The Common Good and Opening Worship; Bishops Visit Unaccompanied Minors

Healing Hands

Catholic Bishops Will Continue to Follow the Common Good on Decisions Regarding Worship

The Executive Committee of the California Catholic Conference has released the following statement:

“In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings striking down unreasonable restrictions on indoor public worship and the issuance of new guidelines by Governor Newsom removing legal mandates restricting worship, the Catholic Bishops of California remain committed to the complete resumption of indoor worship in a responsible and safe manner. 

“Since last March of 2020 – before many jurisdictions even began offering any guidelines for indoor activities – the dioceses of California upheld the need to protect life and public health by voluntarily suspending indoor worship services.  As the pandemic dragged on through surges and plateaus, dioceses continued to stress the common good by voluntarily holding outdoor worship services and, only when safe, move some services indoors, but always with safety and health foremost.

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Meeting the Spiritual Needs of Unaccompanied Minors

The San Diego Convention Center, fitted with cots and not much else, is the temporary home of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors.  The surge at the border, the highest in 20 years, is stressing the neglected U.S. migrant and refugee systems that were designed to deal humanely with refugees seeking asylum.

Many of the children in San Diego are arriving from Texas, but all the border states are being impacted.  Federal authorities are partnering with local non-profits such as Catholic Charities, Jewish Family Services, and many others to provide basic services to the children, including administering to their spiritual needs. 

San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy and Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano visited the convention center over Easter to meet the children, most of whom are around ten years old, and provide them with the Eucharist.  Many staff members also received Communion.

“We had sent over rosaries earlier in the week because the children had asked for them,” explained Bishop McElroy.  “They held them in their hands or wore them around their neck as they received the Sacrament.”

Bishop McElroy was impressed with the devotion of the children as well as the loneliness and fear they held within themselves. 

“One girl, when she found out I was a bishop,” said Bishop McElroy, “asked if she could be confirmed.”

Bishop Bejarano also brought the Sacrament to children in the COVID-19 isolation area.  Both bishops have already been vaccinated.

After the services, the children had nowhere else to go except back to their cots, said Bishop McElroy.  Many of them knelt at their cots for a few minutes of prayer.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) now has more than 14,000 minors in custody.  Most are from Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador.  HHS says most will be placed with responsible family members, but the system is extremely stressed.

“President Biden has inherited a chaotic border situation created by a decade of Congressional failures, four years of a President who coldly used the border as an instrument of political and ethnic division, and a long history of exploitation and economic deterioration in Central America,” Bishop McElroy told the Tablet, an international Catholic news outlet.

“It is President Biden’s responsibility to create and implement a system of fairness and order for those seeking refuge in our country, but this project will fail if the humanity and suffering of those at our gates is not the primary element propelling us at every stage.”

 

Earth Day is April 22

April 22 will mark the 51st anniversary of Earth Day.  On April 22, 1970 more than 20 million Americans — approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population at the time — took to the street in of cities around the country to protest environmental degradation and to call for a new way forward for our planet.

As Catholics, we are deeply committed to our environment and our home. The California Conference of Catholic Bishops released Care for the Common Home in 2019, calling for a spiritual conversion that respects our common home and cares for all.

Many parishes around the state are hosting programs.  One such group, The Pathways for Justice Ministry, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Sacramento, invites people for an evening discussion of the California bishops’ pastoral letter that “invite[s] the people of California to reflect on ways we can more faithfully and effectively care for creation in thanksgiving to God for this great gift.”  The event is free and will be held on Monday, April 26th at 7 pm. Register for the meeting at pathwaysforjustice@stfrancisparish.com.

 

National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day. When a serious or life-threatening health crisis arises, leaving devastated family and friends to make life-altering decisions in traumatic circumstances can be avoided by proactively planning. It’s important that every person age 18 and up have a completed Advanced Directive so that their family knows what their health care wished are.

The Whole Person Care Initiative, a joint project of the California Catholic Conference and the Alliance of Catholic Health Care (wholeperson.care), resources on how to start a conversation about your wishes with loved ones, where to find spiritual, emotional, caregiver support, and extensive information on Catholic moral teaching.

For instance, a model Catholic adv