Category Archives: Church in the World

My Time at the Border

by Kayla Sue Jacobs

Kayla at the Border

“The Catholic Church is beautiful, it is a beautiful religion.” I was sitting in my rental car in the middle of the southern California desert with a man from Honduras and his young son. He was thanking me for all of the assistance he and his son received from Catholic Charities of San Bernardino as they were seeking asylum in the U.S. Their short stay with us at the Catholic Charities respite center for asylum seekers was their last stop before reuniting with their loved ones in the U.S. We were waiting for his Greyhound bus to take them to their family in Texas. He was one of the 501 asylum seekers I came in contact with during my two weeks with Catholic Charities at Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church in Coachella, California.

The Central American Project of Catholic Charities of the San Bernardino Diocese is a partnership between Catholic Charities and Our Lady of Soledad Parish. Asylum seekers come to them after being released from border patrol. At that point they are free to travel to their U.S. sponsor, usually a family member already in the U.S. The problem, however, is that they do not have the means to get to them. Many of them arrive with little to no money. The main objective of the Central American Project is to get their guests to their families as quickly as possible by coordinating their travel plans, getting them travel money, and giving them a ride to the bus station or airport.

It was always a bitter sweet experience dropping people off at the bus station. It was exciting because they were on their last leg of travel before seeing their family members. It was their last leg of many weeks of horrible travel, in horrible conditions. Truly their time with us was the most hopeful time during their journey. It was kind of a light at the end of the tunnel of sorts. But it was also bitter because we all knew that the journey didn’t end there. Once they make it to their destination, there is still a chance that they won’t be granted asylum and eventually they might be sent back to their country of origin.

At the respite center there was a large crucifix hanging in one of the hallways. I would frequently see people praying in front of it. I can’t imagine what those prayers were like at a time of such uncertainty for them.

Since I left the center I’ve heard reports that not as many people have been arriving due to changing U.S. policy and debate around the issue. People are stuck with border patrol or in Mexico without getting a chance to seek asylum, which is leading to dangerous situations such as the horrible instance of the young father and his daughter drowning in the Rio Grande on June 23rd, 2019. There is even more uncertainty for asylum seekers now than ever before.

That uncertainty calls for certain action amongst us all. My time at the border motivated me in my work here, locally, to lobby for a change in policy that would help all immigrants and asylum seekers and to resist unjust treatment towards people at the border but also in our local community. The people who came through our doors were traveling to communities all over the U.S., so quite literally it is a local issue. They are our actual neighbors, who we are supposed to welcome, love, and protect.

In the yard of the respite center there was a huge shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Let us pray through her intercession for the protection of asylum seekers and everyone on a journey of uncertainty. Let us also pray for the conversion of hearts towards a dedication to welcoming our neighbors. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

About the author:

Kayla Sue Jacobs is the Relief and Development Coordinator for the Joliet Diocese Office for Human Dignity and a member of the Nativity House – Catholic Worker Community in Lockport, Illinois.

Invest in a better world

 

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“Individual Christians who are shareholders and those responsible within church institutions that own stocks in U.S. corporations must see to it that the invested funds are used responsibly…their stewardship embraces broader moral concerns.” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Economic Justice for All,” 354)

Most people do not realize that the Catholic church presents very clear direction on how an authentic Christian should, and should not, invest their assets. If you think about it for more than 5 seconds, all the dots start to connect.

  • In Genesis, humankind was given dominion, and stewardship, over all creation.
  • When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus makes his famous statement about loving God above all else and one’s neighbor as one’s self.
  • The Second Vatican Council states “…the social order and its development must invariably work to the benefit of the human person.”
  • The parable of the talents is all about investing the gifts God has given us, even to the point where the servant who buries his talent in a field is thrown into the darkness!

I could go on and on. Indeed, investing encompasses nearly every aspect of the Christian life, yet it is too often thought of as outside the sphere of faith. Conscientious Catholics vote in alignment with the precepts of their faith. Many individuals will not shop at a store that is suspected of violating human rights or damaging the environment through the production of goods. Yet, the vast majority of individuals have no idea if those same companies are owned in their portfolio! Or worse, they use a mentality that business and investing somehow get their own set of ethics and disregard their faith completely in these decisions.

Think about your portfolio. Do you own individual stocks or mutual funds? Do you know every stock held in that mutual fund? Are you certain the stocks held, individually or within funds, do not engage in the production of abortifacients or embryonic stem-cell research? These issues are known as intrinsic evils, meaning that no amount of good can justify the evil inherent in them. In other words, no amount of profit or diversification can justify holding stocks that participate in these activities. That is not my opinion, that is Church teaching. What about environmental depletion? Pharmaceutical price gouging? Child labor in supply chains? Are you profiting from these extrinsic evils?

But enough of the “Catholic guilt.” What about all the good that can come from investing ethically? That’s where I, personally, got really interested in socially responsible investing. Active ownership is a process by which an investor engages with the companies held in their portfolio to affect positive social change. Activist investors have encouraged numerous firms to start issuing sustainability reports that seek to measure and improve environmental impact. Some of the greatest active ownership achievements have made material differences on issues like human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, racism and sexism.

Furthermore, impact investing is a strategy whereby an investor proactively invests in companies that do good. There are large, publicly traded companies that make good global citizenship a priority. Those are the kinds of profits I want in my portfolio.

Business and investing should not have its own set of rules. If you’re still unsure, check out my piece “The Catholic Case for Ethical Investing” available on http://www.elinvestments.net/literature.* Talk to your financial advisor about socially responsible investing. If they don’t know as much about it as you do, it’s probably time to start interviewing new advisors and living your faith in your portfolio.

About the Author

KJ Smith

KJ Smith, CFP®, ChFC®

KJ Smith founded Ethos Logos Investments after realizing that most socially responsible investment advisors are focused solely on the institutional market, thus leaving individuals and small business owners without the exposure, resources, or guidance necessary to integrate their morals and ethics into their portfolio.

KJ has over a decade of industry experience working with Catholic institutions, Fortune 500 companies, closely-held business owners, independent contractors, and individual investors. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® and a CHARTERED FINANCIAL CONSULTANT®. He has a BBA from Loyola University Chicago where he majored in Finance and minored in Theology, including two summers studying abroad in Rome and Spain. He is a parishioner, a cantor, and a finance board committee member at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Aurora, IL. He is also on the leadership team for Fit Shepherds.

KJ and his wife, Amanda, just welcomed their 4th child in 2018. KJ enjoys coaching his kids’ sports activities, hunting, working out, and spending as much time outside as possible.

KJ recently presented a workshop on Socially Responsible Investing to a gathering of Life and Justice leaders from throughout the Joliet Diocese. We encourage you and your parish to consider further study of this important, but often overlooked, area of Christian discipleship. We highly recommend KJ for an engaging and informative parish presentation.

 

 

*Securities offered through Securities America, Inc Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. Ethos Logos Investments and Securities America are separate entities.