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    DAI Parishes 'Welcome the Stranger' and Combat Fear

    In the face of increasingly public deportation threats, DAI's parish strategy to 'welcome the stranger' has translated into an array of actions designed to combat fear and fortify relationships between individuals, families, communities and religious institutions.  Teams of parish leaders are organizing events that include citizenship screenings, Diocesan-certified parish identification cards, health fairs (like the one in photo above) and 'Know Your Rights' sessions.   

    According to Lead Organizer Josephine Lopez-Paul, the church is working to dispel fear and to build community amidst a climate that breeds isolation. 

    Trump's Anti-Immigration Rhetoric is Meant to Instill Fear, Not for Enforcement, Advocates SayAmerica [pdf]

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  • Sr. Christine Stephens: 1940-2019

    Sister Christine Stephens, CDP entered eternal life on July 18, 2019 at the age of 78. She was the younger of two daughters born to Walter Irving and Frances Louise (Bulian) Stephens. She was born December 22, 1940 in Austin, Texas and was given the Baptismal name, Mary Christine. She entered the Congregation of Divine Providence on September 7, 1962 and professed first vows as a Sister of Divine Providence on June 22, 1964. Sister Christine graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics prior to entering Our Lady of the Lake Convent. She later earned a Master of Arts in History from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

    Sister Christine attributes her faith formation to her parents who set the example of perseverance and seeking justice for one’s family and community. Her father was a member of the pipe fitters union. This foundation served Sister Christine in her first seven years as a teacher, then as a social worker for eight years, and expanded and deepened when she became an organizer 45 years ago.

    Sister Christine did not choose organizing as a ministry, it chose her. She was spotted by her now close friend and mentor, Ernesto Cortés, Jr., who said it was her anger that caught his attention. That was the first time she viewed her anger in a positive light. The work of justice was at the heart of her ministry and her life. Her work with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) was the vehicle to funnel her anger against injustice.

    Sister Christine’s commitment to identifying, training and transforming leaders and organizers throughout the country worked to bring millions of dollars for water and waste water to the colonias along the Texas/New Mexico Border, instrumental in developing the Alliance School strategy that impacted hundreds of schools across the country, plus the creation of nationally renowned job training programs modeled after Project QUEST in San Antonio. 

    Her advocacy work during the past four decades in her various roles, as National IAF Co-Director and Supervisor of organizations across the IAF Network will be greatly missed. Her organizing career began with The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) in Houston where she was a founder, followed by Lead Organizer of C.O.P.S. in San Antonio and Dallas Area Interfaith.

    She enjoyed seeing ordinary leaders who worked across multi faith traditions, economic lines and race to do extraordinary things in their communities. She breathed and lived the Gospel values of justice and leaves a legacy to be continued. She had an enduring faith in the values of democracy.

    She is survived by her sister Sarah Howell, and all her Sisters of Divine Providence. She is also survived by her niece Angela Duhon (William), their children, Emma and Nathaniel. She was preceded in death by her parents Walter and Frances Stephens.

    The Rosary and Wake were Thursday, July 25, 2019 and Mass of Resurrection on Friday, July 26, 2019.  All services were held in Sacred Heart Chapel, next to Our Lady of the Lake Convent Center in San Antonio, Texas.

    In lieu of flowers, you may make a memorial contribution to the Sisters of Divine Providence, 515 S.W. 24th Street, San Antonio, TX 78207-4619.

    Christine Stephens Worked to 'Help Others Advocate for Themselves,' Austin American Statesman [pdf]

    Sister Christine Passes AwayRio Grande Guardian [pdf]

    Christine Stephens, COPS/Metro Alliance Leader, Remembered for her Faith, Sense of JusticeRivard Report

    Stephens was an Early COPS OrganizerSan Antonio Express-News [pdf]

    Obituaries: 

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  • Parish IDs Bring Relief to Immigrant Communities

    This summer marks one year since the Catholic Diocese of Dallas delineated basic requirements for parish identification cards to be made available to parishioners who lack access to state-issued IDs.  Since then, 20 Catholic parishes have embraced the strategy, organizing teams of lay leaders who help screen applicants and issue the parish identification cards according to Diocesan standards.  Parish IDs are now accepted by four police departments in North Texas: Carrollton, Dallas, Farmers Branch and Mesquite.  Acceptance by these police departments was first negotiated in 2017 in collaboration with Dallas Area Interfaith.

    Since then, says Rev. Jesus Belmontes, the IDs have brought relief to a vulnerable community.  The acceptance of these cards by the police communicates that "they want to protect us rather than harm us.  This is a ray of light that, little by little, has the potential to enlighten us all."    

    Parish IDs Bring Relief to Immigrant CommunityDallas Catholic Magazine

    ID Parroquiales Traen Alivio a Comunidad InmigranteRevista Católica 

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  • DAI Leaders Travel to Capitol to Call for Increase State Funding of K-12 & Adult Education

    Close to 70 DAI leaders joined hundreds of Texas IAF leaders at the Capitol to call on state legislators to increase state finance of adult and K-12 education. 

    After a morning briefing on school finance, the Texas Innovative Career Education (ACE) program and other issues -- including healthcare, payday lending, and infrastructure in the colonias -- leaders were honored for their establishment of noteworthy labor market intermediaries, including Skill Quest.  Immediately afterward, they convened on the South Capitol steps.  Five state legislators representing North Texas stood in solidarity with leaders and pledged to continue working for investments in people, including Victoria Neave (HD 107), Terry Meza (HD 105), Julie Johnson (HD 115), John Turner (HD 115), and Ana Ramos (HD 102).  

    In photo above, Bill Dehaas from Trinity Catholic Church and DAI energizes the crowd of leaders from sister organizations, including TMO in Houston, San Antonio (COPS/Metro), Central Texas / Austin Interfaith,  West Texas Organizing Strategy (WTOS), El Paso's Border Interfaith & EPISO, and the Rio Grande Valley (Valley Interfaith). 

    After the press conference, leaders broke out into smaller delegations to meet with legislators representing their geographic regions.     

    Organizations Call On State Legislators to Support Adult EducationUnivision 62 [Spanish video] 

    Piden a Legisladores Texanos Más Fondos Para Apoyar la Educación de AdultosUnivision 62 

    Valley Interfaith: State's Share of School Funding Has Dropped From 50% to Barely 36%Rio Grande Guardian  

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  • Bishop Gregory Kelly Joins 200 Parish Leaders at Spanish-Language Training

    200 Spanish-speaking parish leaders were joined by Bishop Gregory Kelly for the CCHD-sponsored 'Recognizing the Stranger' training in Dallas.  Launched in coordination with Catholic Diocese of Dallas, the Organizers Institute of the West/Southwest IAF and Dallas Area Interfaith, the training engaged delegations of leaders from 21 institutions in interactive sessions that focused on the mission of the Church and scriptural foundations for leadership.  Leaders will return to their parishes to hold listening sessions and work with other institutions to develop a city-wide plan of action.

    Program Trains Leaders to Put Faith Into Action, Texas Catholic

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