Collection for Catholic Relief Services

ShoesDear Parishioners,

Okay, who’s the wise-guy? (Or wise-gal?)

Who hooked me up with a subscription to Modern Farmer magazine? Well, whoever you are, I want you to know that the first issue arrived this week. There’s an alarmingly cute picture of an alpaca on the cover to go along with the cleverly-titled lead article, “The definitive guide to raising alpacas.” It certainly was for me! I learned that alpacas don’t bite or butt and are free of sharp teeth, horns, hooves, or claws. Their fleece is apparently worth a small fortune. Maybe we should raffle off a few at the next parish picnic.

Other fascinating articles in the Fall issue include, “Composting from Coast to Coast,” “Organic, Schmorganic: what you didn’t know about USDA certification,” and “Cropping Garlic (both hardneck and softneck)” There’s also a recipe for Rabbit Pot Pie. You do need two rabbits for it (“gutted, skinned, cleaned, and cut into pieces, scraps reserved”) but, hey, it serves eight people!

Lest you think that Modern Farmer lacks a social consciousness, there’s a timely article about a program called New Roots, run by the International Rescue Committee that enables refugees from around the world to grow food in urban settings. From the South Bronx to San Diego, more than a dozen large cities in the U.S. provide parcels of land—through lease or other arrangements—to be farmed by refugees and individuals in the community. The crops are sold at farmer’s markets or used to feed families directly. As an additional benefit, working alongside locals also helps newcomers to better integrate into neighborhoods.

It’s a fine thing to consider this week as we learn that Germany closed its borders to train traffic on the Austrian side, attempting to stem the tidal wave of immigrants flowing into Europe from Syria. A domino effect will probably follow from other countries. Things started out welcoming enough (did you see that photo of donated and sorted shoes lined up at a German train station to be given to any of the refugees in need after their long march to freedom?) but I guess the realities of the influx of so many people have made citizens nervous. I can’t blame them. There are no easy or comfortable answers here. But when you read that there’s evidence that ISIS and Bashar al-Assad are using chemical weapons against the Syrians and that the refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, are all bursting at the seams and running out of food, you realize that these families have to go somewhere.

Pray for the refugees? Sure. Also, Bishop Caggiano has asked that a collection be taken up next weekend in all the parishes of the diocese. This collection will be sent to Catholic Relief Services which has a significant ground presence in many of the countries involved. But so many in the world have been given the intelligence, resources, and compassion to be an integral part of figuring out a solution to this problem. I think we should also pray for those who have all of the above, for the inspiration and direction to use those gifts well.

That, to me, makes perfect, modern, farmer’s, common, sense….

Father John