Theology by Beyonce: The 2017 Grammys Version – Did you miss it?

via GIPHY

  • – Thanksgiving to God for the gift of family and the people around us!  
  • – Voicing humanity’s bond to the cross of pain and loss – oft unspoken.
  • – Affirming, in every race, beauty, intelligence and capability! Dare we say? – The image of God that raises us above our discomfort and darkness.    
  • – A vision that blesses us with the hope to transcend our sufferings and mistakes toward a land, Dare we say? – A kingdom, of life, light and grace. Amen!

Read Bey’s full remarks…

“Thank you so much. Hi, baby.

Thank you to the Grammy voters for this incredible honor and, thank you to everyone who worked so hard to beautifully capture the profundity of deep southern culture.

… I thank God for my family, my wonderful husband, my beautiful daughter, my fans for bringing me so much happiness and support. We all experience pain and loss and often we become inaudible.

My intention for the film and album was to create a body of work that would give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness and our history, to confront issues that make us uncomfortable.

It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror, first through their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House, and the Grammys, and see themselves. And have no doubt that they’re beautiful, intelligent, and capable.

This is something I want for every child of every race, and I feel it’s vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes….

Thank you, again, for honoring Lemonade. Have a beautiful evening. Thank you for tonight. This is incredible.”

2017 Inaugurations

You Mean There’s More than One?!

L-R: Shannon Kelly Director of Catholic Charities Community Services Hudson Valley Services; Beatriz Diaz Taveras Executive Director of Catholic Charities Community Services; Adriano Espaillat; Myself; Luz Tavarez-Salazar Director of Government and Community Relations

I, along with a few other Catholic Charities staff, went to D.C. last week for the inauguration not of the President that takes place January 20th but of the new 115th Congress on January 3rd.  The media made so little of this swearing in of 52 new members in the legislative branch of government, you almost could have ignored it.  I went because I was invited to two of these swearing in ceremonies – one for a Republican from the Hudson Valley, John Faso, and one for a Democrat from Washington Heights, Adriano Espaillat.   

I delivered one of the invocations at Congressman Espaillat’s swearing in event.  My view on invocations and political events is simple:  Engage often, endorse rarely, and pray always.  When it comes to politicians and elected officials, they and we – their constituents- can always use a prayer for God’s help.  I might add that the more problematic they are and the more we disagree with their policies, the more prayer is needed.  But that is just my opinion.  So when invited to pray I do so.  I’ve done it for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Enough about invocations.

Let me pause for a moment to discuss these two new members of Congress – very different – and yet both committed to represent their people and their concerns.  John Faso has a long history in New York State government from the Republican side of the aisle.  He is well respected for his competence as an elected official. He seems positioned to continue this record of service in D.C.  

Continue reading

Gazing Upon the Nativity with Fresh Eyes

Pat Keay & David A. Croteau

On JustLove this week, Monsignor Sullivan speaks with two guests: Pat Keay of Director of Community Engagement of Heifer International and Professor David A. Croteau, Ph.D. of Columbia International University in South Carolina. On the show Pat Keay speaks with Monsignor Sullivan about Heifer International –  a charity that donates livestock as well as environmentally sound agricultural training to families in need around the world. Heifer International also partners with Churches and other faith based and civic organizations to support their mission and how JustLove listeners can also contribute. Professor Croteau discusses his book Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions” and popular beliefs regarding Jesus’ Nativity.

Catholic Charities in PR “Election Day + 2”

laperla_sanjuan_puertorico

La Perla, Puerto Rico

Catholic Charities is well known for extensive high quality services that touch almost every human need. Another part of mission is probably less known: partnering to build a just and compassionate society through economic and community development.

Today we focused on this lesser known part of our mission. We partnered to raise our awareness and show solidarity to one of the most troubled barrios of San Juan, La Perla. Its reputation for drugs, poverty, violence and lack of opportunity is infamous. A Franciscan priest, decades ago, began to organize to address these issues. Catholic Charities took the lead in organizing a moving walking tour of this historic barrio with approximately 50 SOMOS participants led by a current community organizer Angel Marcano and a volunteer, former NYC Housing Commissioner Bill Alicea.

This neighborhood has such strong emotional reverberations for many Puerto Ricans. It was the birthplace and home of NYS Assemblyman Jose Rivera who joined us on the tour. He pointed out his home and school. He showed us the part of the beach he swam in after school.

This is just a glimpse of our visit. I will probably write more in the future.

Currently, many positive changes can be seen in this barrio with a checkered history and bad reputation, natives and tourists alike were discouraged from visiting. We were told that within the past 3 years much of the drug trafficking has been cleaned up and a renewed sense of the community is emerging. But this positive story comes with threats.

Continue reading

Election Day 2016 +1

Catholic Charities in Puerto Rico

cw2hlszucaawlm1

This year on “Election Day + 1, as our nation focused on the results of this brutal election, Catholic Charities brought our Feeding Our Neighbors program to help one of the most economically hard hit parts of our country, Puerto Rico.   Catholic Charities staff and volunteers from the SOMOS annual conference in Puerto Rico provided thousands of meals to families served by The New York Foundling’s Cardinal O’Connor Head Start program in the area of Santurce among others.

Under the leadership of NYS Assemblyman Marco Crespo and Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, the annual SOMOS conference now includes a volunteer service project in a community in Puerto Rico. Catholic Charities has been proud to be a lead partner in these projects that demonstrate solidarity between the people of New York and Puerto Rico. Luz Tavarez, Catholic Charities’ Director of Government and Community Relations has effectively taken the lead in developing these partnerships and coordinating these projects.

This year’s project highlighted the approach of Catholic Charities agencies to always be attentive to the needs of the families we are serving. In 1973, about a century after its start, one of the oldest and highest quality Catholic Charities agencies, The New York Foundling extended its services to Puerto Rico to help a significant number of families in New York who were returning to the island. In the 1980’s and 90’s The New York Foundling established and expanded its Head Start programs so that today they are at 23 different sites in four different communities that serve almost 1,000 children and their families each year. This impactful work in Puerto Rico is done under the capable leadership of Carmen Villafane and her staff.

The creativity and quality seen at these programs is emblematic of the overall high quality and creative programs of The New York Foundling throughout the neighborhoods of the NY metropolitan area under the leadership of Bill Baccaglini. This work continues the compassionate and professional legacy of the Sisters of Charity in serving those in need.

This modest “Election Day + 1” volunteer service project is an important reminder that the overwhelming obsession with politics that has dominated the media needs to now make room for seeing and reaching out to our neighbors and better understanding their concerns and needs.

Prayer for Those in Authority
( + My Modified Prayer)

prayerforthoseinauthority4

FROM US TO GOD

NEW YORK CITY, 2016

God in your holy word Paul asked his friend Timothy, his peeps (aka faith community at Ephesus) to give thanksgiving as they pray for those in authority.

So there must also be a prayer request you are sending me today.

O.K., but God, cut me a little slack; I’m having a hard time with the thanksgiving part.

Continue reading

Paying Close Attention to the 2016 Presidential Election Not So Much; Too Soon Enjoy the Beach!!!

niantic-664461_1920

I reiterate my unsolicited advice about the 2016 Presidential campaign noise. Forget about the polls, shake-ups, resets, cash-raised, etc., etc., until after Labor Day. It’s all mostly noise at this stage.

However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about the critically important policy issues that we face as a nation. There is much work to be done to foster the common good and build compassion and justice. I encourage reading the 2-page introductory note from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document on political responsibility: Faithful Citizenship. The document provides good background, and lists the major issues we face as a nation. They are issues worth thinking and praying about. Much is at stake.

When fall comes, and the leaves change colors, we can turn to all the rest. Those things will begin to matter more, and be informative – somewhat. For now, enjoy the rest of your summer.

Solidarity Orlando

 

Toward the end of June, cities across the United States including New York will see a number of demonstrations of gay pride. Orlando adds greater poignancy this year.

Words may be cheap, but silence can be costly. Let me express a few words of solidarity with LGBTQ communities. Solidarity: against hate, for love; against violence and death, for peace and life; against hurting, for healing; against divisiveness, for reconciliation; against exclusion, for inclusion; against despair, for hope; against hate, for love. This is my basic prayer and hope.

I add a few thoughts from a religious perspective on words, actions and solidarity.

At times the language some Christians have used deviates from our faith’s core message. We need to acknowledge that tragically, without necessarily intending to, this rhetoric has resulted in pain, hurt and even violence and death. Affirming our truths, faith and beliefs does not require harsh and hurtful words. There is a difference between sterile political correctness, from which I respectfully dissent, and necessary sensitivity to differences in life styles, beliefs and self-understanding, which I genuinely affirm.

Continue reading