National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea and Maritime Human Trafficking Information

In conjunction with the secular holiday National Maritime Day on May 23, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced that the U.S. Church will observe the annual National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea. All are encouraged to pray for and remember all those “who are seafarers, fisherman, and those whose occupations require them to spend most of the year away from their families, in the high seas, and sometimes facing dangerous situations,” remarked Bishop J. Kevin Boland.

As 90% of the world’s goods are transported by sea and the waterways, it is important to remember the 1.2. million seafarers worldwide that make this possible. In addition to praying for and remembering them, we must also be aware of the harsh conditions and danger that they sometimes face.

According to the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (CCOAHT):

modern slavery at sea […] occurs at all stages  of the seafood supply chain, from catching the fish to processing and shipping it for export. The virtually unregulated fishing industry in many countries, coupled with the global demand for cheap seafood, create the lawless condition under which trafficking at sea flourishes.

CCOAHT reports that trafficked workers are subject to extremely long work-days, hazardous conditions, starvation, disregard for medical needs and injuries, beatings, torture, and even killings. Workers can be lured into modern slavery “by false promises of living-wage and incur crippling debts that then become their trafficking situation,” and migrants are especially vulnerable.

The National Day of Prayer and Remembrance will include special Masses on Friday, May 20 at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. at 12:00 p.m. and on Saturday, May 21 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. at 12:10 p.m.. In addition, on Sunday, May 22, pastors are encouraged to use the text for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea.

Below are three ways to get involved:

  1. Learn practical ways of becoming an ethical consumer of seafood.
  2. Learn about and join USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services’ anti-trafficking efforts.
  3. Donate or take action with Apostleship of the Sea, an Catholic charity that seeks to “provide practical and pastoral care to all seafarers, regardless of nationality, belief or race.”
  4. Pray with us:

Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Mother of God and our Mother, you know all the dangers of soul and body that threaten mariners. Protect your sons and daughters who work and travel on the waters of the world, and protect also their families that await their return. Star of the Sea, Mother of the Church, give light and strength to those chaplains and lay ministers who bring the love of your Divine Son among mariners. Fill their hearts with a supernatural and life-giving zeal for the apostolate. Star of the Sea, light shining in the darkness, be a guide to those who sail amid the storms and dangers of life. Enlighten the hearts of ardent disciples and bring us all to the safety of heaven’s port. Amen. – Apostleship of the Sea

How does your college or university engage with anti-maritime trafficking efforts? Let us know! 

A Prayer for Peace in Syria

Today, we invite you to join us in a prayer for peace in Syria:

Almighty eternal God, source of all compassion,
the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria;
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
and comfort to those mourning the dead.
Empower and encourage Syria’s neighbors
in their care and welcome for refugees.
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.

O God of hope and Father of mercy,
your Holy Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs.
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies.
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
and fill us with hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

This and other prayers for peace can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

Pope Francis Releases Video Plea for Prayer for Creation

Pope Francis has released a video asking for prayers for Creation.  In a project called The Pope Video, an initiative sponsored by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, also known as Apostleship of Prayer, Pope Francis’s videos have been broadcast all over the world in an effort to increase universal prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions.

The latest video, Care for Creation, accompanies Pope Francis’s desire for the entire month of February to be dedicated to prayer for Our Common Home. In the video we hear his voice pleading for the world to bow our heads in prayer “that we may take good care of creation–a gift freely given–cultivating and protecting it for future generations.”


International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking

In the spirit of the recent Joint Declaration of Religions Leaders Against Modern Slavery, signed by Pope Francis, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops officially invites you to participate in the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking. On February 8, 2016, the world will join in prayer for victims and survivors of human trafficking and an end to the atrocity.

For those of you in the Washington, DC area, you are all invited to join the USCCB Anti-Trafficking Program for an Interfaith Prayer Service on Monday, February 8. The event will take place at St. Gabriel’s Church in Washington, DC.

For those of you who will not be able to attend, please visit the Program’s website for promotional fliers and links to resources so that you can promote the Day of Prayer and host your own local event.

If you plan to attend or host a local event or have any questions about the Day of Prayer, please contact the Anti-Trafficking Outreach Coordinator at The Program would love to hear about all the local activities going on.

What is your campus planning for the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking? Let us know! 

National Migration Week 2016

From January 3-9, 2016, the U.S. Bishops observe National Migration Week, calling special attention to the needs of migrants.  This year, the theme centers on the Gospel call to welcome the stranger among us.  In honor of the week, USCCB has shared several prayer and policy resources on the National Migration Week website.  Read more about the Catholic Church’s response to migration on the latest post to the To Go Forth blogTo Go Forth blog.

A Statement from San Bernardino

A Statement from San Bernardino

By Brian St. Clair

I’ve heard the phrase “too close to home” more in the last few days than I pray I ever will again. My wife and I live in Redlands. She works at a nonprofit in San Bernardino down the street from the center where the recent mass shooting took place. I work in Redlands near the neighborhood where the shooters’ apartment stocked with weaponry was discovered. The shooting rocked our community, our sense of safety, and our sense of being at home. The fact that it may in part have been designed to do just that makes it worse. The fact that the killers are dead gives us no solace. Only our friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and love for one another can provide that.

The person and the place you call home is determined most by bonds of love and generosity. Much less by the things we oppose, and even less still by what we hate. Our hatred doesn’t define us; it doesn’t make us powerful. Only our love can do that.

When watching the news release the names of the shooters, our hearts sank. We feared the killers might be identified as Muslims and that this might bring a fresh wave of inhumane hatred with their act of inhumanity. It’s a double crime to betray your community with horrific violence and at the same time corrupt the names of good and peaceful religious people who are among the creative citizens who call America their home. Such an act does violence to truth as well as to flesh and blood.

We have personal as well as social reasons to fear. My wife is Muslim and I am Catholic. We met 8 years ago and got married for the first time nearly two years ago. I say “for the first time” because we were married three times to each other – once civilly (and within 90 days of legal entry) in accordance with American law, once in accordance with Islam, and once in accordance with the Catholic Church. We’ve made an art of reconciling requirements, statutes, and limitations, and turning them into a beautiful journey we can share together on our way to creating a life of joy and family and service to others.

Is ours a story of immigration, of interfaith union, of overcoming odds and obstacles? Maybe it is, but that’s not how we see it. To us, ours is a love story like any other. Have we encountered bigotry and unintentional insult? Yes. Do we live in a safe world? Sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. Do we live in a world that supports our most glorious aspirations or one that’s hostile to our deeply held dreams? Both. What about the country we call home? It often lives up to its reputation and sometimes it falls short. Does any of this paralyze us? Almost never.

And neither will the mass shooting here in San Bernardino. The day after the shooting, people lined up at a local blood bank down the street from the building where the shooting happened to donate blood for the victims. We’re a people that literally bleed for each other when one of us is in trouble. That’s a beautiful thing and something that greatly pleases the God who made us, no matter by what name we address Her or by what prophet He speaks to us.

In the wake of the violent events that unfolded, we were both drawn back to the silent prayer of meditation. Meditation is a practice common to both our faith traditions that we regularly share together. When chaos struck, meeting God at the point of stillness within us helped us to remember the innermost essence of who we are and who we are called to be in the world. Meditation reminded us of the open disposition toward others we should have even at the times when it’s most difficult to have it.

Much will be said about things we should do to make it more difficult for people to commit acts of mass murder like the one that happened here. We should talk about those things and we should do more to prevent these acts. But we should also do more to foster communities of hospitality, respect, and resilience. We should do more to be a haven for refugees, immigrants, and the poor. We should do more to live up to our highest ideals and not lower our standards in the interests of self-interest and self-protection. In the end, that doesn’t make us safer – only smaller.

Many and specific will be the calls to respond. And if we must respond to extremism in the extreme, let it be thus: to extend friendship with those different from us, to welcome the stranger from foreign lands, to give when we haven’t enough ourselves, to learn more about the people we find most difficult to understand, to serve one another when it makes us most uncomfortable, and to forgive when we would rather take vengeance. At this time, I’m reminded of the words of a Jesuit priest who spoke at mass on the day of my Georgetown graduation. While I don’t remember his name, his words I’ll never forget. He said, “The quality of your life will be determined by the quality of your loving.” No words I’ve heard feel truer to me now than these.

 Brian St. Clair (SFS’06) is a Georgetown University alumnus and lives in San Bernardino, CA.  St. Clair was one of the original student leaders at Georgetown’s establishment of the John Main Center.  This article was originally posted on the John Main Center website on December 8, 2015.

About The John Main Center:

The John Main Center at Georgetown University upholds meditation as prayer for the 21st century.  The center aims to promote meditation integration into education, business, and healthcare.  While particularly focused on meditation in the Catholic tradition of John Main, we promote the practice amongst all traditions, faiths, and secularly.  Through lectures, seminars, programs, and courses we wish to make meditation universal in daily life.

Happy Thanksgiving from ACCU!

ACCU wishes you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!  We would like to share this special Thanksgiving prayer from Xavier University.  You can find this prayer, a printable prayer card, and several other prayers in honor of Thanksgiving in their online prayer resource.

Remembering Others

O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

-Samuel F. Pugh