Clues on What to Expect During Pope Francis’ Visit to NYC

July 14th, 2015
Pope From Rome

AFP photo / Vincenzo Pintovincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

During one of the Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff, on-the-plane news conferences that have become a hallmarks of his pontificate, he continues to make history on his flight back from Paraguay to Rome.

And as we parse his words, we begin to get an idea of what can we expect from this humble but bold Pope when he visits our Gotham City this September.

Kevin Clarke, a reporter for the Washington Post, writes today that:

Pope Francis is not interested in changing political or economic systems, but in changing hearts, in acts of personal conversion that can lead to social transformation. He is not calling just for better mitigation of the suffering of the poor or reforms of global markets, but change which is redemptive for everyone.

His is a revolution of conscience that “saves” the tiny percentage of the world’s rich from the spiritual morass of materialism as much as it rescues billions around the world from the blunt deprivations of poverty.

He has come not to profess socialism, but to proclaim a social moral principle: that a just economic order—one well within our reach—is one that serves people and protects the earth, not one that exhausts people and creation as disposable economic inputs.

We embrace Pope Francis’ mission at Catholic Charities.  For more than a century we have rebuilt lives and touched every human need promptly, locally, day in and day out.

We applaud you, Pope Francis.  We welcome you.  And we look forward to your visit.

The Number One Skill for Immigrant’s Success: English

July 13th, 2015
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Practicing English at Catholic Charities International Center

The premier Spanish-language newspaper “El Diario” turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services, C. Mario Russell, for regular updates on immigration reform.

In this latest issue of El Diario, Mario takes on the key skill for immigrant success.

By C. Mario Russell

There are so many reasons why immigrants are important. They sustain the diversity of this nation, they create businesses critical for the health of the economy, and they contribute to the wealth and welfare of our society.  But underpinning all this is one vital skill they need in order to make these things happen: the ability to communicate in English.

Immigrant parents need English so they can become involved with their children’s education; according to the National Institutes of Health, the level of a mother’s literacy skills is the most important factor affecting a child’s literacy. Workers need English so they can obtain jobs that pay a living wage; it is no accident that the unemployment rate for adults with low literacy is twice that of literate workers. Entrepreneurs need English so they can navigate the bureaucracy involved in starting their own businesses.  Students need English so they can finish their secondary education and go to college. This education benefits all of us. Each worker with a high school credential generates $324,000 in net benefits for the New York City and will rely less on public benefits and contribute more in taxes.

But what is being done to support immigrants who want to learn English? How are so many individuals with different English learning needs finding help? One progressive program, the Catholic Charities International Center in Manhattan, is designed precisely to meet the challenge of giving culturally, socioeconomically, and linguistically diverse students instruction at their level to achieve the same goal: to learn English and develop a greater understanding of American life.

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Catholic Charities Statement on Child Welfare

July 11th, 2015


Recently, the media has given attention to the care being provided to children in the New York foster care system. The important issues raised will be dealt with over the next months. Hopefully, these will be handled appropriately for the sake of the vulnerable children being cared for.

For well over a century, Catholic agencies have been meeting the needs of neglected, abandoned and orphaned children in New York. Currently, affiliates of the Catholic Charities Federation of agencies provide foster care services to thousands of children each night. I have often visited these programs, met with their Executive and Board leadership and witnessed the work of their talented staff. .. I wish to note and support their dedicated work.

Our agencies remain committed to providing quality care to these kids and their families. This includes promptly developing plans that move children from temporary care  to permanent homes as quickly and as safely as possible. Our agencies support parents and other caregivers to address and overcome the challenges that caused their children to be placed in foster care.   Our agencies work   with government partners and other groups to advocate for appropriate resources and support so these vulnerable New Yorkers can be effectively served.

As high quality as these services are, our agencies are committed to strong quality improvement programs to further enhance these services. The welfare of those entrusted to their care necessitates nothing less.

It would be my hope, and prayer, that fewer and fewer children experience the pain and hurt that requires their placement in foster care. While we strive toward that end, I am very grateful for the dedicated work of our Catholic Charities agencies that provide such quality compassionate care to thousands of vulnerable children.


Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Inside Scoop From Former Immigrant Teen

July 10th, 2015


By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities’ own Migration Counselor Elvis Garcia Callejas was invited with a group of immigrants and refugees to participate in the national 2015 Migrant and Refugee Leadership Academy held last month in Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Only 85 people were chosen for this three-day conference.   And only eight, including Elvis, were chosen to meet at the White House with top government officials.

The conference goal was to train future leaders to advocate for laws that provide protections for immigrants and refugees.  Elvis and his group of eight then met with officials about immigration policies and the role the U.S. should take protecting these vulnerable populations.

Elvis’ selection was sweeter still because he once was a teenage migrant alone in the U.S.  Now he helps new arrivals who face struggles similar to his.

After the conference Elvis shared his background with Robert Carey, director of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Fifteen years old, hungry and alone, Elvis hitched rides, scrambled atop freight trains and dragged himself through deserts for 1,200 miles to reach his promised land, the United States.  His native Honduras had turned into a wasteland where teenage gangs held shootouts on village streets.

“Coming to the U.S. all by myself at the age of 15 was really tough, but I was lucky to have help from so many great people and organizations,” Elvis told Mr. Carey. “I’m proud to now work for Catholic Charities, who with the help of ORR, make sure unaccompanied children know their rights and are able to access protection under US law. From personal experience, I know how important this support is.”

Civics 101

July 9th, 2015

20150629-DSC_0839-676x385By Yvonne Marcotte

Epoch Times

“If you were asked, “What is the ‘rule of law’?” you might respond with a blank stare,” writes Yvonne Marcotte in the international Epoch Times.

…The exam can be intimidating but the Office for New Americans ONA is there to help. Teaching U.S. history is one of the many services (ONA) offers so immigrants can pass the test required for citizenship.

“We want to encourage people that the exam is doable,” says Shannon Kelly, associate director for Hudson Valley Services of Catholic Charities.

(Catholic Charities Program and Volunteer Coordinator) Jennifer Ramirez coordinates the state-sponsored program Office for New Americans, located at the Catholic Charities office in Newburgh, N.Y. Ramirez says ONA not only prepares immigrants for the citizenship exam, but also offers classes in English, and gives entrepreneurship seminars on a regular basis throughout the year for those who want to start a business.

New York has 4.2 million immigrants within its borders, and one in four New Yorkers of working age are foreign-born, according to the ONA website.

To accommodate this valued workforce, the Newburgh ONA provides outreach to tell immigrants how ONA can help.

…An amazing 31 percent of business owners in New York are immigrants, and immigrant business owners generate $12.6 billion in business revenue for the state, according to ONA.

ONA provides assistance in developing job skills through entrepreneurial seminars. …Ramirez says a tough task for many immigrants is learning English.  Jessica Lazo, Catholic Charities migration counselor, is on staff to provide one-on-one coaching.

…So, what is the rule of law? You’d be right if you answered “everyone must follow the law,” “leaders must obey the law,” “government must obey the law,” or “no one is above the law.”

Read the full story in Epoch Times.

Why I’m Running the NYC Marathon with Team Catholic Charities

July 8th, 2015

Our Team Catholic Charities NYC Marathon runners train for months.  They rise when the rest of us are still sound asleep to jog through snow, sun and sweat.

Now, with less than four months to go until the Big Day – the TCS NYC Marathon 2015 – let’s find out what inspires someone to take on this grueling 26-mile run? 

Each of our 12 Team Catholic Charities NYC Marathon runners has a different answer.

Today, let’s here from Reid Whiting.

By Reid Whiting

I will be running my sixth marathon on Sunday, Nimage001-1ovember 1, five of which have come at the celebration of New York City known as the NYC Marathon.

I continue to run the NYC Marathon due to the pageantry and excitement that is omnipresent throughout the streets of the five boroughs and seen in the faces of each and every runner and spectator on that magical first Sunday of November.

This year, however, will be a particularly special NYC Marathon for me, running for the first time as a member of Team Catholic Charities.

I heard about Catholic Charities through an organization through which I mentor an inspiring teenager and was instantly taken aback by the wealth of assistance and hope Catholic Charities provides for millions of people each year, regardless of their religious, social or economic background.  Catholic Charities’ central mission to reduce poverty by providing services to people in need, advocating for justice in social structures and calling for others to do the same is what I will be running in support of in November.

I hope you will support the same by donating to this great cause!  Thank you for your generosity!  Now, back to training …

Support Reid’s run on Crowdrise.

Healing with Mosaics

July 7th, 2015


By Alice Kenny

Broken children served by Astor, a Catholic Charities affiliated agency that serves children in need, are pasting broken glass into mosaics. Together, they are beginning to mend.

“There is a healing quality in putting fragmented products into a whole,” says Roberta Andersen.

Ms. Andersen has been helping children create mosaics at Astor Residence for the past 15 years. Many of the children struggle with emotional and psychological problems. These problems make it difficult to experience the simple everyday pleasures of being a child.

So Astor uses art, along with therapies and support to reach them. In their last mosaic project, children, guided by Ms. Andersen and Astor Art Therapist Kathleen Gavin, created a huge bright yellow sunflower.

To make it, they combined ceramic pieces into three separate layers of glass. Each layer was heated in a kiln at different temperatures and then fused together. This varied each layers’ texture and added, Andersen says, to the children’s enjoyment as they moved their hands over their creation.

“We wanted the sunflower mosaic to be a strong, uplifting image of color and light,” Ms. Andersen adds.

The sunflower mosaic now hangs proudly on a residence hallway wall.

Find out more details from Astor Development Associate, Carly Hertica, on The Astor blog.

$25K Swindled From Recent Immigrants

July 6th, 2015


In one of the latest publicized examples of immigrants preyed on by swindlers, Hispanic couple Jorge and Gloria were scammed out of $25,000, reports Telemundo in a recent televised news program.

“Immigrants meet with notarios and other people who tell them that they are qualified to adjust their status and nothing happens in the end,” Catholic Charities attorney Johana Vega tells Telemundo’s on-air reporter Liz Gonzalez.

In this latest case, Telemundo reports:

Vivi Nandalai, 49 years old, admitted to larceny after presenting supposedly official identification documents to a Hispanic couple.

She apparently claimed that she worked for the department of motor vehicles. And that she could get them drivers’ licenses and resident cards. And she charged them $25,000 in cash!

Catholic Charities, fortunately, runs the New York State New Americans Hotline and through that hotline, they are able to tell callers how and where to verify whether or not they are dealing with a real attorney and/or a person with the right credentials to help them with their immigration cases. In addition, the hotline is able to refer callers to the right non-profit organization that can provide them with free or low cost assistance.

…Please keep the following in mind:

·         Never pay in cash.

·         Always ask for payment receipts.

·    Always require contracts to be in your own language.

·    Call the immigration helpline at: 1-800-566-7636

Wonder what happened to the swindler?

Watch this televised report in Spanish on Telemundo.

Happy Fourth of July

July 3rd, 2015


Celebrate dignity.

Celebrate independence.

Celebrate the holiday!

Happy Fourth of July from Catholic Charities!

Inside Scoop on Pope Francis’ NYC Visit

July 2nd, 2015


By Alice Kenny

Details are surfacing about the upcoming historic visit by Pope Francis to the U.S.

And Catholic Charities is here to share them with you!

 The Pope’s whirlwind visit, scheduled from Sept. 23-27, touches down in Washington D.C..  It moves to NYC.  And it culminates in Philadelphia.

Here in New York, Kathryn Lopez reports in National Review,

The pope will be visiting a Catholic Charities center…to see how ‘strangers’ are welcomed in the city (by a church that was built by immigrants), as Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities in New York put it.”

 Adding more details, this time about Pope Francis’ visit to those served by Catholic Charities in Washington DC, Matt Hadro reports in Catholic Online,

“The Pope will visit the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities branch where he will meet with homeless persons attending the charity’s weekly St. Maria’s Meal program, blessing the food.”

 Pope Francis, since his election, has made solidarity with the poor and the defense of immigrants his towering priorities. His determination to spend time with those served by Catholic Charities during his short trip along the East Coast comes as no surprise, says Msgr. Sullivan.

“This is so appropriate,” Msgr. Sullivan says.  “So many of our agencies day in and day out serve newcomers to our country with a wide range of services..Our food pantries feed immigrant children…Refugee are helped with resettlement…Fearful immigrants are aided in how to avoid exploitation and fraud.  Families are reunited.”

Check out Pope Francis’ full itinerary in Catholic Online.

Read CrossStreets as we continue to bring you breaking news on Pope Francis’ upcoming visit!