Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King & The Revolution of Values

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day. Here in Summit many will be engaging in a day of service. For those of us who know only of Martin Luther King Jr's legacy with regard to civil rights for African-Americans this may seem incongruous.

A society that could oppress millions of African-Americans was a society that was clearly unjust. These injustices were not limited to the oppression of whites against blacks. Martin Luther King preached that it is these overarching injustices of unbridled capitalism, militarism and racism that lead to all the imbalances of wealth and power which create policies (domestic and foreign) and laws that serve to oppress and enslave one group or another.

Below is an excerpt from one of his sermons entitled "Beyond Vietnam" which talks about the "revolution of values" that is needed to to transform society:

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." From "Beyond Vietnam," April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, New York City.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Prayer in Honor of Marting Luther King Jr Day

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

Lord Jesus Christ

who reached across the ethnic boundaries

of Samaritan, Roman and Jew,

who offered fresh sight to the blind and freedom to captives,

help us to break down the barriers in our community,

enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry,

and free us to challenge and uproot it

from ourselves, our society and our world.


– John Bucki, S.J. (from Living God’s Justice: Prayers and Reflections)

Responding to the Suffering of Haiti

"We Suffer and Rejoice with Our Brothers and Sisters."

That was the theme of Pax Christi NJ's state assembly two years ago.

In April of 2008 Pax Christi NJ gathered to recognize Fr. Gene Squeo for his life's work of breaking down barriers and promoting international solidarity and interfaith dialogue. We focused on his work with the local Haitian community and his advocacy on behalf of the Haitian people. That day we rejoiced with Fr. Squeo and many other members of the Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast. Today we are called together at a time of great suffering for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

The scope the disaster is truly enormous, and a tremendous influx of immediate aid is needed to avert an even greater loss of life. Fr. Squeo has recommended Partners in Health as one of the charities that is in a position to provide much needed medical care. Partners In Health has been working in Haiti for nearly 25 years. Its local team is already working to ensure PIH’s coordinated relief efforts, leveraging the skills of more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants who work at established sites throughout Haiti.

Please help make sure that this skilled team has the resources it needs to address the crisis at hand. Click here to donate now.

Pax Christi NJ itself has many long standing ties to the Haitian community in NJ and to Haiti itself. Our members, including Fr. Jack Martin, Fr. Gene Squeo, Tonie Malone and many others, over the years have: founded and supported the Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast, visited Haiti on medical mission trips, helped establish micro-finance programs through Fonkoze, established the “Rule of Law Project”, supported re-forestation projects, and established and fostered parish twinning programs.

I trust that you will continue this support our brothers and sisters in Haiti now that their need is so great.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Our Hearts Are with Haiti- How We Can Help

Like I am sure many of you are I have been following the reports out of Haiti and considering how best to respond. Our hearts and our thoughts are with our suffering Haitian brothers and sisters.

Pax Christi NJ has many long standing ties to the Haitian community in NJ and to Haiti itself. Our members, including Fr. Jack Martin, Fr. Gene Squeo and Tonie Malone, over the years have:

Founded and supported the Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast
*Visited Haiti on medical mission trips
*Helped establish micro-finance programs through Fonkoze
*Established the “Rule of Law Project”
*Supported re-forestation projects
*Established and fostered parish twinning programs

I trust that you will continue to support the work of our members and help provide some comfort our brothers and sisters in Haiti now that their need is so great.

Here are some ways that you can help.

1) Donate money –particularly to those organizations that have a current, significant and long-standing presence in Haiti. Some of those organizations include:
Catholic Relief Services
Partners in Health,
Jesuit Refugees Services,

2) Advocate for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians currently in the US. DHS has temporarily halted deportations, but TPS would allow Haitians in the US to temporarily legalize their status. This would allow them to apply for drivers licenses, work permits and would help release those being held in detention on immigration violations.

3) Pray – prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have. Pray often that the suffering people of Haiti will be comforted and encourage others to do the same.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Keep NJ Off Hate Group's List

ALIPAC, which has been classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League is already calling the delay of the vote on S1036 a significant victory. According to an email sent to all of its membership they intend to add the defeat of this bill to their list of major accomplishments for 2010.

Being on ALIPAC’s list of accomplishments is a distinction our state does not deserve and should not have. Please don’t let our legislature side with ALIPAC and other hate groups that seek to dehumanize immigrants. Please call and ask them to vote in favor of S1036.

Every year approximately 2,000 students are not able to complete their education because of financial struggles. The S1036/A990 bill seeks to allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher education. This bill would simply allow tuition parity for all New Jersey residents and has no negative fiscal impact. Currently, these students are required to pay out of state tuition rates which impede their ability to attend college and our ability as a state to benefit from their hard-work and talent.

The S1036/A990 bill is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate and the Assembly on Monday January 11th, 2010, and is believe to be a few votes short for approval. This is not a giveaway but an opportunity for young immigrants and long-time residents of New Jersey to reach their potential and eventually contribute to state coffers. New Jersey should pass this bill and reap the benefits of a more educated, tax-paying immigrant population.

Take action now!

Please contact the following Senators and ask them to support the bill S1036/A990, which will benefit a crucial group of students that have graduated with good scores and attended at least three years of high school in New Jersey.

Senate Minority Office
(732)855-7558 Fax

(856)765-0897 fAX
(908)587-9312 Fax

(856)232-6844 Fax
(973) 627-0131 Fax

(856)489-4180 Fax
(973) 237-1360
(973) 237-1364 Fax

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Friday, January 08, 2010

In-State Tuition Vote Postponed Until Monday

Yesterday, the sponsor of the In-State Tuition bill a1036 withdrew it from full Senate consideration until Monday in the hope that we can change the minds of two or three Democratic senators who currently oppose its passage.

Monday is our last chance!

Please everyone call the senators who are currently on the fence and urge them to vote yes. Please call each senator on this list*:

Senator Jeff Van Drew (District 1) - 609-465-0700

Senator Fred Madden (District 4) - 856-232-6700

Senator James Beach (District 6) - 856-489-3442

Senator Shirley Turner (District 15) - 609-530-3277

Senator Joseph Vitale (District 19) - 732-855-7441

Senator Nicholas Scutari (District 22) - 908-587-0404

*If you are a constituent of one of these particular senators - let him/her know.

*If you are not and you are asked say "Extending in-state tuition rates to unauthorized immigrants is beneficial to all New Jerseyans."

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The Other Fight for Equality

Currently there is a largely progressive coalition that is fighting for equality for students. They are fighting for parity in tuition for students who are the least likely to be able to afford in-state tuition let alone the out-of state rate.

After nearly eight years the in-state tuition bill which would allow NJ students whose immigration status is undocumented to pay in-state tuition rates is finally on the floor of the state senate for a vote.

(It was scheduled for a vote yesterday, but delayed late in the day until Monday because we are just two votes short.)

Like many other bills in this lame duck session list is likely the last chance for this bill for at least the next four years since Chris Christie is opposed to it.

These are children who were brought here by their parents most have lived the majority of their lives in NJ. By virtue of living in NJ they have paid into the state system through sales tax and property taxes (even if it was paid through rent to a landlord), yet we continue to force them to pay out-of-state tuition rates at many colleges and universities.

I met some of them in Trenton on Monday. They are bright hard working and determined. Education is a way out and a way up for these kids. They have flourished despite great hardship. They desperately want an opportunity to continue their education, but their families are struggling just to provide the basic necessities for their children.

Out-of-state tuition which is usually double in-state rates is just a bridge too far for many of them. Others are forced to work two and three jobs and take only one or two classes a semester. They all keep working because they all have hope, some that their pending immigration petitions will be granted and other that some day, some how the current system will change.

NJ is the third most diverse state in the country. Our ability to accept each others differences and build on each others strength is part of what makes NJ so great.

Immigrant rights are human rights and one of those rights is a right to an education. Please support in-state tuition and treat these kids like we would any other child who calls NJ home.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Calls Needed to Pass the In-state Tuition Act

The In-State Tuition Act has been list for a vote in the NJ State Senate this coming Thursday January 7th.

The In State Tuition Act (ISTA) that would allow undocumented immigrant youth to pay in-state tuition rate for college was approved in the Appropriation Committee of both the state Assembly and Senate yesterday after eight long years of no movement.

The hearing rooms were packed with supporters. It was standing room only with overflow in the hallway. There was no organized opposition there to testify against the bills. The NJ Regional Coalition, NJ Immigration Policy Network and the NJ Catholic Conference did a great job coordinating testimony from affected students, religious, civic and community leaders.

Your Calls are Needed Now for Final Passage of this Bill

Please call your State Senator between now and Thursday morning and ask them to support S 1036. Below the talking points you will see a list of all the Senators. There will be a full Senate vote on Thursday Jan. 7th. You can say:

- In-State Tuition is critical for immigrant youth to access higher education.

- The report recently released by the State Legislative Affairs says providing resident tuition for undocumented high school graduates will not cost State of NJ any money.

- In-State Tuition is not a public benefit, it’s a way for immigrant youth who have been in NJ for most of their lives to pay more affordable college tuition. They will have to have attended three-year high school in NJ.

- Educating our children and young people will be beneficial for the State of NJ and everyone.

Senator Diane B. Allen Republican
District Office: 11 West Broad St., Burlington, NJ 08016 (609) 239-2800

Senator Bill Baroni Republican
District Office: 3691A Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square, NJ 08690 (609) 631-9988

Senator Christopher Bateman Republican
District Office: 36 East Main St., Somerville, NJ 08876 (908) 526-3600

Senator James Beach Democrat
District Office: 1916 Route 70 East, Suite 3, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 (856) 489-3442

Senator Jennifer Beck Republican
District Office: 32 Monmouth St., 3rd Floor, Red Bank, NJ 07701 (732) 933-1591

Senator Anthony R. Bucco Republican
District Office: 75 Bloomfield Ave., Suite 302, 3rd Floor, Denville, NJ 07834 (973) 627-9700

Senator Barbara Buono Democrat
District Office: Two Lincoln Highway, Suite 401, Edison, NJ 08820 (732) 205-1372

Senator Gerald Cardinale Republican
District Office: 350 Madison Ave., Cresskill, NJ 07626 (201) 567-2324

Senator Andrew R. Ciesla Republican
District Office: 852 Highway 70, Brick, NJ 08724 (732) 840-9028

Senator Richard J. Codey Democrat
District Office: 449 Mount Pleasant Ave., West Orange, NJ 07052 (973) 731-6770

Senator Christopher J. Connors Republican
District Office: 620 West Lacey Rd., Forked River, NJ 08731 (609) 693-6700

Senator Sandra B. Cunningham Democrat
District Office: 1738 Kennedy Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07305 (201) 451-5100

Senator Michael J. Doherty Republican
District Office: 127 Belvidere Ave., 2nd Floor, Washington, NJ 07882 (908) 835-0552

Senator Nia H. Gill, Esq. Democrat
District Office: 425 Bloomfield Avenue, 2nd Floor, Montclair, NJ 07042 (973) 509-0388

Senator John A. Girgenti Democrat
District Office: 507 Lafayette Avenue, Hawthorne, NJ 07506 (973) 427-1229

Senator Robert M. Gordon Democrat
District Office: 14-25 Plaza Rd., P.O. Box 398, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410 (201) 703-9779

Senator Philip E. Haines Republican
District Office: 32A North Main St., Medford, NJ 08055 (609) 654-1498

Senator Sean T. Kean Republican
District Office: 1955 Highway 34, Bldg. 2A, Wall Township, NJ 07719 (732) 974-0400

Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr. Republican
District Office: 425 North Ave. East, Suite C, Westfield, NJ 07090 (908) 232-3673
District Office: 57 Union Place, Suite 310, Summit, NJ 07901 (908) 918-0414
District Office: 251 North Ave. West, 2nd Floor, Westfield, NJ 07090 (908) 232-2073

Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos, Jr. Republican
District Office: 1715 Highway 35, Suite 303, Middletown, NJ 07748 (732) 671-3206

Senator Raymond J. Lesniak Democrat
District Office: 985 Stuyvesant Ave., Union, NJ 07083 (908) 624-0880

Senator Fred H. Madden, Jr. Democrat
District Office: 129 Johnson Rd., Suite 1, Turnersville, NJ 08012 (856) 232-6700
District Office: 1405 Chews Landing Rd., Suite 15, Laurel Springs, NJ 08021 (856) 401-3073

Senator Kevin J. O'Toole Republican Votes by Bill Votes by Subject
District Office: 155 Route 46 West, Suite 108, Wayne, NJ 07470 (973) 237-1360

Senator Steven V. Oroho Republican Votes by Bill Votes by Subject
District Office: 115 Demarest Rd., Suite 2B, Sparta, NJ 07871 (973) 300-0200
District Office: 227 Route 206, Bldg. 1, 1st Floor, Flanders, NJ 07836 (973) 584-4670

Senator Joseph Pennacchio Republican
District Office: 330 Changebridge Road, Suite 102, Pine Brook, NJ 07058 (973) 227-4012

Senator Dana L. Redd Democrat
District Office: 1 Market St., Suite 1F, Camden, NJ 08102 (856) 225-9068

Senator Ronald L. Rice Democrat
District Office: 1044 South Orange Ave., Newark, NJ 07106 (973) 371-5665

Senator M. Teresa Ruiz Democrat
District Office: 166 Bloomfield Ave., Newark, NJ 07104 (973) 484-1000

Senator Nicholas J. Sacco Democrat
District Office: 9060 Palisade Ave., North Bergen, NJ 07047 (201) 295-0200

Senator Paul A. Sarlo Democrat
District Office: 207 Hackensack St., 2nd Floor, Wood-Ridge, NJ 07075 (201) 804-8118

Senator Nicholas P. Scutari Democrat
District Office: 1514 E. Saint Georges Ave., 2nd Floor, Linden, NJ 07036 (908) 587-0404

Senator Robert W. Singer Republican
District Office: 2110 W. County Line Rd., Jackson, NJ 08527 (732) 901-0702

Senator Bob Smith Democrat
District Office: 216 Stelton Rd., Suite E-5, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (732) 752-0770

Senator Brian P. Stack Democrat
District Office: 5801 Palisade Ave., West New York, NJ 07093 (201) 861-5091
District Office: 301 45th St., 1st Floor, Union City, NJ 07087 (201) 558-7926

Senator Stephen M. Sweeney Democrat
District Office: 935 Kings Highway, Suite 400, West Deptford, NJ 08086 (856) 251-9801
District Office: 14 East Commerce St., 3rd Floor, Bridgeton, NJ 08302 (856) 455-1011
District Office: 199 East Broadway, Suite G, Salem, NJ 08079 (856) 339-0808

Senator Shirley K. Turner Democrat
District Office: 1440 Pennington Rd., Trenton, NJ 08618 (609) 530-3277

Senator Jeff Van Drew Democrat
District Office: 21 North Main St., Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 (609) 465-0700
District Office: 1124 North High St., Millville, NJ 08332 (856) 765-0891
District Office: 1028 East Landis Ave., Vineland, NJ 08360 (856) 696-7109
District Office: Additional Phone, Somers Point, NJ (609) 926-3779

Senator Joseph F. Vitale Democrat
District Office: 569 Rahway Ave., Woodbridge, NJ 07095 (732) 855-7441

Senator Loretta Weinberg Democrat
District Office: 545 Cedar Lane, Teaneck, NJ 07666 (201) 928-0100

Senator Jim Whelan Democrat
District Office: 511 Tilton Rd., Northfield, NJ 08225 (609) 383-1388

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NJ In-State Tuition Bill Advances

The in-state tuition bill was released yesterday from both the Senate Budget Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee after eight long years of no movement.

The hearing rooms were packed with supporters. It was standing room only with overflow in the hallway. There was no organized opposition there to testify against the bills. The NJ Regional Coalition, NJ Immigration Policy Network and the NJ Catholic Conference did a great job coordinating testimony from affected students, religious, civic and community leaders.

What a day!

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Events in Observance of National Migration Week

US Conference of Catholic Bishops National Migration Week
January 3-9, 2010

Events at St. Teresa of Avila in Summit
Memorial Hall (across the street from the church & school)
306 Morris Ave. Summit, NJ

Prayer Service & Program January 7th
Please join the St. Teresa's Social Concerns and Justice Committee on Thursday January 7th at 7:00 pm in Memorial Hall for a prayer service and program in observance of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' National Migration Week. The theme of the program will be "Welcoming Christ the Foreigner". Participants will be asked to reflect on the life of Jesus as a "man on the move".

Marian Devotion January 9th
We will also gather at 9:00 am on Saturday January 9th in Memorial Hall to offer a devotion to Our Blessed Mother Mary that she might provide peace, protection and comfort to refugees and immigrants in our community and everywhere.

About National Migration Week

National Migration Week is an observance that was initiated over 25 years ago by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It is a time for us to reflect on the work of the Church on behalf of immigrants, refugees, trafficked persons and other people on the move. It is also a time for us to reflect on the life of Jesus and the Holy Family who were forced to leave their home to travel to Bethlehem and then to flee into Egypt to escape Herod. Popular devotion considers Jesus as a man on the move and Mary as Madonna of the Way.

We welcome you, Jesus.

Dear Jesus, you came into this world as a migrant.

We welcome you Jesus
There was no room for your family at the inn

We welcome you Jesus
Along with the angels in heaven

We welcome you Jesus
Along with the shepherds who wandered the hills

We welcome you Jesus
Along with the Magi who traveled from the East

We welcome you Jesus

Your family became refugees fleeing Herod

We welcome you Jesus
In Egypt you were an alien

We welcome you Jesus
In your public life you did not have a place to rest

We welcome you Jesus

Dear Jesus, we see you today, and

We welcome you Jesus
In refugees fleeing war and violence

We welcome you Jesus
In immigrants seeking a better life

We welcome you Jesus
In migrant workers who enrich our land with their labor

We welcome you Jesus
In seafarers and other people on the move

We welcome you Jesus

Dear Jesus, you are the refuge of people on the move.
We ask you to grant immigrants, refugees, and other migrants peace, protection, and comfort.
Help us to recognize that whenever we welcome the stranger in your name, we welcome you.
Teach us to recognize your presence in every human being.
Bring us together as one family, at the banquet table of your love,
with you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen

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National Migration Week January 3-9

National Migration Week, is an observance that was initiated over 25 years ago by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It is a time for us to reflect on the work of the Church on behalf of immigrants, refugees, trafficked persons and other people on the move. It is also a time for us to reflect on the life of Jesus and the Holy Family who were forced to leave their home to travel to Bethlehem and then to flee into Egypt to escape Herod. Popular devotion considers Jesus as a man on the move and Mary as Madonna of the Way.

The God Who Moves
by John Newbury, International Catholic Migration Commission

Holy God,
You are a God on the move.

You move in the world and in our lives.
You shape and direct Creation, and us.

Your people have always been on the move.
Moses led your people out of slavery in Egypt.
The Holy Family fled to Egypt with Jesus to escape the murderous King Herod.

Today, people continue to move.
War, poverty, oppression and injustice drive people from home and country.

We pray you will move with today's refugees, forced migrants, and internally displaced people. Comfort and save them.

We pray for the work of the International Catholic Migration Commission
We pray for all those who serve those forced to move in our world.

Holy, moving God, hear our prayer
For the sake of your own uprooted son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Feast of St. Basil the Great

St. Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. He became bishop of Caesaria in 370. Basil was an accomplished statesman and a renowned theologian. He is also remembered as a defender of the poor and downtrodden. Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine. He denounced evil and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. Many of his sermons survive and he is regarded as one of the great orators of Christianity.

"Who is a man of greed? Someone who does not rest content with what is sufficient. Who is a cheater? Someone who takes away what belongs to others. And are you not a man of greed? are you not a cheater? taking those things which you received for the sake of stewardship, and making them your very own? Now, someone who takes a man who is clothed and renders him naked would be termed a robber; but when someone fails to clothe the naked, while he is able to do this, is such a man deserving of any other appellation? The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear moldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes. The silver that you keep hidden in a safe place belongs to the one in need. Thus, however many are those whom you could have provided for, so many are those whom you wrong."