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Catholic Charities West Michigan · 360 Division Ave. S · Suite 3A · Grand Rapids, Mi 49503 · USA

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Faith In Action Diocese of Grand Rapids Catholic Charities of West Michigan

Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Working on the Margins

This year the Catholic Campaign for Human Development national collection will take place in our parishes the weekend of November 19-20.
Through the generosity of our Catholic community in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, the following organizations received CCHD grants:

St. Ann-St. Ignatuis, Baldwin - Houses to Homes Program
St. Patrick-St. Anthony, Grand Haven - Job Seeker’s Program
Catholic Charities West Michigan - Pregnancy Support Services Program
Community EnCompass, Muskegon - Youth Empowerment Program
St. Alphonsus, Grand Rapids - Volunteer Income Tax Program

CCHD national grant:

The Micah Center, Grand Rapids - Workers’ Center Program

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) works to be a voice of hope for those on the margins of society who experience the realities of living in poverty. CCHD supports programs to heal the wounds of crime and violence, advocate for more just policies, protect God’s creation, and develop strong communities. Your donation to CCHD will help build a society where all have a voice and all know their inherent dignity.

In Haddington, Pennsylvania, there is no grocery store that carries fresh produce within its borders. Residents of this town often purchase cheap processed foods from convenience stores resulting in high rates of diet-related illness like obesity. The Urban Tree Connection works with low income communities to develop community driven gardening projects that give residents an opportunity to develop their leadership skills and build community cohesion. Thanks to a grant from CCHD, Urban Tree Connection, the parent non-profit of Neighborhood Foods Coop, turns vacant land into space for food production and trains low-income residents to grow and sell food. Nyshae, a member of the community, began by working as a Teen Apprentice where she shadowed an employee at Neighborhood Foods. She is now one of three new adults hired to run youth programs, continuing a cycle of support and hope. To read the full article click here


Calling for Dignity in the Public Square

“A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.” —Pope Francis, Speech to U.S. Congress, 9/24/15

In a speech before a joint session of the United States Congress in September 2015, Pope Francis referred to the purpose of politics as the defense and preservation of human dignity “in pursuit of the common good.” On November 8, 2016, voters will head to the ballot box to select candidates best suited to lead communities, the state, and the federal government. At the top of the ballot, voters will determine the next president of the United States. Members of Congress, the State House of Representatives, two Michigan Supreme Court justices, members of the state Board of Education, and numerous local races will also be decided.

The citizens who win these races will be responsible to their electorate for advancing the common good referenced in Pope Francis’s speech. Sorting through the rhetoric and divisiveness present during this pivotal election year is a difficult task. There seem to be endless speeches and debates, with many policy positions to sort through and reflect upon. In light of these challenges, Catholics might feel a temptation to become disengaged. Instead, now is the time for individuals of faith to engage in politics and to offer a voice concerned with the dignity of all persons, the protection of the most vulnerable, and the common good of society. Catholics are called to listen carefully and respond respectfully in political discussions, taking the time to participate in the election process and vote in November. Read more here

Statement from Most Rev. David J. Walkowiak, bishop of Grand Rapids, regarding the canonization of Blessed Teresa:

"Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is a great woman of the 20th century who taught us through her actions what it means to live a life for the Lord. With her canonization on Sept. 4, 2016, Blessed Teresa is lifted up as a beacon of hope that one person can make a difference in the world through small acts of service done with love and generosity.

Caring for the poor, the hungry, the ill, and the infirm, Blessed Teresa saw the face of Christ in all its distressing disguises. She honored the dignity of every person she encountered and showed us that humanity and love know no boundaries.

May our prayers be lifted to heaven through the intercession of this holy woman and may her simple, but substantive, life of service lead us to be living examples of charity in our everyday lives." Read the full article here

"I Thirst" A Prayer Inspired by Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
On the train to Darjeeling
You heard what so many human hearts long to hear:
The voice of God.
Through the seed of his Word
You built a movement the world has rarely seen
And so longs for
A movement of mercy
A movement of compassion
A movement of hope shining in the darkest places.
And in each of your Sisters’ chapels around the world

There hangs a crucifix:
The suffering, dying Christ
And the words, “I thirst.”
These words, a call to action.
We gaze upon your example
Walking off the safe path
To risk all in doing the will of the Lord
For the poorest of the poor.

And we hear the agonizing cry of the one who called upon you: “I thirst.”
Have we too not heard the voice of God?
Mother Teresa, you know our hearts
Crying for the one who cries for us.
And as we respond to this cry
In our prayers and in our works,
We ask your intercession:
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us

Read the full article here

Archbishop Lori’s statement follows: Faith and the Full Promise of America

For the current Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, religious liberty is reduced to “nothing except hypocrisy,” and religion is being used as a “weapon… by those seeking to deny others equality.”  He makes the shocking suggestion that Catholic, evangelical, orthodox Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim communities are comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era.  These statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work.

People of faith have often been the ones to carry the full promise of America to the most forgotten peripheries when other segments of society judged it too costly. Men and women of faith were many in number during the most powerful marches of the civil rights era. Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel?  In places like St. Louis, Catholic schools were integrated seven years before the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Jesus taught us to serve and not to count the cost. Read the full article here

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass and Rite of Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded.  She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”.   She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created.  For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering. Read more here

Syrian Refugee Crisis

The war in Syria has killed as many as 400,000 Syrians, and has uprooted more than 11 million people. Children, who make up more than half of Syrian refugees in the Middle East, are paying the heaviest price: many have witnessed violence and the loss of homes or loved ones; the vast majority have been out of school for years. Syria’s neighbors, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt, have responded to the call to welcome the stranger. With an influx of some 4.1 million refugees, their economies, social services and basic infrastructure are strained to the breaking point. But unless and until families can feed their children and provide opportunities, they will continue to look for other opportunities. Read more here
Principles for Stewardship of the Land

{Excerpted from Strangers and Guests, Toward Community in the Heartland: A Regional Catholic Bishops Statement on Land Issues}

In the Christian tradition, the biblically-based concept of stewardship describes what people’s relationship should be with the land and with each other. In the Bible and the teaching tradition of the Church, these principles of earth stewardship are evident. The land is God’s soil.

This land, this earth, we inhabit is “the work of God’s hands” (Genesis). We affirm the principle expressed so plainly and clearly in Psalm 24: “The earth is the Lord’s and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” People are God’s stewards on the land. Stewardship means caring for God’s creation. It implies that civil title to a portion of the earth does not confer absolute ownership of it. That belongs to God alone. Civil title does confer responsibility for the land: for the use to which it is put and the care with which it is treated. The land’s benefits are for everyone. The land is given by God for all people, not just for those who hold civil title to it. The land is God’s gift for present and future generations of humanity. As the earth’s finite resources are used, provision must be made for people’s future needs. The consumption patterns of the present generation must be adjusted so that future generations might also partake of the land’s bounty. Read more here

Interfaith Leaders Committed to Peace at Assisi Summit
(Vatican Radio)  Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist religious leaders applauded the “Spirit of Assisi” in interreligious meetings launched by Pope St. John Paul II thirty years ago in the Italian hill town. At the conclusion of a four day peace summit of interfaith leaders in Assisi, representatives who addressed the gathering thanked Pope Francis for, in the words of the Muslim representative from Indonesia, “his endless commitment for peace.” Pope Francis arrived in Assisi Tuesday morning to attend the final day of the meeting, organized by the Sant Egidio lay community.




BALTIMORE, MD, September 16, 2016 – Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) board chair, has announced Sean Callahan as the organization’s new President & CEO. CRS is the international humanitarian organization of the Catholic community in the United States that supports more than 100 million people living in poverty around the world.

Callahan, 56, who is currently the agency’s Chief Operating Officer, will begin his new position on Jan. 1, 2017 when Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo ends her five-year term as president and CEO.

“We are pleased that this comprehensive six-month search process brought us to Sean,” said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the CRS Board.  “He is eminently qualified as he has served at CRS for 28 years, the last four as Chief Operating Officer and, for eight years before that, executive vice president for Overseas Operations.”


Catholic Charities USA President and CEO Addresses Role of Religious Organizations Responding to Large Movements of Migrants and Refugees

New York, NY (September 19, 2016) – Speaking at the United Nations today, Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) President and CEO Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, addressed the role of Catholic Church-inspired social service and advocacy agencies to accompany and provide a human face for migrants and refugees, especially unaccompanied minors arriving in the USA.

Catholic Charities agencies have been providing services to refugees and immigrants for more than 100 years, an ongoing demonstration of a strong commitment to serve the most vulnerable in our society. Especially distressing is the large number of unaccompanied minors who continue to arrive from Central America in order to flee violence.  Sister Donna urged leaders to work diligently to find solutions to the situations that force families and children to migrate.

“In the United States it is my hope that the US government’s response to the ongoing refugee crisis is commensurate with the global challenge and the US ability to contribute to the necessary solutions.”



Take Action
Paul Long, President and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference, to speak at Social Justice Gathering

Join us for CCWM’s Social Justice Gathering on November 17th,  as Paul Long provides an update on Legislative and Advocacy efforts on issues such as Religious Liberty, Human Life and Dignity, and Preferential Option for the Poor.  

November 17, 2016
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

RSVP by November 10, 2016 to: l616-340-1824

360 Division Avenue South, 2nd Floor
Cathedral Square Center, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Complimentary lunch will be provided.

All are welcome.

Please feel free to share this invitation with others who may be interested in attending.

Resources and Upcoming Events

World Food Day

World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.

World Food Day celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on October 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada. First established in 1979, World Food Day has since then been observed in almost every country by millions of people.

In North America, grassroots events and public awareness campaigns engage diverse audiences in action against hunger.  From hunger walks and World Food Day dinners to meal packaging events and food drives, there are many ways for people to be a part of solutions to hunger.

Each year, advocates come together to raise awareness and engage Americans and Canadians in the movement to end hunger. Led by the FAO Liaison Office for North America, the World Food Day USA & Canada Network  includes over 60 organizations, universities and companies that are working to achieve a zero hunger world.

Learn more here 



Project Rachel Retreat- October 7-9th

Project Rachel offers opportunities for reconciliation and healing for women, and for all, who suffer emotional and spiritual pain from an abortion experience. Project Rachel tries to reach out to others with the compassion and mercy of Christ encouraging everyone to learn about post-abortion healing and to listen with compassion.