Category Archives: Midterms 2022

A youtube screenshot showing peoples' faces

An Election-Time Prayer

An Election-Time Prayer

Sr. Erin Zubal, OSU
November 7, 2022

In the third episode of Just Politics podcast, our hosts discuss the importance of being a “Pope Francis Voter” and NETWORK Chief of Staff Sr. Erin Zubal offered this prayer.

Listen to the entire episode on  Apple | Google | Spotify.

O Lord,

We turn to you in these days before our country’s elections.

We know that your ways are not our ways and that your wisdom surpasses any human understanding.

We also know that – as a wise woman once said – the Holy Spirit does not have much use for comfort zones. And the systems and structures that we associate with stability and well being, we have also foolishly come to associate with permanence. Help us in our fear, and help us to see that we too, have a part to play.

We also believe that we are working to build up your kin-dom, and that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. And we know that, when chaos and lawlessness prevail, the most vulnerable among us suffer the most harm. Help us to feel the hope that encourages us to keep laboring, to keep building, to keep trusting in you.

Free us from the defeatism that says no amount of effort will ever make a difference. Save us from the cynicism that says people will do the wrong thing if it’s in their best interest.

Be with the people of our country as we contemplate the Signs of Our Times and discern our choice of elected leaders for the years ahead. Awaken in our souls a yearning for your tenderness and compassion manifested in the world. Spark in our hearts a solidarity for those who are most in need and pushed to the margins. Quench the destructive will to power and cultural dominance that too many of us have mistaken for your Good News.

Give us wisdom as we show up to vote.

May we see you at work in whatever happens. Reassure us with your faithfulness and the constancy found only in you. Surprise us with your lavish goodness.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, intercede for us.

Amen

What does it look like to vote for the common good

National Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters: Vote for the Common Good

We are called to participate in politics to promote the common good. What does it look like to vote for the common good? This conversation helps us understand how important it is to use our vote to make lives better in our communities.

Our Presenters

NETWORK’s Grassroots Mobilization team visually displays how walls are built by some politicians and corporations to divide us. The walls of division, held firm with racism, sexism, misinformation, etc., make our communities unsafe and let those who divide us rig the economy and politics for their benefit.

Our speakers explain how when we vote for the common good we can help knock down walls of division.  And, when we rely on Pope Francis’ teachings, lessons learned from lived experiences–ours and those of others, our shared values, and respect for all of the issues (not one single issue, like abortion or climate change) that respect life, we can help all in our beloved community thrive.

Speakers:

Take the Pope Francis Voter Pledge!

Commit to using your vote as your voice to protect our democracy and promote the common good!

 

You Watched the Town Hall, Now What Can You Do?

Register to watch an interfaith call for reparations to finally repair the harm that racist policy and laws unleashed during and after slavery.

Let the words of Pope Francis be a resource as you make your candidate or ballot-issue decisions. Download and share the Equally Sacred Checklist.

Don’t forget Georgia, your vote is your voice! Be a voter. Make a plan.
Help friends and family make their plans, too.

Keep Up with NETWORK

The Pope Francis Voter Tour Comes to Cleveland!

The Pope Francis Voter Tour Comes to Cleveland!

On October 18th, NETWORK’s Pope Francis Voter Tour stopped in Cleveland, OH and visited Esperanza Threads and hosted a Town Hall at Blessed Trinity Parish. At both the Site Visit and Town Hall, each speaker lifted up the power of community and connection. For three NETWORK staff members on tour — Eilis, Erin, and Julia — this stop was a homecoming and a chance to lift up the ministry of our community, parish, and hometown.

Founded by Sr. Mary Eileen Boyle, OSU in 1990, Esperanza Threads teaches low-income individuals how to sew industrially and works with local social service agencies and companies to place students in jobs. Many of the students at Esperanza Threads are former refugees who are looking for a job after having been resettled in Cleveland. For Eilis, this site visit was like coming full-circle. Prior to joining the staff at NETWORK, she ministered in refugee resettlement and sent many clients to Esperanza Threads for sewing and job skill training. Listening to the prophetic, community-building vision of Sr. Mary Eileen and Esperanza’s Executive Director Emily Tiell, reminded us about why we are Pope Francis voters who are committed to doing the work to build a multi-racial, inclusive democracy.

Following our inspiring site visit, on the evening of October 18th, NETWORK hosted our Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters. The Cleveland Town Hall featured three sisters from three different congregations: Humility of Mary Sister Anne Victory, Sister of St. Joseph Marilyn Nickol, and Incarnate Word Sister Margaret Taylor. Drawing on their life experiences, community charism, and ministry, each sister helped all of us see and understand the importance of multi-issue voting. In addition, our buzz question was asked by Jon Gromek, former NETWORK associate and longtime friend.

We begin each Town Hall with a buzz question. Part of that question and invitation to share with a neighbor is “What brings you hope.” Time and time again, we hear that NETWORK gives folks hope for the midterm elections. As one sister told me after the Town Hall finished, “it’s so easy to see that everything is horrible, but you all gave us hope to keep on fighting the good fight.” Another sister added, “it’s about the people and you all center that.” Each person with whom we spoke echoed this sentiment.

Sr. Margaret added to this idea when she explained her reasoning for being a multi-issue voter. She said, “My parents were faithful voters which inspires me to be one as well. We are people of good will who desire that all people have the opportunity to live a good life that promotes the freedom to vote; a life free from discrimination; a life that responds to the challenges of climate change; a life that does not tolerate racism and exclusion; a life that addresses the issues of poverty; a life that welcomes immigrants.”

The encounters we had in Cleveland can be summed up in one word: Community. It is clear that this is a place where people come together to support and celebrate one another.  The community of Cleveland shows up for each other, and we have no doubt this community will show up at the polls as Pope Francis Voters.

Equally Sacred Checklist - text graphic

Download and Share the Equally Sacred Checklist

The Equally Sacred Checklist is Here!

October 25, 2022

How can we know that we are voting for candidates who promote the common good? Pope Francis has given clear instructions for how Catholics and all people of good will are to position ourselves and prioritize social issues.

In his writing and speaking, Pope Francis makes it clear: abortion is not the only issue that matters. Catholics are called to be multi-issue voters in the 2022 midterm elections and in our continued participation in public life. Use the Equally Sacred Checklist as a guide to reflect on the concerns that Pope Francis says are “equally sacred” to the defense of the unborn.

Share the Equally Sacred Checklist with your friends, family, fellow activists, and faith community members.  

Check out these sources to learn more about what Pope Francis says:

What does White Supremacy in American Christianity mean?

Actions to Take to After Watching White Supremacy in Christianity

What does White Supremacy in American Christianity mean? What are the beliefs of What Supremacy? Ethics professor Fr. Bryan N. Massingale and Author Robert P. Jones give viewers understanding in an engaging conversation moderated by NETWORK’s Joan F. Neal.

Our Guest Speakers

Robert P. Jones is the President and Founder of PRRI, and author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. Robert P. Jones speaks and writes regularly on politics, culture, and religion in national media outlets including CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others.

Fr. Bryan Massingale is the James and Nancy Buckman Professor of Theological and Social Ethics, as well as the Senior Ethics Fellow in Fordham’s Center for Ethics Education and author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. Fr. Massingale is a noted authority on social and racial justice issues, particularly in Catholic spaces.

Tell President Biden

NOW is the time to sign an executive order for a reparations commission.

You've Seen the Conversation, Now What Can You Do?

Add your name to the Pope Francis Voter pledge and commit to use your vote as your voice to support multiple issues of justice.

Register to watch an interfaith call for reparations to finally repair the harm that racist policy and laws unleashed during and after slavery.

Reparations were denied to freed Black citizens after the Civil War and Black people have been treated as “less than” in the law, economy, etc. ever since. It’s time for reparations!

Keep Up with NETWORK

Pope Francis Voter Tour Takes Toledo!

The Pope Francis Voter Tour Takes Toledo!

Colin Martinez-Longmore
October 26, 2022

The Pope Francis Voter tour made a stop in Toledo Ohio, where we took a few days to get some much needed rest and recharge before another week of political ministry.

Our site visit for Toledo was at the Center of Hope Family Services, a family-led nonprofit organization that provides a vast array of programs and services for both youth and adults in the community. We arrived on a cloudy Monday morning and were greeted warmly by Dr. Tracee Perryman, the CEO and Co-Founder of the Center of Hope. Dr. Perryman gave us a tour of the Center’s facility that is in the process of expanding. The impressive facility includes offices, meeting spaces, a direct service and programming area, and even a recording studio! After our tour, we all sat down in their conference room to hear more about the ways the Center of Hope has been a positive change agent for the community.

The Center of Hope Family Services has been serving youths, adults and families in Toledo for 25 years. It started from Center of Hope Community Baptist Church, and thanks to its success and growth, it was able to expand into its own 501©-3 nonprofit. One of the wonderful services we learned about was their court advocacy services that helped countless young people navigate the often-complex and daunting juvenile justice system. We also learned about their ELEVATE program which serves local students from grades K-4 who are at risk for academic failure. The program was such a success that it was expanded into a published curriculum, outlining an eight month afterschool education program that helps children thrive.

After our visit, we held a Speak out in their lobby to a small group of NETWORK supporters and members, and our broader online audience. Dr. Michael Carter, a pastor, community leader and an Elevate parent who has had his children involved in the program, was a featured speaker. He shared his experience about how the ELEVATE program has benefitted his son through their homework assistance program and even some at-home cooking classes that taught him how to cook quiche and dump cakes!

Organizations like the Center of Hope Family Services are inspiring for their innovation and unwavering commitment to underserved communities. We see the Pope Francis Voter spirit alive in their efforts as they tackle the multiple issues affecting their communities. If you are interested in supporting their organization, we encourage you to visit their website: https://www.cohfs.org/

Pope Francis Voter Tour: Detroit Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters

Celebrating Community at the Detroit Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters

Catherine Gillette
October 26, 2022

On October 13, NETWORK’s Pope Francis Voter Tour continued on  with a Town Hall for Spirit-Filled Voters in Detroit, Michigan.  With more than 100 Spirit-filled advocates in attendance, this event was co-hosted by the IHM Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, and the Elephants in the Living Room.  It was held at the Marygrove Conservancy.

Due to the pandemic, I haven’t done many in-person trainings over the past few years.  While Zoom is nice (and certainly has its benefits), there is such a richness to spending time together…in-person! Perhaps that is why “community” was my big takeaway from this town hall. It popped up in a number of ways.

First, it is important to understand the significance of today’s Town Hall venue.  The Marygrove Conservancy was formed after Marygrove College’s 2019 closure.  It is a non-profit organization that cares for the 53-acre campus and “envisions the campus as an anchor and hub of a thriving Northwest Detroit community, in which all children and families are engaged in transformative educational experiences from cradle to career…”  It is a continuation of the Marygrove College legacy and a powerful commitment to the surrounding community.

Three older white ladies with gray hair wearing masks look at the camera

Local sisters (left to right) Sr. Elizabeth Walters, IHM, Barbara Beasley, IHM, and Karen Donahue, RSM, all spoke about the reasons they are Pope Francis Voters at the Detroit Town Hall

Beyond that, I have to give another shout-out to our hosts.  We are always grateful when someone is willing to collaborate with us to host a NETWORK event. That said, it is particularly exciting when multiple entities join forces and collaborate on an event.  Being hosted by the IHM Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, AND the Elephants in the Living Room was a treat. All of the folks I encountered throughout the day were open-minded, curious, supportive of our vision, and enthusiastic about engaging on the upcoming election. Being with the community our hosts brought together was an absolute joy.

Our program today began with a Buzz Question—asking folks how they are feeling about the upcoming election and where they find hope. To be honest, many people were feeling afraid, worried, or nervous. However, when we asked where they found hope, we heard “being here,” “young people,” and “community.” During challenging times, there is such comfort and power in coming together as a community.

Finally, I am perhaps most grateful for our Town Hall attendees’ willingness to take their learnings plus NETWORK’s Equally Sacred Checklist and share them with their own communities—parishes, congregations, schools, community groups, and more!  A significant part of being a Pope Francis Voter is a willingness and commitment to do the work. We must commit to having hard conversations with our families and friends. We must work together to grow the community of Pope Francis Voters, and I’m confident that our Detroit Town Hall attendees will go forth and do just that!

Our community is passionate, committed, and growing. That is what gives me hope during this election season.

This Saturday: White Supremacy and American Christianity

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

Earlier this year, thousands of justice-seekers joined us to hear from experts working at the intersection of religion and race — Fr. Bryan Massingale, Robert P. Jones, and Dr. Marcia Chatelain.

Join us this Saturday as Fr. Bryan Massingale and Robert P. Jones return to speak with NETWORK for a follow-up conversation on white supremacy and American Christianity, this time in light of the upcoming midterm elections. Together, we’ll continue learning about the intersection of white supremacy and American Christianity, with a focus on our politics.

If you’ve already registered — help us spread the word!
*Retweet Here*  * Share to Facebook*

White Supremacy and American Christianity
Saturday, October 29, 2022 | 12:30-2:00 PM Eastern

This event will take place on Zoom.
Co-Sponsored by the National Black Sisters’ Conference

Register and invite your friends and family!

 

Meet Our Speakers

Fr. Bryan Massingale, Robert P. Jones, Joan F. Neal headshots

Robert P. Jones is the President and Founder of PRRI, and author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity. Robert P. Jones speaks and writes regularly on politics, culture, and religion in national media outlets including CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others.

Fr. Bryan Massingale is the James and Nancy Buckman Professor of Theological and Social Ethics, as well as the Senior Ethics Fellow in Fordham’s Center for Ethics Education and author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. Fr. Massingale is a noted authority on social and racial justice issues, particularly in Catholic spaces.

Joan F. Neal is the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Equity Officer at NETWORK where she shares overall leadership of the organization and leads strategic planning and racial equity and justice transformation work. Joan F. Neal is an experienced organizational leader and an authority on the intersection of faith, justice, and federal policymaking.

The Pope Francis Voter Tour Visits the University of Detroit Mercy

The Pope Francis Voter Tour Visits the University of Detroit Mercy

Colin Martinez-Longmore
October 25, 2022

The Pope Francis Voter Tour made its first college stop in Detroit at the University of Detroit Mercy. UDM is a Catholic school sponsored by both the Jesuits and the Sisters of Mercy, serving over 5,000 students all throughout the metro Detroit area. The student body is diverse and vibrant, which provided a wonderful atmosphere of interfaith and ecumenical encounters during our time there.

We connected with the University Ministry for our visit, specifically with Sr. Erin McDonald, CSJ, who was our gracious host and collaborator for our events. Sr. Erin is a social worker and serves as the University Minister for Service and Justice, where she is in charge of building community relationships, as well as programming various service and social justice opportunities. Together, we planned to bring our Becoming Pope Francis Voters workshop to the students, to help mobilize and encourage young voters of faith to do the work of being multi-issue voters during the midterm elections!

Our day began with a bit of tabling at the University Library. We set up shop near the entrance, and began to have conversations with some of the students who were walking by. Using our website Turbovote link, we were able to help students check their voter registration status and register themselves if needed. We also shared some NETWORK resources, like our Equally Sacred Checklist, and invited them to join us for our workshop that evening. And since no tabling is complete without some fun goodies, we gave away lots of Halloween candy as well.

Later that evening, we moved over to the university’s beautifully designed Loranger Architecture Building, where we hosted our workshop. There were about 20 students who participated in the interactive workshop, where we talked about what it means to be a Pope Francis Voter. The room buzzed with conversation during the breakout small group sessions and we heard honest reflections from a few students about their hopes for the midterm elections and beyond.

It was a blessing to be able to spend time with the University of Detroit Mercy community. We’re grateful to Sr. Erin McDonald, CSJ, the University Ministry and all of the students who joined us in doing the work to build a multi-racial and inclusive democracy.

Pope Francis Voter Tour Update: Cristo Rey Community Center Site Visit

Pope Francis Voter Tour Update: Cristo Rey Community Center Site Visit

Gina Kelley
October 13, 2022

During this year’s Pope Francis Voter Tour, NETWORK came to Lansing, Michigan to visit the Cristo Rey Community Center. Members of NETWORK’s East Lansing Advocates Team have been volunteering with this incredible direct service provider and when they heard NETWORK would be traveling ahead of this year’s upcoming election, they recommended a stop at Cristo Rey.

Early in the morning, NETWORK was greeted by Joe Garcia, CEO of Cristo Rey, who welcomed us and provided a rich overview of Cristo Rey’s more than 50-year history of  service to the community.

Originally, Cristo Rey came together to support immigrant communities traveling to Michigan in search of agricultural work and the center helped families find housing, settle down, and commune as neighbors. Over time the need has changed and Cristo Rey Community Center has become an integral support for all those in Lansing experiencing poverty.

A revamped school building now houses a family health center, counseling services, a community kitchen, food pantry, community clothing closet, financial literacy support, personal hygiene and care supplies, and even a steady supply of diapers, infant formula, and other infant needs.

While containing all these services under one roof may seem overwhelming, it removes a huge accessibility barrier for many folks who rely on public transit to receive these necessary supports. With a bus stop directly outside the community center, folks without cars can reach this wide range of services all in one place.

As we toured this facility, asking questions about the community they have created as a staff and the community they serve, we were continually amazed by the breadth and depth of work. In the face of insurmountable challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and other current events, Cristo Rey has remained dedicated to providing service with dignity.

A few of the highlights shared with us about the service they provide:

  • Over 18,000 hot meals provided to Afghan refugees in the last year
  • Nearly all patients are either Medicare/Medicaid recipients or uninsured
  • All patients receive at least a 30-minute appointment, in English or Spanish, and are given the utmost attention and care
  • Community Kitchen serves over 26,000 hot meals a year
  • Distribute approximately 4,000 containers of baby formula and 63,000 diapers

This site visit was a beautiful stop on the Pope Francis Voter Tour and a reminder of the importance of working for federal policies that advance racial, economic, and social justice. To be in community with those who are pushed to the margins by our systems and structures and experiencing poverty is critical to our advocacy efforts at NETWORK. The need for affordable housing, accessible health care, and the ability to put food on the table every week are basic needs that every person should have and yet, due to systemic failures, we have amazing people like the staff and volunteers at Cristo Rey who are called to fill in the gaps left behind by our policies.

We hope everyone will keep these issues in mind when they vote in this midterm election and every election after. Being a multi-issue voter and committing to consistent advocacy for the issues that impact all of us is sacred work.

We are so thankful Cristo Rey opened their doors and welcomed us to learn about their community and the services they provide with such dignity. To support their efforts, you can see their wish lists for donated items here as well as their donation page.

RSVP for upcoming Pope Francis Voter Tour events here, including site visits in Toledo on Monday, October 17; Cleveland on Tuesday, October 18, and Cincinnati on Wednesday, October 19. All site visits will also be livestreamed.

Whether or not you’re able to attend a Pope Francis Voter Tour event, be sure to take the Pope Francis Voter pledge to join us this election season and beyond!