Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of April, 2019
April 4—International Day of Landmine Awareness & Assistance in Mine Action
Each year April 4th is a day to raise awareness of the persistent danger of landmines and the progress made towards complete elimination of their production and use. Even in areas where armed conflicts have been resolved, hundreds of innocent people continue to be killed or maimed for life by landmines. These weapons are indiscriminate, wounding or killing farmers, travelers, children at play, and women and girls collecting water. This day seeks to raise awareness of the problem, locate and mark off areas where landmines persist in order to protect people and livestock, train and deploy teams to locate and remove landmines, and educate people about the dangers in their own areas. It is also a time to press governments to act to extend and implement the banning of landmines. With 15-20,000 adults and children killed or injured by landmines each year, every one of the 84 affected nations need to have organized, government-controlled education and removal efforts to protect their citizens.
God of peace, help us to turn away from war and toward unity and respect. Help us to work courageously for an end to the production and use of landmines that continue to injure and kill long after armed conflicts are over. Help us to protect Earth and to restore right relationship with earth and with each other.
April 7—World Health Day
2019 marks the 71st anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO). Universal healthcare coverage, in order to secure access to basic healthcare is still a dream in many countries. Even in the United States, one of the richest countries of the world, about 20 million people still have no health coverage. Health security is essential to developing countries if they are to have thriving economies that serve all people. Sharing health information, research and resources equitably is needed in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030. We cannot have healthy and sustainable economic development unless people are healthy. Clean water, adequate nutrition and access to basic healthcare are the essential building blocks of any society. Enhancing partnerships that can strenghthen health delivery even to the remotest of areas is a challenge that must be met. This year’s theme, “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere”, is possible to achieve through cooperation, dedication and organization.
Holy One, we pray for people throughout the world who do not have access to affordable basic healthcare. Where war and other forms of violence make healthcare delivery impossible, help us to create peace. Where there is inadequate infrastructure, help us to create roads, water source development, sewage treatment and waste disposal options that are safe and sustainable. Where there is hunger and malnutrition, help us to share the fruits of our harvests with those in need. Help each of us to do what we can to make healthy living and access to healthcare possible.
April 12—International Day for Street Children
In every nation of the world and in every age, children have been found living on the streets, without the protection, support or guidance of a parent or adult guardian. This day is set aside to raise consciousness about the plight of street children and to listen to their voices. All children need love and security in order to fully develop into contributing members of society. Globally, millions of street children live without knowing where their next meal will be found, where they will sleep at night, how they will stay warm in cold weather and who they can trust when they need a friend. Even though children are a society’s most precious resource, street children are often ignored, feared, despised or taken advantage of. Many have lost their parents to war, violence, drug abuse, or abandonment. Domestic violence is often the cause of children running away from home and ending up on the streets. No matter the cause, very few programs exist to try to help street children with food, clothing, health care and education. Pictured on the left is S. Afra whose program in Tanzania Africa provides shelter, clothing, food and education to orphaned street children. Most of these children have been orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic.
Loving God, protect all street children throughout the world as they struggle to survive. Help us to respond with love and respect whenever we encounter them. Surround them with generous people who will give them food, comfort and shelter. Through our response to them, let these children know that they are loved. Restore their hope for their futures and keep them safe.
April 22—Earth Day
The 2019 Earth Day theme is: "Protect Our Species." “Nothing Exists Alone” (Rachel Carson, 1962). All life on our planet is interdependent, and for the first time, the accelerated rate of species extinctions are the result of human activity and its affect on the environment. We must work together to save endangered and threatened species if we are going to successfully preserve the intricate web of life on Earth. Protecting the diversity of environments and species is urgent and requires cooperation, dedication and persistence.
The Protect Our Species campaign has 4 goals:
- Educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.
- Achieve major policy victories that protect broad groups of species as well as individual species and their habitats.
- Build and activate a global movement that embraces nature and its values.
- Encourage individual actions such as adopting plant-based diet and stopping pesticide and herbicide use.
These goals align well with the UISG 2-year “Sowing Hope for the Planet” campaign which calls all of us to reflect on the call of Laudato Si to care for Earth and for the poor in a way that protects all of creation. This web of life is sacred. All creation has intrinsic value, revealing to us the wonder and splendor of the Creator. Let us all commit ourselves to protect and honor all creation.
Creator God, open our eyes and our hearts to the plight of our Mother Earth. Today we renew our dedication to protect our species by protecting all creation. Help us to honor Earth’s rich diversity. Guide us in our lives as we make the changes necessary to preserve the intricate web of life for generations to come.
Suggested FCJM-Participation for the Month of March, 2019
March 8—International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day (IWD) was first recognized by the United Nations in 1975. However, IWD was first celebrated in New York in 1911 and was supported by over one million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." The Theme for IWD 2019 is #BalanceforBetter. The theme aims at raising awareness that everyone everywhere has a part to play in building a gender balanced, better world. The world of the present and future expects balance, and we notice its absence and celebrate its presence. This day calls to our attention that gender balance is essential for economies and communities to flourish and for individuals to thrive.
Oh, Holy One, as we celebrate the lives, struggles and gifts of women and girls around the world, we ask that you bless us as we work towards equality and balance for a better world. Keep us steadfast in our commitment to balance and equality in family life, civil society, the work place, and religious institutions. Inspire all women and girls to know their gifts and to use them for the common good. As we remember the great women who have inspired us and who have walked this path before us, may we continue to dedicate ourselves to equality, freedom and gender balance at all levels of Church and Society.
March 21—Week of Solidarity Against Racism and Racial Discrimination
March 21st begins the UN week of solidarity against racism and racial discrimination. This date was chosen to remember the 69-people killed by police on March 21, 1960, at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid "pass laws" in Sharpeville, South Africa. Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a major problem in many parts of the world. Too often, people are still judged by the color of their skin, rather than by the content of their character. (paraphrased from Martin Luther King, Jr.) This day calls our attention to discrimination in the work place, in employment and advancement opportunities, in housing, in education and in unjust incarceration. Racial slurs and hate speech also help to fan the flames of racially motivated violence. This week we commit ourselves to the elimination of racial discrimination in all its forms, which prevents individuals as well as communities from living up to their full potential.
O God, we ask your blessing as we examine our own lives and discover what racial discrimination may lurk within us. Help us to recognize our own complicity and give us the courage and strength to reject racism in all its forms. Help us to reach out to those who may seem different from ourselves, so that we can come to a deeper understanding of how we are all one, called to create a world of understanding, compassion and love.
March 22—World Water Day
This Day was established in 1993 by the UN to raise awareness among all people about the need to protect and conserve the precious gift of water. This year’s theme is “Water For All—Leaving No One Behind”, and recognizes that no matter who you are or where you are, everyone has a right to safe water. Water is a human right, since no one can live without water. The UN Sustainable Development Goal #6 calls for “Water for All” by 2030. Yet, today billions of people are living without access to clean, safe water for drinking, cooking, bathing, growing crops, and sustaining healthy lives. Marginalized groups often have their access to water severely restricted or cut off. Their water sources are maybe contaminated, thus affecting their health and quality of life. Ensuring access to safe water is essential for human life and for social development.
God, we thank you for the precious gift of Sister Water. Water soothes and refreshes us, cleanses and sustains us, waters our crops and provides us with food, teams with life in oceans, lakes, rivers and streams. Help us to care for Water by protecting it from contamination and by using it wisely. Let us work to provide universal access to clean, uncontaminated water, so that everyone everywhere can live!
March 25—International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
This UN day of remembrance has been held annually since 2008. Over 17 million Africans were transported to the Americas during 16th to the mid-19th centuries, with many millions more dying in route. This day is a special day for remembering—remembering all those who were sold into slavery as well as those who died during the treacherous Atlantic crossing. Systemic and institutionalized racism remains today as a legacy of the slave trade. Discrimination, racial profiling and racially motivated hate crimes continue to plague our world as hold-0vers of its brutality. Despite the generations subjected to slavery, those victimized by it still held on to hope. They contributed to the building up of entire societies in immeasurable ways, through their strength, resilience and creativity, in spite of brutality, humiliation, family separations and deprivations. This is a day to honor those who suffered, but also to honor their descendants who carry on their personal histories of hope, strength, survival, courage and love. This is a day to remember that we are all sisters and brothers to one another, free and equal, working to build a more just and peaceful world.
God, we ask forgiveness for the suffering caused to so many people by the transatlantic slave trade. Heal us all of the racism that continues to divide us from one another. Help us to respect, honor and support one another as equals, created to bring justice and love to our world. Help us to work diligently to end all forms of modern-day slavery, such as human trafficking.