Bulletin (July 29, 2007)

Before heading to my 35th anniversary reunion in Salt Lake City, I signed a number of letters to those who are behind on their pledges to the Capital Campaign. This summer we hope to contact them as well as parish donors who have not yet made a pledge. This is partly because of the importance of the Capital Campaign and our desire to give every parishioner the greatest opportunity to participate. It is also a pastoral outreach. By doing this we hope to find out if there are situations that require specific pastoral attention. I would also ask that if you know of someone who is homebound who is not receiving the Eucharist, please notify the parish office or call me or Deacon Ted directly.

Recently, I asked Parish Administrator Gary Samaniego for a list of pending projects. There are quite a few. Some will be covered by contributions to the Capital Campaign (for example, a new boiler for the church and the tuckpointing of the south wall of the school). The work on the second floor of the school will be paid for from the “fund-an-item” from this year’s school auction and the renovation of the old baptistery by the Annual Appeal, and most specifically, by a generous donation from John Bazic in memory of his wife Helen. Much needed acoustical tiles for the Tice Hall will be purchased from donations to this Sunday’s second collection. There were a number of other projects on Gary’s list. We will tackle them as we continue to receive contributions for the Capital Campaign and from your generosity to the first collection – your weekly Stewardship – which makes possible the ongoing operation of our parish. I should also mention that Gary could use more volunteers to help maintain our grounds and buildings.

Many of you remember Obst. Luz Marron, director of the Mary Bloom Center, who visited our parish in 2002. (The picture shows Luz, her daughter Melani, together with me, my sister Melanie and her husband Alex.) Luz and Melani visited the United States using visas that the U.S. Embassy in Lima granted to them in November of 2001. Their visas were valid for ten years, from 2001 until 2011. Unfortunately, in February of 2006, Luz and Melani were robbed, losing their Peruvian passports in which the U.S. visas were stamped.

Now, you would think that if someone had the misfortunate of having their passports robbed, it would be a fairly simple process to have new passports stamped with the U.S. visas. Maybe like replacing a lost driver’s license or credit card? Not so. Instead of simply looking up their records and re-stamping the passports, the U.S. Embassy in Peru required them to begin the whole process all over again. This involved paying a $100 non-refundable fee for each application, then filling out a series of forms and waiting for an interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Lima. They did all this and when they were given an appointment, they paid for the round-trip flight from Juliaca to Lima (a total cost of about $450). When they got to the U.S. Embassy, a young woman employed by the Embassy took a quick look at their papers and then denied them the replacement visas! When Luz asked the reason, the woman said they “lacked financial solvency.” This is strange. Although Luz is far from being wealthy, her financial situation is better today than when she applied in 2001 and was granted the ten-year visa. And why should the fact that she was a victim of a robbery mean that a valid ten-year visa should be negated?

For sure, this is not the greatest tragedy or the worst injustice in the world. Still, it does point to a reality that affects us all. In Holy Family Parish, where we have so many immigrant families, one often hears about people being treated in rude and arbitrary ways at U.S. Embassies throughout the world. Perhaps you read in the news that foreign visitors to the U.S. have dropped drastically in the past five years, with a negative affect on our economy. Worse than the negative economic impact is how this undermines our system of law. People throughout the world desire to visit or immigrate to the United States in a legal and orderly manner. But when they are treated in irrational and arbitrary ways, it goes against the whole purpose of our legal system. It would be easy to say, “too bad, but it won’t do any good to protest. No one listens anyway.” However, as a citizen I feel it is important to speak up when injustices happen which affect many people. I wrote to the U.S. ambassador in Lima, laying the whole situation out before him. I will let you know if I hear anything back from the embassy.

Meanwhile, I want to once more express my gratitude to those who support the Mary Bloom Center, particularly our recent effort to provide blankets for families suffering from the extreme cold wave. The cold is abating somewhat as they move out of the worst part of the Andean winter, but the need is still great.

Finally, I thank you for your ongoing prayers for my sister Melanie. As you remember, last year at the end of July, she suffered a series of Transient Ischemic Attacks and then a stroke which affected the right side of her body. Thanks to a lot of prayer and much therapy, she has made a remarkable recovery, but still is a long way from having full use of her right side. Ongoing prayers are appreciated. As Jesus says this Sunday, “ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Antes de irme a Salt Lake City para la celebración de 35 años de sacerdocio, firmé cartas a los que están atrasados en sus compromisos a la Campaña Capital. Este verano queremos ponernos en contacto con ellos y los donadores de la parroquia que todavía no han hecho un compromiso. Al entrar en los últimos meses de la Campaña, queremos dar la mayor oportunidad a todos para su particpación. Al mismo tiempo quisieramos saber si uno u otro feligres tiene una situacion que requiere atención pastoral.

En la parte en inglés he mencionado varios proyectos pendientes. Este domingo la segunda colecta es para un proyecto muy importante: tejas acústicas para el Salon Tice. Como ustedes saben, cuando hay mucha gente en el salon, es dificil mantener una conversación a causa del ruido. Admemas de pedir su apoyo economico, nuestro administrador parroquial, Gary Samaniego, siempre está buscando voluntarios para ayude con el mantenimiento de los edificios y jardines de la parroquia.

Muchos de ustedes se acuerdan a la Obst. Luz Marron, directora del Centro Mary Bloom, que visitó a la parroquia en 2002 con su hija Melani. (La foto la muestra con un juguete que mi cuñado Alex le dio.) En aquel tiempo ellos tuvieron una visa de diez años (de 2001 a 2011) y naturalmente estaban pensando en la posibilidad de otra visita, especialmente que Melani tuviera lo oportunidad de practicar su inglés con niños aquí. Pues, el año pasado alguien las robó y perdiendo sus pasaportes con las visas. Lo que sucedió no va a sorprender a algunos de ustedes que han tenido malas experiencias con embajadas americanas. Se puede pensar que sería un proceso sencillo para remplazar la visa, pero la Embajada Americana en Lima requirió empezar el proceso de nuevo: pagar $100 para cada aplicación, llenar varios formularios, juntar diferentes documentos e ir a Lima para una cita. Despues de hacer todo esto con un gasto considerable, la trabajadora de la embajada les negó el remplazo de sus visas. Dijo que fue por “falta de solvencia financiera,” pero parece que fue más un capricho de la señorita que les atendió. Luz no es rica, pero su situación economica es mejor ahora que en noviembre de 2001 cuando la embajada le dio las visas de diez años de validez. Yo sé que muchas personas sufren injusticias semejantes, pero este desprecio de dos personas buenas, me dio tanta cólera que escribí una carta al Embajador. Les informaré a ustedes si recibo una respuesta.