Friday, January 4, 2013

Video Interview with Shawn Jones, a Homeless Man

Jim Schnitter, member of the Social Justice Committee at St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Livermore, California, is working to give a voice to the voiceless through video interviews of the folks who need our help, and the folks who do the helping.  Livermore is a very prosperous city in the San Francisco Bay Area, and yet its homeless population of about 100 is generally invisible to the average resident.

Meet Shawn Jones, a homeless man:

Below are links to Jim's video interview with Shawn Jones, a well-spoken, homeless man, who lives under a nearby bridge. It is broken up into 3 ten-minute parts.

It seems that Shawn may be one of the lucky ones who have a good chance of getting a permanent place of their own. This is due to him getting access to some services from government and non-profit organizations.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Tri-Valley Social Justice Blog gives a voice to the voiceless

The Social Justice Committee of St. Charles Borromeo of Livermore, California, 
has started a new blog to promote ministries to the poor and provide interviews
with the poor and homeless as well as those who minister to them.

This is a great way to give a voice to the voiceless and invisible among us.

About the photo: This is Gary who works FULL TIME but cannot afford a place to live.  
He is a client of the Livermore Homeless Refuge.

Jim Schnitter just created this blog -- a good example of how a Catholic can jump
in, get started with Blogger (a free online blog tool with canned templates and 
gadgets) and start communicating to the world.  It's not pretty yet, but look
at the content!  Real stories of real people who are both helping and being 
helped.  Really gives a human face to the troubles of our community.

Thanks, Jim!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Catholic Mom has great resources for the family

Here is a family blog from a Catholic families for Catholic families!  Really fun and engaging, with activities to teach kids about the faith as well as serious discussions for parents.

Description from

Welcome to!  Here at the site, we celebrate all things Faith, Family, and Fun from a Catholic perspective.  Enjoy fresh perspectives from our wonderful columnists and contributors.  Read the latest selections from our Book Club.  Check out great tunes from an array of talented Catholic musicians.  Help your child make the most of the Liturgy of the Word with our Sunday Gospel activities.  Listen to our weekly Catholic Moments Podcast for interviews with special people doing extraordinary things to live out our Catholic faith and share it with others.  Come along on one Catholic Mom’s spiritual journey through every day life at Lisa’s Blog.  We’d love to hear from you, so be sure to share your comments and email your thoughts and suggestions to  May God richly bless you and your family!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pray the Divine Office with Smart Phone App

The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office, is one of two great prayers of the Catholic Church.  The other prayer is the Mass itself.

This website and free smart phone app teaches you how to prayer this beautiful prayer.  The prayer changes somewhat every day, working through all of the Psalms with Bible verses and sayings from the Saints.  A really nice way to pray, either alone or with a group.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Catholic TV is a great online resource for Catholics

This looks like an amazing resource for anyone who wants to enjoy learning about their faith. They have dozens of different shows -- looks pretty good.

CatholicTV Mission Statement

CatholicTV®/ is a beacon of Hope and a unique Herald of the simple, yet profound Message of Jesus Christ, Who is made truly present among us in the Breaking of the Bread.

Utilizing powerful technology, we strive to connect People of Faith. Through relevant, inspiring and prayerful programming we educate, teaching the Wisdom of God in the Catholic Tradition, endeavoring to move people of all ages, cultures and attitudes toward the Fullness of Life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"American Catholic" website from Franciscans is a treasure

Today, the American Catholic website has Catholic news from the 
Vatican: an article on the Pope's Christmas message.

This website from the Franciscan Media is full of faithful blogs, 
videos, books, magazines, Saint of the Day, and fantastic podcasts.

All are easy to understand and JOYFUL!  I love the Franciscan 
approach to spirituality: full of the Joy of the 
RESURRECTION of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Monday, December 24, 2012

We have so much to be grateful for ...

This is Kahnu. A $325 loan helped him buy bamboo in bulk to make baskets. Now he doesn't have to worry about supporting his family and can send his 5 kids to school.

Microlending really does break the cycle of poverty.  I love investing in very hardworking entrepreneurs in the USA and across the globe!

For the Advent and Christmas season, the best thing I can do is to help others like Kahnu.

Learn more about microlending through Kiva and see what my parish's social justice committee is doing:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O Wonderful Savior Who Became One of Us

The Son of God ... worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin. 

--- Catechism of the Catholic Church, Chapter Two, Paragraph #470


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

Weekly Guided Bible Readings with Christian Scholars from Seattle Pacific University


Here's a great resource that I just found in iTunes U: Explore the scriptures with your own personal guide!

Description: This free online weekly reading program allows you to explore God's Word with the guidance of an outstanding biblical scholar who has a deeply personal Christian faith.

Lectio: Weekly Guided Bible Readings
Center for Biblical and Theological Education
Seattle Pacific University


On iTunes, here is the link:

iTunes U is a section of iTunes that presents lectures (usually free) from many different colleges and organizations.  I found the Seattle Pacific University lectures on C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien to be excellent and given by men and women of faith, which makes all the difference when lecturing on Christian authors.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Epiphany in the Year of Faith: Blessed John Paul II

        They came from the East ... strange pilgrims:  Wizard Kings,
the Magi.  They passed through Jerusalem.

        They were led by a mysterious star, by outer light itself....
But they were led even more by faith, by inner light.  They arrived ...
and prostrated and adored him....

        Through that pilgrimage to Bethlehem, the Magi ... became the
beginning and symbol of all those who come to Jesus through faith....

        They became the beginning and prefiguration of those who come
from beyond the frontiers of the Chosen People of the Old Alliance,
and reached, and keep on reaching Christ through faith...

        Epiphany is the feast of the vitality of the Church....The Church
is herself when men -- like the Shepherds and the Kings from the
East -- reach Jesus Christ through faith,  When they find God in
Christ-Man and through Christ.

        So Epiphany is the great feast of faith.

        Taking part in this feast are those who have already reached
the faith and those who are still on the way to it.  They take part with
thanksgiving for the gift of faith, as did the Magi, who were full of
gratitude and kneeled before the Child.  The Church takes part in
this feast and every year becomes more conscious of the vastness
of her mission.  To how many people must she still bring the faith!....
But the Church can never call a halt, because she is aware of that
great gift, the gift of the incarnation of God.  She must go on always
seeking the way to Bethlehem for every person and every time.

        Epiphany is the feast of God's challenge!

                                                -- Blessed John Paul II
                                                        6 January 1979

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Father Jay Finelli has great podcast, blog, app

Father Jay Finelli podcasts and blogs "on all things Catholic and then some" with warmth and kindness.  He loves to answer our questions of faith.

Every episode he shares contemporary Christian music which is a real joy to listen to -- upbeat and toe tapping, not schmalzy and sugary.

His smartphone app makes it easy to download episodes and send in questions.  

Father Jay's explanations of the Sacraments and Catholic teaching and doctrine are spot on, and delivered with kindness in a pastoral way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Catholic Underground: great website by priest

Father Chris Decker has a great website with videos, podcasts, Twitter feed, and articles to help us all learn about our faith so we can grow in our faith ... and especially live out our Catholic discipleship in 21st Century America.

Shows offered by The Catholic Underground:
CU Weekly
CU Specials
Life Is Still Worth Living
Fridays with Benedict
Finding Your Keys

The Catholic Underground's Mission Statement

TheCatholicUnderground exists to explore the intersection of the Catholic Faith and the work of modern technology. Our programs aim to bring the Eternal Truths of the Catholic Faith to the Digital Continent, the Church’s newest mission field, in a manner that is both approachable and unwavering.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Emma's Gift: a True Story

St. Charles Borromeo parishioner, Donna McKenzie, shared this story about the true meaning of the Thanksgiving season. Donna and her husband, Bob, work nightly with the guests at the Livermore Homeless Refuge in Livermore, California.  Donna and Bob have also given up their garage to store supplies for the homeless.  The events below took place on November 21, 2012.

The story I'm going to tell you is truly about a "gift of love."

The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, I was in the garage sorting through clothes to bring to our homeless friends and a car stopped in the middle of our driveway.  I looked up and a man, woman and child got out of the car and walked up the driveway towards me.  The man said, "are you Donna?" and I said "yes."

He and his wife looked down at the little girl named Emma and she looked up at me and at the same time handed me her little pink piggy bank.  As I reached for it, she said, "this is for the homeless."  I was speechless and stunned! 

Emma and I sat down on the driveway and opened her piggy bank and counted $6.12. 

I told her that maybe she should keep half of it in her bank and I would take the other half for the homeless.  She answered me with, "I want them to have it all because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'm going to have turkey.  I have a warm bed with covers and they don't have any."

Her dad said this gift was completely Emma's idea.  They had been downtown recently and she saw some of our homeless begging and asked her parents what they were doing and they explained it to her.

When she returned home, she told her parents what she wanted to do with the money she had been saving.

I offered to give her $1.00 to start her savings again and she would not accept it.

Once again, I was humbled by a little girl who understood at her young age about giving and sharing and mostly,  about caring.

Emma is 6 1/2   years old.

In all the excitement, I hugged her and her parents, told them they were doing an awesome job raising their daughter and then they were gone. 
I didn't get their names, except for Emma, who I will never forget.

I have the $6.12 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters....and I'm thinking "ice cream for our homeless."  They love it....and it's a real treat for them....
....thanks to Emma.

If you would like to volunteer at the Livermore Homeless Refuge, or provide other support, please Call Sandra Chesterman at 925-525-1200 or go to

Story edited by Jim Schnitter, St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Livermore, CA.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ethical Eating: Fair Trade and Farmers' Markets

Then the King shall say to those who will be on his right: ‘Come, you blessed of my Father. Possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you covered me; sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.’  -- Matthew 11:34-36 

California Hotline 211: Help for the Needy.  
Dial for help with food, housing, employment, health care, child care, elder care.  Translators are available.  Please help spread the word about this valuable resource from United Way of the East Bay.  180,000 people are helped each year through this hotline.  Learn more at:

Food for Thought on the Ethics of Eating.  
We serve the common good by eating what is good for the earth and good for farmers and workers. Eating is a moral act.  Why?  The ethics of eating is about food choices. We can choose foods that are grown in ways that are good for the earth so that soil and water quality remain optimum for years to come.  We can choose foods that are grown for the good of the farmers with fair compensation for their labor, and with protection of their health and safety.  So eat what is good to grow and grow what is good to eat: that is the ethics of eating!  -- from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (

How Do I Buy Ethical Food?  
Start with local farmers' markets and Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate.  

For your city, just google farmers' market associations.

The Livermore Year Round Sunday Farmer's Market runs Sundays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM in the parking lot of the historic Southern Pacific Train Depot at L St. and Railroad Ave.  

The Pleasanton Farmers' Market is Saturday morning, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Main & W. Angela Street.  

All grocery stores carry products with the Fair Trade label on the package, from Ben and Jerry's chocolate ice creams to coffee and tea. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Advent Retreat in San Lorenzo, CA, by MaryKnoll

Advent Retreat:  What is God hoping to birth in you?

Keep the holiday season in perspective this year.

Join us the first weekend of Advent for quiet reflection and faith sharing as we ponder the Advent stories of Mary and Joseph and Elizabeth and Zechariah and ask ourselves, "How is God calling us to make God's love present in our lives and in the world?"

Maryknoll Region Center
Regional Center

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Prayer for Victims of Hurricane Sandy from Catholic Relief Services

For Those Impacted by Hurricane Sandy Prayer

God of Mercy,
You who created the universe and ordered it through a simple command, we humbly come to you today as your beloved children. We pray for those affected by Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean and Northeastern United States. Grant us the faith and perseverance to trust in you and seek first your Kingdom.

Above all, may this natural disaster serve as a reminder of the frailty of our lives and our interdependence. May we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters affected by Hurricane Sandy in the U.S. and the Caribbean, and may our day to day living always reflect our responsibility towards the poor and humanity as a whole.

We pray, through your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.

Sample Petitions:

Use any of these as part of the Prayer of the Faithful in Liturgy or a prayer service.

For the Church universal, that we honor our call to solidarity and respond with lives of compassion and healing for the poor and all of creation.
We pray...

For government officials and relief workers in the affected areas of Hurricane Sandy, that God will provide them the wisdom and resources to respond effectively to those in need.
We pray...

For our extended family in the Caribbean and Northeastern United States who suffered from Hurricane Sandy, may they find the strength and comfort to overcome the challenges they face.
We pray... 

Source: Catholic Relief Services -- a PDF file at the link below

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Help Victims of Hurricane Sandy Through Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA

Follow this link to make a donation to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  Catholic Charities USA is helping people in the United States while Catholic Relief Services is helping people in Haiti and other islands hit hard.  Thanks!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

National Catholic Rural Life Conference: The Ethics of Eating

Here is an awesome article from the National Catholic Rural LIfe Conference at:

The ethics of eating is about food choices, but much more than choosing vegetables over snack foods or a home cooked meal over fast food. Yes, part of this is choosing foods that are nutritious and healthy for us, then enjoying such food with family and guests. But just as important is choosing those foods that are grown and processed in responsible, sustainable and just ways. 

One measure is to grow foods in a way that are good for the earth.
As consumers, we can support the efforts of all those who practice sustainable agriculture and land stewardship. They make sure soil and water quality remain optimum for years to come.

As consumers, then, we should eat those foods that are good to grow.
We do this not only for the good of the earth, but also for the good of those who tend the earth and harvest our food. Our food choices can support the kind of food production that fairly compensates farmers and workers, and ensures their health and safety.

We serve the common good by eating what is good for the earth and good for farmers and workers. That is why we say eating is a moral act.

Needless to say, not all foods are produced in sustainable, fair or just ways. The industrial food system is based on intensive productivity that can and does have adverse impacts on farmers, process line workers and the environment. When we buy and eat foods produced in this way, we are supporting a system that is causing harm to others and to God's creation.
So how do we find foods produced sustainable, fairly and justly?
A good place to start is with local farmers: you can see how they grow food and know how they treat the land. Visit a farmers market or join a CSA.

Fair Trade foods are another source: You can support farmers in other countries who receive a fairer share of the food dollar. And protect the natural environment while they're at it.

Our food choices can help sustain rural communities by making sure family farms thrive and multiply, not dwindle and die.

So eat what is good to grow and grow what is good to eat: that is the ethics of eating!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An Election Year Prayer from Cardinal Burke

An Election Year Prayer
for the Faithful Witness of

Catholics in the United States

O Lord Jesus Christ,
You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
In Your Church You show us the Way,
You teach us the Truth, and You give us Your Life.
Grant, we humbly beg You,
that, always and in all things, we may
be faithful to You in Your Holy Church,
and to Your Vicar on Earth, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI.
Grant also, we beg You,
that, in these times of decision,
all who profess to be Catholic
and who are entrusted with the sacred duty to participate in public life, may, by the strength of Your grace, unwaveringly follow Your Way and faithfully adhere to Your Truth, living in You with all their mind and heart, for Your greater glory, the salvation of souls, and the good of our nation.  Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, Pray for us.
Saint Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, Pray for us.

-- By His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Sunday, October 28, 2012

60 Second Catholic Videos: "Faith Matters" -- from our bishops!

Faith Matters - a sixty-second reflection about faith, family and the issues that Catholics care about. These short messages, recorded by the bishops of California, air on Catholic radio stations around the state.