Saturday, April 08, 2006

Peace and Justice News

Stations Of The Cross

Annual Peace and Justice
Way of the Cross through Downtown McAllen

You and your family are encouraged to join us in our annual Stations of the Cross through downtown McAllen on Good Friday (April 14), beginning at noon, at Archer Park.

This Way of the Cross recalls how the sufferings of Jesus continues today in the lives of the poor and marginated. Stations will include the Federal Court (to pray about the death penalty), a bar (to pray for those who fall under the cross of addictions), a clinic, the Valley AIDS Council, Sacred Heart food pantry, poor housing areas, etc.

We take turns carrying the cross in solemn silent procession. This is an excellent way for the whole family to pray together on this important day. Please bring comfortable shoes and drinking water. Also, please bring rice or beans to donate to the food pantry.

Joan Chittister, OSB
will appear on
Meet the Press
Easter Sunday
April 16, 2006
On a Special Edition of
Faith in America

Joan Chittister, OSB has been a leading voice on spirituality for over 25 years. She is presently executive director of Benetvision: A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality located in Erie, Pennsylvania.

A member and past prioress of the Benedictine sisters of Erie, she is past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and of the Leadership conference of Women Religious. She is author of 22 books, the latest of which are; "Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light" (Orbis Books, 2000) and "The Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman's Life" (Eerdmans).

Sister Chittister is a noted national and international lecturer whose keynote addresses and conferences focus on women in church and society, human rights, peace and justice, and contemporary religious life and spirituality.

She attended the Fourth U.N. Conference in Beijing in 1995 and the Parliament of the World's Religions in SouthAfrica in 1999 as media representative for the National Catholic Reporter and is a regular columnist for that paper.

A Follow-up:
SISTER JOAN ON “MEET THE PRESS”: Joan Chittister, OSB will be on a special edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Easter Sunday, April 16 at 10 a.m. EST. She will join five other religious leaders in discussing Faith In America. The following “Meet the Press” web site will carry video and written transcripts of each program soon after airing:

"Why We Fight"

It is being called the most important documentary film of the year... you owe it to yourself to go see it!

What: Why We Fight, a film by Eugene Jarecki
When: Friday, April 14 through Thursday, April 20, 2006
Start Time: 7:15 PM
Where: Cine El Rey, 311 S. 17th St. McAllen - 971-9825

New Showtime Updates:
Friday: 7:15 & 9:15 PM
Saturday: 3:00, 5:00, 7:15 & 9:15 PM
Sunbday: 3:00, 5:00 & 7:15 PM
Monday, Tuesday & Thursday: 7:15 PM
No Showing on Wednesday!

About the Film:

WHY WE FIGHT, the new film by Eugene Jarecki which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, is an unflinching look at the anatomy of the American war machine, weaving unforgettable personal stories with commentary by a "who's who" of military and beltway insiders. Featuring John McCain, William Kristol, Chalmers Johnson, Gore Vidal, Richard Perle and others, WHY WE FIGHT launches a bipartisan inquiry into the workings of the military industrial complex and the rise of the American Empire.

What the critics have said:
"An even-handed interrogation of war's financial implications."

"A sobering, cool-headed and meticulous cinematic essay on the effects of the military-industrial complex."
-Stephen Garrett, INDIEWIRE

"A stunning film that lines up the evidence to explain not only how we got into Iraq, but how corporate forces have propelled us into wars for the last 50 years."

"Balanced, reasoned, and utterly damning, it deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible."

"One of the great documentary films of 2005."
-Harry Knowles, AINT IT COOL NEWS

*** (highest rating) It's unlikely that 2006 will see a documentary more important, compelling, or devastating than WHY WE FIGHT... with its damning contextualizing and cogent argument, WHY WE FIGHT makes FAHRENHEIT 9/11 look like amateur night."
-Jay Carr, AM NEW YORK

"Astonishing. Terrifying, poignant and sad."
-Jeffrey Lyons, NBC's REEL TALK

"Hard-edged critique... you'll leave the theatre feeling vastly better informed... Jarecki deserves praise for introducing intellect into a debate characterized by passion."
-Joshua Rothkopf, TIME OUT NEW YORK

"The year is still young but it's hard to imagine we will see another film that is more important, more urgent and more disturbing than WHY WE FIGHT. You owe it to yourself to see this mind-blowing movie on the reasons we go to war. YOU WON'T SOON FORGET IT."
-Pete Hammond, MAXIM

"Probably be the most important documentary you see this year... you owe it to yourself to see it."
-Copernicus, AIN'T IT COOL NEWS

Make Sure You See It!
(Call or E-mail your friends to make sure they see it, too)

Peace and Justice Group Ousted.
Reprint from The Paper of South Texas.

Sister of Mercy Moira Kenney arrested and sent to prison in 2003 for protesting School of the Americas is now banned from Holy Spirit activities, but splinter group continues with humanitarian work.
By David Robledo

The punishment just keeps raining down on Sister of Mercy Moira Kenney, the activist nun who was arrested and sent to prison in 2003 for protesting against and crossing the boundary of the infamous School of The Americas in Ft. Benning, Ga. – where US military train Latin American soldiers in guerilla fighting techniques. Three years after her six-month prison term, the cherub-like nun has been banned from participating in the activities of her own Holy Spirit church in McAllen.

What’s more, priest Louis Brum has effectively ended Holy Spirit’s commission for Peace and Justice, a 20 year-old group that Kenney has coordinated for the last five years. Father Brum gave the commission a new name last December – Outreach Ministries – and has also eliminated several protest and commemoration activities that the Peace and Justice group has become known for.

The Brownsville Diocese maintains that some of the group’s activities had nothing to do with the parish. But Kenney and other members think that all the Peace and Justice activities had plenty to do with both the parish and Catholicism itself – working for a world without suffering. “By revamping, we lost anything that had to do with promoting peace and non violence,” Kenney said. “What’s the point of having a Peace and Justice Commission if you can’t work for peace and justice?

Despite having the rug pulled out from under them, the group has reformed, meeting at homes of members and planning for their annual Way of the Cross demonstration on good Friday later this month - a walking tour through McAllen aimed at raising awareness about the death penalty, poverty, sickness, and other tragic conditions of the human race.

Brownsville Diocese spokesperson Brenda Nettles Riojas said that the Peace and Justice commission was never eliminated, but that it was only renamed. “Some of the activities that did not have a direct connection with the parish were discontinued,” she said. Outreach Ministries at the parish continues with several other activities – including support of housing services, a church project in El Salvador, and a ministry in South Texas colonias, she said. Father Brum named a new coordinator for the group, Mickey Eberlein, who recently returned from a week-long visit to Holy Spirit’s sister parish in El Salvador. Any controversial activity by the group was not necessarily a factor in renaming the group, Riojas said, and the church continues to move forward in its service to the community.

Like Kenney, Margaret Eberhardt, a 12 year member of Holy Spirit and five-year member of Peace and Justice, has also been banned from taking part in Holy Spirit activities. Eberhardt said that Father Brum doesn’t have the power to stop the group, but that he continues to try by keeping her and Kenney from all extra curricular functions of the church. Those sentiments seem clearly understood by the members of the Peace and Justice organization.

It’s obvious, however, that the Peace and Justice group might easily be considered controversial. No other Valley group holds as regular protests against the War in Iraq or the death penalty. You can see them from time to time displaying picket signs with phrases like “War is Wrong,” or “Bush is a Murderer” on street corners throughout Hidalgo County. The 15-member splinter group also each year recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations who work for social change, like Mujeres Unidas, the South Texas Civil Rights Project, the Men’s Resource Center and others.

Guy Hallman, a Holy Spirit parishioner and five-year member of the Peace and Justice group, said that the group’s demonstrations have the right to be controversial, as were the teachings of Jesus Christ. “Everything we do is consistent with Church doctrine,” Hallman said on the steps of the Holy Spirit Church in North McAllen, where he and 7 other members gathered for an interview last week with The Paper of South Texas.

Amid North McAllen’s strip malls and sprawling new subdivisions, the group’s activities stick out like a sore thumb. Each year for example – or at least until last year – the Peace and Justice group helped a Pastor’s for Peace caravan make their way into Mexico, loading it up with supplies and medicines bound for distribution in Cuba and Latin America.

Parked at the North McAllen church, that Pastors for Peace bus with the hand-painted messages draping it’s sides was as conspicuous as a tie-dyed T-shirt in a tuxedo shop. Pastors for Peace, a special ministry of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, delivers tons of humanitarian aid to Latin America and the Caribbean each year. But the Holy Spirit church, because of the changes brought about by Father Brum, will no longer serve as a pit stop for the Pastors for Peace caravan en route to Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

On April 13, Peace and Justice will gather without the blessing of their parish for their annual “Way of the Cross” walk through the City of McAllen. The group stops at the federal courthouse, where they pray for those who have died under the death penalty. They stop at a clinic, where they pray for the Valley’s sick and uninsured. They stop at a bus station, where they pray for those who have difficulty finding labor because of their lack of transportation. And they kneel in front of a bar, where they pray for the rise of the fallen, as Christ fell and rose from the cross.

This Way of the Cross traces painful paths that mankind takes through life, according to the group, but it also boldly pinpoints problems in the social fabric of the Rio Grande Valley. Like Christ, who wandered the Earth while spreading his message of forgiveness, this Peace and Justice group without a home continues their work in celebration of the Holy Spirit, they said. “You can’t lock the Holy Spirit inside the walls of a church,” said Gerard Vaello, an advertising agent and member of the group for three years. For now, this renegade group of Christian activists is managing to hold together just fine. Like the earliest of Christians, their work and message needs no roof, only the ears and hearts of anyone willing to give peace a chance.

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