“Pray, Listen, Discern”: Reflections after a vigil

Triptych from our Tuesday night vigil outside Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral. Photo via Facebook page of Call To Action.

Triptych from our Tuesday night vigil outside Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. Photo via Facebook page of Call To Action.

On Tuesday evening, I gathered with a bunch of other folks to pray the rosary. We met on the wet, chilly sidewalk outside Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral.

The sky unloaded on us as we arrived. But the rain eased up, almost stopped, as we began the service. It is the kind of thing that happens when I pray in front of Holy Name.

The Human Rights Campaign and Call To Action co-sponsored our gathering. It was one of seven vigils scheduled during the Vatican’s Extraordinary Synod (Oct. 5-19) on “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The vigils call on the bishops to “Pray, Listen, Discern” with LGBT families.  Read more of this post

Honoring All Members of the Family

I was asked by our campus publication Compass to write an article/reflection on National Coming Out Day…below is the musing that was published.  Original link:  http://www.ohio.edu/compass/stories/14-15/10/national-coming-out-day.cfm

Oct. 11, 2014, marks the 26th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. The “holigay” started on Oct. 11, 1987, when half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Since its beginning National Coming Out Day is an opportunity for folks of minoritized or marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities to openly share who they are with the world while advocating that we all have the right to live safely and without violence in this world.

For the last few years, National Coming Out Day has coincided with OHIO’s Homecoming. The LGBT Center has played off “homecoming” by reflecting that coming out is a way of coming home to one’s self, one’s family, and one’s community.

On this upcoming Homecoming weekend, we invite all members of the Bobcat Family to come out whether as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender; or as asexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, intersex; or as a straight ally for coming out is not limited to just those of us who identify as LGBTQ or queer.

National Coming Out Day is also a time honor, remember, and affirm all who are in the closet who cannot come out for whatever reason. Our message to them is that they are not alone and have a community who is solidarity with them. In the words of queer athlete Brittney Griner, “don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”

The theme of this year’s Homecoming of “Bobcat Family Reunion” is festive but also one mixed with several conflicting emotions. For many of us within the LGBT community, family reunions can be awkward and hurtful due to the lack of support of the “gay cousin” or not acknowledging the queer relationship of “aunt so-and-so” or intentionally using the wrong name and pronoun for the sibling who came out as gender-nonconforming. Because of these dynamics, many of us here at OHIO have found ways to redefine family by creating our own “chosen” families in which we are able to safely and openly belong.

Our hope is that during our upcoming Bobcat Family Reunion, we are able to remember the words of civil rights activist and ally Dolores Huerta, “in the Latino community, we do not turn our back on our family … we have a responsibility to nurture the youth in our families, not to push them out because they happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.”

And so we call on ALL within our Bobcat Family—students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members, ALL Bobcats—to “come out come out wherever you are, to come out come out whoever you are.” ALL are welcome to join us on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. in Walter 135, to spark off the coming out celebrations with a performance by Harvey Katz (Athens Boys Choir).

ALL are welcome to come out with us on Friday, Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. in the Front Room for a National Coming Out Day Rally. All are welcome to join us, whether you are coming out for the first time or for the 1804th time or just want to be present.

As we celebrate Homecoming and National Coming Out Day with our Bobcat Family, may we embody with “bobcat rainbow warrior fierceness” the words of Harvey Milk, “you must come out … break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions … for your sake, for [all people's] sake, for the sake of the youngsters who are scared … all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or [gender] identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential … burst down those closet doors once and for all …”

delfin bautista is a member of the CTA 20/30 Leadership Team and the CTA Board of Directors; delfin is also a member of Dignity’s Young Adult Caucus and Trans Caucus.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University.  delfin “preaches” on their own blog Mi Lucha, Mi Pulpito and  is a contributor to the Young Adult Catholic Blog and to Believe Out Loud.

Talkin’ Bout A Revolution

“Now in the people that were meant to be green there is no more life of any kind. There is only shriveled barrenness. The winds are burdened by the utterly awful stink of evil, selfish goings-on. Thunderstorms menace. The air belches out the filthy uncleanliness of the peoples. The earth should not be injured! The earth must not be destroyed!” -Hildegard of Bingen
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Over 400,000 activists, both religious and secular, descended upon New York City last Sunday for the People’s Climate March. On Monday, over 1,000 activists attended the “Flood Wall Street” protests, which called for radical economic and structural change to end the climate crisis. These protestors gathered under the banner of “Structural Change, not Climate Change”. Refusing to accept small reforms as a solution, the protestors demanded complete economic and political revolution. In my opinion, the Catholic and Christian Left could take a page from Flood Wall Street’s book. Read more of this post

A day in the life on the “rocket docket”

Last month, the Daily Business Review published a story about the “rocket dockets” which have been adopted here in Miami and around the United States to push unaccompanied minors through the legal system. Four full-time judges and one part-time judge see up to 150 kids a day – as many as 60 cases per judge. So what does the “rocket docket” look like in action?

On Tuesday an Americans for Immigrant Justice colleague Tatiana and I went to Judge Dowell’s courtroom where there were 29 unaccompanied minor cases scheduled to be heard between 1:00 and 3:00 pm. Generally, the kids carried folders of official paperwork – notices of appearance, release paperwork from an Office of Refugee Resettlement Shelter, copies of a birth certificate or school registration – often carried in plastic grocery bags since it had been raining all day. Over and over, I watched the bewildered kids hand their plastic grocery bags of paperwork (much of it written in English legal-ese) to Tatiana and look to her for help when their cases were called.

Some children came to court to face the judge and government attorney alone, and some came accompanied by a family member, friend, or pastor. In the space of a few minutes, each child (through a Spanish-language court interpreter) confirmed their contact information, answered the judge’s questions, and was given a continuance in the space of a few minutes. Adding to the confusion was the fact that several Guatemalan kids spoke indigenous languages, were not fully proficient in Spanish, and had no access to interpretation.

After the hearings I took each child into an empty courtroom for a screening. My goal was to explain what had just happened in court, prepare a summary of their case, as well as to orient them to what their next steps should be.

Often, there were complicating issues. One of the kids has a sibling who is also in proceedings so I explained to the family member accompanying him that their cases could be consolidated so they wouldn’t have to drive from West Palm Beach to Miami separately. Several of the children had changed addresses so they needed to fill out and sign two copies of an English-language form – one for the government attorney and one for the court. While this is time-consuming, it’s important since communications from the court generally come through the mail. A missed letter could mean a missed court date and a deportation order given in absentia.

In general the kids were confused about what had just gone on in court and were looking for explanations. I explained I was there to help guide them through the initial phase of their court cases. I ensured they knew their next court date, gave them a list of legal service providers in South Florida, and warned them to be careful of notarios publicos who seek to take advantage of immigrants unfamiliar with the legal system and defraud them of money.

Then I moved onto the intake, a list of questions to determine if a child has experienced abuse, neglect or abandonment in the home country or if there is a credible fear of return. There wasn’t time to develop a rapport with the kids, so I conducted the interview in a straight-forward way, acknowledging that these are tough questions about potentially sensitive issues, but that their honest answers would help us determine their potential eligibility for legal status. My shorthand hastily-scribbled-in-Spanglish notes from the interviews included things like “quit school b/c multiple gang death threats;” “abandoned by dad, mom sick, minor supporting family;” “fears return, dad murdered by mara, held for ransom by narcos, attempted rape of mother, two US citizen sibs.” As soon as I finished one intake, there were more kids who had just had hearings waiting to be seen.

With so many kids in such a short period of time, it’s all kind of a blur but some stand out. The Honduran girl who wants to be a lawyer when she grows up. The Salvadoran boy who responded “because I have human dignity” when I asked why he left his home country. The fourteen-year-old Guatemalan orphan who asserted she wasn’t afraid when she rode La Bestia (the freight train through Mexico) because of her faith in God.

As Tatiana and I drove back from court, sorting through the docket and the stack of hand-written intake forms, I commented, “This is the legal equivalent of triage in an emergency room!”

With the sheer volume of cases and the overwhelming number of kids to be seen, all I could do is offer them a legal analog of first aid – offering resource handouts, taking the basics facts of their cases, informing them of how court proceedings work, getting their contact information to follow up if we can take or refer their cases.

We can’t agree to represent all of them at this time because we don’t have the resources, which is a disappointment to us and them. Deportation for these kids can be tantamount to a death sentence and those without legal representation are much more likely to be issued deportation orders. What we can do, however, is make the whole “rocket docket” process a little less scary and bewildering for the kids, most of whom are survivors of multiple traumas.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review claims that the expedited hearings will result in “fast and fair adjudication of cases before the agency.” If my experience at court this week is any indication, in spite of our triage efforts, the rocket dockets are certainly “fast” but far from “fair.”

About the author: Rhonda Miska is a partner in mission with the Sisters of the Humility of Mary

currently serving as a Legal Assistant with Americans for Immigrant Justice. She is a former Jesuit

Volunteer (Nicaragua, 2002-2004) and holds a master’s degree from the Boston College School of

Theology and Ministry. She can be reached at rhonda.youngadultcatholics@gmail.com

What Makes Someone Catholic Enough?

Old Men in Skirts and Womens Health

Last week, I did an interview with a reporter about why I believe the Catholic Church should allow “artificial” contraception, or perhaps even better, just stay out of the contraception discussion altogether. I dream of a world where the Church presents all the facts that might be relevant to Catholics making a moral decision, and then leaves that decision up to them.

In my interview, I cited marriage research that says more sex equals happier marriages, and that relying on NFP alone can lead to unnecessary and unhealthy sexual tension and resentment. I talked about framing the primary benefit of sex being its ability to cement a relationship and improve bonding rather than procreation, and how “unnatural” (not to mention somewhat cruel) it is to expect women to forgo sex when they want it most (during their fertile window) month after month after month, year after year after year, if a couple does not want to have children. And then I cited research about how “unwanted” (what a horrible word) and “mistimed” children suffer throughout their lives in contrast to their “wanted” counterparts.

I thought I’d made a pretty good showing. He asked some demographic questions, like my age, and how long I’d been married, and whether my husband was also Catholic.

Then he asked if I currently belonged to a Catholic parish.

Read more of this post

there’s something about mary

I was drawn to ENZA’s cover of Beyonce’s rendition of the Ave Maria. Just a girl and her voice, nothing more—much like the person whose life inspired the song. Who was this Mary of Galilee?   She has been at the center of controversy and many theological headaches as people try to figure out her place within doctrine.   Beyonce’s Ave Maria moves away from the intellectual conundrums and simply tells the story of a girl–a girl who was confused, lost, challenged, and yet filled with determination and faith to face whatever life brought her way.

According to tradition, Mary was from a poor farming community and was not formally educated. It is this woman, marginalized because of gender, class, and neighborhood, who was chosen to be a messenger of hope. Though art and scholarship tend to depict her as a delicate, submissive girl, her story is one of a woman who fights…who is strong…who takes charge…who does what is needed to fulfill a calling…who trusts without knowing all of the answers.

Like many of us, she did not know what challenges awaited her. She did not know she would be risking her life, she would ride a donkey while 9 months pregnant, that she would be exiled and become an undocumented immigrant, she did not know that her son would be rejected, humiliated and executed. Despite the not knowing, she took a chance…took a risk…got messy…and said bring it on embracing her life with gusto, boldness, determination, and chutzpah.

Whether you engage her story as just a mythological narrative or as actual events at the core of religious traditions, Mary’s story is one that many of us who are facing life’s uncertainties about jobs, vocational calling, relationships, and how to live with purpose can relate to. This poor, marginalized, Jewish mother is an inspiration for me in learning how to embrace life, on how not to give up, and on how to trust the journey bumps and all.   What does her story teach you?

delfin bautista is a member of the CTA 20/30 Leadership Team and the CTA Board of Directors; delfin is also a member of Dignity’s Young Adult Caucus and Trans Caucus.  delfin currently serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University.  delfin “preaches” on their own blog Mi Lucha, Mi Pulpito and  is a contributor to the Young Adult Catholic Blog and to Believe Out Loud.

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