BACAR Discussion Groups Advocacy for Migrants & Homeless

Listen to Volunteers. Find out how you can help our sisters and brothers in need. Participate in Person or View by Zoom, information below.

Sisters and Associates of the NDdeN, BVMs, Holy Names, and Holy Family Congregations gathered at the Sisters of Notre Dame Province Center in Belmont, CA on Saturday May 18, 2019. Some participated by Zoom.

The listened to a presentation by Sister Mary Becker, SNJM, and Sister Susan Olson, SNDdeN who have spent time at ‘The Wall’ with immigrants.

Donations of clothing were collected and BACAR will send it to an immigrant shelter site where Sisters, Associates, Friends and Catholic Charities are working. (Suggested donation: money, New clothing (men’s/women’s/children’s-particularly extra large sizes needed), New shoes and undergarments, stuffed animals, toys and games for kids).

For more information about how you can be involved, contact Kathy Noether. Information below

Email Kathy Noether♦ 408-267-3426 ♦ 4246 Meg Dr., San Jose, CA 95136

Article by Marilyn Morgan, RSM and her trip to the border.

Very early in the morning on March 31 I left for McAllen, TX to join nine others for our Border Immersion Trip sponsored by the Mercy Justice Team.  There were three Sisters of Mercy in the group, Srs. Phong Dong from South Central, Joanne Whitaker from Mid-Atlantic and myself.  The others, mostly employees of the Sisters of Mercy from South Central who are Mercy Associates.  We were led by Maggie Conley, Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy and later joined by Jean Stokan, Coordinator of the Immigration area of the Sisters of Mercy.  We spent a week at the Border with our home base at the different sites of ARISE, which is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of the Incarnate Word. Our days were full beginning with the first evening with a talk by a Spanish journalist/photographer telling us of her experiences on two caravans.  

                She documented her trips and also told us of her trip to Honduras where many of the caravans began. We visited the Border Patrol of the Rio Grande, in San Juan, TX.  Their number one priority is terrorism, followed by drug trafficking, human trafficking and smuggling.   We learned about human, labor and sex trafficking.  We visited a respite center where people are staying while awaiting transport to their sponsors.  The respite center was crowded with people.  People were sleeping on mats in various rooms or trying to find clothes.  One problem with the clothes is that the donated clothing tended to be too big for most of the children.  When a mother found something that might fit, that was it.  She wouldn’t accept anything else because someone else might need it. Workers in the kitchen make chicken soup that is available all day as people are arriving at different times.  We set up tables for the children to sit at for lunch while the parents lined up outside the kitchen for their meal. The look in their eyes told of a long difficult journey, of tiredness and of the unknown

                  Throughout the week we listened to many testimonials. There were always tears as people shared their stories of leaving their country and trying to get here to start a new beginning.  Our group split into two and we visited two women in their homes. We listened as Manuela told of her journey and how her husband eventually got deported and then left her here for another woman.  She has no papers and sells things she makes in order to survive.  Her daughter will soon be old enough to get her papers and then she will be able to sponsor Manuela.

                  Across the border in Matamoros, Mexico we talked with people waiting to apply for asylum at the border.  Many have been there for a month or longer waiting. There are no bathrooms, no showers, no food, no water, except for what volunteers bring to them.  Some bring tents, or sleep with a space blanket on the concrete.  While we were there a grandmother gathered all the children and entertained them with a story.  People were waiting with hope and patience that their name would be on the list that day. 

                  I joined this Border Immersion trip for two reasons.  The first one was that I saw invitations for people to go and volunteer on the Border where help was needed.  I couldn’t fit this into my schedule at the time so when the invitation to join the Spring trip from the Justice Committee came out I thought, well, I could do that! My other reason was a far deeper one. We hear, almost on a daily basis, about the asylum seekers and their situation but they are far away and don’t really affect my daily life.  I wanted to go and see and experience for myself what is the reality of the situation and learn about the root causes for why they come.  I came home a little overwhelmed over all that we had seen and heard.  I did not come home alone.  I brought the faces of those I saw and met with me in my heart.  I brought them to the cross on Good Friday. And I bring their stories with me as I try to spread the news of what I saw and heard.  They are my brothers and sisters.  They are knocking at our door.  Will we be there to answer?

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In response to the Bishop’s Retreat in Chicago. Sister Elaine Coutu, CSJ wrote the following which was published in NCR Weekend Edition.

I just read the article on the bishop’s retreat in Chicago. First of all, I want to comment on the photo. Why are the bishops wearing their official regalia? Why not a pair of dockers and a sweater? Or clothes 
suitable for Chicago weather? After all this was a retreat for bishops which means they knew who they were.

The fact that a priest from the Vatican gave the retreat doesn’t give a lot of credibility to the gathering. Were there any women, survivors, people from the LGBT population to give input to the bishops? At any time during the retreat did they sit in small groups for sharing of the heart, to talk to each other about what the laity — groups, organizations, professionals and individuals are saying, what they think needs to be done? Or, did they sit in a chapel listening to the priest talk at scheduled times?

(Sr.) ELAINE COUTU, CSJ
San Jose, California

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During the Last Week of January 2019 Movie Producer Stephanie Bell, and Director Misha Marcus, with the assistance of CNEHT – Catholic Network to End Human Trafficking screened the Movie I Am Still Here in two venues of Silicon Valley.

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On September 8, 2018 25 Religious and Associates learned more about the crisis of those who are without a residence in the SF Bay Area. Fran Kearny, SNJM joined us by Zoom. We are grateful to Mary Becker, SNJM who helped arrange our gathering at Catholic Charities, Santee Campus.

Patrick O’Meara from Village House spoke about the 3 year projects that has assisted over 90 women.  Churches commit to one month of overnight housing, providing food, safety and community while sleeping in the church or church gathering spaces.

Screenshot 2018-09-12 16.37.41For more information go to Village House

Eugene from St. Lucy’s shared with us information about Safe Park that is hosted by St. Lucy’s parish.  It was established in 2016, their mission is to use the parking lot behind St. Lucy’s as a safe place where those who are homeless can park their cars overnight thus helping them to sleep without fear.  For more information click link above. nsider initiating a Safe Park in your parish.

Casa de Clara, the San Jose Catholic Worker, is involved in many projects to help those who are homeless. There is need for financial assistance for their Shower Program, donations of towels, underwear for women and men, soap and other toiletries.  Contact Andrew at the Catholic Worker House:Casa de Clara

Penny, Sinsinawa Dominican Associate explained how her parish has gotten involved in blessing bags. Once a month parishioners from St. Thomas of Canterbury come together and bag  items in a small zip lock bag to give to those who are homeless.  Parishioners pick them up after liturgy and hand them out to people they encounter on the street who have no permanent residence.

The meeting was a real success.  But one of the projects discussed, Hope Village is now  facing some challenges.  The Hope Village founders are trying to get permission to set up a permanent tent encampment, but cannot get a commitment from city or county officials to set that up.  Prayers and advocacy are needed for this venture. If you live in San Jose write, call, visit your council person.  If you live in the country, write, call, or visit your county supervisor.  Here is a video explaining Hope Village

Following are pictures of those attending the BACAR Discussion and Engagement Group on the issue of Homelessness.

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Many of those who attended this gathering supported Hope Village the following Wednesday as they demonstrated in support of Hope Village when they were asked to move by the California Highway Patrol.  Good news the CHP is working with officials to find a permanent residence for Hope Village.

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Click Here for the calendar on this site of upcoming events.

BACAR Expands Dialogue on “Let the Call Be Heard” by Kathy Noether, Associate of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur,  Co-director of BACAR Board

In the latest issue of The Associate, Conni Dubick reminded us of Joan Chittester’s inspirational words when she spoke at the 2002 NACAR Conference. Joan continued earlier this year at the Fourth International Oblate Congress expanding the theme for all Oblates throughout the world in an almost parallel address. Inspired by the reading of these two presentations, BACARused Joan Chittester’s address for our Quarterly Discussion Group on May 19, 2018 incorporating the same title and including a link to the Joan Chittester’s address: “Let the Call Be Heard”.

In October Mary Waskowiak, RSM, spoke about “Connections: Ever Ancient / Ever New / Always Calling” at the BACAR Conference. This seemed a perfect segway for the May Discussion Group. Planning the day, a smaller team formulated a plan inviting responses to Joan’s address. We knew there was a wealth of material to cover, so outlined the four questions with team members each taking a question for reflection and discussion.

The time spent in reflection and discussion was rich and reminded of us our deep commitment to the individual charisms embedded in each of our congregations. It is also true that this affirmation inspires each of us to continue the Call with renewed energy and focus, particularly as we share compassionate goals.

Click here to read Excerpt from Joan Chittister

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On Saturday, January 13, 2018 in the Adobe Wells Home Park Clubhouse in Sunnyvale, Associates and Vowed Members gathered to hear Marilyn Wilson, BVM share re reflections on  “Women In the Church: Past, Present & Future”  As an example of present day Women in the Church, Penny Donovan, Sinsinawa Associate, shared her spiritual journey and where it has led her.  

This is Part 1 of the video: Women in the Church:Past, Present & Future

Following are pictures of the event.  

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