April Newsletter: The Ukraine

            “When they reached the place called The Skull, they crucified him there and the two criminals also, one on the right , the other on the left.  Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’”  (Luke 23)

Dear Friends,                                                                                                         Good Friday 2022

            A number of you have told me what you think of the war in Ukraine.  I’ve heard Putin is a demon. He’s like Hitler. The next thing he’ll do is invade Poland. He slaughters children and bombs hospitals.  He’s crazy.  He’s a war criminal. He must be stopped.

            I too feel that the war in Ukraine is a war crime. I too believe that killing civilians is murder. This must stop.   However, I am amazed that while my friends describe Putin and Russia in such damning terms, they do not see the parallels with past actions of the U.S.

            During the Cuban Missile crisis, the U.S. almost went to all out nuclear war with Russia because Russia dared to station nuclear missiles in Cuba – so close to our border!!!!

If Ukraine (which borders Russia) were to become a member of NATO, what is to stop the U.S. from stationing nuclear weapons there as we already have done in Italy, Belgium, Turkey, the Netherlands, and Germany?  These are the very weapons that our Catholic Worker (Susan Crane) has been protesting for years.  So maybe there are “reasons” for Russia insuring that such weapons are never near her borders. Regardless of the rational, this war is a war crime.

            Furthermore, our President and our Secretary of State have emphatically emphasized that “Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime.” (Secretary of State Anthony Blinken).
Where was such an outcry when the U.S. used SHOCK AND AWE to bomb the densely populated capital of Iraq (Baghdad) in 2003?  Every one of our bombs dropped on Iraq’s capital killed some civilians. Thousands of bombs were dropped.  Why?  Because Iraq was producing “weapons of mass destruction” that were never found. In the U.S. our war crimes and the victims of our war crimes do not count.  Nevertheless, the deliberate targeting of civilians (whether in Baghdad or Kyiv) is a war crime and must be condemned.

            Most of us believe the U.S. has a free press.  We see today many pictures of the civilian victims of Russian aggression (children, families, babies).  I recall seeing no pictures of the victims of “Shock and Awe” in Iraq.  The U.S. censored our press coverage of war crimes in Iraq.

            If the current war teaches us anything, it’s that war is not the road to peace and all wars are war crimes.  We must practice and learn non-violence as a way to the future. 

            I know. This sounds idealistic, unrealistic, and impractical. In our history we have tried to use war as the road to peace over and over again. It has never worked.  The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome. Non-violence is the only way our society has an opportunity to survive in the long run. Our world is shrinking.  We are all one people with one Earthly home.  All wars are civil wars within our family and we must stop killing our brothers and sisters.

            As Lent ends, our world, Russia, our country and each of us have a lot for which we can ask God’s forgiveness. Have a Holy Easter Week.

Love,

                                                                                    Larry for all of us.

P.S. Our eighth grader (who lives with us and goes to school at St. Francis Center) just learned that she has been accepted into Sacred Heart High School on a full scholarship for next year.  SPECTACULAR!!!!!

NEEDS

  1. Food in any amount.             
  • Household needs:  black garbage bags, a 24 inch electric stove and oven for our ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) on Cassia St., dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, paper coffee cups, grocery bags etc.
  • Transportation:  Donations of used cars are scarce.  We have very poor working families that need cars and day laborers who need bikes.  Call Larry or Susan at (650) 366-4415.
  • Homeless needs: Bus passes, granola bars & snacks, camping gear, backpacks, tents sleeping bags, warm jackets etc.  Call Susan or Aurora (650) 366-4415.
  • Day Laborers: Need a worker?…man or woman…call (650) 339-2794.
  • A house or money to buy a house or property on which we could build a house as a new Catholic Worker Center.  Call Larry for a free cup of coffee. If an entire house is too much then you can help Fumi Tosu at Dandelion House P.O. Box 12004 Portland, Or. 97212.
  • The Catholic Worker is buying a new FOOD TRUCK.  Each week we pick up and distribute 10,000 pounds of free, fresh produce.  We have just received earmarked monies for the 2023 Truck, the box and the hydraulic lift:  $50,000 from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation and $10,000 from Connie and Bob Lurie.  We are short $4,500.
  • Your ongoing love and support.

Jan Johanson, February Newsletter 2022

      “Be a sheltering rock for me, a walled fortress to save me! For you are my rock my fortress.  My God, rescue me… I promise I will thank you on the lyre, my ever-faithful God, I will play the harp in your honor, Holy One of Israel. ” (Ps. 71)

Dear Friends,                                                                                                               Feb. 2022

Jan Johanson and Sister Mary Jane Floyd, P.V.B.M.

Jan Johanson died at home and continues her journey into life and love.  After living and working at the Catholic Worker for over 20 years, she is a wonderful example of the “Communion of Saints living and dead.”

 When Jan moved from her home near Atherton to live and work full time at the Catholic Worker, she was in her late 50’s, a grandmother, and had experienced the early death of two husbands.  While Jan was with us, her dear daughter Laura died. Jan knew life and love, death and pain.  She brought all of her life experiences to the children at the Catholic Worker.  She became their mom or grandmother or auntie depending. Her excellent sense of taste changed the Worker House into a HOME.  Her motherly love transformed our teens one life at a time. It was Jan who represented us in El Salvador; she visited a village there to see how they spent $20,000 we sent for homes bombed by the war.  When Jan walked into the mountain village, over 300 residents (the entire village) were waiting to greet her for a party and show her the 18 homes and the school that they built with the money we sent.

            One morning while Jan and I were having a cup of coffee, a newly arrived teen came bleary eyed into the kitchen and asked, “What’s the party all about?”  In fact, there was no party– just Jan and I sharing a cup of brew, talking about life and laughing a lot.  Jan celebrated life with us and I’m sure that’s exactly what she’s doing in her new home.

            While Jan is now set, the rest of us must carry on.  Susan returned from her trial in Germany.  She explained to the German Court that the presence of U.S. nuclear bombs on both German soil and in German airplanes violates many treaties including the “Non-proliferating Treaty.”  Even though the prosecutor asked for a sentence of 180 days, the Judge upped it to 200 days because Susan lacked “remorse.”  The Judge was worried about the cost of a wire fence, while Susan wept for the survival of Earth.  Susan returns to Germany for the next stage (an appeal) in May.  She represents all of us.                    

       Dandelion House: The Redwood City Catholic Worker will be sending $550,000 to Oregon for a new Catholic Worker House.  Fumi Tosu has raised another $100,000 and is very close to buying a house. God bless him.  Thanks to all of you who have been so good to him.  Checks can be made to “Dandelion House” and sent to P.O. 12004 Portland, Oregon 97212

                                                                                    Love and gratitude,

                                                                                    Larry Purcell, Ronnie Georges, Sr. Mary Jane Floyd, Jan Johanson, Susan Crane, J. Arthur White, Aida Figueroa, and Aurora Thibault.         

P.S. Until Feb. 27th the “Black History Museum and learning center” will be open.  Location: 890 Jefferson St. Redwood City.  (What was Cost Plus World Market).  This museum has tons of stuff about the leadership of black lives in our history. Most children know about Martin Luther King and this exhibit will tremendously expand their horizons. It’s free anddonations are welcome.

                                                NEEDS

  1. Food in any amount.  Our Wed. and Thur. breakfasts for about 50 homeless friends continues.  Frozen breakfasts are great: lasagna, burritos, pizza, eggs, syrup, salsa, bacon or sausage, chicken etc.
  2. Household needs:  black garbage bags, Clorox and cleanser, a 24 inch electric stove & oven for our ADU (apartment), large paper bags for groceries, reusable bags, bus passes, condiments, simple green cleaner, etc.
  3. Homeless needs:  Each week we visit homeless encampments and bring what you give us: tents, sleeping bags, back packs, ropes, tarps, under wear, camping equipment, gift cards to fast food, bus passes etc.  We need snacks for the 30 bags we give away each week. For details call Susan or Aurora (650) 366-4415.
  4. Day Laborers:  If you need a male or female worker call (650) 339-2794.
  5. Transportation:  We have a list of working poor families that need cars or Bikes or whatever to get around.  Call Larry or Susan (650) 366-4415.
  6. Resistance Fund:  Our Resistance Fund has paid for Susan’s trips so far and it looks like we will need another $4,000 for at least 2 more trips to Germany. Call Larry (650) 366-4415. 
  7. Your ongoing love and support.

November 2021 Newsletter:

“In the depths of conscience, every person detects a law which they do not impose upon themself, but which holds them to obedience. Always summoning them to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience, when necessary, speaks to their heart: do this, shun that. For each person has in their heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of each; according to it they will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of each person. There they are alone with God, Whose voice echoes in their depths.  In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor.”   Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes.

Dear friends,                                                                                                 Thanksgiving 2021

Business people, clerics, climate activists, communists, youth, elders, tax resisters, tax payers, doctors, mayors, artists, gather outside the gates of Büchel Air Force Base in Germany where US nuclear weapons are deployed. All of us gathered at the base, are bound by our search for truth and goodness and joined in conscience to resist nuclear weapons and resist the destruction of the earth with warmaking.

As we try to serve the needs of people here in Redwood City, we know that our national priorities favor merchants of death rather than human needs, and so in conscience, we speak out against warmaking and nuclear weapons and the destruction of the earth.  Back in 2016, at a Catholic Worker gathering, we were invited to join peacemakers in Germany in resisting the U.S. nuclear warheads that are deployed in Germany. (Through NATO, there are five European countries that have US B61 nuclear warheads).  As part of a US Peace Delegation to Germany, for several years, I went to Germany to join other European Catholic Workers and a diverse group of people to participate in actions for disarmament of the nuclear weapons.

Blocking the front gate of Büchel Air Base where the U.S. nuclear warheads are deployed. In Germany, people are not arrested for blocking the gates of a military base. In the 1980s, thousands of people blocked the gates of the Mulagen base when U.S. Pershing missiles were being deployed there. The judges who heard the arguments and sentenced the blockaders, finally had to listen to their conscience, and then they joined the blockaders. Henceforth, blockading has not been a crime.

In 2017, we brought copies of the UN nuclear ban treaty onto the base to give to the soldiers and their commanders. This treaty has been initiated by ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), and prohibits developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons.  At the moment, 56 nations have ratified the treaty. The US has not signed or ratified.

       While in Germany, I have had the remarkable experience of working and learning with many different people, all supporting nonviolent direct action, all of one mind about the hope for social change. We held banners, blocked the gates, and sometimes walked onto the base to talk to the soldiers. There was a shared understanding in those present that militaries are hidden producers of massive amounts of greenhouse gases, and are exempt from public scrutiny.        Similar to the other resisters, I was summoned to court in Cochem, Germany. I spoke about our work here with the community in Redwood City and also about humanitarian international law which has traditionally made rules for how nations conduct their wars.  Both the United States and Germany are a party to many of these treaties. These treaties clearly make the use of nuclear weapons and sharing them with non-nuclear nations, illegal.  Additionally, the cost of these weapons has grave economic and health consequences for all of us here in the states, especially the poor. But, as I told the judge, even if there were no treaties and laws that make the use of nuclear weapons illegal, I believe that the production, possession and use of these weapons is immoral. We are taught to love and serve one another, to work for the common good, and after careful discernment, to follow our conscience.  Nuclear weapons are madness, murder, unspeakable evil, and death to all life.

Peace, Susan Crane for all of us.

P.S. For those of you who do not know, Susan has spent over 6 years in U.S. prisons for protesting against war and nuclear weapons. She listens to her conscience and constantly invites each of us to listen to our conscience.   Love, Larry Purcell

            NEEDS

  1. Food in any amount.  Especially frozen food for our breakfast program.  Each Wednesday and Thursday morning we offer individually served hot meals to about 50 homeless men and women on our front porch. Our guests love frozen burritos, lasagna, sausage, bacon, eggs, coffee and good hot food.
  2. Housing continues to be the #1 priority in our area.  Many many are homeless. Each week we visit the homeless encampments.  We are trying an experiment.  When folks donate their VANS or SUV’s to us that are big enough to sleep in, we fix them up, smog them and donate them to the homeless who have driver’s licenses so that they can live in them instead of tents or the bushes.  This process will provide the homeless with an instant home.  Call Larry (650) 366-4415. We can also use cars, trucks, and bikes for the working poor.
  3. Household goods and needs of the homeless: black garbage bags, razors, backpacks, tents, t-shirts, underwear, socks, lap top computers, and a 12 ” ipad,
  4. We are still trying to raise money to help Fumi start a Catholic Worker in Portland. If you want to donate for this, send it directly to Fumi Tosu at P.O. Box 12004, Portland, Or 97212. The checks can be made out to Dandelion House.
  5. If you would like to help Susan travel to Germany (airfare) send a check and earmark it for nuclear resistance work.  (Call Susan at (650) 366-4415)
  6. If you need a worker (man or woman), call the Day Laborer Hiring hall at (650) 339-2794.
  7. Your ongoing love and support.
  8. Some technical help with this website. WordPress has moved from a format Susan could use to a block system, and she desperately needs some help from someone who can explain how to use the blocks.

            

June 2021 Newsletter

“If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.”  James 2. (Editor’s note – James assumes the needy have a home).

Dear Friends,                                                                                                   June 2021

            Our door bell rang.  I answered.  “Is Susan home?” It was Jason –one of our familiar homeless friends.  I assumed he wanted a bike, or a tent or a sleeping bag.  All of these things Susan is in charge of distributing.  Susan arrived.  After a brief exchange, Jason left.  Susan came into the kitchen feeling ambiguous because Jason wanted to thank us by giving us part of his  stimulus check.  Susan was ambiguous because how do you accept $100 from someone who has nothing.  The Widow’s mite indeed!

            Our entire household helped with the City sponsored head count of people living in 20 homeless encampments within the borders of Redwood City.  Jason lives in one of these.  We counted 74 men and women barely surviving in unhealthy, unsafe, filthy, and dangerous camps.  Their homes have nothing in common with what we call camping.

            As the vaccinations take, as our society re-opens, as we all go back to “normal,” we fear that these sisters and brothers will be forgotten and their poverty declared illegal and their meager homes destroyed. Regardless, due to your generosity, grants from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, and God’s grace, we will continue to share with them friendship,  sleeping bags, tents, tarps, socks, t shirts, backpacks, bikes, camping stoves, black garbage bags, food, and free medical advice from our volunteers, Sharron and Sharon, both retired nurses.

            Throughout this pandemic, each Friday we have also been sharing enormous amounts of free fresh produce with at risk families living in apartments.  These families are on the brink of homelessness. Some of them receive stimulus money from us.  There receive so much food that they need carts to help carry their groceries away. We buy carts to give them so they can manage—especially the elderly and those with small children. Your money is well spent here.

            Visiting the homeless encampments is not only shocking but also depressing.  Our society has plenty of money to upgrade nuclear weapons that will kill everything and everyone from San Jose to S.F. with one blast.  Our society gives blank checks to the military to carry on wars that create poverty, homelessness, and refugees throughout the world. Relatively speaking, we spend a pittance on affordable housing.  San Francisco set up a tent city with toilets, showers and services, and estimated the cost per tent for a year at $61,000. We can do better than that!!  When we spend trillions for war and nuclear weapons we shouldn’t be surprised when there is not enough money for homes for all.  Prior to Covid we had an epidemic of homelessness.  That epidemic still rages and will be here after Covid is gone. The question is:  Will we treat the homeless as the body of Christ or won’t we?

            In case you are wondering, while the above is depressing, we find tremendous, tremendous hope when God and you (our supporters) shower us with all we have and make whatever we are and do possible.  We can never thank you and God enough.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

                                                                        Love and gratitude,

                                                                        Larry for all of us.

NEEDS

  1. Food in any amount.  Especially, frozen lasagnas, burritos, bacon, etc. for our Wednesday & Thursday breakfast program.
  • Household needs: large black plastic bags, cleanser, Simple Green, working lap top & desk top computers, a power washer, a very small electric stove (2 or 4 burner), grocery carts for the elderly to wheel away their food from our home, bikes, cars, trucks, & RV’s etc.
  • Homeless needs: sleeping bags, tents, tarps, t shirts and the other items mentioned in this newsletter. For details, call Susan (650) 366-4415
  • School needs:  Backpacks filled with grammar school & high school supplies.
  • Day Laborers:  If you need a worker (man or woman) call (650) 339- 2794 (they are closed weekends.)
  • We are in serious conversations about opening a new Catholic Worker House in Oregon. If you want to help us finance the purchase of a Catholic Worker,  call Larry for a free cup of coffee. (650) 366-4415. If you earmark money for rent subsidies we will distribute it.
  • Your ongoing love and support.

Hygiene Kits

We all like to get clean, put on clean socks and brush our teeth. It’s important for our health, our self-esteem, our psychological state of mind, our social life.

Often people come to the Redwood City Catholic Worker house and ask for a hygiene kit. When we give them the super special hygiene kit, they are thankful, and all smiles. The kit has everything from masks, to fingernail clippers and then also body wipes for a dry shower.

Yvonne Ryzak generously added to our collection of hygiene items and made 300 super hygiene kits. “The kit you would give your son.” Yvonne inspired her neighbors to lend a hand assembling the kits in her garage. THANKS, YVONNE!!

Yvonne and neighbors make 300 super hygiene kits. March 2021

The Journalist and the Jesuit

“Love your enemies.” “Do not Kill.”  “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
“Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.”  “He is alive, he is not here.”

  (The Gospels)

Dear Friends,                                                                                                  Easter 2021

            William Stringfellow defined Resurrection as “Phil Berrigan having his ass in jail.” Stringfellow believed that every time Berrigan and others went to jail for saying “No to nuclear weapons and YES to life” it was an example of the Easter victory of LIFE over DEATH.  Heather King (a blogger) wrote the following article for the “Angelus News.” It’s excellent.

                                    THE JOURNALIST AND THE JESUIT

 On Jan. 22, 2021, the Vatican-supported Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force, officially becoming international law. Fake news or suppressed news or no news hardly began in the 21st century.  After the 1945 decimation by atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example, the U.S. government and military immediately began a campaign to hide the horror of the devastation and the particulars of human toll.  The suppression worked – for a time. “Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World” (https://www.lesleymmblume.com/fallout) by LA-based journalist Lesley M.M.Blume recounts the tale of how New Yorker journalist John Hersey found his way into Hiroshima, settled upon six individual victims of the bombing and told their stories.  Hersey was a seasoned, globetrotting journalist, no stranger to savagery and butchery. “The best chance that mankind had for survival – especially now that warfare had gone nuclear, [he] felt – was if people could be made to see the humanity in each other again.”  But when he arrived in Japan over a year after the dropping of the bombs, he was staggered by what he found.  A mother who’d clung to her dead infant daughter until the body started to decompose. Human beings who had been vaporized, leaving only shadows on the ground or walls.  Residents, desperate to rebuild, who were still coming across severed limbs and charred corpses.

Hersey interviewed dozens of survivors and chose six upon whom to focus: a German Catholic priest, Methodist pastor, two Japanese doctors, a young female clerk, and a widowed seamstress, mother to three young children. The New Yorker, in an extraordinary editorial decision, decided to dedicate its entire Aug. 31, 1946, issue to a single article: Hersey’s 30,000-word piece, entitled simply “Hiroshima.” Published two months later as a book, the title has sold more than 3 million copies and has never been out of print.

With today’s combined inventory of nuclear arms comprising more than 13,500 warheads, Blume notes, “The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a nuclear watchdog group, has reset its Doomsday Clock – which gauges the world’s proximity to the possibility of nuclear war—to ‘100 seconds before midnight,’ with midnight meaning nuclear apocalypse.  The clock has never been this close to midnight – not even in 1953, ‘the most dangerous year of the Cold War,’ says Dr. William J. Perry, former U.S. secretary of defense and chair of the Bulletin’s board of sponsors. ….And nothing is being done to reduce the dangers.” That last statement is not entirely accurate.

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 action on April 4, 2018, in Georgia, for example, is just one of more than 100 Plowshares actions, undertaken in concert with the effort to abolish nuclear weapons with people around the world.  Father Steve Kelly, SJ, one of the seven, served almost three years and is now being (very slowly) transported to Tacoma, Washington, to face charges for violating probation with respect to another action there.  All told, he has spent 10 years in prison in an effort to avert the possibility of omnicide – the literal wiping out of human life – for which the capability exists. “Nuclear weapons will not go away by themselves,” he quietly observes.  “It is my lifelong quest to imitate the Good Shepherd.  I will insert myself between the dangers and the flock.”

I’m haunted by a conversation I had with a politically disgruntled friend last year. “Love doesn’t prevail,” he said, “Love doesn’t triumph.  Look at the racism.  Look at our ‘elected officials.”  “Love rarely prevails in a way that brings about a worldly triumph,” I replied.  “But love is about the conversion of the human heart, not winning.  And in some way we’re not given to see on this earth, I believe love always prevails.”  To illustrate, I mentioned the small but fervent movement against nuclear weapons.  I gave Father Kelly as an example. “That won’t do any good!” my friend scoffed.  “We need to start blowing things up and burning stuff down.  The really brave, original, radical people are realizing that we need to start exercising the freedom to hate.”

I am not sure what was more horrifying: that an otherwise intelligent human being would believe “the freedom to hate” to be an original idea, or that his heart was not moved by the silent, solitary witness of this man who has spent years of his life crying out in the wilderness.  A witness who has virtually no “public profile,” no online presence, who has never asked to be recognized, validated, or applauded. That not a single atomic weapon has been dropped on a human population since 1945 is a fact that many attribute to Hersey’s exposé. John Hersey, one journalist.  Father Kelly S.J., one man, accompanied and supported by the unsung fleet of others who have put their lives and freedom on the line through the years to rid the world of these weapons of hate.

Both have been accompanied, of course, by innumerable others, in and out of the Church, whose names we will never know: international peace organizers,

U.N. committee persons, men and women of prayer. AND NOW A TREATY

 with respect to which the Vicar of Christ himself has proclaimed that nuclear

 weapons are a sin.  I wonder how that happened.          

Heather King

The following video is from Japan. It is a promo for a film that is about Steve Kelly and others who work to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The Nuns, the Priests, and the Bombs directed by Helen Young.

                                                NEEDS

  1. Food in any amount. This week we will restart our breakfast program.  We need frozen lasagna, cut up chicken parts, burritos, etc.
  • Household needs:  razors, laundry detergent, cleanser, light bulbs, toilet paper, Kleenex, laptop computers, bikes, cars, trucks and R.V.’s etc.
  • Scholarships and stimulus money for family in need of rent assistance.
  • Homeless: tents, socks, warm clothing, camping gear, deodorant, and jackets.
  • A house or money to buy a house.  Recently we helped a new Catholic Worker purchase a Catholic rectory, school and church for a total of $80,000. We contributed $25,000.  Housing is much cheaper in Pennsylvania.
  • Your ongoing love and support.  By the way, Fr. Steve Kelly S.J. is a very, very close friend of all of the Catholic Worker Houses in the Western states and many on the East Coast­­. When Fr. Steve speaks against Nukes, he is speaking for all of us.

Holy Easter,  Larry for all of us.

February 2021 Newsletter

“As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has
 come for me to be gone.  I have fought the good fight to the end; and I have
run the good race to the finish; I have kept the faith…”  2 Timothy 4:5ff

Dear Friends,                                                                                                              Feb. 2021

            After 89 years on Earth and over 20 years at the Catholic Worker, Aida Louise Figueroa is now in heaven.  She can continue to sing and dance among the cloud of saints and angels that she so deeply believed in all of her life. Sister Ruth is hugging her now. Perhaps because we work so closely with the homeless, all of us at the Catholic Worker in Redwood City, contracted Covid-19.  The rest of us (Susan, Aurora, John, J Arthur, Sophie, Ronnie, Alex and myself) all recovered.  Aida was hospitalized with Covid and pneumonia and died after two weeks,  on Dec. 29th.  Her loving service to the poor will continue as she continues to support us in the “communion of saints living and dead.” We thank God for giving us Aida for so many years and we thank Aida for being exceptionally good. She has a heart of GOLD that was forged in the convent for 28 years and in an orphanage when she was young. She is our Valentine.

            Because we all got sick, our breakfast program has stopped.  Eventually it too will reopen.  Our Friday food distribution was interrupted and has been restarted.  Weekly, Susan and the two Sharons (both nurses) visit homeless encampments and distribute whatever our spectacular supporters give us: socks, underwear, shirts, jackets, tents, sleeping bags, food (cooked and uncooked), DEODORANT, RAZORS,  toiletries, etc.  At best, being homeless is awful. With the pandemic, homelessness has become an invitation to death.

            We continue to share “ear marked” donations as “Rent Subsidies” and as of early February, we have given out about $150,000 that Philanthropic Ventures Foundation and you, our supporters, have donated specifically as “stimulus aid.” The poor (especially the undocumented) are in deep crisis as their unemployment or shorter work weeks continue with no end in sight.  Everyone we know is struggling to “make rent.” We restarted our Friday food distribution because rent is so expensive that there is no money left for FOOD.  Food is now a discretionary fund for the very poor because of their struggle to just “make rent.” If the working poor go into serious debt, they will never get out of debt. This is nothing new.

            Before Cesar Chavez began organizing the United Farm Workers Union, he brought the migrant workers together by “passing the hat” when one of them died from their grueling field work. Before Cesar started the funeral co-op, the families of the dead migrant workers would go into debt for life in order to pay for their simple funerals. In the Hebrew scriptures there is what was called a “Jubilee Year” when all debts are forgiven because endless debts make men and women slaves. 

            What we do at the Catholic Worker is very small. Like Mass, we symbolize another way to live in which we are all one family with ONE God who is our father/mother. We are called to feed one another. There is enough for all of us and “we must ask forgiveness from the poor for the bread that we give them.”  It is heartbreaking to see so many so poor and to know that they are not only anxious about their health but also about where they will live if they are evicted. Lent will eventually get here, and we will again be reminded to “repent and believe.”

            If you want to see Aida’s obituary and pictures of her and the homeless encampments with pictures of Susan and the two Sharons go to our website at  www.rwdcw.wordpress.com

                                                                        Peace and Gratitude,

   Larry Purcell, Veronica Georges, Mary Jane Floyd, Jan Johanson,
Aida Figueroa, Susan Crane, J Arthur White, and Aurora Thibault.

NEEDS

  1. FOOD in any amount.
  • After housing and a job, the next most important need for the poor is transportation. We need bikes, cars, trucks, R.V.’s etc.
  • Household goods:  cleanser, light bulbs (60 to 100 watt), toilet paper, Simple Green, gift certificates, disinfectant wipes, sweetener, canned goods (protein and meals), frozen goods (meals) etc.
  • Homeless encampments:  Deodorant, razors, toothpaste, nail clippers,
  • snacks (energy bars), toilet paper, etc.
  • Transportation: Bikes, cars and RV’s…..
  • A house or money to buy a house for a new Catholic Worker center. 
  • Your ongoing love and support.

Visiting our neighbors in various homeless camps:
We have been going out each week to visit folks in their camp spaces. It seems like a reasonable thing to do, as many had been coming to the shower program, which we had to stop at the beginning of the pandemic. We can bring hygiene kits, clothes, TP etc, and at the same time, begin to understand the struggles they are going through. Folks living in the camps take care of each other, help each other, and are at times, amazingly compassionate and loyal to each other.

Some images of our visits to the homeless camps:

1. Sharron Miller makes 48 burritos to give out: A warm burrito on a cold and wet day can make a big difference.

2. A campsite under the freeway.

3. Sharon McQueen has worked as a home health nurse, and continues to use her skills.

4. Here, folks look out for each other. This campsite is kept clean, tents and shelters are along the fence under the trees.

5. The folks living in the camps have a constant struggle with garbage. We have noticed that some of the items have clearly been left there from people living elsewhere.

Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons Becomes Law

January 22, 2021

The treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons becomes law! The treaty prohibits the use, development, testing production, manufacturing, acquiring, possession, stockpiling, transferring, receiving, threatening to use, stationing, installation of deployment of nuclear weapons. The treaty has been signed by 86 countries, and ratified by 51 countries. Today, January 22, 2021, the treaty becomes legally binding in the countries that have ratified it.

The nine nuclear armed countries claim that the treaty does not apply to them. Only countries who have ratified the treaty are bound to obey it. But nations that continue to produce and use nuclear weapons will be increasing seen as acting outside the norms of human decency.

At Lockheed Martin, celebrating the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.
At Oakwood, in Atherton, Sisters of the Sacred Heart celebrate the coming into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Here at the Catholic Worker House, Sjohna and Sophie bring their youthful enthusiasm to banning the bomb.

Mary Jane Parrine holds her banner at the WILPF Peninsula Palo Alto gathering on El Camino.
Lockheed Martin will someday stop making nuclear weapon systems and planes to carry them, and the engineers can work for the earth, the climate, and common good of all.

Aida Louise Figueroa

With great sadness, we want you to know that our beloved Aida Figueroa passed away on Tuesday evening, December 29, 2020 at Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City from COVID-19. She was 89 years old and had been living at the Catholic Worker for over 20 years.  Larry was able to visit and pray with her Tuesday afternoon, and she was peacefully resting when he left. We remember with gratitude her life and service.

From our 2017 November Redwood City Catholic Worker Newsletter written by Larry:

“That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it…So do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself…” (Matt. 6:25)

Many, many of you have visited the Catholic Worker House at 545 Cassia St. in Redwood City and have met Aida Figueroa. But for those of you who do not know her, here’s a snap shot.

Aida is the only Christian I’ve met who has intentionally made absolutely no plans for how she will afford growing old. Her only retirement plan is “God provides.” And guess what, so far it’s worked. It’s amazing!!!!

As a Benedictine nun for 28 years, Aida learned that her life is in God’s hands. As she worked and prayed as a Benedictine she was put in charge of supervising the cleaning of a Catholic Hospital. While working and praying, she found out that God cares for her as he does the birds of the air and clothes her as he does the flowers of the fields. She prays as if everything is up to God and works as if everything is up to us.

Aida came to the Catholic Worker over 20 years ago (she is 89 years old) and has been a fixture ever since. When she first arrived, Larry emphatically told her: “I am not taking care of you in your old age!” She said nothing in response.

Even though Aida knows that God provides, in Benedictine fashion, she never stops working. Her current involvements include volunteering weekly with Friends of the Library, Sandwiches on Sundays, and St. Anthony’s “New to U” clothing give away. In addition to that, she is the #1 housecleaner at the Catholic Worker. She deep cleans the place every week– we’ve never been cleaner! And she helps us with all of our projects at the Worker House. She deeply believes in both praying and working.

Whatever Aida is doing, she believes in healthy living. She runs every day, practices Yoga, attends daily mass, gives and receives Jin Shin Jyutsu therapeutic massages and avoids (whenever possible) western medicine. Four years ago Aida was diagnosed with acute leukemia and has refused any and all suggested treatments (chemo, radiation, steroids, etc.) from Kaiser Hospital. She relies on her regime of healthy living, her chiropractor (Dr. Ken Felch), and a solid prayer life. For over 6 years she has been completely symptom free. Again, “God provides.

Her faith and good works at the Catholic Worker and throughout Redwood City are humble, innocent, and done with a kind heart. If you want to get to know how to “let go and let God,” then meet Aida.

We give thanks for the goodness of Aida and for all of you, our supporters, and of course to our God, who takes good care of all of us no matter what.

Any gifts sent to the Catholic Worker in Aida’s honor will be forwarded to her dear, dear brother Fr. Ed Figueroa, who has worked in Brazil with “throw-away kids” for his entire life.

Newsletter November 2020

Do not conform yourselves to the behavior of the world around you, but let your behavior change…Work for the Lord with untiring effort…Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.”   (Rom. 12)

 Thanksgiving, 2020
Dear Friends,
In the United States of America, we live in a house divided.  Many, many of us (the Redwood City Catholic Worker included) are ecstatic that our current leader lost.  Almost as many of our fellow citizens of the USA feel just the opposite.  They fear that their hopes and dreams are gone with the current President’s loss.  It is more and more difficult for our political spectrums to talk with one another, let alone respect one another.

 At the Catholic Worker, even though we voted for change in leadership, we have no faith that the so called “new political process” will effectively address global warming, black lives matter, the massive disparity between the superrich and the rest of us, and the obscene expenditures for war (aka defense budget).  In other words, we voted more against our current administration than we voted for Democrats.

  Our new president will not necessarily address our above priorities!!  As Christians we must try to conform our lives to the Gospels:  all are equal, the poor are ambassadors of God, the rich (including Catholic Workers) will have a hard time getting into the banquet, feeding, clothing, sheltering the poor are a great way to meet Christ, and love is the answer. It’s important to remember that love at least means “DO NOT KILL.”

In our feeble efforts to conform our lives to the Gospel, we continue to offer hospitality at Cassia Street, to serve spectacular breakfasts to forty to fifty homeless sisters and brothers 6 days a week, and to share massive amounts of food with 60-80 families each Friday. We also visit homeless encampments weekly.

We continue to try to live and work in the Catholic Worker tradition. No one is paid to work here.  No one is charged anything for what we share with them.  We never seek or accept government money. (Note: We are not a 501 © 3 tax exempt organization). We are a not-for-profit group of serious Christians trying to conform our lives to the Gospels. We often fail.

Since the beginning of this virus, we have shared over $110,000 in “rent subsidies” with the very, very poor because of your earmarked gifts and numerous grants from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. Most recipients are undocumented sisters and brothers. We will continue to offer rent subsidies if we are given more earmarked money.

This THANKSGIVING we know that we are here because of God’s grace and your wonderful support.  We are forever grateful.  All that we are and do is a gift. Nothing we do would be possible without your ongoing support. Thank God and thanks to all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.      

                                                                        Happy Thanksgiving,

  Larry Purcell, Ronnie Georges, Mary Jane Floyd, Jan Johanson, Aida Figueroa, Susan Crane, Aurora Thibault and J Arthur White

                                                            NEEDS

  1. FOOD in any amount.  We especially need frozen meals that we can share with the homeless (burritos, hamburger patties, salsa…variety is the spice of life.)
  • BREAKFAST NEEDS:  sturdy paper plates and 12 oz coffee cups, plastic forks, frozen meals, socks, warm jackets, back packs, toiletries, deodorants, toothpaste, razors, tents, camping gear etc. One of our supporters donated a $5,000 brand new freezer. We have space!!!!
  • HOUSEHOLD NEEDS: paper towels, Kleenex, cleanser, backpacks, shampoo & conditioner, black garbage bags, efficient light bulbs, etc.
  • TRANSPORTATIOIN: Cars, trucks, R.V.’s and bikes.  After housing and jobs, the next priority is transportation.  Call Larry (650) 366-4415.
  • CHRISTMAS GIFTS: With the Virus, many of our sources have dried up. We have lots of children who love Christmas gifts. You cannot go wrong with gift certificates to Target, Safeway, Old Navy, and gasoline cards, bus tokens, etc.  Call Susan or Larry (650) 366-4415.
  • Money to help with education scholarships ($500 to $2,000) and/or “rent” assistance.
  • If you need a day laborer call:  650-339-2794
  • Your ongoing love and support.