Will the killing of Soleimani have consequences for Iraq’s Christians? Kevin Clarke of American Magazine writes “Following the news reports last night that eventually confirmed that a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 2 had killed Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, and associates including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, I found myself hoping that someone in the Trump administration was remembering the perilous status of the Christian remnant in northern Iraq.” Read more.
We need a dose of good news. Read Beyond Racial Strife, a Dose of Optimism for the New Year.
Tom Reese of religion News Service called Greta Thunberg a prophet. Here’s why.
Good news for immigrant farmworkers and their families. On December 11, 2019, the U.S. House passed HR 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill which would improve conditions for immigrant farmworkers and their families, ensure the stability of the U.S. agricultural industry, offer legalization to certain farmworkers and their families, and reform the H2A worker program. After the vote of 260-165 for passage, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, and Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement in support of the legislation. After passage in the House, there is hope that this bill will be taken up in the Senate.
In one Kenyan fishing village, women have found a way to take care of their families without giving up their dignity. Find out how in No Sex for Fish.
The administration is rolling back several major environmental regulations viewing many Obama-era environmental regulations that curb carbon emissions as burdensome to businesses. Read more.
When people eat better, they enjoy better health, reducing not just suffering, but also some expenses. The NY Times explains how Cutting Food Stamps Can Add Costs Elsewhere.
The Federal Death Penalty is on hold for now but for how long? Read more.
There is an update from the Casa Alita Welcome Center.
In my last update for the Casa Alita Welcome Center, I wrote about the implementation of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), which had begun to bus asylum seekers to El Paso to return them to Ciudad Juarez to await their court proceedings in the US. We were told that we would only be receiving women who were more than six months pregnant, and families with children under one year of age. The Good News is that we are receiving more families and pregnant women traveling alone than usual! Every night, our shelter is full to capacity with guests from Ecuador, Cuba, Southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras as we juggle rooms for new incoming families. MPP is in place and people are being returned to Mexico, but apparently there isn’t the infrastructure or will to carry out this policy as publicized.
Families come to us throughout the day, arriving exhausted and greatly distressed by their journeys. In the past three days alone we have welcomed a hundred and seventy guests. Since I returned from my trip to visit seven shelters from central Mexico down to the southern border, I know better what they go through to get here. While we are told stories, to see the realities that our guests live through stays with me, as does their tenacity and courage under the most pressing and dangerous circumstances.
As the families leave their ICE vans, they pass the clothing room where they can get two changes of clothes. They enter the reception area and sit in church pews, where we share a breath prayer before orientation. I tell them that Paul says that sighs are prayer too deep for words. I invite them to take a deep breath in through their noses, and sigh out loud through their mouths as they exhale. Breathe in the peace of God. Breathe out the stress, fear, bad treatment, inadequate food from Ice detention. We repeat this several times and I invite them to close their eyes, and that is when the tears start to slow. In the privacy behind their eyes, the suffering they have endured touches them and then recedes and the sense of safety and gratitude for making it sink in. We can see them visibly relax as they hear that they are in their home, that we are all Americans, and that they are very welcome at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center.
Children are quickest to leap to life in these new surroundings, attacking coloring books and toys with vigor. By their second day, after choosing two sets of clothing, bathing, and resting, they are almost unrecognizable. Imagine working your way on a six month journey through central America and Mexico. One dad asks me when is the soonest he can shower. “It’s been weeks,” he tells me, as I assure him that within the hour he will have his wish.
During this holy-day season, the song “Shout for Joy” sung by Odetta comes to mind, which is one of my favorite songs for this season, but most recently, here at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center for families seeking asylum every day has been Christmas. People are getting through to us when both we and our guests had imagined the worst. There is room at the inn! And for the several pregnant women, Christ is born, even into the most difficult circumstances.
These are some of the lyrics. Imagine Odetta singing them!
“Mary had a baby. (Shout for Joy!) Born in a stable. (Shout for Joy!) They laid him in a manger. (Shout for Joy!) They named him Jesus. (Shout for Joy!) He was the Prince of peace. Mighty counselor. (Shout for Joy!) King Herod tried to find him. (Shout for Joy!) They went away to Egypt. (Shout for Joy!) Mary rode a donkey.(Shout for Joy!)Joseph walked beside her. (Shout for Joy!) Angels watchin” over. (Shout for Joy!) Angels watchin” over. (Shout for Joy!)
This brief respite that volunteers at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center provide is one small step along our journey to be the church/synagogue/mosque with all of God’s people. Grief and anger must be punctuated by joy or we run out of steam, fall into despair, and lose faith in ourselves and others. Our guests, who arrive wearing such trauma, years of trauma, teach us the simple joy of sitting outside, eating a good meal, reencountering a friend lost along the way, speaking to a family member by phone after months or years of separation, listening to music. Joy incarnate is surely what Jesus was all about – Good News here on earth.
Sometimes I see our guests and volunteers with such a look of contentment, I wonder at how that is possible in these difficult times. I don’t believe that we are doing together “saves” anyone in the traditional Christian doctrinal way. But I know for certain that we are saving lives and souls, both our guests and our own. For this little window in time we can be the person of faith that our faith practices call us to be. We are family that stretches far beyond our walls and wildest imagination.
Please feel free to share this letter with others who might be interested in learning more about our important work, and/or who might also like to offer financial support. Your support makes our work possible. Together, we provide help, create hope, and serve all. Your gift strengthens children, families, adults, and communities. Donations can be made directly to CCS at Support Migrant Aid – Tucson and through our GoFundMe page https://www.gofundme.com/casa-alitas-for-migrant-families. For more information about Casa Alitas shelter programs, please see ccs-soaz.org.
Thank you for reading this and for your support to continue this important ministry.
“Mary had a baby. Shout for joy! Herod tried to find him. Shout for joy! They went away to Egypt. Shout for joy! Mary rode a donkey. Shout for joy! Joseph walked beside her. Shout for joy! Angels watchin’ over. Shout for joy! Angels watchin’ over. Shout for joy!”
In joy and gratitude for the birthing of Christ in each new day and dark night. Rev. Dr. Delle McCormick
At the recent Lunch & Learn: Examining the Refugee Crisis with Art at the Martin de Porres Center, I read the following poem by Warsen Shire. It is a powerful explanation of why refugees flee their homes. The author recites her poem here.