Priest delivers powerful testimony during Homeland Security hearings

By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Father Odel Medina tugged at heartstrings as he read a letter written by a child pleading for his father’s freedom after being jailed since the federal agent raids on Mississippi last summer.
Missionary Servant Father Medina, pastor of St. Therese Kosciusko and St. Anne Carthage, was among the many people presenting testimonies and stories and expressing concerns during public hearings Nov. 7 in Tougaloo before U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security members.
Committee members attending the hearing included Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Rep. Al Green (D-TX.) Also on hand was Rep. Steven Cohen (D-TN), who heads up the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Looking back. More than 600 federal agents raided chicken processing plants across Mississippi Aug. 7 resulting in the arrests of 680 people. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid was the largest statewide workplace operation in U.S. history with a price tag of $1.3 million so far according to reports.
For the most part, those arrested were not dangerous criminals, but rather workers in many cases outstaying their visas. There were six more serious charges involving domestic violence and two cases of battery that were reported but details were unclear. One recent report indicated that 300 are still living in detention.
In the aftermath of the raids, many are calling the operation inhuman and unnecessary. During hearings, Jere Miles, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security investigation office in New Orleans, was questioned on the project’s costs. Other questions directed at him focused on the timing and execution of operations that took place on the first day of school when children were heading back to classes after the summer break.
According to reports, only county school districts were contacted about the raids. Communications with other schools were lacking and left educational facilities in crisis management at the end of the day when the parents were not there to pick up their children. Reports say that ICE provided 11 phones for the more the 680 detainees to use on that day to get in touch with loved ones and to seek help.

Miles defended his agency saying that his office was incompliance with the law, and as a result of the raid, 400 cases of illegally use of SSN or identity theft were found. When Mississippi Catholic questioned Miles about the outcome of the raids, he said, “After this hearing and each raid, the agency tries to learn how to improve this kind of operation. We are taking all the suggestions, but there are some things we cannot change because we need to take care of our country,” he explained about the administration’s press on immigration and security and enforcement efforts.
Several Catholic communities of the Diocese of Jackson have been facing the consequences of the immigration raids over the past months. In emergency response and social justice efforts, the diocese has been working with parishes to provide assistance to families faced with hardships struggling to pay rent, buy food and pay bills after heads of households lost work due to the raids.
Father Medina is heading up long-term recovery efforts at crisis centers established as part of the diocese’s humanitarian aid efforts in coordination with Catholic Charities and other community organizations joining in the outreach. Help including financial assistance and legal advice is offered as part of outreach to families in the parishes and also residents living within the community-at-large touched by the raids.
Father Mike O’Brien, pastor of Sacred Heart in Canton, and Father Roberto Mena, Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and pastor of St. Michael Parish in Forest, are also part of the diocese’s humanitarian aid initiatives.
During the Tougaloo hearing, Father Medina gathered with community leaders who one-by-one shared their testimonies and concerns. They included Scott County Sheriff Mike Lee; Lorena Quiroz Lewis of Working Together Mississippi; Canton Mayor William Truly; Clift Johnson, director of MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law and Attorney Constance Slaughter-Harvey, president of the Board of Legacy Education and Empowerment Foundation.
One of the most troubling aspects of the raids on the minds of many speaking at the hearing is the difficult situations of the families, who are struggling to make ends meet. According to records, about 1,000 children are affected by the raids including the minors now without both parents and the ongoing psychological, economic and social effects. The language barrier between Guatemalan detainees, who speak Mam, a Mayan language, is also a concern that calls for special translators.
Monserrat Ramirez and Roberto Tijerina, members of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), broadcasted the hearing on the Facebook page of Mississippi Resiste, a grassroots organization dedicated to helping the immigrant community.
SONG’s activists from Mississippi and other states are uniting forces with South East Immigrant Rights Network. Together, they are creating a network of individuals including lawyers, local authorities and Catholic lay and priests giving time and talents to help families in need of assistance and to get back on their feet.
During hearings, Father Medina talked about the generous support received from people everywhere after the raids. Donations poured into Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Jackson from 40 different states and several organizations reflecting the compassion and concerns that the people of the United States of America have for the immigrant families of Mississippi now in crisis and seeking social justice, guidance and help.
Father Medina thanked members of the committee for his opportunity to speak on the behalf of people in the diocese’s family of parishes and to read the letter of the child from his own parish family hurting and traumatized in the aftermath of the raids. “I assure you of my prayers. God bless you,” said the priest with a heavy heart, as he closed his talk.

(Linda Reeves contributed to this story.)

The sisters of Holmes County, integral to community

By Dan Stockman
LEXINGTON – It’s a Wednesday, and three teenagers are in Sr. Sheila Conley’s tiny office, learning about finances.
Less than a block away, Sr. Mary Walz, a social worker, is at the Lexington Medical Clinic, running a diabetes education program.
Down the road in Durant, Sr. Madeline Kavanaugh is working on a statewide re-entry program for people being released from the state prison system.
The three sisters are continuing the ministries of Sr. Paula Merrill, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky, and Sr. Margaret Held of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee. Held and Merrill were murdered Aug. 25, 2016, after working in the area for six years and ministering to those kept poor for some 30 years, mostly in Mississippi. They were nurse practitioners and both worked at the Lexington Medical Clinic.
On Nov. 20, 2017, Kavanaugh, Conley and Walz moved into the house Merrill and Held had shared and started their own work in the area. Their arrival “meant a new beginning, a fresh start. It meant that we were going to survive,” says Sam Sample, a parishioner at St. Thomas Church in Lexington and a friend of all five sisters.
Conley’s students have already completed the Career Ready 101 class at the Lexington Multi-Purpose Complex, which consists of 200 hours of learning how to be employable, such as understanding you have to show up to work, on time, every day.
“There’s a great vocational school where they can become an electrician or be certified to drive a forklift,” Conley, a Sister of Charity of Halifax, Nova Scotia, says later. “But they don’t know how to keep a job.”
Today, the subject is credit: credit cards, credit scores, credit card bills. They know there are credit cards and debit cards, but the only difference between them they know about is that a debit card needs a PIN; they don’t know one operates on credit and the other requires money in the bank.
The classes that provide real-world lessons existed before Conley got here, but they were only online, and the students didn’t have much success afterward. Now, they have Conley, a no-nonsense sister with a sharp wit, lots of stories and experience, and a mission to change their lives.
Since so many patients at the Lexington Medical Clinic have some form of diabetes, Walz, a Daughter of Charity, comes in contact with almost all of them.
“It gives you access to people who would never consider talking to a social worker,” Walz says. “There are so many social aspects to diabetes. The doctors say, ‘Lose weight, eat right, blah blah blah,’ and it just overwhelms them. But one-on-one, you can really address the issues, from poverty to transportation to healthy cooking.”
Like many rural areas, Lexington has few grocery stores and little fresh produce. Most people don’t know how to make healthy food choices, she says. They can’t find healthy food to buy and don’t know how to prepare it if they find it.
Walz also helps patients navigate the often-bewildering world of public assistance and nonprofit programs to cover co-pays, find transportation, or get expensive hearing aids.
“The staff told me, ‘They’re calling you the Diabetes Lady,'” Walz said. “I told them, ‘I’ve been called worse.'”
Kavanaugh, a Daughter of Charity, works with Marvin Edwards, a Secular Franciscan, on the prison re-entry program, the Mississippi Association for Returning Citizens (MARC). The program, “Getting Ahead While Getting Out,” is designed to help people get out of poverty.
“They learn a lot of self-evaluation skills — how to evaluate their anger and their personality,” Kavanaugh says. “It’s very strong on studying the financial reality of the country so they can understand how it works and how to get ahead. Before they leave prison, they have to have a plan. Not just a plan for the first 72 hours, but a plan for life.”
Plans often go haywire, and none of the three sisters had ever planned on ministering in rural Mississippi. But it didn’t take long for them to realize they are exactly where God wants them to be.
Though it had been more than a year since Held and Merrill died, the community they served was still reeling when Conley, Kavanaugh and Walz moved in.

“What happened was catastrophic to this town,” says Sample, a real-estate agent who helped the three new sisters rent Held and Merrill’s house.
Held and Merrill had been stabbed to death in their bedrooms in a breaking-and-entering. Rodney Earl Sanders of Kosciusko, a town about 18 miles east of Durant, was convicted of two counts of murder and is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole plus 30 years for burglary and stealing one of the sisters’ cars.
Sam Sample says he stood dumbfounded in front of the house, which was surrounded by police tape, when he got the news, unable to process it. When he called his wife, Jamie to tell her, she collapsed. She was so distraught, she was unable to drive.
“Our little world just crashed,” he says.
Cardell Wright, city manager for the City of Durant, says he didn’t know Merrill and Held personally, but it is impossible to escape their reputation.
“They exemplified holiness,” Wright says. “Something that tragic — it shook the community. When something like that happens to people of that caliber, it has a big effect on society.”
Today, the work of Conley, Kavanaugh and Walz is having a big effect, as well.
“When you see them, you know what they stand for. You know what they embody,” Wright says. “They’ve changed my own mentality of what I thought sisters were. I thought they were isolated and stayed off by themselves. The sisters here are invested in our community, and especially our young people. They’ve been very instrumental and one of our biggest donors and supporters.”
For example, Walz helped Wright organize a project for the Mayor’s Youth Council. The teens collected hundreds of pounds of plastic bottle caps, and Walz put them in touch with Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana, which makes benches out of the material. She then arranged for Wright to stay with the Daughters of Charity in Evansville so he could deliver the plastic and pick up the completed benches.
“We collected 950 pounds of plastic, and the Daughters of Charity donated another 300 pounds to us. They had sisters around the nation sending them in,” Wright says. “They’re unstoppable.”
The project resulted in several benches now installed around Durant, but more importantly, Wright says, it showed the teens how to follow through on a project and accomplish something.
Even more meaningful, though, was when students held a protest against gun violence after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting, and Wright spotted the sisters joining the march.
“Just to see their involvement — they support us,” he says. “It made my day to see one of the sisters come out and march with us. They were right there, talking about protecting our kids.”
Wright marvels at the sisters’ creativity and resourcefulness.
“It’s the connections. It’s about uplifting one another,” he says. “They want the community to progress.”
Though none of the three sisters had lived in Mississippi before, when the Sisters of Charity Federation asked for sisters to consider serving in Durant, they each answered.
Conley, who works with the youth programs in Lexington, had a career in education. Kavanaugh, who works on the re-entry program, spent 17 years serving in Bolivia, four years in the Cook Islands and three years as the pastoral administrator of a parish in tiny Georgetown, South Carolina. Walz, now at the Lexington Medical Clinic, had a career that included 25 years in social work and three years developing health and social service centers for people who live in poverty. She worked for 14 years in rural Gould, Arkansas.
Holmes County, though, is a challenge: 41% of the population lives in poverty, and the median income is $20,330 a year, less than half the median income for Mississippi and the second-lowest in the nation. The national median income is $57,652. The unemployment rate is 12.2%, more than triple the national unemployment rate of 3.7%. Twenty-five percent of those over 25 do not have a high school diploma.
“It’s generational poverty. You have children having children, and it’s the third or fourth generation of that,” Kavanaugh says. “Now, we’re hearing about job opportunities, but people don’t have the skills to get them or keep them.”
There’s a new plastics factory opening soon — a big deal in a county of 17,622 where businesses only employ 1,981 people — but there is no public transportation. Holmes County Central High School ranks 228th out of 233 high schools in Mississippi. Wages in the area are low, so even those with jobs often struggle.
Conley says people living in poverty don’t have stable lives, so they often lose Social Security cards and birth certificates, the documents needed to apply for jobs, job training or almost anything else.
“There’s a lot of discouragement,” Walz says. “There’s so many parts of their lives that are out of their control, whether it’s financial or transportation or housing.”
Walz says the sisters know they won’t change Holmes County overnight, but it’s important they make an effort, and their ministry makes an important statement about the church and women religious.
“It’s our little attempt to be present. The county was traumatized by [the murders]. Durant was traumatized by this event,” she says. “It’s that sense that sisters haven’t given up on them because of this tragedy.”
Walz says people often ask if she is afraid to live in the home where two sisters were killed.
“Not for one second,” she says. “It’s like holy ground.”

(Reprinted with permission by Global Sisters Report, visit

U.S. bishops examine challenges faced by church, society

By Carol Zimmermann
BALTIMORE (CNS) – During their Nov. 11-13 meeting in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops elected new officers and discussed challenges in the church and the nation. They spoke of their renewed efforts to help immigrants, youth and young adults, pregnant women and the poor as well their steps to combat gun violence and racism.
On the second day of the meeting, Nov. 12, the bishops elected Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles to a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit as conference vice president.
Archbishop Gomez, the first Latino to be elected to this role, was chosen with 176 votes from a slate of 10 nominees.
At the start of the meeting, the bishops voted overwhelmingly on a revised set of strategic priorities to take them into the next decade. The next day, they approved adding new materials to complement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” their long-standing guide to help Catholics form their consciences in public life, including voting.
Bishops also heard a wide-ranging report on immigration Nov. 12, which included updates of policy, how programs to resettle refugees, including those run by the Catholic Church, have closed or reduced activity because the administration has moved to close the country’s doors to those seeking refuge, and efforts on the border to help asylum cases.
The bishops’ second day of meetings also included a presentation of the pope’s document “Christus Vivit,” which was issued following the 2018 Synod on Young People. Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a delegate at the synod, urged bishops to do more to support Catholic teens and young adults and to use the pope’s apostolic exhortation as their guide.
The previous day, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles told the bishops the church is losing young people in greater numbers and must face the challenges of how to get the religiously unaffiliated, or “nones,” particularly young people, back.
He presented a three-minute video on the issue and spoke of his concerns and ideas for bringing young people back to church which involved: not dumbing down the faith and involving young people in the social justice aspects of the church. Discussion about this from the floor lasted for more than an hour with bishops from across the country agreeing that the issue is of great concern and sharing other ideas to bring young people back which primarily involved catechism but also an increased devotion to Mary.
The bishops also heard that a new “pastoral framework for marriage and family life” should be ready for a vote by the U.S. bishops by next November at the latest, according to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
At the start of their meeting Nov. 11, the bishops raised pressing issues that included the priesthood shortage, gun violence and the need to provide support services for pregnant women.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States, mentioned some of these challenges in his opening remarks, along with the need to welcome migrants and fight racism. He also urged the bishops not just to focus on the challenges before them but to consider how they could further develop collegiality and collaboration with one another.
In his final address as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston told his fellow bishops that it has been “an honor to serve you, even in the difficult times.”
“Let’s begin anew,” he said, at the close of his address.

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, La., chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, listens to a speaker during the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore Nov. 11, 2019. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

In a presentation on gun violence, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, said Catholic clergy and lay leaders can play a role in bringing together people along the rural-urban divide to build understanding of the need for sensible policies that can end the scourge of gun violence.
The bishop, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, outlined the USCCB’s long-held stance of the need for “common sense” legislation that governs the availability of guns. He also said it was time for people to come together so that there is greater understanding of how gun violence affects urban communities in particular.
He told Catholic News Service that the USCCB’s work on the legislative front was important, but that a pastoral response to gun violence was needed.
“It’s time for a different approach,” he said.
In a new approach for the bishops’ pro-life efforts, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, invited his fellow bishops to devote a year of service to pregnant women starting next March.
He said Catholic parishes can be one of the first places a woman facing an unexpected pregnancy can turn to for assistance rather than think of seeking an abortion and they could offer a variety of support services to women who may be thinking about whether to carry their child to term.
The bishops also voted for a new sixth edition of of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ existing Program of Priestly Formation for U.S. dioceses; before it can be implemented, it must first receive approval, from the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy. They approved a text translation to be used in the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults and OKd close to 300 new hymn texts for the Liturgy of the Hours.
The three-day meeting wrapped up Nov. 13 with a presentation by Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, who spoke about the ongoing work of the committee, highlighting the listening sessions that have taken place around the country.
At the meeting’s close, Archbishop Gomez thanked outgoing president Cardinal DiNardo for his “excellent service to this body and to the church.”

(Contributing to this report was Rhina Guidos, Mark Pattison and Dennis Sadowski.)

Pastoral against racism is starting conversations, healing, bishops told

By Carol Zimmerman
BALTIMORE (CNS) – One year after the U.S. bishops approved their pastoral letter against racism, the document is hardly just sitting on a shelf but is the basis for listening sessions in dioceses around the country and is an educational tool for individuals, schools and parishes, the bishops were told Nov. 13.
Bishop Shelton T. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, reminded the bishops that in the two years since the ad hoc committee was formed, it has been “hard at work as the church works to acknowledge past harms and cultivate racial reconciliation.”
The document, titled “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” sold out its first 2,000 copies eight months after it was printed and was recently sent out for a second printing. It is available online in English and Spanish along with study guides at
Bishop Fabre said the ad hoc committee’s most important work has been the listening sessions that began last August. So far there have been 13 sessions around the country, and more are scheduled for next year.
These sessions spring from the very words of the pastoral letter: “We must create opportunities to hear the painful stories of those whose lives have been affected by racism.”
In these sessions, starting with the first one in St. Louis, the bishop said the committee’s members have heard both the hurt caused by racism and the hope that church and society will root it out.
Diocesan bishops attending these sessions have been linked to the laity in ways that open “new possibilities for further healing,” Bishop Fabre said, adding the bishops’ committee is helping these dioceses with follow-up sessions or other ways to implement the pastoral letter.
All the offices and committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are committed to ending racism, he said. He highlighted the educational outreach of the USCCB’s Justice, Peace and Human Development Office, which is helping to develop a children’s book in response to the pastoral on racism called “Everyone Belongs.”
The ad hoc committee has addressed several national Catholic organizations about their possible use of the pastoral letter. It also is working on developing catechetical resources for schools and supporting or developing Catholic college programs, seminary training and ecumenical efforts.
In closing, he said the “single cry” committee members hear most often at listening sessions is that “the laity never seems to hear homilies on racism.”
“I would ask you to work with me to change that perception,” he told the bishops, “so that we all will come to hear regularly, and with one voice, that racism is opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that the Catholic Church in the United States is committed to standing against the evil and sin of racism with all its strength.”
To this end, he said his committee would seek to provide more homily resources to bishops and priests.
He also stressed that the committee’s work “goes beyond simply calling out the evil of racism” but involves urging “all people to see the deeper reality of God’s purpose and the in creating all of us with unique and unrepeatable value.”
The bishop didn’t say the work was easy, but he finished his presentation by saying: “With God’s grace our efforts will bear fruit in these challenging times.”
(Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim)

Cardenal Ramazzini visitará Jackson

Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri of San Marcos, Guatemala, was one of 13 new cardinals named by Pope Francis Sept. 1, 2019. Cardinal-designate Ramazzini is pictured in a June 3, 2010, photo. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

El cardenal guatemalteco, Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri de Huehuetenango, Guatemala y conocido por el trabajo de justicia social en su país, visitará la Diocesis de Jackson en diciembre de este ano. En su agenda tendrá visitas a parroquias afectadas por las redadas de inmigración, en las cuales viven muchos ciudadanos guatemaltecos. En su vista se reunirá además con autoridades eclesiásticas de la diocesis.

DACA en Corte Suprema

Por Rhina Guidos
BALTIMORE (CNS) – Es una población con la que casi todos los obispos en los Estados Unidos entran en contacto: 700,000 adultos jóvenes traídos al país como niños sin documentos.
Por lo tanto, era natural que el día en que la Corte Suprema escuchó argumentos orales sobre un caso importante que los involucraba, incluso mientras realizaban negocios regulares durante la reunión de otoño de la Conferencia Episcopal de los Obispos Católicos en Baltimore del 11 al 13 de noviembre, algunos obispos fueron monitoreando la situación ante la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos.
El tribunal escuchó argumentos el 12 de noviembre sobre si la decisión de la administración Trump de poner fin al programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia, o DACA, es legal y su final puede continuar.
Los obispos de California, Texas, Kentucky, y ciudades grandes y pequeñas en el medio, emitieron declaraciones, escribieron a los periódicos de su ciudad o expresaron su opinión de alguna otra manera, tratando de correr la voz sobre lo que creen que debería suceder con el cientos de miles de receptores de DACA en el país. “Es un problema para todos nosotros”, dijo el obispo Joseph C. Bambera de Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Sacerdotes Hispanos

Por Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON (CNS) – En una reunión para sacerdotes latinos, el clero congregado habló de la necesidad de cuidar de los unos a los otros, y afirmó la necesidad de caminar con los pobres. Cuando la Asociación Nacional de Sacerdotes Hispanos (ANSH) se reunió en Nueva York del 7 al 10 de octubre, los sacerdotes de todo el país discutieron prioridades tales como la necesidad de fraternidad y también de atender a quienes sufren en sus parroquias.
El obispo Octavio Cisneros, obispo auxiliar de Brooklyn, dijo que el sacerdote es escogido de entre los hombres para servir al pueblo, pero el sacerdote también es parte de ese grupo de personas y debe sentirse como uno de ellos.
El obispo Joseph J. Tyson, de la diócesis de Yakima, en el estado de Washington, también habló de la necesidad de servir a los pobres y el papel que juegan los sacerdotes en esa importante misión de la Iglesia Católica.
El obispo Cisneros recibió el Premio Buen Pastor a nivel nacional y monseñor Robert T. Ritchie, de Nueva York recibió el mismo premio a nivel diocesano, “reconociendo su trabajo entre los hispanos”.
La organización calcula que hay unos 2,000 sacerdotes latinos alrededor del país y quien esté interesado puede visitar su página web en, dijo el padre Molina.

Ley, tecnología y caridad

Por Berta Mexidor
RIDGELAND – El padre Odel Medina, sacerdote de St. Anne-Carthage y St. Therese-Kosciusko expresó las preocupaciones, frustraciones y esperanzas de su comunidad y del resto de los católicos de la diócesis, preocupados por las familias afectadas después de las redadas de inmigración, durante una audiencia pública celebrada por el congresista estadounidense Bennie Thompson, presidente demócrata del Comité de Seguridad Nacional, el jueves 7 en Tougaloo College, tres meses después de las redadas que arrestaron a 680 inmigrantes y que impactaron directamente a tres parroquias de la diócesis y siete comunidades en el estado.
El representante Thompson estuvo acompañado de la representante Sheila Jackson Lee, de Texas, el representante Al Green, Texas y Steve Cohen, Tennessee, todos demócratas y también miembros de su comité, para pedir cuentas a la Oficina de Investigación del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de Nueva Orleans, representada por el agente especial Jere Miles.
Miles defendió a su agencia diciendo que cumplieron con la ley y como resultado de la redada se han encontrado 400 casos de uso ilegal del número de seguro social (SSN, por sus siglas en inglés) para robo de identidad. Al padre Odel se unieron seis líderes comunitarios, públicos, policiales y de organizaciones que tuvieron la oportunidad de expresar sus testimonios, dentro de los que estaba Lorena Quiroz Lewis, organizadora de Working Together Mississippi.

Durante la audiencia, Monserrat Ramírez y Roberto Tijerina, miembros de Southerners on New Ground (SONG) mostraron una habilidad tecnológica para ayudar a los hispanos a comprender la audiencia. Transmitieron la audiencia en la página de Facebook de Mississippi Resiste, y para aquellos que no pueden hablar inglés, hubo un número de teléfono al que podían llamar y recibir la traducción al momento.
Decenas de personas portaron carteles con mensajes como” Dejennos trabajar”, “Vinimos a Trabajar, Progresar y Amar” y “A más redadas, mas familias separadas.”

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

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.”