Issue Date

JRS Reports that Little has Changed in Haiti

Haiti - 6 months after the earthquakeSince the January 12 earthquake in Haiti—which claimed the lives of approximately 220,000 people and made more than one million homeless—the daily life of Haitians has deteriorated, according to Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Latin America and Caribbean.

Despite the announcement of the national relocation plan for internally displaced persons in camps, there is no clear strategy, according to JRS. The population is left in the dark regarding possible relocation sites, access to basic services, and the reconstruction of vital infrastructure.

"The city is littered with tents, making Port-au-Prince one big camp. Upon arrival, there are people everywhere: on the footpaths, on the road alongside the traffic, rummaging through garbage and the ruins of the city," said JRS's Minerva Vitti.

On one occasion, a resident in Henfrasa camp told JRS that only two truckloads of food were delivered for more than 7,400 people, which led to outbreaks of violence in the scramble for food.

Other issues of concern in the camps include sexual abuse and juvenile prostitution. Residents say that girls between 11 and 14 years of age sell sex for a meal.

Since January JRS Haiti has provided emergency assistance and psychosocial and pastoral services in seven camps near the capital. JRS is the official camp manager in three camps where it adopts a participative management approach so that all voices are heard and the most vulnerable residents receive the care they require. Eighty percent of officially sanctioned camps have no camp managers.

For more information on JRS work in Haiti go to []

Pictured: Nearly six months after the disaster, reconstruction has not really begun, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Minerva Vitti/ JRS)

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The Jesuit Response to the BP Oil Spill

Oil spill on beachNew Orleans Province

The New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus has compiled a resource packet in response to the growing environmental catastrophe in the Gulf Coast region from the BP oil spill:

The packet includes prayers, an oil spill policy brief, and a study on the spill from the e-newsletter of the Jesuit Social Research Institute.

Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola University New Orleans has created a website addressing the numerous efforts being made by its faculty and staff to respond to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The site, Crude Awakening at, features a list of faculty experts who can speak authoritatively on oil spill topics; a blog compiling faculty and staff commentary regarding the spill; press releases and news about Loyola's involvement; local and national news headlines; and ways to get involved.

Loyola University New Orleans assists with the oil spillIn addition, Loyola's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has reached out to more than 1,000 affected small businesses in the area, offering them assistance in filing claims, counseling, and support since the spill began.

The SBDC's director, Carmen Sunda, recently testified at a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., on the oil spill's impact on small businesses. In her written testimony, Sunda expressed the far-reaching devastation of the uncertainty of the spill and provided details about how the SBDC is helping affected businesses.

"The worst part is that it has no foreseeable ending. People can't estimate the value of their long-term losses or the long-term impact, because they can't define ‘long-term'–does it mean this season, a few years, a lifetime?" wrote Sunda.

Loyola's SBDC has partnered with the Louisiana Small Business Administration (LSBA) to staff twelve Business Recovery Centers in seven parishes across coastal Louisiana. Each center is staffed with an LSBA and an SBDC consultant who help with the BP claims process and filling for loans.

"SBDC assists any business that feels that they have been impacted. Our consultants provide businesses with a free, independent, third party that they can speak with on a personal level," said Sunda. [New Orleans Province, Loyola University New Orleans]

Note: This story is an updated version of the story that ran last issue with the corrected link to the resource packet.

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Hispanic Institute at JST Helps Meet Needs of Hispanic Catholic Population

Hispanic Institue at JSTDozens of leaders who serve the exploding numbers of Hispanic Catholics nationwide are convening at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University for the Instituto Hispano, held from July 11 to July 23. Since its beginning in 1988, the institute has provided courses in theology and pastoral ministry to many Hispanic ministers from across the United States and abroad.

"Our institute serves as a form of advanced theological education for the people at the grass-roots level ministering to the unique needs of Hispanic Catholics," said director Paulina Espinosa. "More and more, the participants are coming from across the United States, where there is a great thirst for a culturally aware approach to advanced theology," she added.

The Institute is designed as an intensive program for Catholic leaders, mostly non-clergy, who minister to or lead Hispanic or Spanish-speaking members of their parish. Often they are deacons, catechism teachers, RCIA leaders, and sometimes nuns or priests. Most who attend are Hispanic themselves, and are seeking a greater integration of their faith-rich culture with formal teachings of Catholicism.

Participants in the institute must first receive the necessary deaconate or equivalent training by their local diocese and be recommended by their parish priest. Participants who attend for three summers receive a Certificate in Hispanic Theological and Pastoral Studies.

Typical course topics include Scripture, theology, inculturation, and current issues in ministry. Although the curriculum could apply to any lay leaders seeking an advanced level of theological training, the classes take the Hispanic cultural context heavily into account.

"With this perspective, immigrants start to see themselves as part of a bigger picture, less like outsiders. They see that we've always been an immigrant church, and that they are just the latest to arrive," said Eduardo Fernandez, SJ, a teacher and member of the advisory council for the institute. "It also causes for them a greater sense of compassion for other immigrant groups," he added. [Santa Clara University]

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Jesuit Reaches Halfway Point on 5000-mile Bike Trek for Poverty Awareness

Jesuit Fr. Matt RuhlFr. Matt Ruhl, SJ, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Kansas City, Mo., embarked on a 5,052-mile bike ride on May 29 with the goal of raising awareness on poverty-related issues and raising money for programs that benefit the poor.

The Cycling for Change team is riding 5,052 miles from Cape Flattery, Wash., to Key West, Fla., to promote Catholic Charities USA's Campaign to Reduce Poverty, a plan to cut poverty in half by 2020.

As of July 6, Fr. Ruhl and his team were in Fort Collins, Colo., and headed to Denver; they have covered more than 2,000 miles of their 5,052-mile ride.

"So far so good," Fr. Ruhl told Catholic News Service in a recent phone interview after riding approximately 70 miles that day. Team members, who range in age from 24 to 80, average 65 miles per day. The volunteer cycling team is a group of lawyers, doctors, social workers, photographers, and retirees, all of whom are dedicated to addressing the issue of poverty.

The Cycling for Change team has a support team of four and will be joined along the way by additional cyclists who will ride for shorter segments of the trip. Each cyclist was sponsored for the ride. Updates and information can be found on the team's website, which has a blog and live tracker for Fr. Ruhl and the team.

You can watch Fr. Ruhl's interview with KMBC-TV about his ride on NJN: [National Jesuit News]

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Jesuit Calls on Catholic and Orthodox Churches to Restore Communion

Jesuit  Fr. Robert F. TaftThe Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches should own up to their past misdeeds and work to restore communion, according to Fr. Robert F. Taft, a Jesuit liturgical expert.

Fr. Taft, a former professor of Eastern liturgy at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, said that the rift between the churches was sustained primarily by offensive actions—not theological differences. He delivered "Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations Today," on June 28 at Fordham University.

"The main problem that we Catholics and Orthodox face in our ecumenical dialogue is not doctrine but behavior," Fr. Taft said. "The issue is not that Catholics and Orthodox do not know how to pray and believe and live Christianity in the right and true apostolic way. The problem is that we do not know how to act."

He pointed to Catholic "uniatism"—aggression against another church—as a major problem blocking fruitful dialogue between the religions. He added that although the Orthodox faith has been victimized, it also refuses to admit its own misdeeds.

Fr. Taft advocated a system of "ecumenical scholarship and theology"—a new way to study Christian tradition that seeks to reconcile and unite, rather than to confute and dominate. To accomplish this, the Catholic and Orthodox churches must recognize one another as historic apostolic sister churches, he said.

The point of this new ecumenical theology is not that Catholics and Orthodox never disagree. "What it does mean, is that at the official level, disagreements can be discussed truthfully and courteously, without invective, rudeness, and slander," Fr. Taft said. [Fordham University]

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Around Campus

LMU Choruses Sing in Venice and the Vatican

LMU choirThe Loyola Marymount University choruses sang six engagements in four Italian cities this past June, culminating with a private concert in the Sistine Chapel and a public Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

The 100 members of the LMU choruses – the Consort Singers, Women's Chorus and Concert Choir – performed free concerts for the public in Lucca, Florence, and Venice, where they also sang at a Mass in St. Mark's Basilica.

The private concert in the Sistine Chapel took place the evening of June 19. Earlier that day, the choruses performed in St. Peter's along with singers from St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco, Monte Vista Choir and a group from the Sydney (Australia) Festival Chorus. [Loyola Marymount University] 

Georgetown Students Mentor Youth Offenders

Georgetown Student MentorsGeorgetown students are offering Washington, D.C., youth offenders a chance to see how their lives could change for the better.

The After School Kids (ASK) program, created in the mid-1980s, trains students to work in small groups as tutor-mentors for adolescents in the D.C. court system.

Georgetown mentors spend about five hours biweekly showing youth how to write resumes, perform in job interviews, manage bank accounts, and cope with life's frustrations without acting out.

Georgetown mentors typically pick up ASK participants from D.C. Superior Court once they've finished visits with their probation officers and bring them back to the main campus or to the Law Center's D.C. Street Law Clinic, which provides law-related educational services. [Georgetown University]

Fairfield University Breaks Ground on First Campus Garden

Fairfield gardenFairfield University's sustainability movement took another step forward recently when ground was broken on the campus's first vegetable and herb garden.

An educational project for environmental studies and biology students, its harvest will turn up on student dining hall menus this fall and stock the shelves of area food pantries this summer.

Faculty, students, staff and alumni are tending the garden, where food will be grown much of the year. The garden includes 18 raised beds where root vegetables, perennial herbs, hot and sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, and pumpkins, among other vegetables, are being planted.

Part of the garden has been dedicated to Harvest Now, a hunger relief program that supplies area food pantries.

Most of the food will go to the dining hall when the students are back in the fall.

The garden project has other goals. Faculty are hoping to inform students about seasonal food, teach about the environmental impracticalities of eating certain things in winter, and introduce them to new food choices, such as kale.

Another goal is to have residents of the new Environmental Living and Learning community care for the garden. [Fairfield University]

Marquette to Host Catholic Higher Education Communication Conference

More than 85 faculty who teach media and communication at Catholic colleges and universities nationwide will discuss their work in light of the tradition, mission, and identity of their institutions at a conference at Marquette University co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council on Social Communications. The event will be held July 19 - July 21 with the theme "The Power to Transform the World."

Each day will have a special focus, including reflection on identity, ethics and the future. Keynote speakers highlighting each day will be Dr. Janie Harden Fritz from Duquesne University; Dr. Clifford G. Christians from the University of Illinois; and Dr. John Pauly from Marquette University.

This U.S. conference is a follow-up to an international meeting hosted by the Pontifical Council in Rome in 2008.

"In the university, as in the Church, we encounter a digital generation, that is children and young adults immersed from infancy in modern media," said William Thorn, chair of the Department of Journalism at Marquette and the director of the conference. "This conference offers scholars and teachers an opportunity to discuss the implications of this generation in the context of media and communication programs." [Marquette University]

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