Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless Garden Party

Join the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless for

A GARDEN PARTY fundraiser

to benefit the many programs of the Elizabeth Coalition

Thursday June 4, 2009

6:30 p.m.

The historic Carriage House and Gardens of Liberty Hall

1003 Morris Avenue

Union, NJ

music, wine, light food, silent auction and 50/50 raffle

Tickets are $50 each

For tickets or further information, contact event coordinator Donna Grozuczak at 908-251-7545.

About The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless

The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless was one of the first organizations to advocate on behalf of homeless people in the State of New Jersey. It was founded in 1981 by Edith Cheney and Sr. Jacinta Fernandes in response to the mounting needs of homeless families and individuals in the greater Elizabeth community. Since that time, there has been an exponential increase in the number of homeless adults and children. This is a direct result of both a lack of truly affordable housing and a lack of jobs that pay a living wage. The Coalition has developed innovative strategies to organize and empower homeless people. These approaches have been adopted by a number of agencies throughout the State. Together with its “sister agency,” St. Joseph Social Service Center, it provides wraparound services and support to address the needs of the homeless. Its many services include: rental assistance, emergency housing, transitional family housing, a winter shelter program, educational and social support for homeless children, and the counseling services that are necessary to break the patterns that lead many individuals and families to homelessness.

For more information on The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless and how you can help click here.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Promote Family Unity as a Guiding Principle of Immigration Law

On March 3rd groups from the American Friends Service Committee and Families for Freedom traveled to Washington, DC to lobby Congress about the Child Citizen Protection Act. Many of you supported their effort by calling your Congressperson in support of H.R. 182. There are now 18 co-sponsors of the bill including three more Congressmen from NJ!

Please continue supporting the effort to promote family unity as a guiding principle of immigration law.

Sign the petition on-line by clicking here

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Conference on Freeing the World of Nuclear Weapons

Freeing the World of Nuclear Weapons

Sunday, May 31, 2009
1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
First Memorial Presbyterian Church
51 West Blackwell Street
Dover, NJ 07801

Admission Free

President Obama has catapulted nuclear disarmament to the front page from its obscurity over the past decade. The August 9 Saving Lives Task Force* has scheduled its second conference on May 31st to continue promoting the disarmament agenda. Join the group to learn what is happening in the disarmament movement and how you can support national and international efforts toward a nuclear weapons free world.

Timing is critical. The START Treaty** expires this year.


Brian Finlay, President of the Stimson Organization, Washington , D.C – The Domestic Politics of Nuclear Disarmament

Rick Ufford-Chase, Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Director of the Stony Point Conference Center – The Role of Faith-Based Groups

Larry Hamm, Director, People’s Organization for Progress – Redirecting Spending to Social and Humanitarian Programs

Anyone interested in becoming part of this important project is encouraged to contact:

Dave Mortensen at dmortnj@hotmail.com or 862-812-2324 and/or
Madelyn Hoffman, NJ Peace Action nj_peaceaction@yahoo.com

or 973-259-1126.

* The August 9 Saving Lives Task Force is a Partner with New Jersey Peace Action.

** The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and the USSR by late 2001 resulted in the removal of about 80% of all strategic nuclear weapons then in existence. There is still a long way to go.


There is no charge to attend this forum. A free-will donation will be gratefully received.


Organized by:

Islamic Center of Morris County in Rockaway

Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center in Boonton

Multifaith Peace and Justice Alliance

New Jersey Peace Action

Peacemaking Committee of the Presbytery of Newton (Representing 62 Presbyterian churches in northwest NJ)

Seeds of Peace of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship

Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Sussex County


Essex County Chapter of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

First Memorial Presbyterian Church of Dover

Lakeland Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Network of Spiritual Progressives

Northwest New Jersey Peace Fellowship

Pax Christi NJ


Veterans for Peace, Chapter 021

Vietnam Veterans Against the War - North Jersey

The August 9th Saving Lives Task Force is still seeking co-sponsors for this event. All we ask is that co-sponsors allow their name to be listed. If you can also help us publicize the event to your contacts and networks, that would be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in being a co-sponsor, please send an e-mail to nj_peaceaction@yahoo.com.


Note: The church sanctuary where much of the program will take place is not air conditioned, but there will be fans.

Parking: When on West Blackwell Street with the church to the right - Make a left on to Prospect Street and go about 200 feet. There is a free public parking lot on the left. For people with special needs, there is limited parking behind the church. The driveway is located just before the church on your right. (Revised directions will be circulated shortly.)


Madelyn Hoffman, Director of NJ Peace Action at director@njpeaceaction.org or (973)851-2136

David Mortensen at dmortnj@hotmail.com or (862)812-2324


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Where Does My Food Come From?

What am I going to have for lunch? It is a simple question. One I ask myself every day. Rarely do I ask myself how blessed am I? There is little doubt that I will have lunch and even less thought is devoted to how this wonderful bounty reaches the supermarkets where most of us purchase the food we eat. The recent food safety scares have forced many Americans to consider some of the conditions under which food is produced throughout the world because it has had a negative impact on us. There is still little consideration of the negative impact our consumption and demand for cheap abundant foods at all times of the year on the environment and the laborers in other countries.

The Fair Food Across Borders Campaign is trying to raise awareness about the human rights abuses suffered by migrant agricultural workers in Mexican agribusiness camps." They want us all to be asking "Where does my food come from?"

For a look at where our food comes from you can watch Paying the Price: Migrant Workers in the Toxic Fields of Sinaloa. Here is a link to the video

Facts about farmworkers in agribusiness camps in Northern Mexico:

* There are estimated to be over one million migrant farmworkers in Mexico. The majority come from Southern Mexican states like Oaxaca and Guerrero. They are forced to leave their communities because they have no other way to support their families.

* Workers are recruited by contractors in their communities of origin and often transported under very dangerous conditions.

* Many of these workers are indigenous and speak languages such as Mixteco, Nàhuatl, Zapoteco, and Tlapaneco.

* There are hundreds of trans-national agribusiness camps in Northern Mexico, in states like Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja California. They grow a large variety of produce from tomatoes to watermelon. The vast majority of the crops harvested are for export to the U.S. and Canada.

* During the 2007-2008 harvest season, more than 790,000 tons of fruits and vegetables were exported from Sinaloa - the vast majority of these crops came to the U.S. The main crop is tomatoes, followed by bell peppers and cucumbers.

* For six to eight months, migrant families live in small, crowded shacks made of sheet metal and wood, often with no access to clean water or other basic services.

* Most migrant farmworkers are surviving under precarious working conditions, receiving very low wages and no labor protections.

* Child labor is widespread in the camps. About 20% of the labor force are children under14 years of age. About 374,000 children between the ages of 6 and 14 work in fields harvested for export.

* Pay by piece-rate dominates, which forces workers to work as much as 12 hours per day.

* Health problems that these workers face include malnutrition and chronic-degenerative illnesses because of their constant exposure to dangerous pesticides.

* There are many documented cases of children and adults losing limbs and lives to work-related accidents and illnesses in the fields.

* This internal migration has not improved the marginalization and extreme poverty in which these families live. They often return home with barely enough money saved to get them through till they return again to the camps six months later.

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Fr. Louie in NJ This Week & Again in June

Father Louie Vitale, the founder of Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, will be touring the east coast this spring. He will be making several stops in NJ.

Below is a list of his current engagements.

For more info on Fr. Louie’s calendar including contact info for each event click here.

May 19, 2009
7:30pm - 9:30pm
Torture: Spiritual and Moral Perspectives
Princeton Theological Seminary
64 Mercer St 609-921-8300
Princeton, NJ, 08540

May 20, 2009
10:00am - 12:00pm
Loving Your Enemies: Transforming Us vs. Them Thinking
Monroe Township Municipal Building
1 Municipal Way
Monroe Township, NJ, 08831

May 21, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Love Your Enemies: Transforming Us vs. Them Thinking
Sacred Heart Church
Broadway & Ferry
Camden , NJ

June 10, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Living as a Peacemaker
St. Bonaventure Church
174 Ramsey St
Paterson, NJ, 07501

June 11, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
The Nonviolent Response to Terrorism
St. Francis of Assisi Church
4700 Long Beach Blvd
Brant Beach, NJ, 08008

About Fr. Louie

With a background in sociology and a focus on the Sociology of Religion and social movements, Louie is a long time social activist. A Franciscan priest who served as the provincial of the California Franciscan Friars from 1979 to 1988, he co-founded the Nevada Desert Experience and its enduring movement to end nuclear testing. He recently completed twelve years as the pastor of St. Boniface Catholic Church in a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco, California. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Louie finished serving a six month sentence for his nonviolent action in trying to draw attention to and to close the School of the Americas/Whinsec at Ft. Benning, GA in 2006. He is currently the “Action Advocate” for Pace e Bene and is involved in trying to raise awareness about issues of torture and US involvement in it. To that end, he was arrested at Ft. Huachuca in Nov 2006 and served five months in prison from October 2007 to March 2008.

About Pace e Bene

Founded in 1989 by the Franciscan Friars of California, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service is an independent, nondenominational 501(c)3 organization with offices in Oakland, Chicago, Montreal, and Las Vegas. Its mission is to foster a just and peaceful world through nonviolence education, community-building, and action.

Hence the name. St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi greeted the people of the thirteenth century with the expression “Pace e bene!” or “Peace and all good!” So much was expressed by this little phrase: May you have the fullness of well-being, may you be secure and happy; may you not want; may your dignity be respected; may the goodness in your inmost being flourish; may the world in which we live know this deep peace. It was a blessing, a hope, and a way of acknowledging the sacredness of those whom they encountered.

It is in this spirit that Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service works to mainstream peacemaking that will empower people from all walks of life to prayerfully and relentlessly engage in nonviolent efforts for the well-being of all.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Feast of St. Isidore & Rogation Days

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Isidore and next week we will mark the Minor Rogation days on the liturgical calendar. St. Isidore is the patron saint of farmers and the observance of the Minor Rogation days are a 1500 year old Catholic tradition of fasting and abstinence the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the Feast of the Assumption to ask for God’s blessing for the spring planting.

Though many of us are removed from a direct connection to the earth in our suburban and urban neighborhoods of NJ we are after all the “Garden State”. For more information on Rogation Days click here.

Prayer to Saint Isidore

Saint Isidore,

Show us that we are not separate from the natural world, but part of one sacred earth community.

Remind us that creation is good and bears the imprint of Christ from beginning to end.

Reveal to us that the full expression of God’s generosity and blessings are found through oneness in the Mystical Body of Christ. Amen.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Memorial for Dan Wade

Daniel Lewis Wade
May 5, 1916 – February 22, 2009

A memorial service will be held for Dan Wade this Sunday May 17th at 1:00 pm at the Chatham-Summit Meeting House. He was an active member of Pax Christi in Morris County and NJADP besides being kind and gentle soul.

The meeting house is located at 158 Southern Boulevard in Chatham Twp. All are welcome to attend.

Daniel Lewis Wade died at Morristown Memorial Hospital on Sunday; February 22, 2009, He was 92 years old and had suffered a heart attack and a stroke ten days earlier, from which he never recovered.

Dan was born in The Bronx, NY, in 1916. Dan’s father, who was an electrician, taught him the trade. Dan remembered that when he was a boy, he accompanied his father in a horse-drawn wagon to job sites.

Daniel was working as an electrician in New York when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He enlisted, and was trained as a radar technician. He saw action in the Pacific and was part of the Army of Occupation in Japan. His experiences set him firmly against the practice of war. He attended Brooklyn College on the G. I. Bill and earned his licenses as a stationary engineer. During his work life, he managed the physical plants of New York institutions: Columbia University, Maimonides Medical Center, and the Western Electric headquarters building.

In retirement, Dan built a home near New Paltz, N.Y. with a view of the Shawangunk Mountains. He was a member of New Paltz Monthly Meeting and was an active participant in a nearby prison ministry.

Fifteen years ago, he left New Paltz, and moved to Chatham, to provide after-school care for his grandsons. Dan transferred his mem-bership to Chatham-Summit Monthly Meeting where his passion for politics and his ecumenical spirit manifest itself in the work of the Peace and Social Action Committee. He was the guiding spirit in Chat-ham-Summit Monthly Meeting’s partnership with Pax Christi to bring Sister Helen Prejean to Seton Hall University to speak against the death penalty. He frequently raised a voice of concern about issues of justice and equality, which were addressed in his messages delivered during worship. In later years his love of ecumenical outreach led him to di-vide his Sunday worship between Chatham-Summit Monthly Meeting and the First Baptist Church of Madison.

Daniel leaves a void that cannot be filled for his children, Beth Wade of Chatham, NJ, Garth Wade of Brooklyn, NY, and James Wade of Midlothian, Va.; Beth’s husband Thomas Gray, Jim’s wife Randi Wade; and the grandchildren, Max and Avery Gray, Logan and Harrison Wade, and Miriam and Ben Wade.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Immigration Enforcement Policies Hurt Us All

Just over a year ago, the complexity of the problems in our immigration system was laid bare for the community of Postville, Iowa. The story of Postville is a dramatic tale of the effects of immigration enforcement, but the events and consequences that unfolded a year ago in Iowa are occurring each and every day in communities in New Jersey, only on a smaller scale. Parents are separated from their children, workers are abused, and communities are suffering the loss of residents, wage earners and consumers. These consequences of immigration enforcement hurt us all.

At about 10 am on May 12, 2008, approximately 900 immigration agents, supported by two helicopters, descended on the community of 2200 residents to raid the Agriprocessors meat packing plant. The disruption to the community at large has been likened to that of a natural disaster. In a matter of hours, nearly 20% of the town’s population was arrested and hundreds of families were separated, deprived of caregivers and bread winners. Hundreds were in need of emergency assistance.

Following the raid, people of all faiths came from the surrounding communities to volunteer at St. Bridget’s which had become the center for the relief effort. Calls offering services and financial support from individuals, congregations and organizations came from across the country. The hundreds in need have now dwindled to dozens, but the volunteers at St. Bridget’s are still serving meals, providing help with immigration paperwork, and securing counseling for the trauma caused by the raid.

The raid cost the government $5.2 million as a part of “Operation Return to Sender” which was designed to apprehend dangerous criminals such as drug dealers and gang members. However, only 5 of the 390 people, who were taken into custody that day, had any kind of a criminal record. The owners and operators of the plant, on the other hand, had been known to underpay workers, fail to pay overtime and employ child labor, but the Iowa Attorney General is now having difficulty prosecuting charges of child labor law violations because witnesses have been deported or they are afraid to testify.

A year later the suffering continues for the entire community. Well over 10% of Postville’s population has been deported. Others have moved away. The community is plagued with empty apartments, and shuttered businesses.

There are many lessons to be learned from Postville not the least of these are the importance of family unity, the consequences of dividing our communities, and the meaning of loving one’s neighbors.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

May Day is "Worker's Day"

May 1st is recognized around the world as "Worker's Day". The observance dates back to 1886 when tens of thousands of workers commenced a general strike in cities across the country demanding an 8 hour work day.

In honor of May Day I am posting a link to a video by Seth Kaper-Dale, the Pastor of the Reformed Church in Highland Park. His congregation has been effected by the harsh and in-humane immigration policies and torn apart several families in his church when members were deported or detained.

Today thousands of our immigrant brothers and sisters will march demanding their rights as workers and as human beings. Demonstrations will be held today in Newark and Jersey City.

In 1886, hard working people were suffering under bad laws, but people from across the country worked together to change the law.

Today hard working people are still suffering under bad laws. Our immigration system no longer allows workers who are needed for our economy and who need work to feed their families to migrate to the United States. Our current system creates a class of laborers who are exploited and sometimes abused with no opportunity to redress their grievances.

We need to work together to change these laws.

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