raids “only serve to … cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities,” the religious leaders said in an Aug. 9 statement quoting Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, from a July letter he sent to President Donald Trump.
“We, the undersigned, condemn such an approach, which, as he (Cardinal DiNardo) rightly states, ‘has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the United States,’” they said.
Signing the statement were Catholic Bishops Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson and Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi; Episcopal Bishop Brian R. Seage of Mississippi; Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church; and Bishop H. Julian Gordy, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Southeastern Synod.
In what is the biggest sweep in a decade, ICE arrested and detained nearly 680 people. About 300 were released that evening; another 380 people remained in custody.
“These are not new laws, nor is the enforcement of them new,” ICE’s acting director, Matt Albence, said in a statement Aug. 7. “The arrests today were the result of a yearlong criminal investigation. And the arrests and warrants that were executed today are just another step in that investigation.”
He said the employers could be charged with knowingly hiring workers who are in the county illegally and will be probed for tax, document and wage fraud, Albence said.
Investigators told The New York Post daily newspaper that six of the seven processing plants were “willfully and unlawfully employing illegal aliens;” many of the workers used false names and had fake Social Security numbers, according to the newspaper.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Aug. 11, Albence acknowledged the timing of the sweep “was unfortunate,” coming just days after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where the alleged shooter said he was targeting Hispanics.
In their joint statement, the Mississippi bishops wrote: “To say that immigration reform is a contentious and complex topic would be an understatement.”
“As Christians, within any disagreement we should all be held together by our baptismal promises. Our baptism, regardless of denomination calls us to unity in Jesus Christ,” they said. “We are his body and, therefore, called to act in love as a unified community for our churches and for the common good of our local communities and nation.”
They also said their churches stand ready to assist immigrants with their immediate needs following the ICE raid.
“We can stand in solidarity to provide solace, material assistance, and strength for the separated and traumatized children, parents and families,” the bishops said. “Of course, we are committed to a just and compassionate reform to our nation’s immigration system, but there is an urgent and critical need at this time to avoid a worsening crisis.”
Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Jackson was directly assisting families and also was accepting donations for its outreach at https://catholiccharitiesjackson.org.
In other reaction to the ICE sweep in Mississippi, Lawrence E. Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, called the enforcement actions “outrageous” and “out of order in this land of freedom and welcome.”
He called on the Trump administration to release all the workers.
“The United States government is becoming increasingly heavy-handed in its tactics and is becoming increasingly less recognizable to its citizens and all peoples around the world,” Couch said. “Why has the current administration declared war on our neighbors who are helping to put food on our tables?”
He called the ICE raid “part of a malicious campaign to paint immigrants as criminals and rapists who have ‘invaded’ our country.”
The workers who were arrest “had no criminal record,” he said. “Many have lived and worked in the United States for several years. This action has created a catastrophe for the families and is spreading fear throughout the immigrant community. Children were left homeless and traumatized by having their parents torn from them. It is unknown if some children remain alone.”
Instead of arresting “these hardworking people (who) have lived and worked in our country for many years, raised their families, and contributed their talents and resources to our communities,” Couch added, they should be given a path to citizenship.
Other Catholic agencies offering help to the families in need in Mississippi after the arrest of their breadwinner include Chicago-based Catholic Extension, which announced Aug. 8 it would send help immediately but also would begin fundraising through its “Holy Family Fund,” https://bit.ly/2ZEO7mK.
Catholic Extension is the leading national supporter of missionary work in poor and remote parts of the United States. The Jackson Diocese, one of the poorest in the country, has long been supported by the organization, including some of it parishes in towns where the raids took place.

To read Joint Statement of Bishop Kopacz, Kihneman, Seage, Swanson and Gordy click here

Parish holds solidarity vigil for immigrant families

By Joanna Puddister King
FOREST – Religious, labor, immigrant rights leaders and supporters joined together for a solidarity prayer vigil to support the workers and local rural immigrant communities on Saturday, Aug. 17 at St. Michael parish.
Founding member of Priests for Justice for Immigrants and advisor at Dominican University in Chicago, Father Brendan Curran presided over the event, offering words of love and encouragement, as well as translating immigrant’s stories.
On behalf of Sacred Heart Canton, Director of Hispanic Ministry, Blanca Rosa Peralta thanked those present for their support of all the affected parishes. In her native tongue, she told the crowd about a trip to the ICE facility in Louisiana to pick up a detained mother, who had been separated from her children. Quickly, the thought of celebrating her release was dashed, as the mother’s “heart was destroyed” by the thought of all the other mothers still separated from their children. There was “too much of a depth of sorrow,” translated Father Curran. But Peralta insisted that the Catholic “faith community is great” and applauded efforts of those who are working so tirelessly to serve those in need.

Several of those present at the prayer vigil got up and courageously shared their stories of being detained in the ICE raids that struck the community. One young mother, with an ankle bracelet monitoring her location, spoke of both her and her husband being detained and expressed that she “didn’t think going to work was criminal.”
One gentleman shared that while he was not affected by the raids, he felt that the immigrant community was torn apart by racism. Out of work since last month after being beat severely and injured to the point he could no longer work; his family has been struggling.
Another shared that the raids affected not just those detained, but even those who were in the country legally, as many were laid off by the companies, so that they would not have to deal with the challenges of employing immigrants.
Rodger Doolittle and Milton Thompson with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1529 offered their support to those affected by the ICE raids. Doolittle said that he has “never seen a raid this bad. It’s an injury to everyone.”
“The Local 1529 stands behind every worker in this community,” stated Doolittle, as he then pledged $45,000 worth of donated food and supplies, such as diapers, bottles and school supplies to aid in all affected communities.
Daisey Martínez, parishioner at St. Martin Hazlehurst, shared that the raids brought back so many feelings for her, as her mother had been detained many years ago. Martínez offered her support to those affected and urged others that if you “know people who need help. Do it and give freely.”
“God lets light shine and shows us something positive,” said Martínez. “Help is coming from all over the country.”