St. Thomas Aquinas Human Concerns Committee Meeting Minutes, July 28, 2009
Paul Chestnut, Laura Chiu, Ruth Chippendale, George Chippendale, Walt Lundin, Patricia Markee, Fr. Thierry Geris, Jerry Lucha
1. Faith-Sharing/Question of the Week - Walt
Walt passed out a discussion question based on the quote, "I am the vine, you are the branches." The question: "Day to day, how does my faith bring me more alive?"
2. Welcome Fr. Thierry
Fr. Thierry, our new vicar, attended our meeting in order to get to know the people on our committee and our work.
3. Approval of June minutes
The minutes were approved by acclamation.
4. PIA event in Redwood City
A community action meeting was held on July 18 at First United Methodist Church in Redwood City. Walt, Mary Fong, and George attended the event. They were among 400 attendees. The topics were health care and immigration reform. Assemblymembers Beall and Ruskin were there and "said the right things." Senator Simitian sent a representative, and Anna Eshoo sent a video. Actions are planned for August and September.
5. Death penalty - Terry
Both Terry McCaffrey and Helen Baumann were unable to attend. They had planned to brief us on a proposal the PSC will consider next month - to join CA People of Faith's Campaign to get 1000 faith communities to petition for an end to the death penalty. Subsequently, Helen will send us the details and we will communicate with HCC members by e-mail seeking HCC endorsement.
6. Torture Conference report
The HCC co-sponsred, as a member of multifaith voices for peace and justice, with the Council of Churches of Santa Clara County and other organizations, a "Torture Conference." The two-day event began with a panel entitled "Torture is a Moral Issue" on Friday, June 26. Then on Saturday June 27 there was a one-day conference featuring several excellent speakers. Seventy people attended the Saturday conference. Walt has 3 pages of notes [anyone interested?] and will summarize them in a bulletin insert.
7. Parish environmental campaign - Laura/Walt
Walt updated us on the "Catholic Green Initiative of Santa Clara County." It began in February 2009 with meetings with 100 Valley leaders for ideas, directions and priorities. It is now directed by the diocese, Catholic Charities, Santa Clara University, and Presentation Center.
Five parishes and Gate of Heaven are getting solar panels to provide about 70% of their energy needs. All the hardware was paid for by an outside company. It will sell (the cheaper) power to the users for 25 years. (The company profits by getting renewable energy certificates and carbon credits.)
The diocese plans to ask parishes to take the St. Francis Pledge* (see below) on his feast day, October 4. Pastors will be asked to devote a homily to the Initiative. The diocese will be offering bulletin inserts from time to time and other study aids and the Valley Catholic will print monthly articles.
Green bags: We've ordered 500. It is yet to be determined just how these will be distributed. The diocese plans to publicize them early in August and to give them another nudge on Oct. 4.
Other diocesan plans: A campaign on water conservation (films plus education will be available in mid-September); examine church properties and practices for leakages and wastages; a website.
Laura has come up with a neat title for our parish effort: Via (Way) Veritas (Truth) Vita (Life) Verde (Green). She offered nine proposals (see below) and, because this is a broad parish effort, has suggested other ministries that will be enlisted and involved.
To start the ball rolling we divvied up the contact responsibility among ourselves as follows: 1. Laura 2. Ruth 3. Ruth 4. Walt 5. Patricia 6. Laura 7. Laura 8. Paul 9. Walt.
Fr. Geris suggested an additional project: An energy audit. (He also commented that we will need good catechesis on the theology/spiritual motivation for the Initiative. The diocesan material may provide this.)
Patricia knows an appropriate song that signifies our green theme. She will pass it to Chris.
There was extended discussion on #2 (bell-ringing) (see below) and it continues via email exchanges. We plan contact with other PA churches, newspaper publilcity and other public notice and [Fr. Geris' suggestion] clearance with city government.
We welcomed Jerry Lucha who participated in the discussions. He'll put the VVVV Initiative on the PSC's September agenda. By that time we will have made initial contacts with all involved ministries and have a progress report ready.
Walt said we should realize that turning "green" will be asking people to adopt practices that will take more effort and time and may increase inconvenience in their daily lives. Also, that there may be additional financial costs. This is the sacrifice and price we pay to help heal the world. [Walt neglected to mention that the Institute for Leadership in Ministry is offering a Fall course on environmental justice.]
The recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate is said to have a segment on environmental protection.
8. Jack Jezreel's talk
Jack Jezreel, the founder of JustFaith, will present an introduction to JustFaith at 11:45 am, August 6, at the United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Avenue, Los Altos, and also in the evening in Santa Clara.
9. Books for Elmwood - Walt
The campaign to provide paperback books for Elmwood Jail will continue through August.
10. What's On Your Mind?
The Department of Homeland security is expanding its effort to deputize local police to act as ICE agents in seeking out illegal aliens. Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform feel this diverts police from their public safety tasks and will deter undocumented victims of crime from reporting crimes against themselves and their families. A new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, has been published. Walt is reviewing a seven-page summary. He may recommend some way to spread the word -- Burning Bush, or something else.
Ruth: The signups for Hotel deZink are complete. The dinners will be held at the Christian Reformed Church on Arastradero.
George: Certain welfare agencies require proof that a person has a job before they will provide temporary assistance. Those in need wouldn't need help if they had a job. So what kind of a a safety net is this? George hasn't been able to get a hearing about his concerns with responsible people at the United Ways in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Patricia: The JustFaith hope to begin an eight-session module on non-violence in October.
The director of the Day Worker Center Had to go to Mexico to nurse her ailing mother. In the mean time, the center is struggling with alternates.
11. Volunteer for Faith-sharing/Question of the Week
No one volunteered. Volunteer, anyone? Please?
Next meeting - September 22, 2009