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January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month January 17th, 2017

President Barack Obama has proclaimed January 2017 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the United States, calling upon businesses, national and community organizations, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we must play in ending all forms of human trafficking. Many with groups are bringing attention to this issue through prayer and educational resources. Below are links to some of these resources.

Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that’s become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society.” Pope Francis

  • U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking provides several resources on its website including prayer services and an interfaith toolkit produced and distributed by the Washington Inter-Religious Staff Community Working Group on Human Trafficking (WISC). 
  • The Catholic Health Association is sponsoring a Twitter Chat on Human Trafficking, Feb. 2nd, 1-2:00 PM Eastern. Contact Jody Wise for details: wisejo@trinity-health.org.



Fr. Seamus Finn among Presenters at the Rome Roundtable 2017 January 17th, 2017

The Global Foundation  gathered for its Roman Roundtable 2017 on January 14th and 15throme20172 and convened participants from the business and investment comunity, religious leaders, civic institutions, academia and civil society to evaluate responses and measure progress on United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The fifty invited participants were asked to report on progress since the last roundtable and to discuss additional commitments and actions that they would undertake during the coming year.

Visit this website to read the Vatican Radio report on the event and Pope Francis’s address to participants.

My comments were focused on the numerous challenges and debates that have taken place over the last century about development. The UN sponsored decades of development that focused on different dimensions of the topic and how they might be appropriately addressed and then the encyclical letter, “Populorum Progressio” (On the Development of Peoples), of Pope Paul VI, in 1967 built on the teaching of the Catholics tradition and the Second Vatican Council on the issues. This encyclical remains as a foundational point of reference for the Church’s understanding of development especially with the introduction and definition of the cFrSeamusrome2017oncept of “integral human development”. More recently through a United Nations process in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals were adopted as a benchmark and guide for action in countries and communities across the world.

The adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the General Assembly in 2015 has set a clear agenda for the work of development until 2030. In our panel presentation my colleagues, Mark Cutefani, CEO, Anglo American and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape town reported on the collaborative multistakeholder project that has been organized by the Mining and Faiths Reflection Initiative to address development issues in mine site communities at local and regional levels.

Investors and Public Health Groups Voice Support for Affordable Care Act January 13th, 2017

Amid calls from some lawmakers and the President-elect for an immediate repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a coalition of 119 faith- and values-based investors and public health groups strongly defended the gains made under the law and urged restraint.

In a letter sent today to President-elect Trump and members of Congress, the group, led by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, praised the expansion of quality and affordable health insurance under the ACA to more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans, and warned that a repeal of the health care law would have a “destabilizing effect on jobs, businesses and our economy, and would further jeopardize the health and financial security of millions of Americans”.

Read the full article on Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility’s (ICCR) website.


Support the BRIGDE Act for Young Immigrants January 13th, 2017

I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35

Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate JPIC joins other faith organizations including US Catholic Bishops in urging that members of Congress lead by example and compassion by co-sponsoring the BRIDGE Act. This bipartisan effort will ensure the safety and dignity of nearly one million young immigrants who are contributing to our communities and love this country, but who may be at risk for deportation.

Created in 2012 through executive action, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to come out of the shadows, work, attend school and be protected from deportation. Another executive action can easily end the program.

BRIDGE ACT “Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy” is a bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in an effort to provide temporary relief to young people currently protected from detention and deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, should DACA be rescinded.

As people of faith, we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially children. These young immigrants entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. BRIDGE Act would help to protect DACA youth from deportation and prevent the devastation that comes with family separation.

Join us by urging your members of Congress to co-sponsor the BRIDGE Act. Let them send a strong message that withdrawing DACA has moral and economic consequences for communities.

Find your members of Congress by going to this website:

In his message for the 2017 World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis calls special attention to child migrants; “The rights of children are a cause for special concern, as among migrants, women and children are particularly vulnerable. Children especially are often “invisible” because they lack documents or arrive in new countries without accompaniment.”

Remembering Dr. King’s Legacy Promotes Christian Unity January 5th, 2017

Martin Luther King and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
by Father Harry Winter, OMI

Although it began in 1908, the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan. 18-25, took a jump following Vatican II (1962-65), and peaked about 1980. Then it began slowly to lessen in observance. Concern that the disunity among Christian Churches was hurting Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation efforts lessened. The bond between Ecumenism and Evangelization weakened.


Fr. Harry Winter, OMI

Placing the observance of Martin Luther King’s birthday on the third Monday of January, sometimes right in the middle of the Week, and sometimes before it, as this year, seemed at first to be the final straw that made the Week of Christian Unity too difficult to observe. However, after a few years, the two organizations in the USA responsible for the Week (the Protestant/Eastern Orthodox National Council of Churches and the Catholic Graymoor Atonement/US Conference of Catholic Bishops) decided to draw up materials which would incorporate Dr. King’s birthday with the observance of the Week.

It became clear that Martin Luther King stood for civil rights for all, not just African-Americans. Native Americans and Hispanics especially began to see Dr. King as a champion of justice for everyone. Black Catholics, a minority within Catholicism, began to bond with the Black Churches such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and black Baptist Churches.

All Christians began to remember that Catholic priests, religious men, and sisters, white Protestant ministers, and Jewish rabbis, marched proudly with Dr. King. When US Senator Jesse Helms distributed a 300 page document attempting to prove that Dr. King was associated with Communists, it was Catholic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who called the document “a packet of filth,” threw it on the Senate floor, and stomped on it (see Wikipedia, Martin Luther King Birthday Observance).

On Sunday, Jan. 24, 1999, our superior general, Louis Lougen, was serving as the pastor of Holy Angels Church, Buffalo, NY, an Italian-American parish with a growing number of Hispanics. He had continued the membership of the parish in VOICE Buffalo, which membership his predecessor as pastor, Tony Rigoli, has begun. VOICE Buffalo continues to this day as an interfaith organization promoting social Justice in the Buffalo, NY area.

VOICE Buffalo held an Ecumenical Service of Worship at White Rock Missionary Baptist Church, 480 E. Utica Street, Buffalo, from 4-6 pm, and I accompanied Fr. Lougen to provide support for the lay representative from Holy Angels to VOICE, Owen Dussault. “Loud, joyful, jammed with 400 people…What an upbeat celebration after all the poorly attended events of the Week of Prayer,” I noted in my journal. The large African-American population of Buffalo was well represented at the service.

So the decision to promote materials for Martin Luther King’s birthday, as either a preparation for or part of the Week of Prayer seems to be revitalizing concern for Christian Unity. This year’s material also contain specific references to King’s namesake, Martin Luther, and the impetus given to Catholic-Lutheran relations by Pope Francis’ visit to Sweden last Oct. 31-Nov. 1 for the 500th anniversary of the posting of Luther’s theses

For more on the documents from the pope’s Sweden visit, go to Missionary Unity Dialogue’s website, www.harrywinter.org.

Remembering Dr. King and his legacy promotes Christian Unity; Christian Unity is needed to accomplish what he began.

To download materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place from Jan. 18-25, visit USCCB’s website.

Creating a Culture of Encounter: National Migration Week 2017 December 20th, 2016

National Migration Week is January 8 -14, 2017

The US Bishops have designated January 8 through January 14, 2017 as National Migration Week. This observance calls people of faith to join in solidarity with immigrants, migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking.

The theme for the 2017 National Migration Week is Creating a Culture of Encounter. It focuses on developing awareness of newcomers within our faith communities and celebrating our diversity and richness together as a family of God. This observance is an initiative of the US Bishops and provides Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity within the Church and work for justice for immigrants and refugees.

A pile of round smooth zen rocks stacked in the sand at the beach.

The Missionary Oblates JPIC Office invites you to use this opportunity to pray, raise awareness and educate your communities on the issue of immigration and Catholic Social Teaching.

The following liturgical resources and a National Migration Week 2017 Toolkit can be downloaded at the US Bishops’ website:

  • A digital copy of the National Migration Week 2017 Prayer Card.
  • A collection of prayers for use in your National Migration Week celebrations.
  • A homily can be used to help frame a message to parishioners on migration.
  • Petitions at your National Migration Week mass, or other gatherings that reflect on the situation confronting migrants.


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