Personal Reflection on a College-Related Service Immersion Experience

Personal Reflection on A College-Related

Service Immersion Experience

By Elizabeth Garneau, parishioner

Over my spring break from Saint Joseph’s University, I attended an amazing service trip and I want to share some of my experiences. The Appalachian Experience, or APEX as we call it was one of the best weeks of my entire life. The APEX program is so popular at SJU, they filled 500 spots in just under 8 minutes this year! APEX is a week-long service immersion program during our spring break. There are 18 different sites in the Appalachian region and each site is very special and unique. We spend the semester leading up to the trip with our groups, learning about the poverty and injustices that our site faces. This year the site that I went to was Honaker, Virginia…

Click here to read the rest of the story.     Click here to see pictures from Liz’s experience.

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Statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


USCCB Chairmen Applaud Supreme Court’s Respect for Religious Liberty in Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision


June 4, 2018


WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case involves a Christian baker named Jack Phillips who declined in 2012 to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony. State officials sought to compel Phillips to create such cakes under Colorado’s public accommodations law. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following joint statement:


“Today’s decision confirms that people of faith should not suffer discrimination on account of their deeply held religious beliefs, but instead should be respected by government officials. This extends to creative professionals, such as Jack Phillips, who seek to serve the Lord in every aspect of their daily lives. In a pluralistic society like ours, true tolerance allows people with different viewpoints to be free to live out their beliefs, even if those beliefs are unpopular with the government.”


The USCCB filed an amicus curiae brief supporting Masterpiece Cakeshop, which can be found here:


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Support a Better Life for Human Trafficking Victims

“Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free victims and stop this crime that’s become ever more aggressive, that threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society.” – Pope Francis

The Pennsylvania Senate took a strong stand in support of victims of human trafficking with a unanimous vote on Senate Bill 554. The legislation would provide specialized services to victims of sex trafficking under the age of 18 instead of facing charges in the juvenile justice system. The bill would establish a statewide protocol to provide local services including safe and stable housing, access to education, employment and life-skills training, counseling, treatment for addictions, health care, and more. Rather than facing delinquency charges for prostitution, these children will get the help and support necessary to break free from enslavement.

The prime sponsors of SB 554 wrote to their colleagues, “These children are victims, not criminals, and they deserve the protection of the child welfare system, not re-victimization and incarceration in the juvenile justice system. Not only is this the right thing to do by these exploited children, it is also the most effective way to help law enforcement target the traffickers and pimps who are the real criminals.”

Pope Francis believes, “Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ.” As Catholics, we believe in the dignity of every human life and vehemently oppose human trafficking and modern-day slavery as it contravenes basic human dignity. In addition to working to eradicate human trafficking, our nation should ensure that victims have the services and support they need to heal.

Urge your state Representative to support a better life for sex trafficking victims and vote YES on SB 554.

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Important Update Regarding Foster Care and Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

BREAKING: Philly foster families ask court to stop City from shutting down critical foster care services

Philadelphia families speak up against the City’s harmful new policy


For Immediate Release: May 17, 2018

Media Contact: Melinda Skea | | 202-349-7224


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sharonell Fulton and other foster parents asked a Philadelphia court late yesterday to end a new City policy that is leaving foster homes sitting empty while the City is in a foster care crisis. In Sharonell Fulton, et al. v. City of Philadelphia, the City must answer for its decision to stop allowing Catholic Social Services to place children in foster homes, solely because the City disagrees with the agency’s religious beliefs – a decision the City is threatening to make permanent on June 30.


In March, the City of Philadelphia issued an urgent call for 300 new foster parents to provide loving homes for some of the over 6,000 kids in Philadelphia foster care. That same month, the City abruptly barred Catholic Social Services, one of the city’s top-rated foster agencies, from placing children with foster families. This decision makes it exponentially harder for hundreds of children in need of foster care to find homes. Foster homes are sitting empty, even as the city begs for more families to help in its foster care crisis.


“What justice is there in taking stable, loving homes away from children? If the City cuts off Catholic Social Services from foster care, foster moms like me won’t have the help and support they need to care for special-needs kids,” said Sharonell Fulton, a foster mother. “I have relied on Catholic Social Services for support for years, and the City is taking away this help and causing harm and heartache to countless families like mine.”


Sharonell has been a foster parent for over 25 years and has opened her home to over 40 children, including two children currently in her care. She strives to provide a loving, stable home and treat each child as if they were her own. To do that, Sharonell relies on Catholic Social Services’ help, including around-the-clock support and access to information and resources.


Catholic Social Services and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have been serving children throughout Philadelphia for over a century. Their Catholic mission drives them to find loving homes for all children in their care, regardless of the child’s race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. Catholic Social Services currently serves over 100 children in foster homes. No family or individual has ever complained that the agency’s Catholic mission prevented them from fostering or adopting a child.


“For a city with so much history, the people in charge have a pretty short memory,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket, which represents the families, children and Catholic Social Services. “For a century, Catholic Social Services has been serving children in Philadelphia. Those children are the ones hurt by the City’s actions.”


Sharonell Fulton, Cecelia Paul, Toni Simms-Busch, and Catholic Social Services are represented by Becket, and have asked the court to halt the City’s harmful policy. A hearing is expected later this year.







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Camp Cabrini 2018

Register online for Camp Cabrini 2018!

Shipwrecked: Rescued by Jesus

June 25 – 29, 9 AM – Noon

Cost: $25 (Add $10 for each additional child in a family)

Click here to register now. Call 215-946-1115 to volunteer!

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2018 Primary Voter’s Guide Now Available

2018 Primary Voter’s Guide Now Available – 2018 Primary Voter’s Guide

Covered races include: U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, Governor, Lt. Governor, State Senate (even-numbered districts) and State House. is:

  • Personalized: Identify just the candidates that will appear on your ballot – including your new Congressional district.
  • Factual: All answers are based on each candidate’s response or on publicly available information.
  • Non-partisan: Each candidate is treated equally and presents information to help you make an informed decision.
  • Church-friendly: Legal for any church to share with its members to help educate and encourage voting in the Primary Election on May 15th.
  • Free: Concerned Pennsylvanians dedicated to responsible citizenship have donated to Pennsylvania Family Council to make this resource available, free of charge.



In addition to our website, a printed postcard is available with the statewide races for U.S. Senate and Governor. To order bulk copies, click here.


Every election season, Pennsylvania Family Council offers resources to help you be an informed voter on Election Day. These resources are available thanks to the support we receive from families across Pennsylvania. To contribute to Pennsylvania Family Council in support of these resources, you may make a secure online donation or contact our office at 717-545-0600.


Election Day: Tuesday, May 15




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I need you to read this! Senate Bill 613

For more than 20 years, Pennsylvania Family Council has raised concerns to lawmakers, our fellow citizens and ministry partners like you regarding proposals to create special classes in the law based on “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.”  This is not unique to us; pro-family groups in Washington and all across the nation have also opposed such legislation because of the threat it poses to personal privacy and religious liberty.


Given these threats, and confusion about the issue here in Pennsylvania, I am sending you this important message:


Does the Bill that Sen. Wagner and Gov. Wolf Support Open Up Bathrooms, Showers & Locker Rooms to the Opposite Sex?

Is it a Bathroom Bill?


We’ve been receiving a lot of questions about Senate Bill 613, sponsored by Sen. Scott Wagner and strongly supported by Gov. Tom Wolf.  The bill is sometimes referred to as the “bathroom bill.”


Statements by the bill’s supporters – whether in public or social media have brought serious confusion about whether the proposal would put personal privacy in bathrooms, showers and locker rooms at risk.  Sen. Wagner, for example, has said “I am not supportive of boys and girls sharing bathrooms,” but continues to back the bill which many national and state groups say would jeopardize privacy, and allow the opposite sex into privacy facilities like bathrooms.


Let’s look at the facts:



SB 613 would add “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Currently, there are 18 sponsors of the legislation in the State Senate, including 14 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Laws using essentially the same language elsewhere have opened up bathrooms, showers, dressing rooms, and locker rooms to persons of the opposite sex.


Here’s How:

Under the concept of “gender identity or expression,” a person’s gender is determined solely on the basis of what they think they are –not their anatomy. Thus, a person who is in every way physically/anatomically a male, but “identifies” as a female, under SB 613 cannot be denied entry into a women’s locker room, dressing room, shower or bathroom.


Others with significant expertise on the issue agree: 


“If sexual orientation and gender identity were added to anti-discrimination law, then public accommodations couldn’t exclude transgender people from the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity ‘any more than you could exclude Muslims’ from an establishment.”  Mariah Passarelli, a lawyer at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC who specializes in employment and anti-discrimination law. (This firm also lobbied for this proposal).


“Prohibiting individuals from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity would likely be interpreted to be discrimination based on gender identity in violation of the law.” Christy Mallory, of the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, a think tank that researches sexual orientation and gender law and public policy. (March 12, 2018 Philadelphia Inquirer)


Based on all the evidence and experience in other states with similar laws, SB 613 (and its companion bill in the House) would result in opening up showers, locker rooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms to members of the opposite sex that identify or express themselves otherwise.  Those that care about personal privacy must oppose this legislation.


Additional resources:

  • Philadelphia Inquirer, Gender, bathroom wars and the Pa. GOP governor’s race: What are the issues?, March 12, 2018.
  • Citizen Action Center: Tell your State Senator and State Representative to oppose SB 613:
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Fish Fry fishAt the request of our parishioners who enjoyed our Lenten fish frys, we are bringing the Fish Fry back for another night of delicious seafood, pizza, French fries, appetizers, soup and more! Please join us this Friday, April 20, from 4-7 PM in the Monsignor Woods Hall.  Families are welcome.  Entertainment for the kids!  Good food!  Dine In or Take Out.  You also have the option to pre-order before 12 noon on Friday by calling the rectory at 215-946-4040.  Hope to see you there!

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HB 2050 Passes with 71% Veto-Proof Majority Vote!


Amazing news!

After a lengthy floor debate, the PA House of Representatives just voted 139-56 to PASS House Bill 2050 – the Down Syndrome Protection Act! That’s a 71% majority vote and a veto-proof majority! That means despite Governor Wolf threatening a veto, this vote sets the stage for a potential override of that threat.

139 State Representatives should be thanked for their desire to protect unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome here in Pennsylvania. For now, send a “Thank You!” to Representative Judy Ward at: and to Speaker Mike Turzai at: for their leadership on this legislation.

Today’s vote is not the finish line. Passing the Down Syndrome Protection Act into law still has a ways to go. The next step is now up to your State Senator and the full State Senate to pass this reasonable and needed legislation. Click here to read the full email regarding the Downs Syndrome Protection Act from Michael Geer, President of the Pennsylvania Family Council.

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father daughterThe annual Father/Daughter Dance will be held this weekend, Saturday, April 21, from 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM in the Monsignor Woods Hall.  Fathers and daughters are invited to share a wonderful evening together with music, dancing, food and friends.  This year’s theme is Country Western.  Tickets are $25 per family and are available at the rectory.  Please call the rectory to reserve your tickets.  215-946-4040.

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