Category Archives: Spirit Filled Network

2021 Hispanic Heritage Month Playlist

2021 Hispanic Heritage Month Playlist

Colin Longmore
October 4, 2021

We’re back with part two of our Hispanic Heritage Month playlist. Here are some selections that highlight a small part of the diverse kaleidoscope that is the Hispanic and Latinx world. We hope you enjoy these songs of celebration, reflection, lamentation, and pride!

La Jaula de Oro by Los Tigres del Norte

 

 

The issue of immigration on the U.S. southern border can become so two-dimensional in our public discourse, that the nuanced lived realities of migrants are often lost.  This song, by beloved Norteño band Los Tigres del Norte, paints an honest and heartbreaking picture of the life of an undocumented immigrant living in the United States. The title, which translates to “The Golden Cage,” highlights the internal and external tensions that migrants face when building a new life in an unfamiliar place. The linked video is from the band’s recent live concert that they performed at Folsom State Prison (50 years after Johnny Cash’s famous concert), for both the men’s and women’s facilities. You can check out the documentary on Netflix.

La Negra Tiene Tumbao by Celia Cruz

 

 

The Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz, left a significant mark in the music industry thanks to her illustrious 50 year career that made fans all around the world get up and dance. However, her late-career smash hit “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” (which can be roughly translated to “The Black Woman Has Style”) is a standout for its joyous and unapologetic celebration of Black womanhood. Give this one a listen whenever you need an extra dose of azucar in your life!

Breathe (from In the Heights) by Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

 

After reimagining the story of the U.S. Founding Fathers in Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda received widespread praise for his gifts of song and lyricism. These skills are seen in another one of his projects, In the Heights, a musical about the lives of several Black and Latinx residents of the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. In this production, the song “Breathe” is sung by Nina, a first-generation Latina college student who is returning to her neighborhood after dropping out of Stanford University. It’s a heartfelt reflection on the support and pressure that comes from community, and the struggles faced by many first-generation students. In the Heights was adapted into a movie which was released this past year.

Como La Flor by Selena

 

 

Tejano is more than just a musical genre — it’s the unique culture of the descendants of Spanish settlers in the Tejas area, established over 100 years before modern-day Texas became a U.S. state. And no one is more synonymous with Tejano culture than Selena Quintanilla-Perez, known widely as just Selena. Her music is a fusion of various Mexican and U.S. influences that is “ni de aquí, ni de allá” (neither from here, nor there). It also embodies the wonderful complexities of being a Hispanic/Latinx American. Selena’s life (and tragic death) was made into a biopic in 1997, with Jennifer Lopez playing Selena. Most recently it was also re-made as a Netflix series.

Mi Gente by J Balvin & Willy Williams

 

 

If you’ve been to any quinceanera in the past 4 years, chances are that you’ve heard the infectious beat of Mi Gente playing loudly. J Balvin is a singer from Medellin, Colombia, and is often referred to as the “Prince of Reggaeton,” a musical genre from Latin America that has taken the world by storm and flooded dancefloors everywhere. The song is a collaboration between J Balvin and French DJ, Willy Williams, and has gained broad international success thanks to its wildly fun energy and bilingual lyrics which invites everyone to be part of mi gente (my people).

Nearly 50 Years of Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Nearly 50 Years of Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Audrey Carroll
September 29, 2021

The annual observation of National Hispanic Heritage Month began this year on September 15 and continues until October 15. In September 1968, President Johnson signed the National Hispanic Heritage Week bill into law. The following year, Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed extending Hispanic Heritage week to a month, saying supporters of the bill “want the public to know that we share a legacy with the rest of the country, a legacy that includes artists, writers, Olympic champions, and leaders in business, government, cinema, and science.” Unfortunately, Torres’s bill died in committee, but 20 years later in 1988, Senator Paul Simon of Illinois succeeded in passing a similar bill lengthening Hispanic Heritage Week to Hispanic Heritage Month. President Reagan signed the bill into law in August 1988.

The start date of September 15 coincides with Independence Day celebrations in many Hispanic countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their Independence Days in September.

Hispanic and Latinx individuals and communities have made a substantial impact on politics, pop culture, art, music, and more in our country. Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a time to honor and celebrate achievements and contributions made by Hispanic Americans in the U.S.

Check out the Calendar of Events from the Library of Congress to learn more and find out how you can celebrate this month.

The Legacy of Hispanic Americans in Congress

The Legacy of Hispanic Americans in Congress

Audrey Carroll
September 29, 2021

During Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15-October 15, we celebrate the impact and achievements of Latinx and Hispanic Americans in the United States. Latinx Americans have a centuries-long legacy in Congress, engaging in politics, as Pope Francis writes in Fratelli Tutti, as “a lofty vocation … inasmuch as it seeks the common good,” breaking representation barriers, and passing common good legislation.

Joseph Marion Hernández was the first Hispanic American to serve in Congress was Joseph Marion Hernández. Hernández was born in Florida while it was still a Spanish colony, and became the first Hispanic American to serve in the House of Representatives when Florida became a territory in 1822.[1] He served as a Delegate in the 17th Congress for a year, submitting legislation advocating for residents of newly incorporated Florida. In 1877, Representative Romualdo Pacheco was elected the first Hispanic American to serve as a U.S. Representative. The first Hispanic American to serve in the Senate was Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo in 1928, completing the term of the previous New Mexico senator.[2] According to the History, Art, and Archives website of the House of Representatives, 136 Hispanic Americans have served in Congress in some capacity since 1822.[3]

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) was formed in 1976 and is comprised of 38 Hispanic and Latinx members of Congress. The purpose of the CHC is to “advocate for issues important to Hispanics through the Congressional legislative process.”[4] Originally formed as a bipartisan group, Republican members disbanded in the 1990s and formed the Congressional Hispanic Conference, which currently has six members.  Follow the CHC on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on their work.

NETWORK is grateful for all the contributions Hispanic and Latinx Congressmembers have made to shape a more economically and racially just society. Many Latinx Congressional leaders have been essential partners in championing policies in NETWORK’s Build Anew agenda, including as a pathway to citizenship, paid leave, worker’s rights, and more. Our appreciation for the hard work and dedication of Hispanic and Latinx Members of Congress extends well beyond October 15!

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[1] https://history.house.gov/HistoricalHighlight/Detail/35356

[2] https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/Hispanic_Heritage_Month.htm

[3] https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/HAIC/Hispanic-Americans-in-Congress/

[4] https://chc.house.gov/

Team Democracy: Go for the Gold, Pass the For the People Act

Team Democracy: Go for the Gold, Pass the For the People Act

Meg Olson
August 25, 2021

In the weeks following the Senate’s 50-50 vote which filibustered further consideration of S.1, the For the People Act, NETWORK members, activists, and supporters raised their voices and showed up for our democracy. Under the banner of “Team Democracy,” hundreds of people called on the Senate to find a way to pass the For the People Act to protect the right to vote.

o Brentwood, Rockaway, Hempstead, and Albany NY

In Long Island, New York, Catholic women religious from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood along with Mercy and Dominican Sisters gathered to pray, sing and deliver a letter signed by 3,685 Catholic Sisters nationwide to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office. The letter urged Senator Schumer “not to let minority opposition prevent the Senate passing the For the People Act any longer.”  Read the full text of the “Nuns’ Letter.”

At additional events in Rockaway, Hempstead, and Albany, New York, members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood and Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet (Albany Province) organized gatherings to rally for the For the People Act with fellow members of their congregations.

o Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland NETWORK Advocates Team went to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo where they handed out flyers and stickers in support of the For the People Act. The Sisters of St. Joseph in Cleveland also organized a public witness in support of democracy reform.

o Northern Virginia

In Northern Virginia, NETWORK members showed up to canvass at the Herndon, McLean, Falls Church, Reston, and Alexandria farmers markets. At the markets, they engaged local voters in conversation about the importance of passing democracy reform legislation before the end of the summer.

o Indianapolis, IN

In Indianapolis, Catholic Sisters and other concerned Hoosiers rallied to support federal democracy reform near the Indiana State Capitol Building. The “Carry the Torch of Democracy” rally was cosponsored by Faith in Indiana, Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, Pax Christi Indianapolis, Indianapolis Urban League, Hoosier Action, Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg, Sisters of Providence, Common Cause Indiana, ACLU of Indiana, League of Women Voters Indianapolis, Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, and Our Revolution Indiana. Re-watch the livestream of the rally here.

Following the rally, six Catholic Sisters delivered a copy of NETWORK’s “Nuns’ Letter” signed by 3,685 Catholic Sisters across the country to Senator Mike Braun’s office.

o Monroe, MI

In Monroe, the IHM Sisters and the Stronger Together Huddle held a Vigil for Democracy in front of the IHM Sisters’ Senior Living Community. They also organized a “Relay to the Ballot Box” in downtown Monroe where participants carried symbolic “ballots” and had to get through “hurdles” along the way.  At each hurdle, participants received a “For the People” pass to get through, representing the ways in which the For the People Act would preempt restrictive state-level voting laws. Finally, the participants reached the ballot box near City Hall and the event concluded with music, short speeches, and prayer.

o Philadelphia, PA

On Saturday, August 21, 2021, NETWORK activists organized a Carrying the Torch of Democracy Rally at Independence National Park in Philadelphia, PA. The rally was cosponsored by Common Cause of Pennsylvania, Our Mother of Consolation Parish, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of Mercy, Chestnut Hill College, Colonial Area Anti-Racism and Social Equity Alliance (CAARSEA), and Indivisible Philadelphia. Catholic Sisters, local elected officials, and activists spoke about the need to pass S.1 the For the People Act. Re-watch the livestream of the rally here.

View images from all of the Team Democracy events below:

Team Democracy: Go for the Gold, Pass the For the People Act

A Catholic Argument for CTC Expansion: Combatting “Anti-Work” Rhetoric

A Catholic Argument for CTC Expansion: Combatting “Anti-Work” Rhetoric

Allison Baroni
August 23, 2021

On July 14, Senator Marco Rubio released a statement denouncing the recent expansion of the Child Tax Credit. In it, he states that while he has always supported CTC expansion for “hardworking families” the recent expansion “has transformed the pro-worker, pro-family Child Tax Credit into an anti-work welfare check.” This echoes rhetoric deployed during the 1990s welfare reform movement, which culminated in the controversial 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act. Presented as an attempt reduce poverty while cutting costs, the bipartisan legislation has had devastating consequences for many of those experiencing deep poverty in the United States. By deploying this language now, Rubio reveals the continued insistence of some members of Congress to lean on self-righteous and inaccurate depictions of poverty to pass a self-serving agenda that perpetuates injustice.

A Long GOP Tradition of Putting Profit over People

Republican critiques of Democratic programs and policies as being “anti-work” are nothing new. Following in the wake of President Regan, an increasing number of politicians and constituents expressed concern for the number of people receiving money from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, as well as the aspects of the program that encouraged people to remain on the funding rather than finding a job. Dylan Matthews did an excellent deep dive into the complexities of this issue (as well as the results of the 1996 “reform”) but suffice it to say that there were issues with the program. Many who received the aid wanted to work, but to do so would cost them more financially than to remain on it. This stemmed from the program’s sexist and racist roots: FDR created the AFDC during the Great Depression to support single, white mothers, ensuring they did not have to work. The program was designed to disincentivize work to uphold white male assumptions of white womanhood. Rather than take an antiracist and feminist approach to reforming the AFDC, ensuring that all people had the financial ability to get a job should they want one, politicians simply linked access to government support to work status, and left the rest to the markets.

This had devastating results. While at first the program, cast as an attempt at poverty reduction, appeared to succeed, recent data tells a significantly different story. Additionally, in a study done of data from a 2012 Survey of Income and Program participation, University of Michigan’s Luke Shaefer and Johns Hopkins Kathryn Edin found that “‘the percentage growth in extreme poverty over our study period was greatest among vulnerable groups who were most likely to be impacted by the 1996 welfare reform,[1]’” and “households headed by single women saw a larger increase in extreme poverty. Households with children (the only ones eligible for AFDC) saw an increase more than twice as large as the one households without children experienced.[2]” In other words, those most in need were left without government support, and children were the most directly impacted. NETWORK also conducted several studies over the years looking at the harmful impact of these reforms.  

Our Faith Calls Us to Alleviate Poverty

This did not need to happen. Pope Francis once said, “the marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem, however much we are asked to believe this dogma of neoliberal faith” (Fratelli Tutti 168). Very few people want to hear that, but if Senator Rubio’s words are any indication, we all need to. And as usual, our faith traditions have something to offer us as we look for direction. For Catholics such as myself and Senator Rubio, the Pope gives us a clear message: we cannot afford to turn the marketplace, turn work and productivity, into a false god. Not only for the sake of our country, but for the sake of our souls. If we want to be faithful to our tradition, if we want to alleviate poverty, we must do better. Our politics must do better. To quote again from the Pope:

“Here I would once more observe that ‘politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy’ [158]…instead, ‘what is needed is a politics which is far-sighted and capable of a new, integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis’ [160]. In other words, a ‘healthy politics…capable of reforming and coordinating institutions, promoting best practices and overcoming undue pressure and bureaucratic inertia’ [161]. We cannot expect economics to do this, nor can we allow economics to take over the real power of the state” (Fratelli Tutti 177).

The Courage to Act for the Common Good

In our world, living such a political agenda would take great courage, a virtue in the Catholic tradition that Fr. Bryan Massingale has suggested is “perhaps the least studied of the virtues.” Yet, “Thomas Aquinas taught us that courage is the precondition of all virtue. Without courage, we’re not able to be prudent. We’re not able to be just, because courage is the virtue that allows us to surmount the fear that comes with following the Gospel.[3]

Our nation deserves politicians with courage. We deserve a society build on courage. As Catholics, we too often praise the courage of those who came before us but forget that God extends to us the same grace he did to them. If we allow the Spirit to move us, we can be as courageous as St. Mary Magdalene or St. Peter, as Dorothy Day or St. Oscar Romero. We can be courageous enough to let go of our false gods and build a new world, to reject rhetoric that encourages us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others.

For this is what happens when we are encouraged to place limits upon who is deserving of financial assistance. Perhaps the most insidious belief behind attacks on the CTC, behind demands that it only be given to “hardworking families,” is that it places preconditions on the right to have one’s basic needs met. Catholics in Congress need to remember that this is not what our faith teaches us, for not only does “every human being has the right to live with dignity and to develop integrally,” but “people have this right even if they are unproductive…” (Fratelli Tutti 107).


[1] https://www.vox.com/2016/6/20/11789988/clintons-welfare-reform

[2] https://www.vox.com/2016/6/20/11789988/clintons-welfare-reform

[3] https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/worship-false-god

New Tool: Build Your Own Budget

New Tool: Build Your Own Budget

Sr. Emily TeKolste, SP
August 11, 2021

Our tax code and our federal budget are moral decisions with ramifications for our families and communities. Right now, the recovery package Democrats are working to pass through budget reconciliation process will make bold investments in a more just future. We can afford this by reforming our tax code to ensure that the wealthiest people and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

A more just tax policy not only creates a more equal society, which is better for everyone (even the wealthiest among us), it also ensures we have the revenue we need to make bold investments in a more equitable and hope-filled future where everyone can thrive.

During the second part of NETWORK’s new “Tax Justice for All” workshop, participants re-envision a tax code that makes the wealthiest people and corporations pay their fair share. After setting tax policy, participants use those federal funds to invest in the common good.

Now it’s your turn. Choose your own tax and spending policies with our tax justice calculator. Select the Tax Policies you would implement in the left column and your Spending Policies on the right, then scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a chart that reflects your total revenue and total spending.

If you haven’t attended Tax Justice for All: Unveiling the Racial Inequity of the U.S. Tax Code, NETWORK’s new two-hour workshop looking at the U.S. tax code and economic inequality, be sure to sign up for an upcoming workshop:

Catholic Sisters to President Biden and Senator Schumer: Pass S.1!

Catholic Sisters to President Biden and Senator Schumer: Pass S.1!

Meg Olson
July 26, 2021

Today, NETWORK members delivered a letter signed by 3,685 Sisters in support of S.1, the For the People Act, to President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Schumer. The letter urges President Biden and Senator Schumer not to let minority opposition prevent the Senate passing the For the People Act any longer. Click here to tweet about the Nuns’ Letter or share it with your friends on Facebook.

The Sisters’ message: “As Catholic women religious, we see and affirm the dignity of every person. Knowing that all people are made in the image and likeness of God, we cannot tolerate policies or practices that suppress voters’ ability to participate fully in our democracy, especially Black, Brown, and Native American voters.”

Sister Quincy Howard, OP, NETWORK Government Relations Specialist, who helped organize the letter, said, “Sisters feel a real urgency to respond to the rising threat to our democratic institutions. A healthy democracy is our means for creating a better world and therefore this is a moral issue of the utmost importance.”

Sr. Susan Wilcox, CSJ, a NETWORK member and the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Coordinator for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, helped to deliver the letter to Senator Schumer’s district office. She said, “Voting is a right and a responsibility, but voting rights are under attack. Strict voter registration requirements, extreme partisan gerrymandering, voter purges, and long waits times are disruptive and disenfranchising. We need democracy reform now to protect our next election.”

After receiving the letter, Senator Chuck Schumer said: “Republican state legislatures across the country are engaged in the most sweeping voter suppression in 80 years, and I applaud the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood and beyond for their support of American democracy and for S.1, The For The People Act. The Senate vote I held last month, with all 50 Democrats voting in favor, represented the starting bell – not the finish line – in our fight to protect democracy, and as majority leader, I am exploring all options to bolster voting rights and advance democracy-reform legislation for another vote on the Senate floor.”

Amplify the Sisters’ Message, Join Team Democracy

With Congressional redistricting starting soon, now is a critical time to protect our democratic institutions. NETWORK members are organizing local events to raise support for the provisions included in S.1. If you are in one of the cities below, be sure to join your local “Team Democracy” event. (More local events still to be announced!)

  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Flourtown, Pennsylvania
  • Monroe, Michigan

Learn more about these events and R.S.V.P. at networklobby.org/TeamDemocracy.

Allying with the We Serve with Love Campaign

NETWORK Allies with the We Serve with Love Campaign

Gina Kelley
July 19, 2021

In June, in celebration of Pride, NETWORK Lobby signed on as an ally of the We Serve with Love Campaign. This important campaign, led by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, aims to lift up faith-based direct service providers providing services to LGBTQ+ people and families. Additionally, this campaign educates faith-based providers on how to offer the most welcoming and safe services to LGBTQ+ people and increases understanding of the intersectionality of poverty and the discrimination people encounter because of their LGBTQ+ identities.

Speaking about NETWORK’s support of this campaign, Chief Lobbyist Laura Peralta-Schulte, said “At NETWORK we advocate for federal policies that respect the dignity and ensure the economic security of all in the United States, no exceptions. Today, 1 in 5 members of the LGBTQ+ community live in poverty, more than double the national rate. No one should have to struggle to make ends meet because of who they are or who they love. Motivated by our faith, which calls us to love one another, NETWORK is proud to support the We Serve with Love campaign, shining a light on faith-based service providers that provide safe and inclusive support to members of the LGBTQ+ community.

We know that people of faith and the LGBTQ+ community are not, and should not be divided against one another. Many people of faith are members of the LGBTQ+ community – around 20% of LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. are Catholic. People of faith, and majorities of all voters, support laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination. Treating everyone, regardless of their identity, with dignity and respect is a universal value.

We are proud to celebrate the service providers who practice acceptance and love with everyone who needs their aid.

NETWORK Advocates Tell President Biden: End Title 42

NETWORK Advocates Tell President Biden: End Title 42

Audrey Carroll
July 16, 2021

Yesterday, Grassroots Mobilization Coordinator Sister Emily TeKolste, SP and Government Relations Director Ronnate Asirwatham delivered a petition to the White House telling President Biden to End Title 42.

Title 42 has no true medical basis and is causing harm to our immigrant siblings at the southern border. The order also violates the internationally recognized right to seek asylum. Thank you to over 1,600 NETWORK members and supporters that signed the petition urging the Biden Administration to end Title 42 and protect the dignity of immigrants and asylum seekers.

Download the full petition here. 

The Moment is Now: Pass H.R.40

The Moment is Now: Pass H.R.40

Mary Novak
July 16, 2021

On July 13 2021, I joined faith leaders to call on Congress to pass H.R.40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, before the August recess. What a Spirit-Filled gathering with the incomparable Nkechi Taifa, Founder of The Taifa Group; Laura James, Program Coordinator for Grassroots Organizing; Yolanda Savage-Narva Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Director, Union for Reform Judaism; Diane Randall, General Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation; Jarrett Smith, Government Relations Fellow, NETWORK Lobby; Bishop Eugene Sutton, Episcopal Church, Maryland Diocese; Victoria Strang, Policy Advocate with Faith Communities, Human Rights Watch; Reverend Timothy Tutt, Senior Minister, Westmoreland Congregational UCC; and Jim Winker President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches.

What is not named cannot be healed. It is time to name our country’s sickness. Using the frame of the  Catholic tradition — it is time to name our original sin of slavery and move towards repair, reparations. That moment is now.

For the first time, we are talking about reparations in the national conversation. States, local authorities, and religious orders are all moving on reparations. We have been waiting 32 years for this moment. We cannot wait another day or another week. We are  calling on House leadership to bring H.R.40 to the floor. The moment is now.

It is no coincidence the momentum for movement on reparations follows that terrifying day of January 6th. We not only survived that shameful day, but are seeing for what it was: evidence of our need for collective salvation. The moment is now.

We know there is resistance to move towards healing from our collective soul sickness. Resistance comes because healing can be hard and oftentimes painful. We must overcome that resistance because the freedom on the other side is calling us. The moment is now.

My friends:

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul

That balm can begin now, so let’s do this; let us get this Commission going and pass H.R.40. If not, my friends, we must call on President Biden to make it happen by any means necessary. The moment is now.

Watch the Faith for H.R.40 Press Conference to learn more. Watch on Facebook or YouTube.

Stay engaged and find more ways to take action to advance policies that build our systems and structures anew at www.networklobby.org/ActNow.