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Catholic Voice
May 9, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Bishop Barber joins walk
against violence

Brentwood parish learns
about human trafficking

Unsung heroes
Catholic Charities invites all
to 'give meaning to mercy'

In October, Bianca, Mico, Bernice and Marco Villa-Real got good news at a CCEB workshop on immigration: They qualified for U.S. citizenship.

Catholic Charities of the East Bay has reached into the pews over the past year, partnering with parishes to:

• Help resettle refugees in the Bay Area.

• Become the driving force behind efforts to fight human trafficking, including educational programs at all parishes and preparing for the establishment of a safe house for young victims of human trafficking;

• Bring people face-to-face with its mission, through the "Transforming Lives" tour at its Oakland campus.

• Put their skills as translators, lawyers and runners to work helping immigrants fill out the paperwork to fulfill the dream of becoming U.S. citizens.

'Give Meaning to Mercy'
Annual collection for Catholic Charities of the East Bay
When: May 14-15 in parishes
Or use the envelope in May 9th issue of The Catholic Voice
The annual collection for Catholic Charities — "Give Meaning to Mercy" — will be taken up in parishes May 14-15. It won't be a hard sell at parishes such as St. Raymond in Dublin, which in February became the first parish to send smiling representatives, red-white and blue balloons and little American flags to the airport to greet a refugee family through a partnership with Catholic Charities. Or at All Saints in Hayward, where a human trafficking information session not only drew more than 50 people but has led to a follow-up action to dig deeper at trafficking's roots.

In the Diocese of Oakland, there are "84 parishes that have unbelievable talent and skill to help us be more successful as the church in the streets," said Steve Mullin, parish outreach manager at Catholic Charities. "Our goal is to tap that energy and spirit."

With 500 people — 80 in Alameda alone — already signed up to assist with resettling refugee families, and an additional 500 signed up for more information on how to help with the efforts to end human trafficking and establish the safe house, that mercy is already palpably meaningful.

The addition of all these helping hands, Mullin said, "makes us a better church."

What's also heartening is that many of the people stepped forward to help say that they have not been involved before.

Catholic Charities' three-pronged mission — welcome the stranger, heal trauma and foster self-sufficiency — continues to grow. Its team of attorneys, for example, eagerly awaits the Supreme Court decision, expected in June, on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.

Catholic Charities is exploring partnerships with other social service organizations in Eastern Contra Costa County to provide much-needed services in an area hard hit by poverty. A restorative justice program that has proved to cut suspensions in the West Contra Costa schools will be unveiled in the Oakland schools, under the title, Experience Hope.

A team of 29 speakers, including priests, deacons and laypeople, are at the ready to go to parishes to speak about sex trafficking of minors and the responses of the Catholic Church. Talks in Vietnamese, Spanish and English are available; more than a dozen talks have been given.

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