Monday, January 31, 2011

Embrace life’s uncertainty

By Theresa Montminy

Understanding life’s uncertainty can lead to a remarkable shift in values and guide us on our journey toward making peace in our world.  Ask anyone who has been given only a short time to live.  Their interest suddenly turns to finding those who are most important to them, and, to sharing the time they have left building memories.

How long do you have left to live?  It’s a sobering question for this sobering reason:  We don’t know the answer.  We can’t know.  Whether we’ve just been given a clear bill of health or diagnosed with a terminal disease, we still don’t know how long we have in this world.  The diagnoses of doctors are always subject to human error.  Furthermore, a perfectly healthy person can be killed in a car accident.  Only God knows the day of our passage out of these earthen vessels. Many people prefer not to consider such questions.  They are too morbid, perhaps, and create a fear-filled soul that disturbs our peace-filled environment.

Far from being a morbid thought . . . understanding the brevity of our earthly life span can bring us a sense of focus like nothing else. We can begin to strive for what is important and forsake whatever isn’t.  We can set our priorities.

Do you want that kind of focus?  Don’t wait for a doctor’s diagnosis.  Go ahead and choose a time.  What length of time would give you a proper perspective and help you to live with the right priorities?  A year? Five years? Six months? You decide. Then go ahead and live as though you have only a year left (or however much time you’ve chosen.)  Assume, for example, that God will take you home one year from today.  Watch your priorities change.  Watch your relationship with God and with others transform.  Begin living in the light of eternity and understand the life God has given you!

2011 can be a year of great joy if we find peace by putting our faith in action . . . together we can impact family, neighborhood and society so that people’s lives are filled with hope!

I welcome your thoughts and comments on how you fill people’s lives with hope by “Making Peace” in our world.  Please address your comments by e-mail to

Thursday, January 20, 2011

East Highland still digging out of flood – come on down

By John Andrews
Director, Department of Communications

Many of us have enjoyed the recent return to more typical Southern California weather. It puts the torrential rainstorms of last month a little further in our rearview mirror.

Not so for the folks on
Merris St
and the surrounding neighborhood in East Highland where St. John Bosco Mission is located. Their days are still spent digging out homes and properties that were deluged by the mudslides that resulted from the rain.

Providentially, St. John Bosco received minimal damage in the flood. A good thing because the community center there has served as a gathering place and a resource for residents and those who come daily to help remove the mud – sometime a shovel-full at time. A few families who were displaced by the mudslides actually lived in the center in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Despite the physical destruction there, God’s presence is strongly felt in the hope and generosity of the people.

Hundreds continue to come to the area to help, offering food, clothing, water or their own “elbow grease” w/shovel. The business community, public servants and the faith community have all played a part.

Henrietta Chavez
I visited the area this week and there is obviously much work left to do there. Henrietta Chavez and other members of the Ladies Prayer Group at St. John Bosco have logged serious hours at the center. They prepare and serve food to the many who are there digging out the streets and yards, and they receive and distribute donated goods.

While Chavez and others from the Mission have been heavily involved in the recovery, the participation of Catholics beyond that has been low in comparison to other faith groups who have come to help.

Perhaps the need was not well publicized. And there, finally, is the point of this posting. This community needs still needs our help! If you are able to donate food, clothing or water, or if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and help dig, please go to
28991 Merris Street
in Highland. Henrietta will surely find something for you to do. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In violent times we must be sowers of peace

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

In his parable of the Sower, Jesus tells us that the seeds of God’s kingdom flourish under a certain condition, but can be choked or distorted in other environments.

The past week has been tragically marked with violence as six people were killed and a member of Congress critically wounded in a senseless massacre in Tuscon, Arizona. In our own diocese, two teenage boys were shot dead and two others wounded in Redlands, apparently as a result of a long-running feud amongst some local youth.

We continue to pray for the victims of these attacks and their families, and we ask for God’s strength and healing presence.

As we grapple with this horrifying violence and how we might respond to it as people of faith perhaps the parable of the Sower points the way.

Seeds are constantly being sown – in our words and actions as individuals, in the things we choose to exalt or condemn as a society, in the art and entertainment we consume and, increasingly, in the tone of our discourse.

When an individual commits an act of violence, such as those seen in Arizona and Redlands, it should not be seen entirely as an inevitable result of societal seeds. These were acts of free will unmistakably shadowed by evil.

But our collective behavior creates environments that can be conducive to acts of love or acts of brutality. In that we all bear responsibility. The events in Redlands and Tuscon are an occasion to acknowledge some hard truths: that we have lost a great measure of civility in the way that we talk to each other; that ‘I don’t agree with you’ now equates to ‘I don’t like you’; that popular media often promotes violence as acceptable conflict resolution and minimizes the value of human life to our young people.

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus teaches us that “the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it.” This is our cue as Roman Catholics in how to respond to these tragedies of violence. We must sow God’s seeds of peace, of selflessness, of civility and of life as sacred for every human person.

We sow these seeds not just in our own hearts, families and churches but wherever we participate in public life. For the Lord punctuated the parable of the Sower with a very important exhortation – “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

We cannot always prevent seeds from falling on the path, the rocky ground or among the thorns, but we can resolve together to sow the seeds of love and non-violence in the rich soil that God has provided us.

May God bless you.

En tiempos de violencia debemos ser sembradores de paz

Por Obsipo Gerald Barnes
Diócesis de San Bernardino

En su parábola del Sembrador, Jesús nos dice que las semillas del reino brotan bajo ciertas circunstancias, pero que otros ambientes las pueden ahogar o distorsionar. 

La semana pasada quedó trágicamente marcada por la violencia en que seis personas fueron asesinadas y un miembro del Congreso resultó gravemente herido en una masacre sin sentido en Tucson, Arizona.  En nuestra propia diócesis, en Redlands, dos muchachos adolescentes fueron baleados de muerte y otros dos resultaron lesionados, aparentemente como resultado de una legendaria enemistad entre jóvenes del vecindario. 

Continuamos orando por las víctimas de estos ataques y por sus familias e imploramos la fortaleza de Dios y su presencia sanadora.  

Al abordar esta violencia horripilante y cómo podríamos responder a la misma como personas de fe, tal vez la parábola del Sembrador nos muestre el camino. 

Constantemente se están sembrando semillas – en nuestras palabras y en nuestros actos como individuos, en las cosas que decidimos exaltar o condenar como sociedad, en el arte y entretenimiento que consumimos y, cada vez más, en el tono de nuestro discurso. 

Cuando un individuo comete un acto de violencia, tales como los ocurridos en Arizona y Redlands, no se debe percibir totalmente como el resultado inevitable de las semillas de la sociedad.  Estos fueron actos de libre voluntad evidentemente a la sombra del mal. 

Pero nuestra conducta colectiva crea ambientes que pueden conducir a actos de amor y actos de brutalidad.  De eso todos somos responsables.  Los acontecimientos en Redlands y Tucson son ocasión para reconocer algunas duras verdades: que hemos perdido una gran medida de urbanidad en la manera en que nos hablamos los unos a los otros; que ‘Yo no estoy de acuerdo contigo’ ahora equivale a ‘no me caes bien’; que los populares medios de difusión a menudo promueven la violencia como una resolución aceptable de un  conflicto  y menoscaban el valor de la vida humana entre nuestros jóvenes. 

En el Evangelio de Mateo Jesús nos enseña que “la semilla que cae en tierra buena es quien tiene oídos y oye”.  Esta es nuestra señal como Católicos Romanos de cómo responder a estas tragedias de violencia.  Debemos sembrar las semillas de Dios de paz, de abnegación, de urbanidad y de la vida como sagrada para todo ser humano. 

Sembramos estas semillas no sólo en nuestros propios corazones, en nuestras familias y en nuestras iglesias sino dondequiera que participemos en la vida pública.  Pues el Señor acentuó la parábola del Sembrador con una exhortación muy importante – “El que tenga oídos, que oiga”. 

No podemos evitar siempre que las semillas caigan al borde del camino, en terreno pedregoso o entre la maleza, pero juntos podemos tomar la resolución de sembrar las semillas del amor y la no violencia en la tierra buena que Dios nos ha dado.

Que Dios les bendiga. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Filipino Ministry on a mission

Naida Castro
Chairperson, Diocesan Filipino Ministry

We of the Filipino Ministry at the Diocese of San Bernardino consider the phenomenon of multi-cultural diversity in the Diocese of San Bernardino as a blessing. This is God's wonderful gift to us. This gift reflects the richness and extravagance of our living God. To promote this multicultural diversity and harmony as richness in the Diocese of San Bernardino, the diocesan Filipino Ministry created and developed its Philippine Exposure Program Discovering and Re-discovering Our Filipino Roots, A Journey to the Philippines  The objectives of the exposure program are:
  • To introduce participants of the exposure program to the current Philippine situation;
  • To expose Filipino young adults, and their friends to Philippine rural, urban, and indigenous communities as the closest link to Filipino roots;
  • To appreciate the richness of the Philippines, the land and its people; and
  • To take a much needed rest and recreation to reflect on our life-experience before, during, and after our journey.

History of the Program
We launched the program in June 2006 with 11 pilgrims/missionaries comprising of five adults and six young adults. We exposed them to rural and urban communities in Manila, Cavite, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Norte. In June 2007 the program introduced Filipino-Americans and their Irish-American, Caucasian and Mexican-American friends to Philippine history, culture and present day realities – the survival of the poor and the struggles of the marginalized for justice, peace and integrity of creation. It included a four-day stay with the lumad, an indigenous community of the Manobo, Banwaon, Talaandig and Mamanwa tribes at the San Luis Lumad Community High School in Agusan del Sur, a three-day stay at the beautiful white beach in General Luna, Siargao Island, a visit at the Urios College in Butuan City, as well as sightseeing and shopping in Manila, Quezon City and Cebu, conducting interviews and meeting with the children of desaparacidos (or the disappeared). During this exposure, the Filipino Ministry – DSB produced its first documentary: Discovering and Re-discovering the Philippines in collaboration with the Naida and Alex Castro Foundation for Philippine Solidarity and Development and Kodao Productions, a Philippine-based multi-media outfit.

Through the Philippine Exposure Program Discovering and Re-discovering our Filipino Roots, the Filipino Ministry - DSB and its participants experienced a deeper meaning of the social teachings of the Catholic Church.
In February 2009, in collaboration with the University of Santo Tomas Medical Association, we included in the program the  medical mission  serving the indigents in Isabela, Manila, Batangas, Mindoro and Cavite.

Our Program Today, January 2011        
This 2011 we will go for our fourth Philippine Exposure. The Filipino Ministry – DSB, with its team of medical and non-medical professionals, clergies and young adults, will be leaving for the Visayas, Mindanao and Manila on January 12 through January 25, 2011, to provide medical care to the poor, the marginalized and the underprivileged Filipinos. We want to  discover and re-discover our Filipino roots, this time, through the medical mission among the poor and indigenous peoples in the Philippines.  In this journey to our roots, 47 people make up the medical mission group of six doctors, seven nurses, four priests and 30 volunteers.

Why among the poor? Because they are the ones most affected by the historical social health deprivations in our country. To know their health situation and to respond to their medical needs means for us, health and medical practitioners in the US, to discover and rediscover the causes of the common diseases and health problems besetting our poor people. We also would like to establish solidarity ties with the peoples and groups of the Philippines who are trying to make better our country, on the side of the poor and victims of historical and social maladies. From the perspective of medical and health care, these are the groups of professionals, medical and health care practitioners, who have developed a HOLISTIC MEDICAL CARE. They are in the poor and indigenous communities to help empower these communities in their preventive, curative and post curative phases of health and medical care. Together with these communities they have also developed native and indigenous health practices and medicines, hygiene and social and environmental health, besides making available those medicines that are produced in the market. That is why we link with the Community-Based Health Program (CBHP), Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Community Medicine (COMMED) and Botica sa Barangay (literally, Drugstore of the Village). These organizations are our primary partners; hospitals are our secondary partners. These organizations are the primary partners of the Church: the Dioceses of Bacolod and Iloilo have strong CBHPs.

We do not go there for purely medical and health reasons. We go there to know the history and the situation which create the existing health and medical situation and practice in the Philippines. That is why prior to, during and after the medical mission activities, we will always have a briefing and an orientation on the history of health and medical care in the Philippines, the social and environmental causes of diseases and sickness in the Philippines, and the stage of the people’s initiatives to care for themselves, socially, economically, politically, culturally and medically or health wise.  We go there with faith. We hope to develop a spirituality of holistic healing and medical care for the integrity of mind, body and soul. That is why we will have celebrations of the Eucharist; reflection and prayer sessions; integration with the community; rest, recreation and relaxation, besides being able to visit and connect and re-connect with our families.

Our Hope
With the blessing of our Most Rev. Bishop Gerald Barnes,  it is our hope that the  Filipino Ministry of the Diocese of San Bernardino will be able to  help the  Filipino Catholics in this diocese  discover and re-discover their Filipino roots in a new and more profound way.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The lessons of Manzanar should be heeded today

By Jeanette Arnquist
Director, Ministry of Life, Dignity and Justice

Even though I had spent most of my elementary school years in California, I had not heard of Manzanar until a friend in graduate school told me of his family’s experience there. At first I didn’t believe him. I did not believe that the United States would forcibly confine Japanese immigrants and native born US citizens of Japanese descent in the middle of the 20th century.

Manzanar is located in the Owens valley, about 250 miles from Los Angeles. Early in 1942 the United States government began to forcibly remove its Japanese residents and citizens of Japanese descent from their homes, their jobs and businesses. They were moved to what we now recognize as concentration camps. Manzanar was one of 10 such camps.

The people being moved lost everything. They were housed in quickly constructed barracks that lacked insulation and privacy. Each family got a room about the size of a 2 car garage. The camps were self sufficient, and offered services such as barber shops, laundry and hospitals. Meals were eaten in mess halls. Bathroom facilities were primitive. There was no air conditioning and whatever heat they had failed to adequately combat the winter winds.

In 1945 the camps were closed and the prisoners were allowed to return home, however, most of them had lost everything and had to start life over again. (You can learn much more with a quick Internet search.)

How could this happen? How could our parents and grandparents have sat back and watched their neighbors disappear? The answer is fear. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, every Japanese or Japanese appearing person – termed the “yellow menace” - was considered too dangerous to be living in cities or towns.

Most of us felt intense fear on September 11, 2001 as we learned of the attacks and watched the horrifying images again and again. As a result of that fear, we went to war in Afghanistan and it seems that we also went to war with immigrants living in our own country.

Since 2001, the annual number of persons deported for immigration violations has doubled, raising to nearly 400,000. Sometimes a workplace is raided and many people are deported at once. Others are picked up at check points. I was moved by the story of police stopping a car because a crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror “obstructed the view.” The driver was an unauthorized immigrant so he was deported.

For the most part, those who are deported lose everything. Some are actually paying a mortgage on a house, which they lose when the payments stop. Others have less, perhaps an old car and some furniture and clothing. When they arrive back in their country of origin, they are usually destitute.

The correct term for immigrants who are here without proper documents is “unauthorized.” Most of them do possess some documents, so they are not really undocumented. The term “illegal,” which is most often used, plays on fear. It creates an image of someone who is involved in crime, someone from whom we need protection. In the interest of public safety, some say, we should rid our society of the illegals. Just like the “yellow menace.”

How can we allow history to repeat itself?