Experts in youth, Hispanic ministry to headline workshops

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON — Two of the leading voices in ministry in America today are coming to the Diocese of Jackson. Dr. Hoffsman Ospino and Robert Feduccia will lead this year’s faith formation workshop. The Office of Hispanic Ministry and the Department of Faith Formation are using the opportunity to also host a series of workshops and appearances with Ospino, associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College and a member of the leadership team for the V Encuentro.

Hosffman Ospino, assistant professor of theology and religious education at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, delivers a lecture in 2017 at The Catholic University of America in Washington. Ospino told Catholic News Service in an interview that emerging in the national encuentro process as it unfolds is the need for all U.S. church leaders to strengthen outreach to Hispanic youth and young adults. (CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard) See ENCUENTRO-OSPINO-YOUNG July 5, 2018.

On Saturday, August 25, Ospino and Feduccia are set to be keynote speakers anchoring this year’s Faith Formation Day at Madison St. Joseph School. The day is aimed at catechists and those who work in the protection of children, but others can register if they would like to attend. The theme this year – One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic – was developed around the four marks of the Church.
“We are looking at what unites us as Catholics and underscoring the importance of our Catholic identity, presence and catechesis in the world we live in today. Both keynote speakers have a well-developed perspective on what evangelization looks like in the modern era,” said Abbey Schuhmann, coordinator for youth ministry for the Diocese of Jackson and one of the organizers.

Robert Feduccia

Feduccia is a native of Brookaven and was active in the youth group at St. Francis. He was even a seminarian for the diocese before he discerned a call to married life. He helped found a youth liturgical leadership program called One Bread, One Cup at St. Meinrad Seminary and has worked with the National Catholic Youth Conference and World Youth Day.
Breakout sessions will focus on all areas of faith formation including family catechesis, adult faith formation, RCIA, youth ministry, elementary catechesis, Confirmation, self-care, and protection of children. Anyone involved in Faith Formation or Religious Education is encouraged to attend. The $10 cost includes a lunch.
That afternoon, from 3-7 p.m., Ospino will offer a program in Spanish at Pearl St. Jude Parish. Ospino is leading a workshop for pastors, deacons and lay ecclesial ministers one day before the public events.
In the invitation to the pastor event, Christian Brother Ted Dausch, coordinator for the Office of Hispanic Ministry, wrote a little about why hearing from Ospino is so relevant.
“We are living in very challenging times. Most of us cannot remember time a of such divisions, lack of civility, polarizations. It is against this backdrop, we are called to bring together people of different, languages, cultures, values, political preferences to reflect Catholic values lived out in very concrete ways. (Mt. 25)” he wrote.
Ospino has worked for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Catholic Educational Association. He brings with him a love for research and years of experience working with the Hispanic communities across the United States. He will speak with pastors, deacons and LEMs about the challenges of uniting diverse communities within faith communities. Registration for all events is open through the Office of Faith Formation, (601) 960-8473 or by emailing

Synod working document: Young Catholics need church that listens to them

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Young Catholics are looking for a church that listens to their concerns, accompanies them in discerning their vocations and helps them confront the challenges they face, said a working document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people.
The synod’s “instrumentum laboris” (working document), published by the Vatican June 19, stated that young people “want to see a church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching.”
Quoting a presynod gathering of young people who met at the Vatican March 19-25, the working document said young Catholics “want an authentic church. With this, we would like to express, particularly to the church hierarchy, our request for a transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community.”
The working document is based mainly on comments solicited in a questionnaire last June from national bishops’ conferences around the world as well as the final document of the presynod gathering.
An estimated 305 young adults participated in the weeklong presynod meeting, which allowed practicing Catholics and others to provide input for Pope Francis and the world’s bishops, who will meet at the synod in October to discuss “young people, faith and vocational discernment.” Some 15,000 young people also participated in the presynod process through Facebook groups online.
The meeting, the working document said, “highlighted the potential that younger generations represent” as well as their “hopes and desires.”
“Young people are great seekers of meaning, and everything that is in harmony with their search to give value to their lives arouses their attention and motivates their commitment,” it said.
Presenting the “instrumentum laboris” to journalists at a press briefing June 19, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said the synod’s goal is that young Catholics may find “the beauty of life, beginning from the happy relationship with the God of the covenant and of love” in a world that often robs them of their “affections, bonds and prospective of life.”
“The synod dedicated to young people gives us the opportunity to rediscover the hope of a good life, the dream of a pastoral renewal, the desire for community and passion for education,” he said.
Divided into three parts, the working document outlines the church’s need to listen to young people, to help guide them in the faith and in discerning their vocational calling, and to identify pastoral and missionary paths to be able to accompany them.
The responses collected by bishops’ conferences around the world cited a need for ways to help young men and women confront the challenges of cultural changes that sometimes disregard traditions and spirituality.

Pope Francis prepares to take a photo with young people at a presynod gathering of youth delegates in Rome March 19. The Vatican has released the working document for the October Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The working document also states that while the church highlights the importance of the body, affection and sexuality, many young Catholic men and women “do not follow the directions of the sexual morality of the church.”
“Although no bishops’ conferences offer solutions or indications, many (conferences) believe the issue of sexuality should be discussed more openly and without judgment,” it said.
Young people attending the presynod meeting said issues such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage are often debated both by young Catholics and non-Catholics.
The working document also highlighted the need to reaffirm church teaching on the body and sexuality at a time when biomedical advancements have pushed a more “technocratic approach to the body,” citing examples such as egg donation and surrogacy.
“Moreover, precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, digital pornography, the exhibition of one’s own body online and sexual tourism risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life,” the “instrumentum laboris” said.
Church leaders, it said, must “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, which young people are already freely discussing without taboo.”
Also, “LGBT youths, through various contributions received by the secretariat of the synod, want to benefit from a greater closeness and experience greater care from the church,” while some bishops’ conferences are asking what they can recommend to young people who enter into a homosexual relationship, but want to be closer to the church, the document said.
Regarding the use of the initials “LGBT” in a major church document, Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists that it was a term used in one of the documents given by the bishops’ conferences “and we quoted them.”
“We are open. We don’t want the synod to be closed in itself,” Cardinal Baldisseri said. “And in the church, there are many areas, there is freedom for people to express themselves – on the right, left, center, north and south – this is all possible. That is why we are willing to listen to people with different opinions.”
The working document also said young Catholics would like more initiatives that allow further dialogue with nonbelievers and the secular world to help them integrate their faith in their dealings with others.
Young men and women from primarily secularized areas “ask nothing from the church” and “expressly asked to be left in peace, because they feel its presence as annoying and even irritating.” These feelings, the document stated, do not come from contempt but rather due to “serious and respectable reasons.”
Among the reasons are the church’s sexual and economic scandals, priests who do not know how to engage with young people, and the way the church justifies its doctrinal and ethical positions to modern society.
Young men and women are also hoping the church can help them “find a simple and clear understanding of the meaning of vocation,” which is often misinterpreted as referring only to priesthood and consecrated life.
While the church has confirmed that marriage is also a vocation, the document confirms the need for “a youth vocational ministry capable of being meaningful for all young people.”
“Called to holiness and anointed by the spirit, the Christian learns to grasp all the choices in existence in a vocational perspective, especially the central one of the state of life as well as those of a professional nature,” it said.
“For this reason, some bishops’ conferences hope that the synod will find ways to help all Christians rediscover the link between profession and vocation in all its fruitfulness … and in view of the professional orientation of young people with a vocational perspective,” the document said.

Bishops end border visit, call reunification of children urgent

By Rhina Guidos
SAN JUAN, Texas (CNS) – In less than 48 hours, a group of Catholic bishops saw the faces of triumph and relief from migrants who had been recently released by immigration authorities, but ended their two-day journey to the border with a more “somber” experience, visiting detained migrant children living temporarily within the walls of a converted Walmart.
During a news conference after the second and last day of their visit July 2, they stressed the “urgent” need to do something to help the children.
The separation for some of the children began shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in early May that if migrants wanted to take their chances crossing the border illegally with their children, they faced the consequence of having them taken away – and he implemented a policy doing so.
Widespread outrage in the weeks following led to President Donald Trump essentially rescinding the policy in mid-June. But the stroke of the pen could not automatically reunite the children and parents who had been and remain apart.
“The children who are separated from their parents need to be reunited. That’s already begun and it’s certainly not finished and there may be complications, but it must be done and it’s urgent,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The visit to the facility known as Casa Padre capped the bishops’ brief journey to the border communities of McAllen-Brownsville near the southern border.

Trump picks Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court nominee

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – President Donald Trump announced July 9 that his nominee for the Supreme Court is Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge in Washington and a Catholic who once clerked for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“What matters is not a judge’s personal views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require,” Trump said in his announcement at the White House, adding: “I am pleased to say I have found, without doubt, such a person.”
He said the nominee has “impeccable credentials” and is “considered a judge’s judge.”
“I am grateful to you and I am humbled by your confidence in me,” said Kavanaugh, who was standing near his wife and two daughters.

Brett Kavanaugh, a Catholic, who is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, smiles July 9 at the White House in Washington after President Donald Trump named him his Supreme Court nominee. (CNS photo/Jim Bourg, Reuters)

Kavanaugh spoke about his Catholic faith saying he tries to live by the motto instilled in him by his Jesuit high school: “be men for others.” Kavanaugh, like Justice Neil Gorsuch, attended Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit boys school in Maryland. He also pointed out that his former pastor, Msgr. John Enzler, was in the audience. He said he he used to be an altar boy for him and now the two serve the homeless together. The priest is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Washington. Kavanaugh also gave a shout-out to the girls basketball team at his parish which he coaches. He said the team has nicknamed him “Coach K,” the name given to Duke basketball’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Kavanaugh said if he is chosen to be on the Supreme Court he would “keep an open mind in every case” and “always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.”
Immediately after Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announced his retirement June 27, Trump said he would move quickly to nominate a replacement, saying he would review a list of candidates from the list he had to fill the seat now held by Gorsuch after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Kennedy is one of five Catholic justices on the Supreme Court along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.
Kavanaugh, 53, is a Yale Law School graduate who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he has authored more than 280 opinions. He was part of the Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater investigation, which ultimately led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment by the House and acquittal by the Senate.
His biography on the court website notes that he is a regular lector at his church, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington. He also volunteers for the St. Maria’s Meals program at Catholic Charities, has coached CYO, tutors at the Washington Jesuit Academy and belongs to the John Carroll Society, a group of Catholic lawyers and professionals.
He dissented from a recent ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that a teenager in an immigrant detention center was entitled to seek an abortion. He claimed the decision would give immigrant minors a right to “immediate abortion on demand,” but urged the government to transfer her to private custody so she could do “as she wished.”
Kavanaugh also dissented from a majority decision of the D.C. Circuit that rejected a request from the Archdiocese of Washington and Priests for Life to have the full court review their challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.
He said that “the regulations substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations to take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs.” But he also wrote that the government “has a compelling interest in facilitating access to contraception for the employees of these religious organizations” and should “achieve it in other ways.”
Two of the other judges reported to be top picks as nominees are also Catholic: Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman. Judge Amul Thapar, on a broader top list, is also Catholic.
The nominee must be confirmed by the Senate in order to have a seat on the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings questioning the nominee and if the committee approves, a vote for or against the nominee goes to the full Senate floor and must be approved with a simple majority or 51 votes. – –

(Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.)

Trump firma orden para detener separación de familias

Por Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) — El presidente Donald Trump firmó una orden ejecutiva el 20 de junio que suspende la práctica de separar a menores de edad del lado de sus padres, una política de su administración que se ha aplicado a familias que han estado cruzando la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México ilegalmente.
La orden ejecutiva enfrenta un obstáculo por un decreto de consentimiento de 1997 que prohíbe al gobierno federal mantener a los niños en detención dentro de un centro de inmigración más de 20 días, aunque estén con sus padres. La orden ejecutiva ordena al fiscal general que solicite  el permiso de una corte federal para modificar el decreto de consentimiento.
La crisis comenzó cuando el fiscal general de los Estados Unidos Jeff Sessions anunció una política de “tolerancia cero” para los que cruzan la frontera. Según la política, adultos que cruzan la frontera sin documentos se les acusará de un delito grave en lugar de un delito menor. Bajo ley federal, personas acusadas de delitos graves no pueden tener a sus hijos con ellos mientras están detenidos.
El gobierno dijo a principios de junio que 1,995 menores de edad habían sido separados de 1,940 adultos que habían cruzado la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México, aunque algunos menores habían cruzado sin sus padres o parientes adultos.
La política y su resultado provocaron algunas de las reacciones más hostiles de cualquier iniciativa de Trump.

Children of detained migrants play soccer at a tent encampment near Tornillo, Texas, June 18. Image taken from Guadelupe, Mexico. (CNS photo/Jose Luis Gonzalez, Reuters)

Horas antes de que se firmara la orden ejecutiva, el papa Francisco dijo que estaba de acuerdo con los obispos estadounidenses, quienes habían condenado la política de separación de familias, la cual ha llevado a que niños permanezcan en centros de detención del gobierno mientras que sus padres van a cárceles federales. Los obispos de México también criticaron la política.
Todas las primeras damas vivientes, incluso la primera dama, Melania Trump, una inmigrante de Eslovenia, expresaron su tristeza o una emoción más fuerte al ver imágenes de los niños separados de sus padres.
Trump dijo que su esposa, tal como él, tienen sentimientos “fuertes” al ver las imágenes.
“Creo que cualquiera con corazón lo sentiría con fuerza”, dijo Trump durante la ceremonia en la cual firmó el documento el 20 de junio en la Oficina Oval.
Trump dijo que no le gustaba ver a familias separadas, ni los sentimientos que le provocaba
“Esto resolverá ese problema y al mismo tiempo mantendremos una frontera muy fuerte”, dijo.
Aun así, la orden ejecutiva no es necesariamente un remedio. Le permite al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional detener a las familias juntas “bajo las actuales limitaciones de recursos”. La “política de detención temporal” también solo está vigente “en la medida permitida por la ley y sujeta a la disponibilidad de las asignaciones”

Hundreds of calls come in at USCCB HQ seeking to foster detained kids

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Maybe it was the request by the Pentagon for 20,000 mattresses as military bases become, at least partly, shelters for detained border crossers.
Maybe it was the federal government report that 2,342 children had been separated from 2,206 parents at the U.S.-Mexico border between May 5 and June 9.
Maybe it was the now-famous audio recording of children crying after being separated from their parents.

An immigrant entering the U.S. illegally is seen arriving in shackles for a court hearing in McAllen, Texas, June 22. (CNS photo/Loren Elliott, Reuters) See IMMIGRATION-BORDERS June 22, 2018.

Or maybe it was the pictures of kids in cages.
Whatever the reason, hundreds of American adults have called the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops seeking to provide foster care for the separated children.
At first report June 20, 300 calls had come in. And the calls keep coming. “We’re triaging the calls,” said Katie Kuennen, associate director for children’s services for the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services office.
“We’re getting flooded,” Kuennen added. “It’s not just Catholic Charities, but MRS-wide.”
The one hitch: Most of those who have called are not licensed or certified to be foster parents. That’s a process that varies from state to state, according to Kuennen. While most states can train and certify parents for foster care in two or three months, some states can take a lot longer.
Further, while many Catholic Charities USA affiliate agencies are set up to match foster families with children, not all are. MRS, Kuennen said, also partners with Bethany Christian Services in some areas of the country. Agencies wishing to add foster care to their portfolio of services can typically gain state licensing in a month or two, she added.
So what happens when the calls come in? “We’re able to direct them to the nearest ORR foster care program that we have available,” Kuennen told Catholic News Service June 22. ORR is the acronym for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.
“The programs aren’t new, the process of bringing foster families on board isn’t new,” she said. “What’s new is the public awareness of the program and the seeing of these images on television to get engaged and to open their homes to these families.”
Even though President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 that essentially reversed that part of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated kids from their parents, it was silent on the fate of those 2,352 kids already torn from their folks, plus whatever additional children were separated from their parents after June 9.
Moreover, a policy enacted in 1997 sets a 20-day limit for detained children to be detained alongside their parents. A Trump administration request to exceed that limit is before a federal judge in California.
“For years there has not been sufficient capacity in the ORR residential network for foster care placement,” Kuennen told CNS. “Historically they (children) have been going into shelter settings.”
However, “our department is currently responding to a funding opportunity announcement from ORR. I’m sure others (agencies) are as well. We are actively seeking to increase our transitional foster care and our long-term foster care,” she added.
It could be coincidence that the ORR money is being freed up at this time, or it could be consequence.
“My sense is that it was initiated in May, released in May, so the timing does match up,” Kuennen said, “before the family separation issue got a lot of attention after the zero tolerance (policy) was put into effect.”
Although the money won’t be officially freed up until the start of the new federal fiscal year Oct. 1, Kuennen said there is precedent for ORR to retroactively reimburse groups it has funded for expenses incurred if the group can show the money was spent on the specific grant plan.

Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

Passing a farm bill in 2018’s political climate a hard row to hoe

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – For rural advocates, there were a lot of things not to like in this year’s farm bill.
For starters, there was the zeroing out the Conservation Stewardship Program, which has a $1 billion price tag. There also was a rewrite to the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program that would kick off 2 million Americas from its rolls, more than canceling out the indexing of benefits for those remaining in the program – not to mention the imposition of work requirements to qualify for the benefit.
When the House voted on the farm bill May 18, the measure’s merits were only partly considered. But what brought it down to a surprising defeat was not its content, but a vastly different subject: immigration.
Some Republicans rebelled against their outgoing House speaker, Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and voted no on the bill in a bid to force a vote on immigration bills that they charge have been stymied by House leadership.
The turn of events left James Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life, sounding shell-shocked.
“It’s a surprise, but at the same time there were flaws in the bill, so it was already vulnerable,” Ennis told Catholic News Service from Wisconsin, where he was conducting Catholic Rural Life business. “Then the division within the House made it that much more divisive.”
Ennis allowed how the thumbs-down on the farm bill could serve as a catalyst for change within it.
“There’s more time for conversations with representatives who are concerned about those kinds of questions. There will be opportunities that maybe convince some to make some revisions,” he said.
“But then again, that’s what myself, Catholic Rural Life, and Catholic Charities and the USCCB (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) are trying to do by getting messages out to our constituents. We’ve got this window. So let’s continue to communicate these concerns. There may be some opportunities to get some changes in this version of the farm bill. We’re about a month out. So there is some opportunity. How much is still debatable.”

A truck travels along a dirt road near a grain farm in Hesper Township, Iowa. The 2018 farm bill was defeated on the floor of the House May 18. It could back for a second vote in late June, but Catholic and other rural life advocates see a need for improvements in the measure before then. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See WASHINGTON-LETTER-FARM-BILL May 25, 2018.

Cows graze near a silo in 2009 on a farm at sunset just outside Postville, Iowa. The 2018 farm bill was defeated on the floor of the House May 18. It could back for a second vote in late June, but Catholic and other rural life advocates see a need for improvements in the measure before then. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See WASHINGTON-LETTER-FARM-BILL May 25, 2018.

Some lawmakers are collecting signatures from their colleagues for a discharge petition that would force the House to vote on immigration bills. Among them are:
– The DREAM Act, which would let immigrants who arrived as minors without legal permission to stay in the United States and give them a path to citizenship. These immigrants are known as “Dreamers,” the recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
– The Agricultural Guestworker Act sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, that would grant temporary status for DACA recipients with renewable three-year visas and would include stronger border enforcement and legal immigration restrictions, including removing protections for immigrant farmworkers.
– The Securing America’s Future Act, which incorporates the Goodlatte bill, cuts lawful immigration by 40 percent, eliminates the ability of citizens to sponsor their siblings, parents or adult children, and offers no path to citizenship for “Dreamers.”
– The Uniting and Securing America Act, a bipartisan compromise that offers a path to citizenship, mandates security cost estimates for each mile of the U.S.-Mexico border, and funds more immigration judges and lawyers.
If the petition is successful, all four bills would be voted on, and the one receiving the most yes votes would be declared the winner. It would be then up to Senate to consider its own legislation. And President Donald Trump has already vowed a veto.
Susan Alan, associate director of the National Farm Worker Ministry, told CNS May 21 the organization was dead-set against the Goodlatte bill.
The bill, she said, would relieve employers from having to pay for transportation for guest workers or reimburse them for their costs as well as having to look for local workers to do the work, do away with the prevailing wage program based on the cost of living in different regions of the country, and take away guest workers’ right to sue for withheld wages.
“It’s reinstituting the ‘bracero’ program of the 1940s and its worst abuses. And it’s no way to treat a neighbor, and it’s no way to treat a guest worker. It would also displace more local workers,” Alan said. “The farmworker community right now is very frightened. What we see is: The more afraid, the more fearful the population is, the more exploitable it is.”
The National Farm Worker Ministry and a Washington-based group, Farmworker Justice, jointly urged members and supporters in a May 25 email to tell their congressional representative to reject the Goodlatte bill and the Securing America’s Future Act.
“There are significant improvements that need to be made to the bill,” said Andrew Jerome, a spokesman for the National Farmers Union. “We’ve been encouraging them to send it back to committee.”
Jerome’s list of improvements included more money for promotion programs that promote diverse markets for family farmers, which he called a big help “with the farm economy being where it’s at right now.” Improvements in the rural safety net and restoration of the Conservation Stewardship Program also rank high on his list.
Whether the House will send it back to committee “is another story,” he said. “They could just bring it up as is.” Jerome said he expects a new vote on a farm bill during the third week of June.
No farm bill? No problem – maybe, said Catholic Rural Life’s Ennis.
“They may pass a continuing a resolution. It depends how long that is,” he said. “The 2012 farm bill became the 2014 farm bill. That took two years to get agreement. I don’t think they don’t want to go down that road again, but that’s always a possibility because of the midterm elections.” The farm bill is supposed to have a five-year lifespan.
Ennis added, “Farmers need to know that certain programs are in place. They need some security. That’s really key. They could do a continuing resolution, kick the can down the road for another year, or pass a farm bill.”
“Maybe it’s better to wait a year,” he sighed. “Who knows their thinking?”

(Editor’s note: Bishop Joseph Kopacz sent a letter to Representative Trent Kelly in May asking him to consider an amendment to the Farm Bill in support of international food assistance programs supported by Catholic Relief Services.)

States bordering Gulf of Mexico rank at, near bottom of new index

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON – Everything gets ranked these days, from burger joints to colleges. States are no different.
But the state of some states is quite different from their counterparts.
An area called the “Gulf South” – the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico – rank at or near the bottom of the JustSouth Index issued by the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans. Those states are Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
The index, which debuted last year, looks at poverty, racial disparity and immigrant exclusion – areas that the study’s originators saw as important from the viewpoint of Catholic social teaching. The index looked at three aspects of each area before arriving at its rankings.

VARDAMAN – Hispanic workers harvest sweet potatoes in October, 2016. Bishop John Manz, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago and then chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers, visited the community that fall as part of an effort to get a first-hand view of the issues facing immigrant workers in the region. This year's Just South Index examines these same issues throughout the nation. (Mississippi Catholic file photo)

“Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas earned spots in the bottom six rankings” overall, said the study, which was unveiled May 2 at the Capitol. This is an improvement over the first year of the rankings, when they were in the bottom four.
Florida, which had been 41st in the first index, moved up six spots to 35th. But the Sunshine State shouldn’t pat itself on the back quite yet; it finished dead last in poverty.
Louisiana finished 50th in racial disparity and 47th in immigrant exclusion; while Mississippi finished ahead of only Florida in poverty, and Texas wound up 50th in immigrant exclusion and 48th in poverty.
Jesuit Father Fred Kammer, director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute, said: “Sadly, the Gulf South states continue to lag far behind many others in promoting integral human development for their residents, even though there are some marginal changes in one indicator or another.”
Progress, though, need not be incremental or Sisyphus-like. From last year’s index to this year’s, big leaps were not impossible. Wyoming soared from 24th to second, while Alaska moved from 28th to seventh, and Wisconsin leapt from 33rd to 16th. Likewise, Connecticut dropped from fifth to 20th, Utah slid from 17th to 33rd, and South Dakota slumped from 15th to 43rd.
The three indicators for the poverty ranking were the average income of poor households, health insurance coverage for the poor and housing affordability. For racial disparity, the indicators were public school integration, white-minority wage equity and white-minority employment equity. The immigrant exclusion indicators were immigrant youth outcomes, immigrants’ English proficiency and health insurance coverage of immigrants.
“The Gulf South has an unmistakable legacy of discrimination and marginalization toward people of color. The disproportionate advantages for white Americans in relation to persons of color in virtually every sphere of life illustrate the deep divisions that exist despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the election of the first African-American president,” the study said.
Father Kammer said May 2 the region’s legacy of slavery and racial discrimination contributes to unequal outcomes for whites and nonwhites.
Lane Windham, associate director of Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, added the region “has the lowest union density” in the country. “People with union jobs make better wages,” she declared, noting the history of employers who have moved production to the nonunion South to avoid unions and to pay workers less.
Poverty remains a grinding, draining issue in the region. “In 1996, 68 of every 100 poor families received TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) benefits and in 2014, just 23 of every 100 poor families were receiving benefits,” the report said. “The maximum TANF monthly benefit for a single-parent family of three in Mississippi is $170 compared to $653 in Wisconsin and $789 in New York.”
The region also has fared poorly in adapting to growing numbers of immigrants.
“States in the Gulf South have experienced a significant influx of immigrants into their workforces in recent years and have not yet made adequate adjustments to their social, economic and political systems in order to promote justice and dignity for immigrant residents,” the report said. “In addition, the Gulf South’s treatment of immigrants is colored by a history of discrimination against Hispanics and African-Americans.”
Immigrants face other forms of discrimination as well, according to the report. “In Texas, schools districts that have experienced an influx of students with limited English proficiency have had difficulty providing effective services to students because the school finance system does not take into consideration the true costs of providing quality language services to immigrant children,” it said.
“Some businesses will attempt to reduce costs by classifying immigrants as contract, temporary, or part-time workers to avoid offering benefits,” it continued. “Not only are these practices harmful to immigrant workers and families but also are not in the long-term interest of the employer, because workers who have health insurance are more present, productive and committed to their jobs.”
On another score, “public school segregation contributes to second-class schools where quality is low and resources are scarce. Additionally, gaps in employment and earnings stemming from racial and ethnic differences embody discriminatory practices and limit the economic opportunities of people of color to the benefit of their white neighbors,” the report said, noting that after federal supervision of public-school districts was eased, more minority students were educated in schools that were predominantly minority-majority.
While the index pointed out flaws in states’ practices, it also offered policy prescriptions.
States and school districts, it said, “should increase the share of resources allocated to schools serving a large percentage of minority students. Additional funding would allow those schools to attract and retain high-quality teachers, and provide critical support services for at-risk students.”
It added, “States can create incentive housing zones in which developers could request a project-based subsidy from the state for a specified number of affordable rental units developed within the zone.”
Another relatively easy fix: expanding Medicaid.
“The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided an option for state leaders to expand the Medicaid program, largely funded with federal dollars, to provide coverage to the poorest persons in the state,” the report said. “Nineteen states, including four in the Gulf South region, have chosen not to do so.”

(Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison)

Historians’ approval moves Father Tolton’s sainthood cause forward

Father Augustus Tolton, the first recognized U.S. diocesan priest of African descent, is pictured in an undated photo. Father Tolton’s cause is moving forward after receiving positive news from the Vatican’s historical consultants. (CNS photo/courtesy of Archdiocese of Chicago Archives and Records Center)

By Joyce Duriga
CHICAGO (CNS) – The canonization cause of Father Augustus Tolton received important approval from the Vatican’s historical consultants earlier this year, moving the cause forward.
Father Tolton, a former slave, is the first recognized U.S. diocesan priest of African descent. Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George opened his cause for canonization in 2011, giving the priest the title “servant of God.”
The consultants in Rome ruled in March that the “positio” – a document equivalent to a doctoral dissertation on a person’s life – was acceptable and the research on Father Tolton’s life was finished, said Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry, postulator for the cause.
“They have a story on a life that they deem is credible, properly documented. It bodes well for the remaining steps of scrutiny – those remaining steps being the theological commission that will make a final determination on his virtues,” Bishop Perry explained.
It now goes to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, he said. Once the congregation’s members “approve it, then the prefect of that congregation takes the case to the pope,” he added.
If the pope approves it, Father Tolton would be declared venerable, the next step on the way to canonization. The last two steps are beatification and canonization. In general, two approved miracles through Father Tolton’s intercession are needed for him to be beatified and canonized.
Six historical consultants ruled unanimously on the Tolton “positio,” compiled by a team in Rome led by Andrea Ambrosi, based on hundreds of pages of research completed in Chicago.
While working on the document, Ambrosi’s team asked Bishop Perry why it took so long to open a cause for Tolton, who died in 1897.
“We told them that African-Americans basically had no status in the church to be considered at that time. Some people didn’t think we had souls. They were hardly poised to recommend someone to be a saint,” Bishop Perry said. “And then in those days there were hardly any saints from the United States proposed.”
The fact that the historical consultants approved the “positio” unanimously is a positive sign, he said. The cause is scheduled to go before the theological commission in February 2019.
Two miracles through Father Tolton’s intercession have been sent to Rome.
“We’re hoping and our fingers are crossed and we’re praying that at least one of them might be acceptable for his beatification,” Bishop Perry said.
Born into slavery, young Augustus fled to freedom with his mother and two siblings through the woods of northern Missouri and across the Mississippi River while being pursued by bounty hunters and soldiers. He was only 9 years old.
The small family made their home in Quincy, Illinois, a sanctuary for runaway slaves.
Growing up in Quincy and serving at Mass, Augustus felt a call to the priesthood, but because of rampant racism, no seminary in the United States would accept him.
He headed to Rome, convinced he would become a missionary priest serving in Africa. However, after ordination he was sent back to his hometown to be a missionary to the community there.
He was such a good preacher that many white people filled the pews for his Masses, along with black people. This upset the white priests in the town, who made life very difficult for him as a result. After three years, Father Tolton moved north to Chicago to minister to the black community, at the request of Archbishop Patrick Feehan.
Father Tolton worked tirelessly for his congregation in Chicago, to the point of exhaustion. On July 9, 1897, he died of heat stroke while returning from a priests retreat. He was 43.
Since the cause was opened, Bishop Perry and his team have given more than 170 presentations on Father Tolton around the country. They also have received inquiries about the priest from Catholics in the Philippines, Germany, Australia, Italy, France and countries in Africa.
People receive Father Tolton’s story well, Bishop Perry said.
“There’s also the element of surprise. … People always presume that we had black priests,” he told the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper.
Father Tolton did not speak out publicly against the racist abuse he encountered from his fellow Catholics. Rather, throughout his ministry, he preached that the Catholic Church was the only true liberator of blacks in America.
“I think people generally are touched by his story, especially regarding his stamina and perseverance given what appears to be a different mood today. People don’t accept stuff thrown in their faces anymore,” Bishop Perry said.
(Duriga is editor of the Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.)

Fun and fresh book appeals to hipster Catholics with spiritual swagger

By Regina Lordan
“The Catholic Hipster Handbook: Rediscovering Cool Saints, Forgotten Prayers and Other Weird but Sacred Stuff” by Tommy Tighe. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2017). 206 pp., $15.95.
“Catholic Puzzles, Word Games and Brainteasers” by Matt Swaim. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2017). 64 pp., $9.95.
“Christian Labyrinths: A Celtic Coloring Book” by Daniel Mitsui. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2017). 64 pp., $10.95.
Are you a Catholic hipster? Are you a bespectacled foodie, black skinny jeans and Chucks-wearing Catholic “sneaking a peek at your breviary app during your work meeting,” as the book teases?

These are the covers of “The Catholic Hipster Handbook: Rediscovering Cool Saints, Forgotten Prayers and Other Weird but Sacred Stuff” by Tommy Tighe; “Catholic Puzzles, Word Games and Brainteasers” by Matt Swaim; and “Christian Labyrinths: A Celtic Coloring Book” by Daniel Mitsui. The books are reviewed by Regina Lordan. (CNS)

Then yes, you are a Catholic hipster, and yes, “The Catholic Hipster Handbook: Rediscovering Cool Saints, Forgotten Prayers, and Other Weird but Sacred Stuff” by Tommy Tighe is for you.
Does this stereotype annoy you and does the whole idea of a Catholic hipster seem odd? It doesn’t matter, this book is still for you.
Just as the world is saturated with stereotypes about hipsters and Catholics (and perhaps now Catholic hipsters?), the market is saturated with books for Catholic moms, grieving, spirituality, history, the saints and the Gospel. It is not exactly overflowing with literature that purposely identifies with Catholics with a certain type of spiritual swagger.
This book will speak to the Catholic who is ready to appreciate the absolute coolness of Catholicism: It is countercultural, it’s ancient (more ancient than those ancient grains on your avocado toast), and there is so much to celebrate, discover and explore within the faith to deepen spirituality and life.
“The Catholic Hipster Handbook” augments these glorious features of the church and organizes them into ways to rediscover the church’s attitude, stuff, life and the attraction. The aptly called rediscoveries are explained and unfolded by interesting laypeople, as well by a Salesian sister and diocesan priest. Each topic is given a saint, prayer and activity. Hipsters love homework, right? Well no one really does, but this homework is easy, meaningful and involves pilgrimages, simple matching games, art projects and praying.
With chapters like “Catholic Weird on Twitter,” “What About Beards,” “Taking Pope Francis to the Farmers Market” and “The Local Craft (Catholic?) Brewery Scene,” there is no wonder “The Catholic Hipster Handbook” appeared on several top books lists floating around the internet.
Fresh and original, fun and clever, the book is laden with authentic church teaching, beautiful prayers, meaningful reflections and spiritual refreshment. In “O Scapular, My Scapular,” Sarah Vabulas, author and podcast host, discusses the meaning behind her beloved scapular. On one side is the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on the other is an image of Mary.
Vabulas said wearing the scapular almost daily has given her the opportunity to answer curious questioners about the relationship between Mary and Jesus. She notes the history of the scapular and its symbolism to live a life focused on Jesus through prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation.
Lisa Hendey’s contribution includes practical applications to keep Catholics focused on Catholicism by sharing her favorite Catholic apps. Author and founder of the popular, Hendey also reminds readers about the importance of silencing technology to “simply be in the astounding presence of the greatest designer the world has ever known.”
Her cool saint is St. Eligius, who “would have been an app designer had he lived in modern times.” This patron saint of gas station workers was a priest, bishop and skilled metalworker who used his access to royalty to help the poor. Her activity? Spend some time with an elderly person and help them learn something new about their technology.
Written by Tommy Tighe, founder of, with the help of contributors including Leticia Ochoa Adams from Sirius XM, musician and comedian Matt Dunn and Salesian Sister Brittany Harrison, the voices are diverse and bring something very interesting to the (brunch?) table. Try it out and reinvigorate your faith life with a breath of fresh air.
In the mood for more alternative ways to engage your faith life? Try out “Catholic Puzzles, Word Games, and Brainteasers” by Matt Swaim and “Christian Labyrinths: A Celtic Coloring Book” by Daniel Mitsui, both published by Ava Maria Press.
“Catholic Puzzles” is collection of mind-bending but fun quizzes, code scrambles and letter games. The games will hone your Bible and Catholic fact skills as well as provide several hours of entertainment.
“Christian Labyrinths” is a coloring book that marries a love of coloring with intricate tile patterns and Bible verses and prayers. Interestingly, each page contains a hidden mistake adding to the challenge and intrigue of this unique collection of coloring pages for adults.
(Lordan has master’s degrees in education and political science and is a former assistant international editor of Catholic News Service. She is a digital editor at Peanut Butter & Grace, an online resource for Catholic family catechesis.)