Sunday, July 29, 2012

Social Concerns Column for Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pope John Paul II Called for Unconditional Pro-Life Stance. 
In his encyclical, The   Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), Pope John Paul II told us that we have an “inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.” (Paragraph 28)   Read the Pope’s entire encyclical on the Vatican website at:

Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty Renews Call for Life. 
Twenty-five years ago, our bishops first called for an end to the death penalty in America.  This Catholic campaign brings us together for common action to end the use of the death penalty, to reject a culture of death, and to build a culture of life. It poses an old and fundamental choice: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.”  Learn more at the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

California Bishops Endorse Proposition 34: The SAFE California Act
that will replace the death penalty in California with life imprisonment with no chance of parole.  In their May statement, the bishops said: “We support this initiative because as Catholics  we hold human life as sacred and believe that in the exercise of justice, this principle must prevail in the manner we treat one another, even for those who have done grave harm. We also support this initiative because as citizens we find the use of the death penalty unnecessary, impractical and expensive.”  Read the full statement at:

Pledge to Vote “Yes” for Proposition 34. 
With your help, Prop. 34 will deliver historic change to California that will replace the death penalty, protect the innocent, save more than $100 million every year, and focus public safety resources on solving violent crimes to keep our communities safe.  Pledge to vote “Yes on Prop 34” on the SAFE website at:

The Gospel of Life
The unconditional choice for life reaches its full religious and moral meaning when it flows from, is formed by and nourished by faith in Christ. Nothing helps us so much to face positively the conflict between death and life in which we are engaged as faith in the Son of God who became man and dwelt among men so "that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10). It is a matter of faith in the Risen Lord, who has conquered death; faith in the blood of Christ "that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel" (Heb 12:24).  – The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), paragraph 28

Microlending Helps People to Help Themselves Up and Out of Poverty

The members of the St. Michael Parish Social Concerns Ministry have made microloans to many third world business women and men through the microlending site “Kiva” (  Meet some of our business partners:

Jacqueline in Rwanda is steadily paying back the loan she requested for her general store.  The loan allowed her to expand her business; the increased profits enabled her to pay school fees for her children and pay medical insurance for her family.

Maria in the Dominican Republic has received and paid back several loans over the past five years.  She has a small business selling clothing and shoes.  The loans allow Maria to stock up during months of high demand when the sugar cane harvest booms, smoothing out her income during the slow months.  Maria is married to Polo, and they have four kids, Eleana, Mario, Marta and Samuel.

Jean Martin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo used his microloan to purchase ten used tires and tubes, and resell them at a profit.  He is grateful to the lenders around the world that allowed him to increase his stock of merchandise.  Jean is the chairman of a community bank, Abia Plus, whose members pledge loan repayment of all members.

Why is microfinance so important?  

Microfinance champions the idea that low-income individuals are capable of lifting themselves out of poverty if given access to financial services normally denied to the poor.

Who manages the microloan overseas?  
Organizations such as Kiva reach out to the world through an extensive network of microfinance organizations which screen borrowers, disburse loans, and collect repayments.  Charities, such as Catholic Relief Services, also provide training in money management, literacy, agriculture, etc.

Can I start with just $25?  
Yes!  With a loan of as little as $25, you join with lenders from around the world to fund loan requests by business women and men.  The total loan amounts are a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. --Psalm 82:3

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Social Concerns Column, 15 July 2012

Collection for the Livermore Homeless Refuge
July 21-22
Drop off your donations in the boxes at the entrances to the church at all Masses

We need your gently used clothing and new toiletry items for men and women.  These items will be used at the homeless shower facilities at three Livermore churches.

Summer Clothing
Tennis shoes
Jeans, etc.

Men’s briefs and boxer shorts
Women’s underpants
Socks, etc.

Shampoo and conditioner
Shaving supplies
Toothbrush / toothpaste
Combs / brushes, etc.

Praise God for Showers!
Did you know?  While the Livermore Homeless Refuge operates during cold winter months to provide emergency shelter at night, we stay connected with our town’s homeless people through the shower facilities offered on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by Vineyard, Asbury United Methodist and Trinity Baptist churches.  Bob and Donna work tirelessly, and channel your donations directly into the hands of the most needy people in our town. 

For more information, please call  
Bob and Donna McKenzie, 925-443-7389 or 925-895-4167

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Social Concerns Column, 8 July 2012

Become an English Language Tutor for a Fellow Catholic
Next Training Class, July 14, 9am-4pm
For Livermore, California, please call Joanne, 443-1422
If you are reading this blog from somewhere else,
Google for literacy programs that need tutors in your city!

If you can read this, 
you can help someone else who can’t. 

Why are tutors needed? 
  There are adults in our own St. Michael community who struggle to read and speak English at home … at work … to their children.  By becoming a volunteer literacy tutor in the English language, you will make a life enhancing, permanent change in the life of a fellow Catholic.  With strong English skills, an adult has more job opportunities, can speak with the teachers of their children, and even study for the US Citizenship examination.

I only speak English, is that OK?  
A-OK!  The only language you need is English.  If you can read this easily aloud to someone, then you are qualified to tutor an adult.  Members of St. Michael parish who are bilingual have volunteered to join you and your adult student for your first meeting or two to get you started.

I don’t know how to teach.  
No problem!  You will be trained by staff from the Livermore Public Library’s READ Project.  They will be available for consulting.  To prepare for tutoring sessions, you will want to skim through the lesson materials.  But the lessons are all worked out, easy to follow, and have helped hundreds of Livermore residents speak adult-level English.  Your learner will already be part of an ESL class; your job is to help them practice.

Is the program really free?  
Yes, all of the educational materials are provided free of charge by the Livermore Public Library.

What is my time commitment?  
The training class is one day, and then we ask for a 6 month commitment of 2 hours per week.  You and your student can meet in a room at the library at a time that you choose together. 

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. – Matthew 25