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Posted on 08. Dec, 2013 by admin.
By Stan Raggio
In a world that has grown increasingly smaller, individuals and organizations are now able to straddle the globe in ways which would have been unthinkable even two decades ago. We see examples of this phenomenon in virtually every aspect of human endeavor, Business and commerce have been forever changed by a new global reality. Personal interaction has been transformed as ”virtual” social communities draw together people from opposite ends of the plant, from to lceland to lndonesia. And, perhaps not surprisingly, ministry and service are being re-imagined in one of the oldest international institutions in human history – the Roman Catholic Church.
Father Hoang Tuan Trihn, OFM, is both example and active participant in a new globalized approach to Christian service. A Franciscan friar of the Province of St. Barbara, Father Hoang spends part of each year in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, with the remainder of his time in Southeast Asia. The bi-continental ministry to which he dedicates most of his considerable energy and enthusiasm is Hoi Bac Ai Pha nxico-Franciscan Charity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor in developing Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and Cambodia.
It’s an area of the world Father Hoang knows well. He grew up in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The memory of the war and its aftermath left an indelible mark on the future friar, and was instrumental in both his decision to enter religious life and his determination to help the marginalized, particularly the young and defenseless.
“At the fall of Saigon, I was seven years old,” Hoang recalls. “My father was put in a re-education camp by the Communists – he was an officer opposing the Communists in the war. My mother was very ill at the time, and was in and out of the hospital for years because of lung problems. So my siblings and I basically lived without parents. I had to work for the food we ate, doing whatever I could: selling newspapers, shining shoes, picking up garbage. I had more than twenty types of work!”
It was a hard time, an unbelievably hard time, full of struggle, deprivation and fear. Yet Hoang’s most vivid memory from this period of his life was not the poverty, hunger or uncertainly. What has had the most lasting impression on him was the extraordinary kindness of the people who helped him and his brothers and sisters survive. He told himself then that when he was able, he would also do what he could to help those less fortunate.
Things ultimately did improve for Hoang and his siblings – but not before they were forced to endure yet more hardship. It was in the midst of this struggle, however, that Hoang felt his first calling to religious life. One incident in particular was pivotal.
“In 1980, there was a huge flood in Mekong River, and my family lost everything,” he recalls. “We had to flee to another city as homeless, and we got sick, we were starving, and we were wet and cold all the time. But one day, I saw a Franciscan, who came to give us food and medicine. That picture carved itself into in my mind, and it made me want to be a Franciscan friar.”
Five years later, in 1985, Hoang’s family was reunited. With his parents now back in the picture, Hoang could pursue his dream of Franciscan life. He presented himself to the local Franciscan friary and, one year later, became an “underground” candidate in the Franciscan community, where he stayed until the spring of 1992′
ln March of 1992, Hoang’s family received notification that, due to his father’s political situation, they were eligible to move to the United States. And move they did, Hoang included. He left religious life for ayear, working to help his family resettle in America. Yet Hoang’s Franciscan vocation remained strong, and he once again presented himself to a local Franciscan community, this time to friary in Oakland, California, He became part of the Oakland community in September 1993 and, one year later, formally entered the Province of St. Barbara’s formation program.
After years of study and formation, Hoang professed solemn vows as a Franciscan friar and was ordained a priest. He served as parochial vicar at Sts. Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach, California, and later at St, Boniface Church in San Francisco. Although Hoang was busy and productive during these years, his promise to return to Asia to help those in need was never far from his mind. His assignment at St. Boniface would give him the opportunity to make good on that promise.
“When I came to San Francisco, I found a group of Vietnamese people in the Bay Area who were helping the poor in Vietnam,” Father Hoang recounts. “This was in 2003, and I’ve been involved with them ever since.”
In July 2008, then-Franciscan Provincial Minister Mel Jurisich, OFM, agreed to allow Hoang to engage in this ministry full time. Originally called Franciscan Charity-Hoi Bac, it is now officially known as Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico-Franciscan Charity. As both its name and the religious calling of its director indicate, the nonprofit organization has a strong Franciscan character. Its scope, however, extends far beyond serving a Catholic population, something crucial in Vietnam, a country of more than 90 million people, less than eight percent of whom are Catholic.
Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico offers direct, material relief to the people of Vietnam and Cambodia, with a special focus on the poor mountainous regions of both countries. Volunteers and staff provide food, shelter, medical care, disaster assistance, job training and education to a broad range of dispossessed and marginalized persons. The Franciscan ministry extends a lifeline to some 300,000 a year. Since its founding in 2003, the organizations has served nearly 2.5 million poor and destitute people.
The specific services offered by Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico-Franciscan Charity are as varied as the needs and challenges of the people it assists. Within the medical realm, the Franciscan Charity has provided life-saving heart surgeries, eye operations, and a broad range of medications to literally thousands of people a year. Foot-operated wheelchairs and bicycles are donated to thousands more.
True to the original intent of Father Hoang, the organization is particularly solicitous of disadvantaged youth and orphans, one of the region’s most vulnerable population segments. And in the tradition of the saint who inspired the ministry, Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico-Franciscan Charity offers assistance to lepers. In the year 2011 alone, Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico provided loving care to nearly 10 thousand victims of leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease.
Whenever possible, medical services are provided pro bono by local doctors. Father Hoang and the board of Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico-Franciscan Charity meet regularly to assess how they can most effectively serve the needs of the Vietnamese and Cambodian people. They are assisted by hundreds of volunteers in San Francisco, Southeast Asia and various states through the U.S. Father Hoang is quick to give credit to his creative, hardworking board and dedicated volunteers, without whom he admits the important ministry of Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico-Franciscan Charity could not be accomplished.
For his own part, Hoang has poured his heart and soul into the project, devoting about seventy-five percent of his time to the Franciscan Charity. He sees his work among the poor of Vietnam and Cambodia springing from his first vocation, that of a vowed Franciscan.
“I am first and foremost a friar,” he says. “While I’m blessed to be able to work with the poor in Vietnam and elsewhere, I owe so much to my brothers and sisters in the Franciscan family. I am fortunate to be able to fulfill my Franciscan ministry in a way that brings me back to my deepest goal, and that is to give back for the many blessings that I have received in my life.”
It’s a goal that Hoang clearly has met – and continues to meet. Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico-Franciscan Charity has been able to make a profound difference in the lives of thousands of children and poor people in Vietnam and Cambodia. Hoang is involved in all aspects of the charity, from fundraising to marketing to direct, personal interaction with those receiving care. And his work has borne much fruit: The humble organization that first began 2003 has blossomed into one of the largest Vietnamese charities based in the United States. Hoang and his colleagues have taken advantage of a globalized environment, shrewdly using a new world order to improve the lives of people half way around the planet.
Hoang is pleased with what he and Hoi Bac Ai Phanxico-Franciscan Charity have been able to accomplish, although he acknowledges much more remains to be done. Above all, Father Hoang Trinh approaches his globalized ministry and Franciscan calling from a standpoint of love and gratitude.
“l’m thankful that the friars are so supportive, not only of the work that I do, but also the creative work that so many of my Franciscan brothers and sisters do every day,” he says. “The foundation of being a friar is about more than service; it’s about bringing love and being in communion with one another.”
After retiring from a career with The Gap clothing store, Stanley Raggio joined the administrative office of the Franciscan Province of St. Barbara, serving as provincial advisor for temporal affairs. A native of San Francisco, Stan has donated professional expertise to a number of San Francisco-based nonprofit institutions, including St. Ignatius High School and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He can be reached through The Way.
Posted on 08. Dec, 2013 by admin.
Bro. Mark wrote a letter to Pope Francis in support of the 13 religious groups that asked Pope Francis to rescind the Papal Bulls of the 15th century. The Papal Bulls justified violence against the indigenous people of North America by allowing Spain and Portugal to take unclaimed lands and capture and enslave non-Christians.
Here is the text of the letter:
December 2, 2013
00120 Vatican City
To our Brother Francis,
I am the Animator of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation for two OFM Franciscan provinces in the western United States—St. Barbara Province and Our Lady of Guadalupe Province. We call our joint project: Franciscans for Justice.
I want to add our concerns with many other religious groups that you rescind the Papal Bulls of 1452 and 1493, which are known as the Doctrine of Discovery. Both our provinces have many friars ministering day in and day out with Native Americans. We have a long history of supporting the dignity of each person through our ministry and outreach.
World-wide press has highlighted your upholding the rights and dignity of indigenous peoples throughout Latin America. Now you have the opportunity to reach out to those in North America.
Thank you for the challenging actions and statements you have made so far in your papacy—standing up and speaking out for Justice!
peace and all good!
Mark Schroeder, O.F.M.
Franciscans for Justice
1112 26th St.
Sacramento CA 95816
To download the letter, click here!
Posted on 21. Nov, 2013 by admin.
The following article is by Donna Graham, OSF from the Province of St. John the Baptist in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Has Earth Reached Its Threshold?
Oct. 31, 2013
If you haven’t been concerned about the impact of climate change, here’s a statistic that might change your mind. This year our planet reached an alarming milestone. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on May 2, for the first time in more than 3 million years, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) registered a daily average reading of over 400 parts per million (ppm). This occurred at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii where the Keeling family has maintained the longest record of atmospheric CO2 monitoring. When they began in 1958 the CO2 level was 316 ppm. The Mauna Loa Observatory has been an important location for CO2 monitoring because the sampled air is clean and blows thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean. CO2 levels have temporarily reached 400 ppm before, but this was the first time the level was recorded as the average reading for an entire day. Carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere contributes to the increase in the global temperature. The primary source of CO2 is the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas.
To put this in perspective, the last time the planet experienced levels over 400 ppm humans had not yet evolved, the Canadian Arctic had forests instead of ice, and the land bridge connecting North and South America had only recently formed. The planet’s temperature then was about 5-7˚ F warmer and the oceans were 60-80 feet higher than today. (You’ve probably seen pictures of how much of Manhattan, Florida, and other coastlines would be under water at these levels.) Human civilization developed in a geologic era where CO2 levels were never above 300 ppm. According to Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, “We are creating a prehistoric climate in which human societies will face huge and potentially catastrophic risks. Only by urgently reducing global emissions will we be able to avoid the full consequences of turning back the climate clock by 3 million years.”
Scientists expect CO2 levels to continue rising if serious efforts are not made to curb them. Many governments however, including our own, fail to see the urgency in addressing the crisis. As a matter of fact, The Investigative Reporting Workshop found that as of July 1 of this year, 411 state and federal politicians have signed an agreement initiated by fossil fuel magnates Charles and David Koch in which they promise to “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.” And government revenue, i.e. taxes, is essential to regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Industries aren’t likely to do it voluntarily.
Scientists are alarmed at the fast-paced rise of emission levels. Though it may take several years for the average global concentration to reach 400 ppm, according to EcoWatch, the planet is on track to reach 1,000 ppm in 100 years if the present rate continues. Scientific American tells us that the international community has agreed that 450 ppm, which would cause a global rise of 3.6˚ F, should not be exceeded. But we are not taking steps to avoid that limit.
Some consequences of years of global warming are obvious: Glaciers and sea ice melting; Sea levels rising; Acidic oceans killing coral reefs; Increased moisture in the air creating more severe hurricanes, storms and typhoons; Higher temperatures (2012 was the warmest year on record); Droughts and fires. But many other consequences may not be as noticeable. The rising ocean temperatures disrupt ecosystems. For example, with warmer ocean waters, fish and lobsters are known to be migrating north, taking with them the livelihood of fishermen. Cross-breeding of polar bears and brown bears has been seen in the Arctic at an accelerated rate. As sea ice melts, polar bears are forced ashore to regions becoming more hospitable to brown bears. This is also happening with whales and porpoises, as those living in the North Pacific and Atlantic Oceans can now migrate into the Arctic Ocean. In fact, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Nature, there are 34 actual or possible climate change hybridizations of Arctic and near Arctic mammals. The problem with this is that the hybridization could mean the end of a species, much as Neanderthals faded away with the arrival of the early humans in Europe.
Agricultural zones are also changing. Scientists predict that if the present warming trend continues, by 2050 trees in the Arctic will cover 50% more land area than now. The tree cover will replace areas where shrubs now grow, shrubs will grow in areas now covered by tundra plants like lichen and moss, and some ice-covered areas will become tundra. In a few areas of Canada, Alaska, and Russia shrubs have already taken root in areas that were formerly frozen tundra. Again there is the danger of some plant species becoming extinct if they can’t migrate quickly enough to match the change in the vegetation zones. Also troubling is the reality that snow and ice reflect radiation, while the darker vegetation absorbs it. A shift to more land covered by dark vegetation rather than ice will accelerate global warming even further, which will in turn melt more ice and continue the destructive cycle.
The shifting of vegetation zones significantly impacts the food chain. Animals migrate to where they find food. We humans are affected, too, as the local food we are accustomed to might no longer grow in our region, affecting farmers and consumers alike.
Even transportation is affected, and the U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is working to help transit agencies protect themselves from the effects of climate change. The Northeast United States, home to four of the country’s seven largest public transit systems, is forecast to receive the largest increase in rain intensity in the decades to come. This brings the threat of increased storms, and we saw what Hurricane Sandy did on the East Coast! Rising sea levels, flooding, landslides, mudslides, damage to bridges, signs, etc., can be expected. The quality of life of future generations is seriously at risk.
Even more frightening are the consequences of melting ice caps! The polar ice has been preserving numerous life forms for eons, trapped since before humans ever walked the planet. According to The Daily Climate, huge amounts of bacteria and other microbes have been kept in suspended animation for some 750,000 years, maybe even as long as 8 million years! What will happen if and when they are released? Scientists have found living bacteria in ice cores 420,000 years old and have been able to grow them in their laboratory. Scott Rogers, an evolutionary biologist at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University tells us, “So if [viruses] can survive in the ice, they could come back at a time when the population is naïve again and hasn’t been exposed to that particular genotype.” Another Andromeda Strain perhaps? While scientists do not actually expect epidemics, and Rogers says the chances are “close to zero”, they just can’t be sure what the effect will be of releasing these life forms from the polar ice.
Also, the cells and carbon dumped from the melting glaciers will decompose and release CO2 and methane as they decay, adding to global warming. And the microorganisms that will be dumped into the sea could upset the ocean’s balanced ecosystem.
If we don’t change our ways, our planet is on track to reach an average global CO2 concentration of 400 ppm or more, returning to a prehistoric climate that predates the arrival of humans! The implications of this are enormous. There is almost total agreement among scientists that we humans are causing this alarming trend by our ever growing energy consumption. As such, we have the responsibility to turn it around. We each need to work to lower our own carbon footprint by decreasing our energy usage. But we must also urge our city, state, and federal government officials to take the necessary steps and to work with the world community to stem the escalation of CO2 in the atmosphere. The fate of future generations is in our hands!
Posted on 21. Nov, 2013 by admin.
On November 7th, JPIC animators for the English Speaking Conference of OFM Franciscans took time out of their meeting in Cincinnati, OH to visit John Boehner’s West Chester, OH office. They delivered a letter making clear Franciscans’ ongoing commitment to immigration reform. You can view the press release by clicking below and you can view letter by clicking here.
Posted on 21. Nov, 2013 by admin.
The following is from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service:
Finally, a bill we can SUPPORT!
Sen. Markey’s first Senate bill:
The American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act
Act now to build support for this far-reaching, far-sighted plan to bring our nation’s energy policy into the 21st century!
November 8, 2013
It isn’t often we get the opportunity to actually support a bill in the U.S. Congress. We’re usually fighting off taxpayer funding for new nukes, or some demonic radioactive waste scheme hatched in some nuclear lobbyists’ smoke-filled room and brought to an embracing Congressional committee.
So I’m very excited to tell you about Sen. Ed Markey’s first Senate bill: The American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act (S. 1627).
This bill would set a national Renewable Energy Standard and a national Energy Efficiency standard–both long overdue and both without nuclear power. Under the bill, utilities would have to provide 25% of their power from renewable sources by 2025. In addition, electric utilities would have to save the equivalent of 15% of their sales from efficiency measures by that date, while natural gas utilities would have to save 10% of their sales. Plus, the bill includes extra measures to support distributed generation technologies like rooftop solar and small wind.
and ask your Senators to co-sponsor this important legislation.
We’ve set up the same action on MoveOn.Org here. Use whichever Action page you like better, but make sure you use at least one of them!
According to an analysis of the bill prepared for Sen. Markey’s office, S. 1627 would:
*Create more than 400,000 jobs
*Lead to energy efficiency improvements that will save the average American household $39 annually. Cumulative consumer savings through 2030 would be nearly $90 billion
*Spur more than $200 billion in new capital investments in renewable energy technology, leading to nearly a quadrupling of renewable electricity production by 2025
*Reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 480 million metric tons annually by 2025, the equivalent output of 120 coal-fired power plants.
We hope you’ll agree this is a rare bill worthy of your and NIRS’ support, as we have joined other DC-based groups, like Sierra Club, UCS, NRDC, Environment America and more in endorsing this legislation.
But since this is Washington, there are of course caveats.
For one, it’s not a perfect bill. A perfect bill would bring about a nuclear-free carbon-free energy system before mid-century. But no one has ever introduced such a bill, and S. 1627 is the best first step toward that goal that we’ve seen.
For another, as we said, this is Washington, DC 2013. This bill is not going to pass this session, not through this dysfunctional, cynical, mean-spirited Congress.
But things will change; they’re already changing. The cost and deployment advantages of clean energy are becoming too great to ignore–even in the Halls of Congress. After all, depending on which poll you look at, anywhere from 70% to about 85% of the American people want more renewable energy. Right now is when we must lay the groundwork for massive and growing popular support for this bill.That’s why we’re asking you to take a moment to support S. 1627 and ask your Senators–no matter how neanderthal you think they may be–to co-sponsor the bill.
You’ve probably noticed that there has been basically no media about this bill–in fact, this is likely the first time you’ve heard about it. So we’re also asking you to share the Action Page(where you send an e-mail to your senators) with as many people as possible, so we can spread the word as far as possible that yes, there is some energy legislation in Washington DC that deserves public support.
Want more info?
Here is a press release on the bill from Sen. Markey.
Here is a summary of the bill.
Here is the full text of the bill (before it received the number S. 1627).