|Diocese:||Diocese of Davenport|
|Date:||October 27, 2003|
|Person Completing Form:||Dan R. Ebener|
|Address:||2706 N. Gaines St. Davenport, IA 52804|
|Phone:||563 324.1912, ext.268|
I. Diocesan and Parochial Structures Which Foster Unity in Diversity
A. Assessing the diocese’s current structures
When Bishop William Franklin became our bishop in 1994, he placed more emphasis on regional organization and developing relationships between parishes through a deanery structure. The Diocese has six deaneries and many diocesan programs are organized to reach a deanery audience. Bishop Franklin also re-structured the Chancery creating the Office of Pastoral Services, joining ministries of faith formation, liturgy and social action to work more collaboratively with each other.
The Bishop has a team of 11 directors that meets twice a month to plan and discuss diocesan activities. The directors have discussed this plan several times and have met with the diocesan Unity in Diversity planning committee that has developed this plan. The 15 staff members of the diocesan Office for Pastoral Services also meets twice per month and has discussed this diocesan plan several times, meeting twice with the Unity in Diversity planning committee.
For the past two years, the Diocese has held an annual Convocation bringing together hundreds of people from all parishes in the Diocese. Through this Convocation, goals and objectives were set for each of the six identified areas of ministry in the Diocese of Davenport: faith formation, social action, liturgy, family life, church life and finance and administration.
St. Ambrose University is a small Catholic liberal arts university affiliated with the Diocese. This association provides us with many opportunities for adult education and faith formation. The Catholic Messenger is the newspaper of the Diocese of Davenport and is known nationally for its extensive coverage of national and international church events. It is increasingly making efforts to appeal to a more diverse reading audience.
B. Assessing our parishes’ current structures
The Diocese asks each parish to develop ministry in six areas: faith formation, family life, church life, social action, liturgy and finance and administration. Most parishes in the diocese have active parish councils. Most have active social action ministries, faith formation programs, finance commissions, family life committees and liturgy commissions. The area of ministry entitled “church life” includes responsibility for making the parish a more hospitable place, including the ministry of “welcoming the stranger”. Based on the input the Diocese received through its 2001 and 2002 Convocations, it is clear that parish church life commissions need to be better defined and strengthened so they can become more effective in welcoming newcomers into parish life.
Actually, many parishes in the Diocese are struggling with decisions about parish mergers or about coordinating services between parishes, including the sharing of pastors. Some of the parishes who are challenged most with these changes are in small rural communities where they are simultaneously experiencing an increase in a rapid growth of immigrant populations. (For the purpose of this plan, we are defining the word “immigrant” to mean those residents in the US who were born in another country.)
Most parishes provide some outreach services or ministry of hospitality, but in most cases, it needs to become a more concerted effort. The Diocese hopes to strengthen the involvement, participation and leadership of immigrant people – as well as other diverse groups of people such as second and third generation immigrants, minorities and other marginalized people – in ministry and in activities at the parish, deanery and diocesan levels. Workshops to raise consciousness of the average person in the pew can serve to complement the leadership training and change the culture of our parishes so that all people feel welcome to serve, to be served and to participate fully in the parish.
C. Evaluating how our Diocese serves “the stranger among us" through its structure
Since 1973, the Diocese of Davenport has operated an Immigration Program as part of its Social Action Office. The diocesan Immigration Program provides counseling to immigrant families who qualify for immigration status through family reunification. The office currently is staffed with three full-time, bi-lingual Latinas who serve about 800 clients per year.
From 1975-97, the Diocese resettled about 4,500 refugees into eastern Iowa. Most of these refugees came from southeast Asia. Many of these refugee families still live in eastern Iowa, especially Scott County, where Sacred Heart Cathedral has a vibrant Vietnamese Catholic community. About 50% of the Vietnamese persons in the Diocese are Catholic. The Diocese has two Vietnamese priests, Fr. Joseph Khan and Fr. Joseph Phung, and they provide ministry to the Vietnamese Catholic Community.
Fr. Rudy Juarez holds the position of diocesan Vicar for Spanish-speaking Ministry. In that capacity, he coordinates the Pastoral Agents for Hispanic Ministry, a working group of clergy, volunteers and pastoral staff that meets on a monthly basis to assess the needs of the growing Spanish-speaking population and to plan diocesan, deanery and parish responses to those needs. This committee is composed of about six priests, two women religious and a few lay leaders from some of the more diverse communities in our diocese. Four members of the Pastoral Agents for Hispanic Ministry represented the Diocese at the regional Unity in Diversity conference in Dallas.
One diocesan staff position in the Social Action Office, the Coordinator of Inter.Cultural Ministry, is currently un-filled due to a recent staff vacancy. Because of this recent vacancy, the focus and job description for this position is being re-evaluated in light of this diocesan action planning process for Unity in Diversity. The planning committee for Unity in Diversity has recommended that the position be re-structured to include more diocesan responsibility for multi-cultural faith formation as well as some responsibility for social action and church life.
Through the Office of Pastoral Services, the Diocese has offered diocesan programs to educate and raise awareness about the pastoral message of Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity. The next step in our diocesan plan is to begin offering more parish-based educational workshops and parish leadership training sessions on the subject of ministry for and with the immigrant population. Ministry to diverse groups has been the subject of presentations to all clergy, to groups of leaders in social action and to faith formation staff and volunteers in recent years. For example, it was the topic of the Clergy Institute (2001), the annual Iowa Institute for Social Action (1999) and the June Institute for Faith Formation leaders (2001). Father Anthony McGuire from Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) was the presenter at the Clergy Institute and the June Institute in 2001.
The Diocese of Davenport participates each year in National Migration Week and promotes other national initiatives to educate the faithful about the gospel message to “welcome the stranger”. Diocesan staff members have offered workshops on cultural diversity for the Catholic schools and through the Iowa Communications Network (a fiber optics television network) for students, teachers and faith formation leaders
Spanish classes have been organized for priests, religious and lay ministers in our Diocese to learn other languages. Currently, 12 priests in our Diocese can say Mass in Spanish and two priests are fluent in Vietnamese. Diocesan seminarians are required to take language classes in a selected foreign language. The Diocese currently has one seminarian that is Spanish-speaking and two others who speak Vietnamese.
The diocesan board for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Catholic Relief Services has 6 of its current 16 members who are Latinos. One is African American. The diocesan Social Action Commission has representation from Latino, Asian and African American Catholics in the Diocese. The diocesan staff has 5 Latinos on its current staff of about 30 people.
The Immigration Program has held several immigration “outreach clinics” in recent years. The Diocese hosts and staffs these clinics, recruits volunteers to assist, and schedules with either the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) of Omaha, NE or Des Moines, IA, or the Mexican Consulate office in Omaha, to provide direct services to the clients, such as providing information on the status of immigration clients or providing an opportunity to obtain photo identifications. The Immigration Program also refers the clients to a variety of social service agencies when necessary.
Working with the Iowa Catholic Conference and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Diocese is involved in advocacy efforts on behalf of immigrants, refugees, migrants and people who are newcomers to Iowa. Through its Social Action Office, the Diocese has organized a social action network with hundreds of active volunteers at the parish and deanery level. The Diocese also collaborates closely with a number of immigrant groups, such as the Iowa Immigration Network.
The Diocese partners with other faith communities to serve the needs of the immigrants. Some of those partners include Quad Cities Interfaith, United Way, Churches United, the Sisters of Humility and the Knights of Columbus. Building relationships with new immigrants in local communities will require more active outreach in all of our parishes.
Offering more training programs and educational materials in different languages – especially Spanish and Vietnamese – will become even more of a priority in the future. Such programs need to be accessible and available to those involved in various ministries in the diocese, including catechists, youth ministers, hospital chaplains, Eucharistic ministers and more.
The Diocese recognizes that demographic changes are occurring in many parishes throughout the diocese. Many of the new immigrants – especially those and others who work in meat-packing plants and for agri-businesses – work difficult schedules and are not always available for parish activities. This creates challenges to local parishes, especially when it is time for the parents to send their children to the parish for sacramental preparation. Because of the communal nature of sacraments, this cultural challenge also presents to the parish a wonderful opportunity to bring us together as church. With some flexibility and adaptations, sacramental preparation can become the time and place where immigrants and non-immigrants join together in the spirit of the pastoral letter, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity.
Through discussions of this plan, it was agreed that the diocesan Office of Pastoral Services needs to work on developing alternative models of faith formation for parishes that are flexible enough to meet the needs, interests and schedules of immigrant families. Culturally appropriate faith formation programs – especially those for sacramental preparation – need to be developed in such a way that we minimize the obstacles for family participation. As part of this plan, these new models of faith formation need to be developed and explained to clergy, religious, and a variety of parish ministers throughout the diocese.
D. Evaluating how our parishes serve “the stranger among us" through their structures
Immigration is a blessing that adds strength through diversity to our local communities and parishes. However, the arrival of so many newcomers in such a short amount of time has placed an incredible challenge to parishes around the Diocese of Davenport. Many parishes are struggling to adjust to the growing demographic changes occurring across Iowa. This is especially true in the small rural communities in Iowa. Some rural parishes have seen literally hundreds of immigrants move into their communities within a span of the past few years. Much of this growth is due to new or growing agri-businesses in rural Iowa.
The majority of new immigrants in our diocese are Catholics from Mexico. Many are from other parts of Central America. The parishes are attempting to respond by recruiting staff and parish leaders who are bi-lingual and by organizing church life, social action and faith formation programs that respond to these needs, and by making the newcomers as welcome as possible. But it is a daunting task, given the long tradition in most of these communities in being homogenous communities.
Only eight of 86 parishes in the Diocese of Davenport currently have bi-lingual members of the clergy and / or parish staff. At least eight more parishes have a current need for bi-lingual parish staff and the need is growing quickly in many other parishes. Two parishes – in Davenport and in Iowa City – offer weekly Masses in Vietnamese. A Mass in Korean is offered once a month in Iowa City.
Eight parishes in the diocese currently offer regular Masses in Spanish. These parishes are located in Davenport, Iowa City, Muscatine, West Liberty, Washington, Burlington, Ottumwa and Columbus Junction. Most of these parishes offer weekly Masses in Spanish. During the next year, the diocesan Hispanic Ministry planning committee is recommending that Masses in Spanish be added in Oskaloosa and in Mt. Pleasant, and expanded to weekly in Iowa City.
Shortly after the release of the pastoral letter, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, the Diocese distributed USCCB packets with the pastoral letter to all the parishes in the Diocese of Davenport. The Diocese held diocesan forums for all clergy, social action leaders and faith formation staff and volunteers. Several parishes organized efforts to teach their congregations about the letter, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity. One parish organized parish suppers with immigrants and non-immigrants to hold discussions on the pastoral message. Other parishes have organized small community prayer groups that have reflected upon the message of the pastoral letter. However, much more work needs to be done to follow up on these workshops, to teach this document and bring the message directly to the parishes.
The diocesan planning committee for Unity in Diversity involves seven delegates who participated in the regional conference from the Diocese of Davenport. In light of the current vacancy in the position for the Coordinator for Multi-Cultural Ministry, the committee is currently being staffed by the diocesan social action director. The planning group has decided to base the following action plan on our findings from our diocesan Convocation and our diocesan social action plans. This plan is based on input from diocesan and parish leaders from around the diocese. The proposals in this plan, such as the development of a video and Power Point presentation, will promote the pastoral message of welcoming the stranger to every parish in the diocese.
E. Setting Diocesan and Parochial Objectives to Enhance Structures and Capacity
The vision statement of the Diocese of Davenport is: “Walking together in faith”.
The mission statement of the Diocese of Davenport is “to facilitate and encourage the spiritual growth, development and well being of the people of southeastern Iowa”.
The diocesan plan to “welcome the stranger” and promote “unity in diversity” for the next two years includes these seven objectives for developing, strengthening or sustaining efforts in the Diocese to:
- Identify, recruit, train and develop diverse leaders and members of parishes and deaneries to become more actively involved in all areas of ministry, including social action, liturgy, family life, church life, finance and administration, and faith formation.
- Organize ministries of hospitality to “welcome the stranger” in every parish.
- Encourage multi-lingual Masses and multi-cultural events.
- Create new models of faith formation that meet the needs of immigrant families. Train leaders and provide support to parish programs in faith formation in various languages.
- Raise consciousness among the average person in the pew about the needs of the immigrant population and about the strengths they present us as church and community.
- Advocate for the human rights of immigrants, migrants, refugees and other newcomers in our Diocese by putting Catholic social teachings into action.
- Provide direct immigration counseling and outreach services through our diocesan Immigration Program.
- Hold an annual diocesan leadership training session that involves and attracts a diverse audience and involves a diverse planning group and diverse presenters of the message of the pastoral letter, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity. Include pertinent workshops that are culturally sensitive and that teach cultural competence.
- More diverse leaders emerge in social action, youth ministry, liturgy, family life, faith formation, finance and administration, and all areas of parish ministry.
- More diverse leaders participate in specific ministry roles, including parish council members, Eucharistic ministers, religious education teachers, religious vocations, and youth ministers.
- Local ethnic communities are brought more fully into the life of the parish and diocese.
- A diverse group of clergy, parish staff and seminarians minister to our increasingly diverse church community.
- New leaders get involved in the planning and implementation of this plan.
- New leaders hold multi-cultural events held in several parishes in the diocese in multiple languages.
- Diocesan staff and Unity in Diversity develops educational program designed to educate and build awareness on the pastoral letter, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity. Program includes a 15-minute video developed with assistance from the communications department at St. Ambrose University, a Power Point presentation and materials from USCCB promoting the pastoral letter.
- Diocesan planning committee for Unity in Diversity develops a Power Point presentation that includes local and national photos demonstrating diversity in parish communities around the Diocese.
- Diocesan planning committee for Unity in Diversity also develops a 15-minute video interviewing parish priests and lay leaders about “best practices” and local immigrants giving testimonials of barriers encountered in serving a diverse community. It will be presented in programs involving each parish in the Diocese.
- As part of the educational forums, the diocesan planning committee for Unity in Diversity distributes to all churches in the diocese a new diocesan banner that uses multiple languages and graphics to proclaim, “Welcome the Stranger Among Us”.
- Diocesan planning committee for Unity in Diversity sets up speakers’ bureau and makes presentations to the diocesan Presbyteral Council, deanery councils and parish councils throughout the Diocese, including 18 parish-based workshops designed for parish leaders.
- Bishop Franklin promotes the workshops to all pastors, pastoral staff and parish leaders in all six areas of ministry throughout the diocese. Parish council members and all parish staff are especially encouraged to attend.
- More parishioners are aware of the gifts that immigrants bring to our communities.
- More parishioners are sensitive to the needs of immigrants and their families.
- More parishes offer a more welcoming presence to immigrants.
- More relationships are built between immigrants and non-immigrants to bridge the acceptance gap present in our parishes.
- More parishes have active parish-based church life ministries or commissions that will be involved in welcoming immigrants, migrants, refugees and newcomers to their parish. Specifically, at least five more parishes will organize an active, parish church life commission to welcome newcomers and immigrants into their parish.
- More opportunities are present to involve greater participation of immigrants in the life of the parish.
- The diocesan planning committee for Unity in Diversity will plan a Diocesan Encuentro (to be scheduled for Spring 2004) in St. James Parish in Washington, Iowa.
- The Diocese will co-sponsor a Statewide Encuentro (which will be inclusive of all people and will be planned and scheduled by the end of 2004) with the other three dioceses in Iowa.
- Through its Social Action Office, the Diocese will continue to promote and observe National Migration Week each year.
- Through the Pastoral Agents for Hispanic Ministry, the schedule of Spanish and Vietnamese Masses around the diocese will be planned, coordinated and then advertised in the Mini-Messenger, the Messenger and in our diocesan directory.
- More active parish leaders are involved from diverse members of our local communities.
- Local ethnic communities are brought more fully into the life of the parish and diocese.
- Spanish Masses are offered in additional locations around the Diocese. Specifically, weekly Masses will be offered in Iowa City first, then in Mt. Pleasant and Fairfield, and finally in Oskaloosa.
- The schedule for all Masses offered in languages other than English is advertised locally and in the diocesan newspaper.
- Spanish lessons are conducted for clergy, religious and lay ministers and volunteers in local parishes around the Diocese.
- Multi-cultural events are held in several parishes in the diocese in languages other than English.
- Through the diocesan Office for Faith Formation, new models of parish faith formation are developed, in consultation with parish leaders, and continues to work collaboratively and provide support to those working with diverse populations, e.g. the Spanish-speaking and Vietnamese-speaking.
- Through the Office of Faith Formation, the Diocese will plan, develop and offer a diocesan conference to provide training for catechists and teachers explaining these new models of faith formation and sacramental preparation. Interpreters will be made available in this program so that any catechists or teachers not fluent in English may be able to participate.
- Through the Office of Faith Formation, the Diocese will purchase additional materials in Spanish, Vietnamese and other languages as needed for parish and deanery programs. This will include programs for Generations of Faith and Echoes of Faith.
- The Diocese recognizes the need to create a bi-lingual, diocesan position to provide parish-based training and promote faith formation programs – including catechetical formation, lay ministry formation, youth ministry, RCIA and adult formation – in Spanish.
- Resources from the National Association for Hispanic Catechists will be utilized in diocesan catechetical programs.
- The Office of Faith Formation develops new models of sacramental preparation and faith formation that work for the immigrants, migrants, refugees, minorities and other newcomers in the parishes of our Diocese.
- Through the diocesan conference explained in this plan, these new models of faith formation are explained to clergy, religious, and parish leaders throughout the diocese.
- Culturally appropriate faith formation programs – especially those for sacramental preparation – are developed and utilized in parishes and offer sacramental preparation programs in such a way that we minimize the obstacles for family participation.
- A diverse group of clergy, parish staff, lay leaders and seminarians minister to our increasingly diverse church community.
- More immigrant families participate in faith formation programs at the parish level, including more children enrolled in catechetical programs, more adults involved in RCIA, and more families and individuals involved in all sacramental programs.
- Parish-based faith formation programs meet the needs of a diverse community, with ongoing support from the diocesan level.
- Culturally diverse and sensitive faith formation programs are developed and utilized at the diocesan level.
- The diocesan Social Action Office will purchase and distribute copies of the two recent documents of the USCCB – Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope (January 2003) the Pastoral Letter on Migration produced jointly by the US and Mexican Conferences of Bishops, and the Statement of the USCCB, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity (November 2000), to every parish in the Diocese. These materials will be distributed at the educational forums described in this plan.
- Through the diocesan Social Action Office, the Diocese will hold educational workshops on these two statements at the parish or deanery level. Members of the Unity in Diversity planning group for the Diocese will organize and speakers bureau to help plan and lead these workshops.
- Through the diocesan Office of Pastoral Services, the Diocese will plan immersion projects, such as those scheduled in collaboration with our" Just Faith” program, which will be launched this Fall in parishes and deaneries around the diocese.
- The diocesan Social Action Office will continue to collaborate with groups such as Quad Cities Interfaith (a CCHD funded group) to bring training opportunities to Davenport and other parts of the diocese.
- More relationships are built between immigrants and non-immigrants to bridge the acceptance gap present in our parishes.
- More opportunities are present to involve greater participation of immigrants in the life of the parish.
- More diverse leaders emerge in social action, youth ministry, liturgy, family life, faith formation, finance and administration, and all areas of ministry.
- The culture of the local parish offers a more welcoming attitude and appreciation for the presence of immigrants in parishes throughout the diocese.
- Through its social action network, the Diocese will educate the public about immigration issues and advocate for policies to promote respect for the dignity of the human person.
- Through its social action network, the Diocese will continue to advocate for human rights of the immigrants by working through the Iowa Catholic Conference and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
- The Iowa Catholic Conference will advocate for the initiation of “The Iowa Dream Act".
- Through the diocesan Social Action Office, the Diocese will work with the Immigration Sub-Committee of the Social Concerns Committee of the Iowa Catholic Conference to address other immigration policy issues, such as addressing the extent of wrongful arrests for persons of color, access to drivers’ licenses for un-documented persons, workplace safety issues at agricultural factories and family reunification for all immigrants.
- Immigration continues to be a major legislative priority of the Diocese of Davenport and the Iowa Catholic Conference.
- Coverage of immigration concerns continues to increase in the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Messenger.
- Legislation is passed improving the social and economic situation for immigrants in Iowa.
- The diocesan Immigration Program will continue to serve about 800 clients per year.
- The diocesan Immigration Program will continue to work with the Mexican consulate to reach out to Mexican immigrants to acquire identification (matriculas).
- The diocesan Immigration Program will continue to organize other community forums for immigrants to learn about their rights and about opportunities for legalization.
- The diocesan Immigration Program will encourage immigrants to become more self-sufficient and more active in their local communities, including the parish life of their church in celebration of their cultural richness.
- Hundreds of immigrant families are re-united each year.
- Hundreds of immigrants realize a change in their legal status.
- Immigrants become more self-sufficient and more involved in their local communities.
F. Setting Objectives for the Parishes to Enhance Structures and Capacity
Integrated with Section E., above.
G. Identifying Resources
During the last few months, the Diocese has convened staff members from diocesan offices and parishes with diverse local communities to create this action plan. This has brought the diocesan staff and parish staff closer together. This diocesan plan was created as a collaborative effort with widespread ownership to meet the objectives outlined in this proposal. The planning meetings have led to further discussions between diocesan staff and parish leaders about issues that are being explored more collaboratively than on previous occasions.
Diocesan staff will continue to work closely with the Pastoral Agents for Hispanic Ministry and the Unity in Diversity planning committee in meeting the objectives of this plan. These committees include several bilingual priests, two bilingual religious sisters, and several lay people who are committed to this project.
The Diocese is fortunate to have a committed team of active parish and diocesan leaders committed to the ministry to “welcome the stranger”. The Diocese has an active group of volunteers that help with immigration projects such as the immigration outreach clinics, workshops on cultural diversity and support for the diocesan Immigration Program. The diocesan Social Action Commission supports this plan. The diocesan board for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development / Catholic Relief Services has supported projects such as the Iowa Latino Conference with diocesan funding. They continue to be committed to this ministry.
Men and women who are pursuing vocations in the Diocese of Davenport are being encouraged to go to language schools as part of their seminary life or religious training.
The Diocese presently has a small supply of some faith formation and social action materials in three languages – English, Spanish and Vietnamese. The Diocese will continue to obtain more faith formation, social action, and liturgy materials in Spanish and Vietnamese. The Catholic Messenger (diocesan newspaper) is including more Spanish articles, sometimes side by side with the English version of the same story.
In order to identify and recruit and train more staff and volunteers for these projects, the Diocese is holding a diocesan Encuentro in April 2004, and will help plan and organize and inclusive statewide Encuentro later in 2004.
- How might our diocese utilize funding from “Unity in Diversity” grant program to achieve one or more of the prioritized objectives at the diocesan level or to effect positive change at the parish level?
In order to accomplish the objectives of this proposal, the Diocese of Davenport requests some funding assistance in these categories:
- Purchase of USCCB materials on the two pastorals in multiple languages.
- Purchase of faith formation videos and curriculum guides in Spanish and Vietnamese.
- Production of the diocesan video on Unity in Diversity.
- Production and distribution of the diocesan banner on Unity in Diversity.
- Support for diocesan workshops on Unity in Diversity.
- Purchase of technology for parish workshops with video and Power Point presentation, so that equipment is available to travel throughout the diocese.
II. Overcoming Challenges and Employing Best Practices in Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity.
A. Strategies for Promoting a Conversion of Minds and Hearts
The General Directory for the Catechesis instructs us that “inculturation’ of the faith, whereby in a wonderful exchange are comprised ‘all the riches of the nations which have been given to Christ as an inheritance’, is a profound and global process and a slow journey. It is not simply an external adaptation designed to make the Christian message more attractive or superficially decorative. On the contrary, it means the penetration of the deepest strata of persons and peoples by the Gospel which touches them deeply, ‘going to the very center and roots’ of their cultures.”
The process of changing hearts and minds in the Diocese of Davenport will require a long-term commitment to catechesis, evangelization, and faith formation. The General Directory for Catechesis states that process “bring(s) the power of the Gospel into the very heart of culture and cultures.”
As Catholics, we do not welcome people because they are Catholic, we welcome them because we are Catholic. We have a rich Catholic tradition of “welcoming the stranger” and providing ministry to immigrants. This tradition needs simply to be rekindled in the people of the Diocese of Davenport.
Through the diocesan Social Action Office, the Diocese will continue to challenge the growing anti.immigrant sentiment, which is especially high in Iowa because outside national hate groups have targeted Iowa with their negative ads – due to the media attention on Iowa during the months leading up to the January 19, 2004 Iowa caucuses. Three years ago, Bishop William Franklin of the Diocese of Davenport issued a statement against these ads that scapegoat immigrants for all of our social and economic problems. His letter was published in two secular newspapers in our diocese and the diocesan newspaper. (See attached).
Through the Office of Pastoral Services and the Unity in Diversity planning committee, the Diocese will continue to promote the pastoral message, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, and the joint pastoral letter of the USCCB and the Mexican Bishops, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.
Through the Office of Pastoral Services, the Diocese will continue to organize immersion activities that will expose community members to people whose lives are different from theirs and build opportunities for conversion of hearts through personal relationships. This will include the efforts of six parishes in the diocese who are starting the “Just Faith” program in September 2003, which will include immersion activity and Journey to Justice retreats. These retreats will include immersion activity with our CCHD-funded group, Quad Cities Interfaith. .
Through the implementation of this plan, such as the video production and parish workshops, the Diocese will create opportunities for immigrants and refugees to evangelize by sharing their stories in parishes, schools, and community meetings. It is through the personal exchange of stories that hearts can truly be converted.
Through the diocesan Social Action Office, the Diocese will continue to promote National Migration Week, and the materials received from Migration and Refugee Services of USCCB. In recent years, the Diocese has promoted “Work of Human Hands” sales during this Week to help increase sales of arts and crafts of people of other nations and cultures.
B. Strategies for Promoting a Communion Among Groups
The pastoral letter, Welcoming the Stranger: Unity in Diversity, states, “The theological underpinning of the pastoral statement is that the church in all its levels is meant to be a sign of unity in diversity as the trinity: one God in three persons. The local church is called to be a living sign of that unity.”
Relationship building is the key to bridging one culture to another and promoting understanding among diverse groups. We need to speak the same language of love, that is love of neighbor. We need to open our eyes to see our neighbor and recognize our unity in our diversity.
We hope to communicate this awareness with our community events, including parish suppers, diverse prayer groups, parish dialogues and our training sessions and workshops with video presentations. As a result of leadership training for all diverse groups, the Diocese hopes to become more diverse in its representative bodies. Through leadership training, the Diocese also hopes that parishes will become more inclusive of members of many diverse groups for leadership positions in the parish.
Through diocesan funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Diocese is supporting and promoting leadership training sessions in Spanish in cooperation with Quad Cities Interfaith, the CCHD-funded group. Also through a diocesan CCHD grant, the Diocese is helping to plan, support and promote the statewide Latino Conference that is held in our diocese in November.
C. Strategies for Promoting a Solidarity with the "Stranger among Us"
The General Directory for Catechesis states, “Inculturation must involve the whole People of God, and not just a few experts, since the people reflect the authentic ‘sensus fidei’ which must never be lost sight of.”
It is through this sense of solidarity with all people of God that eventually we will break down the barriers to cultural understanding and build a sense that we are all sisters and brothers in Christ. Through our educational workshops and leadership training sessions, we will raise consciousness about the issues that immigrants face as they move to Iowa. With immigrants and non-immigrants together in the same room, we will discuss questions of where do immigrants come from? Why do they come to this country? How can Catholics reach out and meet them with love and hospitality?
Dialogue based on these questions can help us to build solidarity and to understand the need to live our Catholic social teachings. Through our liturgies, educational programs and cultural events, we will illustrate the importance of recognizing the cultural richness that the immigrant brings to our churches. We will help our parishioners realize that immigrants come to our country for purposes related to family, work and survival. We will teach that all immigrants have basic rights and are entitled to have human needs met – food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care.
Through the Iowa Catholic Conference, the diocesan Social Action Office will continue to advocate to pass a bill allowing in-state tuition for the undocumented immigrant by supporting the national “DREAM Act”. We are also hoping to support a state bill with the same provisions.
Through the Iowa Catholic Conference, the diocesan Social Action Office will continue to advocate for decent working and living conditions for the vulnerable members of our society. The diocesan Social Action Office will advocate for extensions of legalization programs and opportunities for family reunification. The Social Action Office will continue to issue action alerts to guide us in our advocacy process. Immigration concerns will be a priority for workshops at the annual statewide training in social action, which will be held next on Jan. 18-19, 2004. At this event, we hope to bring together at least 120 people from parishes throughout our diocese so they can learn about immigration and related social justice issues.