New Video on the People’s Pastoral

We are happy to share this new short video reflection on CCA’s “people’s pastoral” letter, The Telling Takes Us Home. Immersion and service groups coming to the Appalachian region may find this video particularly helpful. Please let us know how you are using it! A higher quality version is available to stream and/or download here.

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CCA, Bishop Stowe, Among Supporters of RECLAIM Act of 2017

Last week, religious communities sent a letter to the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives expressing support for a bipartisan bill that could jump start economies in coal communities: the RECLAIM Act of 2017.

The RECLAIM Act brings hope for real help for Appalachian communities most in need of economic revitalization. According to the Appalachian Regional Commission 2010-2014 poverty rate report, the combined Appalachian regions of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia have a poverty rate that is 4 percent higher than the national average.

Co-Coordinator of Catholic Committee of Appalachia Michael Iafrate said of the legislation, “People in Appalachia have been working to change the dominant story we tell about the region in an effort of reimagining their communities and forging new paths forward beyond coal. The RECLAIM Act is a reasonable first step in assisting these communities to bring these efforts to life as we continue to have difficult conversations about our region and its place in this nation’s history.”

Signed by 40 religious denominations and faith-based organizations, the letter provides faith communities’ reason for supporting the RECLAIM Act:

…we are deeply invested in ensuring every person has the opportunity to reach his or her God-given potential. We also believe in our moral responsibility to ensure God’s creation continues to help future generations thrive. For these reasons, we urge you to look towards real solutions for a just transition for coal communities.

West Virginia Council of Churches Executive Director Rev. Jeff Allen said, “In West Virginia alone, the RECLAIM Act could help us work on an estimated $1.5 billion worth of abandoned mine clean-up work. The people and the lands of Appalachia have made sacrifices to provide energy for this country. It is a moral responsibility for our country to re-invest in our region for new economic opportunities and to heal God’s creation.”

Likewise, Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington, KY, who serves also as CCA’s Bishop Liaison, wrote in support of the RECLAIM Act in an editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Stowe said,

As a community of faith, we look for these kinds of opportunities which protect and restore the wonders of creation and offer possibilities for meaningful employment. The time is short for the passage of the RECLAIM Act. Let’s make sure our representatives are in support and ready to act.

The letter called on House leadership to bring the RECLAIM Act of 2017 to the House floor for a vote as soon as possible.

The letter of support from religious leaders was spearheaded by Creation Justice Ministries, who represents the creation care policies of 38 Christian communions, including Baptists, mainline Protestants, Historically Black Churches, Peace Churches, and Orthodox communions. Learn more at www.creationjustice.org.

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CCA Statement on Child Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia has released a statement on Child Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. The entire statement, which was approved by the CCA Board of Directors, can be read here.

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‘Faith, Hope, Love: Our Common Home’ Social Ministries Conference to be Held in South Charleston

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va.—“Faith, Hope, Love: Our Common Home” Social Ministries Conference will be held at Blessed Sacrament Church in South Charleston, W.Va., Nov. 4 from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The conference is free and is being sponsored by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa), Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia and Catholic Committee of Appalachia.

“Our major goal is to hear stories from community members, and to be inspired to go out and continue the good work that has already begun,” said Kate Kosydar, Parish Social Ministry coordinator for CCWVa, who is helping to organize the conference. “We all have a role to play.”

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia, Grow Ohio Valley, Manna Meal, Christians for the Mountains and Try This WV will have speakers at the conference. Breakout sessions will cover an array of topics. Participants may choose one from each session—Session A: Home in the Web of Life and Social Justice & Local Food; Session B: Faith and Environment and Caring for our Bodies.

“‘Faith Hope Love: Our Common Home’ will be part reflection/retreat, and part planning session,” Kosydar said. “We’re really hopeful for a good turnout so that we can put Pope Francis’ encouragement from his encyclical into concrete action here in West Virginia.”

The conference is based on Pope Francis’s encyclical, On Care of Our Common Home. “Pope Francis’ document is not only concerned with the environment, but also with our relationships to one another,” Kosydar said. “We’re being encouraged to live out the Gospel in a concrete way by caring for the earth, as well as our brothers and sisters near and far.”

Donations are appreciated. To register or for more information, visit www.catholiccharitieswv.org and click Special Events and then All Events.

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CCA Co-Coordinators to Share Social Justice Message at Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Jeannie Kirkhope and Michael Iafrate, co-coordinators of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, are among the presenters sharing a message of social justice at the 20th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. The annual gathering, held this year from November 4-6 with an anticipated attendance of nearly 2,000 individuals, addresses timely social justice issues in the context of Catholic faith tradition—this year with a primary focus on racism and immigration.

Kirkhope will present a breakout session entitled Feedback from Appalachia: The Honeymoon is Over, exploring a “culture of encounter” in the context of volunteer groups visiting Appalachia. Iafrate, as an Ignatian Network Speaker, will, from the conference mainstage, speak on Taking our Place in the New Appalachian Story, sharing the message of The Telling Takes Us Home as it relates to Laudato Si’ and the Jesuit mission, presenting a Catholic approach of caring for our common home by thinking globally and acting locally.

Known as the largest annual Catholic social justice gathering in the U.S., the Teach-In attracts many young people ages 16-22, representing over 120 Jesuit and other Catholic universities, high schools, and parishes in the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico, and El Salvador.

The 2017 theme, Rowing Into the Deep: Magis Meets Justice, calls attendees to explore a more deeply authentic, courageous, generous, and compassionate response to the changing realities of our world.

Initiated in 1997 in Columbus, Georgia, the Teach-In commences yearly in mid-November to commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador. The six Jesuit priests and their two companions were murdered on November 16, 1989 for speaking out against the country’s tumultuous civil war. The Teach-In relocated from Georgia to Washington, D.C. in 2010 in response to the growing interest in legislative advocacy and accompanying educational opportunities.

On the morning of Monday, November 6, attendees will gather at Columbus Circle for a public witness, gathering with signs, banners, and voices to pray, listen to active advocates, and recommit to work for justice. The Teach-In then culminates with what is estimated to be the largest Catholic advocacy day of the year. Nearly 1,400 individuals will proceed to legislative advocacy meetings with members of Congress and their staffs on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to enact immigration and criminal justice reform.

Keynote speakers include Rev. Bryan Massingale, racial justice scholar and theology faculty at Fordham University, Maria Stephan, a senior advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, executive director of Pax Christi USA.

The Teach-In also offers more than 50 breakout sessions, presented by national and international speakers, including Fr. James Martin, S.J., bestselling author and editor-at-large at America Magazine; Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy for Kino Border Initiative; and Maureen O’Connell, Ph.D., racial justice scholar, theology faculty at La Salle University, along with prominent student activists for immigration reform and racial justice.

The celebrant for the Teach-In liturgy on Sunday, November 5 is Rev. Mark Ravizza, S.J., a delegate from the California Province of the Society of Jesus’ General Congregation 36 and director of Jesuit Mission and Ministry at Casa Bayanihan at Ateneo de Manila in the Phillipines.

“For twenty years, the Teach-In has invited the Jesuit network and broader Catholic Church to reflect on the realities of injustice facing our country and global community,” says Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “This year’s Teach-In theme invites us to ‘row deeper’ into the realities of racial injustice, inhumane migration policies, and other challenges of our times.”

Livestream coverage of the Teach-In is available at: http://igsol.net/livestream

NATIONAL CONTACT:
Kelly Swan, Director of Communications, Ignatian Solidarity Network
216-397-6248
kswan@ignatiansolidarity.net

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New Mailing Address for CCA’s Spencer Office

Please make note that CCA’s Spencer office now has a new mailing address.  We have not changed our location. Only the name of our road and address number have changed.  City, State, Zip, phone # and email all remain the same.Send all future correspondences or mail orders to:

Catholic Committee of Appalachia
81 Puddle Run
Spencer, WV 25276

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WV Chapter Statement on Transfer of Pleasants Power Plant

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia’s WV State Chapter has released a statement on the transfer of the Pleasants Power Plant from FirstEnergy to subsidiaries, MonPower and Potomac Edison. The entire statement, which was approved by the CCA Board of Directors, can be read here.

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Statement on Trump Administration’s Cancellation of DACA

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia has released a statement on the Trump administration’s cancellation of the DACA program. The entire statement, which was approved by the CCA Board of Directors, can be read here.

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CCA Bishop Liaison’s Statement on Charlottesville

Lexington Bishop John Stowe, CCA’s Bishop Liaison, has released a statement on recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. The statement is available as a PDF here. The text of the statement follows:

17 August 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is time for us all, as people of faith, to stand with those working to heal the racial divide in our country and to resist and renounce any remnants of racism- from our own hearts and from our public spaces. We categorically reject the ideology of hatred and intolerance espoused by white supremacists, neo-nazis and other “alt-right” groups. Their message and their philosophy is entirely incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of our faith. Our Judeo-Christian Scriptures begin with the story of our common origin, from one God who is Creator of us all. From the perspective of our faith, we are all sisters and brothers.

As we are horrified by the violent events of intolerance in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, we should nonetheless be encouraged by the numbers of people coming together across the country and right here in our community to promote unity, to affirm the dignity of all human beings made in the image and likeness of God, and working to heal rather than forget the tragic consequences of slavery, segregation and all forms of racial injustice.

We cannot heal or move forward until we are willing to read history and understand current events from the perspective of those who have been oppressed and suffered discrimination against because of their race. We must learn from a brutal past and commit ourselves to a more just and fraternal present and future.

If the forces of hatred and racism wish to demonstrate and voice their venomous beliefs in Lexington, Frankfort or any of our communities, we must show them the strength of unity, we must be true witnesses of the love made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ, we must resist non-violently, and we must work together to build the kind of society in which all people have the opportunity to flourish and contribute to the common good.

Let us pray for unity to prevail, let us learn the lessons of history, let us listen to one another from the heart, let us see our diversity as a source of strength and beauty and let us work together to promote the dignity and inestimable value of each child of God.

Peace and all good,
Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv.
Catholic Diocese of Lexington

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CCA Statement on White Supremacy

The Catholic Committee of Appalachia has released a statement on white supremacy in light of recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. The entire statement, which was approved by the CCA Board of Directors, can be read here.

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