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January 2018 NewsNotes


Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace

January 2018


Greetings Friend!


Happy New Year to all, may it be one in which we move towards peace on and with our planet!

I was struck by our Pontiff’s tweet Wednesday morning which said: “In Jesus’ name, by our witness, we can prove that peace is possible.” Encouraging words on a day our president tweets about the relative sizes of his and his opponent’s nuclear buttons. But I wondered, ‘what is the witness with which we will prove that peace is possible?’

The first Wednesday of the month is also the meeting of Religious at the UN, or RUN. We heard from two sisters of different congregations, one from Ireland, the other from India who traveled to Ghana to share with religious groups the spirituality behind the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their presentation started with citations from Luke 4: 16-19 Jesus announcing good news to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free, proclaiming the year of God’s favor (freedom from debt). In John 10:10, Jesus says he comes to bring life in its fullest

They went on to share that the SDGs are all about life, health, freedom, care for Earth. Working to see the SDGs become reality, is akin to the language we use in talking about the Kin-dom of God. The two tasks share a common vision—humanity united and living together in peace with everyone having a share in God’s bounty.

The work of the UN, and particularly the Religious at the UN is hold up that vision. That I believe is the witness that the Pope referenced in his tweet. It is the vision we should witness in word and deed. That is not always easy in our nations whose leaders have chosen the path of isolation and nationalism, rather than moving towards an ever more united humanity.

I leave it to you to judge how much of the not-so-good news cited below is a result of abandoning the vision of a united human community.


Peace and all good,


Frank McCann
Peace through Justice Facilitator




  1. Plastics Production To Expand Dramatically
  2. Extreme Weather, "Natural Disasters" and the Role of the Human
  3. Environmentally Damaging End of Year Decisions Made Quietly
  4. Catholic Climate Covenant Offers Webinar
  5. Carmelites Complete Curriculum on Laudato Si
  6. How Long to Nuclear Midnight?
  7. Peace Sunday 14 January, 2018
  8. CSJPs to Co-Sponsor John Dear Book Signing
  9. Salvadoran Temporary Protected Status to be Decided Soon
  10. Hudson County Immigrant Detention Facility cited by Homeland Security
  11. DACA
  12. January 7-13 is National Migration Week
  13. CSJP Related Local Immigration News





Plastics Production to Expand Dramatically


Plastic waste continues to damage the ocean environments globally. Despite campaigns like the one asking Coca-Cola to stop producing one-time use plastic bottles for soda pop, the future looks dim for reducing the production of plastics. A recent Guardian story reveals that, led by two U.S. fossil fuel giants, over $186 billion has been invested in 318 projects to increase plastic production by 40% in the coming years. Half of these plants are under construction or online the others are still in the planning stages. The great impetus to increase plastic production comes from the less costly and very available oil produced by fracking.

Exxon Mobil Chemical and Shell Chemical are the two U.S. corporations that have made the largest investments in plastic production. They have invested in the fracking and horizontal drilling technologies that have reduced the cost of oil by two-thirds.

Environmentalists worldwide generally agree that the amount of plastics produced in already unmanageable. A 40% increase in production could permanently contaminate Earth. While the production will largely occur in the U.S., fracked oil for plastics production are also being shipped to Europe and the U.K.

The petrochemical companies cite a study produced by the American Chemical Institute that claims the production of more plastics will be an environmental benefit.

Believe it or not!



Extreme Weather, "Natural Disasters" and the Role of the Human

From the Comboni Missionaries


Wildfires continue to rage across southern California, marking the end of a destructive year of extreme weather events around the world. In the U.S. alone, floods of historic proportion, drenched Missouri and Arkansas in May; drought scorched the Dakotas and Montana from spring through fall; while hurricanes ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast, Florida and the Caribbean in the fall. Read Some Extreme Weather Can Only Be Blamed on Humans, (Scientific American), here; and New Study: Larger, More Intense U.S. Storm Complexes on the Way, (Wunderground), here.

According to three new studies published as part of a special December issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, scientists definitively linked human-caused climate change to extreme events of 2016. These included the deadly heat wave that swept Asia, the record global heat in 2016, and the growth and persistence of a large swath of high ocean temperatures, nicknamed "the Blob" in the Bering Sea. Read These Weather Events Turned Extreme Thanks to Human Driven Climate Change (Science News), here.

At press time, the 273,000-acre Thomas Fire, ravaging through Los Angeles and Ventura counties, has become the largest wildfire in California history, and although the number of firefighters peaked at 8,500, it is still not fully under control. The winds are still driving it and at least 20,000 homes are still in danger at press time. In its first several hours, the Thomas fire grew at a rate of one football field per second, expanding 30-fold, and engulfing entire neighborhoods in the dead of night. Read Thomas Fire is the largest blaze in CA history, here; on the news, and here.

Additional Resources:

  • California's Climate Emergency (Rolling Stone), here;
  • The Great Burning: How Wildfires are Threatening the West, here;
  • Cincy, Ohio Valley to see more floods, heat and drought from climate change: U.S. report (Cincinnati Enquirer), here.



Environmentally Damaging End of Year Decisions Made Quietly


Noting how bad the optics are on several of the decisions mentioned below, the changes mentioned below were signaled through private messages rather than broadly broadcast announcements. The following list was published in the 2 January edition of the Washington Post.

  1. Rules banning fracking on public lands were overturned despite concern over environmental impacts.
  2. Rules designed to prevent another deep-water oil spill were weakened.
  3. Rules governing wind, solar, oil and gas power producers were rolled back making it unlikely those producers can be prosecuted for killing birds.
  4. Expired mining leases in Minnesota were reinstated benefitting an Argentinian owner who happens to be the landlord of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
  5. Fines against nursing homes that harm or place in danger its patients were scaled back.
  6. Civil servants are no longer likely to receive bonuses because of the deficit spending created by passage of the recent tax bill.
  7. Enforcement by many federal agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), have been curtailed due to attrition of employees ordered in the agencies.
  8. The federal government has reneged on its promise to fund 50% of the cost of new rail tunnels connecting New Jersey and New York.
  9. All members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS were fired.
  10. Attempts by the administration to add questions about “citizenship status” to the U.S. census in 2020 are already reducing the numbers of persons willing to respond in the annual American Community Surveys. The Framers of the constitution intended the census to count all persons not just citizens.

When any of the above are of concern to you, please contact the White House or your legislators to raise your concerns. You will be letting them know you that know what is being done in secret is coming into the light.

Read more…



Catholic Climate Covenant Offers Webinar


The Catholic Climate Covenant is offering a webinar to present: “Protecting Health and Life: A Catholic Response to Proposed Clean Power Plan “Replace and Repeal.”

The webinar will be in response to the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal the Obama era clean energy plan. The webinar will be Wednesday, January 10, at 2PM eastern time.



Carmelites Complete Curriculum on Laudato Si


The Carmelite NGO at the UN just completed a high school curriculum on Laudato Si. Sr. Jane Remson collaborated with teachers from Salpointe Catholic High School in Arizona, a Carmelite school.

The curriculum can be purchased for $25.00 from their website, or you can download it here for $6.00.




How Long to Nuclear Midnight?


In January of 2017, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the time to nuclear midnight to 2-1/2 minutes before midnight. This time is closer than at any time since 1953. The move toward midnight took place after Trump was elected but before he took office.

When they meet this January to discuss how much closer to midnight we may be, what do you think they will do? Has the threat of an accidental nuclear confrontation grown? As Trump tweets about the size of his nuclear button as opposed North Korea’s, or as he continues to refuse to certify Iran’s compliance to the nuclear deal, will they move the clock even closer to midnight? How much closer will they move it? How much closer do we get before we are awakened the general apathy about nuclear weapons?



Peace Sunday 14 January, 2018


Pax Christi UK is promoting Peace Sunday, 24 January, 2018. They urge members to do whatever they can to encourage parishes to join in the day’s activities. They have prepared a booklet for parishes to use and a prayer card for peace that features the stained-glass window of a church in Birmingham, Alabama showing the black Jesus with one arm out to reject oppression and the other to forgive.

Resources to order or to download can be found here.



CSJPs to Co-Sponsor John Dear Book Signing


Rev. John Dear has written a new book entitled And they Shall Inherit the Earth which will explore the interconnections between peacemaking and care for Earth. The CSJP Leadership Team and the Church of St. Anastasia in Teaneck will co-sponsor the event on Monday evening, March 26 at 7 PM at the Teaneck church. The event will include remarks by Fr. John, questions and answers followed by a chance to purchase the book and have it signed.


Migrants and Refugees


Salvadoran Temporary Protected Status to be Decided Soon


Right now, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering whether or not to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans in the United States, which is due for a decision by DHS before Monday, January 8th. Given the recent TPS terminations for Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti, we are deeply concerned that DHS will end El Salvador's TPS designation altogether. TPS is a program designed to protect people from being returned to harm - precisely the conditions El Salvador faces today, including gang conscription, sexual violence, and human trafficking. As a nation, we promised to protect nearly 200,000 Salvadoran neighbors by allowing them to remain in the United States.

Today is not too late to join our national call-in to ensure our elected leaders hear from their constituents, urging them to do everything they can to uphold this promise. Click here for our Interfaith Toolkit: Top 5 Ways to Take Action in the New Year.

Suggested Script:

“I’m your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and I support Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador, and I am calling to ask you to take a stand regarding the upcoming decision about TPS for El Salvador. I urge you to do everything in your power to see that the administration extends it for at least another 18 months, and to issue statements and make floor remarks supporting Salvadoran TPS holders. I call on you to demonstrate bold leadership and support a permanent, legislative solution that protects all TPS holders from being separated from their families. My community welcomes immigrants, and I urge you to reflect the best of our American values of compassion and welcome.”



Hudson County Immigrant Detention Facility cited by Homeland Security


The Hudson County Jail was one of five immigration detention facilities contracting with ICE that were inspected by Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The 11 page OIG report cited Hudson County specifically for failures to supply adequate hygienic supplies such as toilet paper and toothpaste, instead, requiring detainees to buy such supplies from the commissary in violation of ICE rules.

More general comments in the report citing inadequate or delayed medical treatments surely apply to Hudson County as well. From January 2014 - March 2016, 121 medical grievances were filed from Hudson County. The OIG report failed to mention deaths that occurred in part, due to the delayed medical treatments.

Carlos Mehia-Bonilla, 44, of El Salvador died on June 9, 2017 after being detained 10 weeks. The state medical examiner initially declined to do an autopsy saying Mr. Mehia-Bonilla died of natural causes. After complaints by the family were considered an autopsy was performed which showed he died of internal bleeding and hemorrhagic shock which caused organ failure. The family contended that he has been complaining over his 10-week incarceration that he was not receiving adequate medical attention or medications for his chronic diabetes, cirrhosis and anemia.

The Hudson County Jail is one of the facilities visited by volunteers from First Friends, a ministry supported by the CSJPs. First Friends Program Director, Sally Pillay said, “It is not acceptable that taxpayer’s dollars are used to incarcerate our immigrant brothers and sisters while these facilities are plagued by abuse, mistreatment, and a lack of accountability.”

Read more in the Bergen County Record.





The plight of youth whose threat of deportation as undocumented youth were deferred under President Obama remain unresolved at this time. There are attempts by members of congress to tie a solution for the DACA youth in with a continuing resolution to fund the government or with some other legislative measure. Even Republicans think that there are enough votes in the House and Senate to pass DACA relief if it is allowed to come to a vote as a stand-alone bill. However, it has not been the practice of the dominant party (now the Republicans) to allow such votes to occur unless it can be passed by the majority party alone.

Recent terms announced by the administration include what Democrats call deal-breakers. Among them are the end of "chain migration" which allows familes to be reunited in the U.S, and the building of the border wall which is opposed on environmental, financial and political reasons.

Recent comments by the president on twitter make resolving the matter more difficult than it needs to be. All who are able are asked to continue calling their congressional representatives and senators asking them for a clean DACA bill.



January 7-13 is National Migration Week


The Bishops of the United States have set aside the week of January 7-13 as National Migration Week. Resources can be found here.



CSJP Related Local Immigration News


Wandji Mfombaa, an asylee from Cameroon has been living with Eileen and I since March of 2017. Between the recent holidays he announced his decision to move out to share an apartment with fellow countrymen just outside of Newark, NJ. He has been both taking a CNA (Certified Nurses Assistant) course and working in a warehouse in the neighborhood. Wandji is the only one of the young men planning to live together who has a drivers license and a car. They certainly welcome his decision. We wish him the best!

As mentioned here earlier, The parish of St. Anastasia in Teaneck, NJ is sponsoring a refugee family from Afghanistan (husband, wife and 15 month old daughter). Patti Schweizer, cook at the Hudson Villa, and a pre-associate, was looking for kitchen help and hired Sabruddin, the husband and father. He describes his work at the Hudson Villa as 'good'. He said, "everyone there is happy." Patti has also expressed gratitude for his work. The sisters joined in singing "Happy Birthday" to him on Monday, January 1.

"So Christ is our model and in order to imitate Him we have to do strange things – things that seem almost inexplicable, but at the last days, when our work is taken off the loom of life, we shall see the beauty that comes into our soul by this work."

Mother Evangelista (Honoria Gaffney)