A Pause to Put Meaning Back into Thanksgiving
When the mention of Thanksgiving immediately conjures up images of a fully dressed turkey, televised football games and a mid-afternoon nap – or dread of strenuous preparations, hectic travel and forced socialization – it is time to step back from the busyness of everyday life and focus on family relationships. "It's easy to take family members for granted. This Thanksgiving, we might be extra attentive to each other, for example, by paying a compliment, asking a grandparent to recount a childhood memory or simply saying 'I love you,'" says Sheila Garcia, assistant director of the USCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth. In "Follow the Way of Love," the U.S. Catholic bishops suggest that families might attend Thanksgiving liturgy together; plan a special blessing for the Thanksgiving dinner; look through family photo albums and share stories about the people pictured; and call family members who cannot be present. For additional suggestions and activities to assist families with planning a meaningful holiday, the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth has posted a Resource Packet for Families on the USCCB Website at www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/toc.shtml.
For more information contact Sheila Garcia at (202) 541-3041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joining Forces to Fund Anti-Poverty Initiatives
For the third consecutive year, the United States' official poverty rate rose in 2003. Nearly 36 million Americans now live in poverty—1.3 million more people than the previous year. One in six children, one in eight seniors and one in ten families struggle to live with incomes under the poverty line. In order to support the efforts of those working to change their situations and break the cycle of poverty, in 1970, the U.S. bishops created the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Today Catholic parishioners are the cornerstone of the campaign through their participation in the CCHD national collection. The collection will be taken up in most parishes the weekend of November 20-21. "Each year CCHD identifies and funds hundreds of local initiatives that help poor and low-income people develop the skills that are necessary to help them make their communities better places in which to live, work and learn," says CCHD Executive Director, Father Robert J. Vitillo.
For more information contact Father Robert J. Vitillo at (202) 541-3367 or email@example.com.
Building Strong Refugee Families and Marriages
Research has shown that healthy marriages are associated with increases in stable employment and higher wages, central elements in the success immigrants seek in their new country. Relationships in refugee families often become strained before arrival in the United States, a consequence of the suffering and deprivation common to the refugee condition. Mirelle Kabuya, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, says her life has been enriched through the Phoenix area Refugee Marriage Education Program, a program that cultivates parenting, conflict management and communication skills.
After emigrating, Kabuya's family struggled to adapt to American culture and its often diverse views regarding gender roles and household functioning. After attending one of the marriage program's workshops, Mirelle began attending classes and working as a volunteer, discovering along the way how to maintain her family's own identity while adapting to U.S. customs. Mirelle is now an educator with the program. "This program is a shining example of the positive impact that socially and culturally appropriate marriage and family enrichment workshops are having in the lives of refugees," says Kimberley Haynes, USCCB/MRS Refugee and Marriage Strengthening Program Developer.
Through a unique grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supports similar family-strengthening initiatives in seventeen communities throughout the United States.
For more information, contact Kimberley Haynes at (202) 541-3264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. Bishops Review 25 Years of Efforts to Combat Racism
In the 25 years since the U.S. bishops issued their Pastoral Statement on Racism, "Brothers and Sisters to Us," at least 35 bishops (or approximately 18 percent of all diocesan archbishops or bishops) have issued statements, either individually or jointly, condemning the sin of racism. This November the bishops will review the results of a study on the implementation of the original document, a research project headed by Dr. James Cavendish, associate professor of the Department of Sociology at the University of South Florida. "The release of this new study shows continued commitment by the U.S. bishops to the advancement of universality of the Church in America," says Cynthia Morris-Colbert, program coordinator in the Secretariat for African American Catholics. On November 15, the USCCB Committee on African American Catholics will host the opening liturgy in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the pastoral statement at the bishops' general meeting in Washington, D.C.
For further information, contact Cynthia Morris-Colbert at (202) 541-3394 or email@example.com.