Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Visitor from Haiti

Father Joseph Philippe is a Haitian priest who will be visiting the Capital District next week. The epicenter of the earthquake was in the rural region where a peasant organization that he started in 1988 had achieved a remarkable record of achievements. Everything but their spirits was destroyed that day, but they are determined to rebuild.

Father Joseph founded FONKOZE, Haiti’s largest microcredit organization that has improved the lives of thousands of Haitians, mostly women and children; and the University of Fondwa, Haiti’s only rural university, although 60 % of the people are peasant farmers.

If you want to be inspired after the scenes of devastation that have inundated us for the past 16 days, please come to any of the following opportunities to hear Fr. Joseph speak. Please tell others about these events and encourage them to come, too.

Schedule for Father Joseph Philippe
February 2 – 8, 2010

Tuesday, Feb. 2

6:00 pm -- Potluck Supper at the Pastoral Center, 40 N. Main Ave., Albany
7:00 pm -- Presentation on Haiti

Wednesday, Feb. 3

12:30-1:30 pm -- Teach-in on Haiti at Bush Memorial of Russell Sage College, Troy
4:00 pm -- Teach-in on Haiti at Recital Hall of Performing Arts Center, University at Albany

Thursday, Feb. 4

9:30-10:30am -- Presentation at Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary of the College of Saint Rose
11:00 am - noon -- Presentation at Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary of the College of Saint Rose
4-5:30 pm -- Teach-in on Haiti at Siena College, Loudonville

Friday, Feb. 5

1:30-3pm -- Presentation at fair (fundraiser) by Skidmore’s student clubs

Saturday, Feb. 6

4 pm -- Liturgy at St. Clement’s Church, Saratoga Springs

Sunday, Feb. 7

8, 9:30,11:15am -- Liturgies at St. Clement’s, Saratoga Springs
Interviews by youths of the parish between liturgies
5:30 pm -- Liturgy with University Heights students (Medical College, School of Pharmacy, Law School)
6:30 pm -- Liturgy at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Albany, with College of Saint Rose students

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Local efforts to help Haiti

St. Luke’s Church, located at 1241 State Street in Schenectady will host an Interfaith Prayer Service on Sunday, January 24 at 4 p.m. to offer prayers for local Haitian families experiencing the loss of loved ones in the earthquake. Please call 388-4280 for additional information.

There will be an Ecumenical Prayer Service for Haitian victims on Wednesday, January 27, 7 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Church, 732 Route 20 in New Lebanon.
Using the tradition of scripture readings and well-known hymns, participants will join together in asking God to receive those thousands of people who have died, and to send aid and comfort to the survivors.

For more information, please call 794-7651.

A list of other programs, including fund-raisers is available here.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Collection for the Church in Latin America

The theme for this weekend's Collection for the Church in Latin America is Keep Faith. The news release from the USCCB states:
The proceeds of the Collection for the Church in Latin America are distributed to dioceses, parishes and other Catholic institutions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to provide assistance for the many pastoral needs of the region. . . . These projects helped promote the Church’s work in catechesis, evangelization and training of religious personnel. The formation of 20 novices and 70 junior sisters in Peru, sharing the Gospel message in the Mapuche indigenous communities, and training for 72 Seminarians in the Archdiocese of Monterrey, Mexico, are only a few examples of the many essential works being done to Keep Faith in Latin America.

Additional information about the collection and the projects supported by it can be found here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


National Vocation Awareness Week may be over, but there still are things you can do to promote vocations to priesthood and religious life. Father David Toups, interim director of the Office of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) offers Ten Things That Promote Vocations here. For example:
Be a good disciple. Some bishops say, “We do not have a vocation crisis; we have a discipleship crisis.” Young people can become true followers of Jesus Christ by serving those around them. By discovering your call to discipleship, you also discover your particular call within the Church


Monday, January 18, 2010

How NOT to help Haiti

Good Intentions Are Not Enough: An honest conversation about the impact of aid, is a blog that recently offered advice from aid workers to donors on choosing which organizations to donate to after disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti. There is a lot of good advice, but it is also is noteworthy to note the things people should not do, such as showing up in Haiti to volunteer, collecting goods to donate (which clog up ports) and donating to a new charity (existing ones that are already on the ground there are better equipped to help).

We may be partial, but we like to recommend donating to Catholic Relief Services.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Farmworker scholarships

Rural and Migrant Ministry works for the creation of a just rural New York State by helping farmworkers and rural workers. They have announced that the Western Union Foundation is offering a new initiative for migrants, immigrants and their families, called the Family Scholarship Program is a new initiative for migrants, immigrants and their families.

The Family Scholarship Program is intended to help two members of the same family move up the economic development ladder through education. Scholarships may be used for tuition for college/university education language acquisition classes, technical/skill training, and/or financial literacy. For example, one family member may request assistance to attend college and the other family member may request assistance to attend English as a Second Language (ESL) course.

* All applicants must be age 18 or older.
* Country of origin for at least one of the applicants must be outside the United States.
* Application must include educational providers for primary and secondary award recipients (must be two amily members).
* Scholarships may be used for tuition for college/university education language acquisition classes, technical/skill training, and/or financial literacy.
* Scholarships will only be made to nonprofit accredited higher education institutions and nonprofit training/educational providers.
* Western Union employees, Western Union agents and dependents are not eligible to apply for these scholarships.

The following criteria will be used to review applications:
* Families that have overcome barriers to pursue their educational goals
* Families that are involved in their communities
* Personal educational goals
* Plans to attain goals
* Plans for utilizing the scholarship

Scholarship Amounts
Recipients are eligible to receive scholarships in amounts of $1,000-$5,000 per family. (For example, one scholarship recipient may receive $1,500 for an ESL course and the other recipient $3,500 for tuition at a university).

Recipients are determined in a selection process independently managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE), an international non-profit educational exchange organization.
All scholarship awards will be paid directly to the educational providers. No payments will be made to individuals.

To Apply
Please visit the Western Union Foundation Family Scholarship page to apply:

Those without Internet access can call IIE at (303) 837-0788 to request an application.

IIE will send a confirmation via e-mail if you have provided a valid e-mail address. If you do not have a valid email address confirmation will be sent by U.S. mail.

Please be advised that due to the volume of application submission activity, IIE staff cannot verify receipt of applications and supporting documentation via telephone inquiry.

Feb. 5, 2010 is the winter application due date.

Contact information
For award program-related questions, please contact the administering organization, Institute of International Education (IIE) by phone, fax, or e-mail at:
Institute of International Education, 475 17th Street, Suite 800, Denver, CO 80202 or by phone at (303) 837-0788, fax: (303) 837-1409 or e-mail,


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Building Peace with Justice

Building Peace with Justice is a brief, weekly bulletin reflection on Catholic social teaching written by members of a Rochester Diocese Public Policy sub-committee. This is the reflection for January 17.
Imagine such a God! A people forsaken are called “my delight” and a desolate land, “espoused”. Water is transformed into superabundant wine. The messianic age dawns and followers begin to respond . The US Bishops call us to respond to the revelation of a personal and transforming God by supporting comprehensive immigration reform that: provides a pathway to residency and citizenship; keeps families intact; srengthens security without being indifferent to hard-working families who pose no threat; restores due process to immigrants.

Action: Reflections and discussions on illegal immigration have been distorted (e.g. undocumented workers don"t pay taxes). For an informed discussion that enables us to reflect and to respond, check out the Catholic Campaign at Imagine such a society!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Bishop's Diary, Part 2

The second part of a diary Bishop Howard Hubbard kept during his recent trip to the Middle East is in this week's Evangelist; the first half appeared in The Evangelist’s Jan. 7 issue. Here is an excerpt:
On Monday evening, we met with two members of the Parents Circle Family Forum, an organization of more than 500 people who have lost a relative in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first speaker, an Israeli woman, lost her son, David, as a result of a sniper attack while he was teaching philosophy at Tel Aviv University. Subsequently, the sniper was captured. The woman has now forgiven her son’s killer and has advocated with the Israeli government for his release from prison.

The mother of the second woman who presented, a Palestinian, was a leader of Fatah in Hebron who was incarcerated several times during this woman’s youth. Consequently, she had to become the mother for her younger brothers and sisters. One brother was shot by an Israeli settler and another by an Israeli soldier.

Both of these women are victims and have the same taste of tears. They are in agreement, however, that if we give people a chance to know each other as human beings, having the same hopes, desires and basic needs, there can be peace.

The work of the Parents Circle is primarily education. Last year, they made more than 1,000 presentations in both Israeli and Palestinian classrooms, telling their stories and entering into dialogue about how to break the vicious cycle of violence. Members tell stories about pregnant mothers or children who died on the way to the hospital because the ambulances couldn’t get them through the checkpoints quickly.

The rest of the article is here.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helping Haiti

The New York State Catholic Conference has issued the following plea:
Catholic Relief Services Responds to Haiti Tragedy
Please consider donating to CRS relief effort

The massive earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday has resulted in a devastating human tragedy, with many thousands dead and many more injured and/or homeless. The catastrophe is worsened by the already-dire poverty of the citizens of Haiti. Help is needed, and Catholic Relief Services, the official humanitarian aid agency of the United States bishops, is conducting a major relief effort.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to stand in solidarity with the victims of this horrific natural disaster. Please consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to CRS to help them in this endeavor. You can give directly through the CRS Web site by clicking HERE or by typing into your Web browser. Or call 1-800-736-3467.

Thank you for your generosity to our Haitian brothers and sisters in need.

CRS has made an immediate commitment of $5 million for emergency supplies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Catholic Relief Services has had a presence in Haiti for many years. In the wake of yesterday’s earthquake, they posted the following on their blog:
The U.S. Geological Survey reports that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti 10 miles southwest of the capital of Port au Prince at 4:53 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The initial quake was followed by two aftershocks.

Reliable damage and casualty estimates are unavailable at this time. CRS staffers in Baltimore have been in touch with Haiti staff. CRS/Haiti reports that those who remained at the office after 4 p.m. are safe. The condition of other CRS staff is unknown at this time (7:30 p.m. Eastern).

More blog postings and information on how to donate are available here. Our prayers are with the people of Haiti and those who are helping them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sister Maureen Joyce Honored

The Times Union's Tim O'Brien has a wonderful article today about Sr. Maureen Joyce, head of Catholic Charities for the Diocese, who is the second person in the United States to be honored by the national organization for her efforts to help the poor.
On Monday, before 130 friends, family members and supporters at St. Vincent DePaul Church, Joyce received the Centennial Medal, an honor being given to 100 people, by Catholic Charities USA. The national organization is marking its 100th year by distributing medals to one person for each year of its existence.

For 20 years, Joyce has served as director of the regional nonprofit that serves the poor, the homeless, immigrants and people suffering from HIV/AIDS. For a decade before that, she led the charity's Community Maternity Services program.

The Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said the Albany chapter is one of the most effective in the country.

"There was a great desire on our board of trustees that Sister Maureen receive our second medal," he said. "She has earned the loyalty and admiration of her staff, and she's also earned the respect of this community."

When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit New Orleans, Snyder said, Joyce immediately sent her staff to help. "They were the first to come and the last to leave," he said.

He called her support for the less fortunate "immediate, unwavering and passionate."

The rest of the article is here. Sister Maureen presently is facing a tough fight with cancer, so please keep her in your prayers.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Bishop Hubbard’s Holy Land Diary

Last month, Bishop Howard Hubbard was part of a 19-person delegation from the National Inter-Religious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI).

Organized in 2003, the NILI has brought together the leaders of more than 30 religious denominations in the United States (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) to work within these religious denominations and with the U.S. government to support presidential and congressional initiatives on the part of the U.S. governmental leaders for comprehensive, just and lasting Arab-Israeli/Palestinian peace.

In this week’s Evangelist, Bishop Hubbard shared his diary of the delegation’s trip, noting:
It does not purport to provide a comprehensive picture of the present Israeli-Palestinian situation, but a summary of what we heard based upon the input and assessments of the individuals and organizations we had the opportunity to meet during this brief visit. Certainly, other perspectives would need to be heard to gain a complete picture.

Part One of the Bishop’s diary is here.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

World Day of Peace

The World Day of Peace may have passed, but there still is plenty of time to read the message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, which is entitled If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation:
At the beginning of this New Year, I wish to offer heartfelt greetings of peace to all Christian communities, international leaders, and people of good will throughout the world. For this XLIII World Day of Peace I have chosen the theme: If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation. Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not least because “creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works”, and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind. Man’s inhumanity to man has given rise to numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development – wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism, and violations of human rights. Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen “that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying”.

The rest of the Pope's talk is here.