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Casey Schoeneberger
Casey Schoeneberger, Faith in Public Life’s Press Secretary, came to FPL from NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby’s Associate Program after studying economics at Saint Joseph’s University. She blogs about tax and budget issues on Bold Faith Type.

28 Catholic College Presidents join Ash Wednesday Fast for Immigration Reform

March 4, 2014, 9:36 pm | By Casey Schoeneberger

Catholic college presidents from 28 Catholic college and universities signed a letter committing to fast in solidarity with the “Fast for Families Across America” campaign. “Fast for Families” reignited the immigration debate last November when Eliseo Medina of SEIU, Dae Joong “DJ” Yoon (NAKASEC), Rudy Lopez (FIRM) and Cristian Avila (Mi Familia Vota) fasted for 22 days in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol on the National Mall. Joined by faith, labor and immigrant rights leaders and thousands across the country who fasted in solidarity, the movement drew national attention, including the support of President Obama and both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress.

Students, faculty and administrators at Catholic colleges and universities joined the first phase of the “Fast for Families” campaign in December as a show of solidarity with those fasting on the National Mall. Now, many of the presidents of these universities and colleges have drawn inspiration from the sacrifice of their own students who fasted as well as the national leaders with the “Fast for Families”.

This is only one instance of a spate of actions by Catholic organizations calling for comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. In February, over 150 students from nine Catholic universities met at Loyola Chicago University for a Student Summit on Immigration Reform. This week, Notre Dame is hosting a conference focused on the Catholic Church and immigration. And this past July, over 100 Catholic college presidents sent a letter to Catholic Members of Congress calling for swift passage of commonsense immigration reform.

As Christians around the world enter the season of Lent this Ash Wednesday, this distinguished group of leaders are joining thousands of fasters across the country in a unified call for addressing the broken immigration system.

The college presidents’ letter reads:

As leaders of Catholic universities, we stand with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in strong support of immigration reform that protects immigrant families and workers, and creates a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

We draw encouragement from students on our campuses who work tirelessly to turn this vision into a reality. Brave DREAMers are inspiring their peers to join them in the struggle for justice and dignity. Catholic students are praying, mobilizing and calling on Congress to act.

Immigrant and native-born students alike have joined the Fast For Families, a nationwide movement of fasting and prayer to awaken the consciences of lawmakers who stand in the way of immigration reform. On our campuses, a new generation of leaders is finding its moral voice.

On Ash Wednesday, we pledge to join the Fast for Families and fast for 24 hours as an act of solidarity and prayer for those who still suffer because of cruel and impractical immigration policies. As we begin this sacred season and remember Christ’s journey of suffering in the desert wilderness, we pray for immigrants who hunger and thirst for justice.

We invite our students, faculty and fellow administrators of our respective colleges and universities to join this communal act.

Rev. Michael J. Garanzini
Loyola University Chicago
Chicago, IL

Fr. Peter Donohue
Villanova University
Villanova, PA

Dr. Mary Lyons
University of San Diego
San Diego, CA

Donna M. Carroll
Dominican University
River Forest, IL

Dr. Thayne M. McCulloh
Gonzaga University
Spokane, WA

Dr. Thomas Keefe
University of Dallas
Dallas, TX

Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, SJ
Loyola University New Orleans
New Orleans, LA

Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
DePaul University
Chicago, IL

Rev. Bernard F. O’Connor
DeSales University
Center Valley, PA

Antoine M. Garibaldi
University of Detroit Mercy
Detroit, MI

Rev. Stephen Privett, SJ
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

Dr. Thomas Botzman
Misericordia University
Dallas, PA

Br. Michael J. McGinniss, FSC
La Salle University
Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr.
Saint Leo University
St Leo, FL

Sr. Rosemarie Jeffries, RSM
Georgian Court University
Lakewood Township, NJ

Dr. James Dlugos
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Standish, ME

Dr. Thomas Foley
Mount Aloysius College
Cresson, PA

Dr. Jane Gerety
Salve Regina University
Newport, RI

Dr. Laurie Harmen
Mount Mercy University
Cedar Rapids, IA

Dr. Julie Sullivan
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN

Nancy H. Blattner, OPA
Caldwell College
Caldwell, NJ

James E. Collins
Loras College
Dubuque, IA

Dr. Mary Meehan
Alverno College
Milwaukee, WI

John Smarrelli Jr.
Christian Brothers University
Memphis, TN

Joanne Burrows
Clarke University
Dubuque, IA

Sister Mary Cecilia Jurasinski
Manor College
Jenkintown, PA

Deb Takes
Interim President
Cabrini College
Radnor, PA

Rev. Msgr. Franklyn M. Casale
St. Thomas University
Miami Gardens, FL

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Rep. Fincher Sticks by Statement that Unemployed Constituents Should Go Hungry

September 18, 2013, 6:20 pm | By Casey Schoeneberger

While the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on the draconian “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act” that would take SNAP benefits away from as many as 5 million people and gut $40 billion from the life-saving program, Christian activists confronted Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) today to ask if he stands by his comments from last May in which he misrepresented Scripture to justify draconian cuts to effective anti-poverty programs.

Instead of taking into account USDA data which illustrates that over 50,000 households - including 20,000 with children and 12,000 with seniors - in Fincher’s district rely on these critical nutrition programs, or that 10.2% of his constituents remain unemployed, he reaffirmed his support for cuts that will put them at even greater risk.

James Salt, Executive Director of Catholics United and one of the activists who confronted Mr. Fincher, said “As a Catholic, it pains me to see Members of Congress use the Bible to justify policies that harm poor families. As the House prepares to vote on devastating cuts to SNAP,  I hoped Representative Fincher would retract his previous use of Scripture to defend this immoral policy. When I asked him to do so, he ardently declined. It remains to be seen whether he’ll rediscover the Bible’s call to protect poor and hungry people before this crucial vote.”

Fincher’s ability to take millions of dollars in farm subsidies while denying his constituents vital nutrition assistance is stunning. Christian leaders and people in the pews will continue to educate both him and likeminded lawmakers on the reality of hunger and poverty in their communities and our Christian obligation to support struggling families.


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NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus” Arrive in Texas during 15-State Tour

June 7, 2013, 5:27 pm | By Casey Schoeneberger

From June 8th to June 11th, NETWORK’s “Nuns on the Bus” will rally with Texas people of faith, labor leaders, and immigration activists at events across the lone star state to urge lawmakers, including Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, to forge ahead for immigration legislation that values America’s highest ideals and allows aspiring Americans the opportunity to achieve the American dream.

Catholic Sisters on the 6,500-mile tour, 15-state tour are urging lawmakers across the country to support legislation that provides a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans, promotes family unity, and protects the rights of all immigrant workers. The tour, which began in the shadow of Ellis Island last week, has drawn large and enthusiastic crowds of supporters in state after state on the route to Texas.

The tour is called “NETWORK Nuns on the Bus: A Drive for Faith, Family, and Citizenship.”

Featuring Catholic Sisters from around the country, and sponsored by NETWORK, the bus is stopping at historical landmarks, driving through the Southern states, plains of Texas and border towns throughout the Southwest. Sisters are rallying with community members at more than 50 faith-based agencies and local congressional offices to lift up the voices of both aspiring Americans and citizens who have been impacted by America’s broken immigration system. Catholic Sisters stand with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in calling for immigration reform that addresses the root causes of migration and provides a roadmap to citizenship for fellow neighbors, colleagues, and friends seeking protection from further senseless exploitation.

Click Here for Complete Itinerary!


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VIDEO: “It Doesn’t Take a Miracle to Make a Moral Budget”

March 11, 2013, 5:20 pm | By Casey Schoeneberger

Prominent clergy and faith activists from across America will join together on Wednesday, March 20 for a coordinated, multi-state “Loaves and Fishes” Day of Action to highlight the need for moral and political courage in federal budget negotiations. With 21 events across America, plus a press conference on Capitol Hill, the faith community will encourage Congress to question the austerity gospel, and remind them we have enough for all in this country.


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Next Pope has Opportunity to Make Dialogue Sign of “Healthy, Flourishing Faith”

February 19, 2013, 5:54 pm | By Casey Schoeneberger

John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, argued in yesterday’s USA Todaycatholic church that while the next pope may not radically change the Catholic Church, he will have an opportunity to actively encourage healthy dialogue in the pews:

Gehring writes:

The next pope, whether cheered by conservative Catholics or eyed warily by liberals in the flock, will not abruptly end the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, the all-male priesthood and contraception even as many practicing Catholics and some clergy find these teachings flawed.

But a new pope — and no church rule requires the Vicar of Christ to be a cardinal or bishop — could send a powerful message by claiming less infallibility and listening more to ordinary Catholics, overburdened pastors and tireless nuns who live out the Gospel from blighted neighborhoods in Cincinnati to remote villages in Kenya. Instead of silencing theologians and stifling debate, a new pope could let it be known that discernment and discussion are signs of a healthy, flourishing faith.

Read the whole op-ed here.

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