“In 1863, during the American Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. More than two years would pass, however, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance.” 
June 15, 2020, we find ourselves preparing for a Holiday in Celebration of a slavery reprieve notice that was delivered over two years late. And we are celebrating, or recognizing this late notice at a time when we are still protesting “pretend-freedom” and racism over 155 years later. And during a time when the entire world is protesting a live recorded murder of a modern day Black Person by a White authority figure, who doesn’t seem to care that anyone is watching. Others are standing by and not intervening. It is reminiscent of beatings, hanging tree murders and colored people elimination before, during and after June 19, 1865.
The only way I can honestly contribute to such a Holiday is to realistically and honestly share my feelings in this moment and time. To that end, I offer my innermost feelings through respectful recognition to George Floyd and Hope for the Universal World.
 Juneteenth- United States Holiday. (2020, June 15). Retrieved from https://www.encyclopedia.com/
Dear George Floyd
By Sophia Jane Berkley
Dear George Floyd,
I pray you don’t disappear when the air clears,
When everyone has gone home
and All Lives Matter has lost the conscious shaking control of the megaphone?
When you took that last breath
And silently screamed “I Can’t Breathe”
Did you know that you were Blowing out one of the most significant and heart-wrenching battle cry shouts?
Did you know that your last breath would produce a breeze?
A breeze that would use your life’s worth to bend millions of knees?
Did you ever imagine while you were begging “Please”,
That the conscious decision to let your plea be ignored
Would produce a positive, forceful societal issues pandemic
That would bring millions of knees to the floor?
Did you ever imagine that it would end this way?
When you were smiling at your baby, Gianna, on her happiest of birthdays?
Did you ever think, when you were running the field with that football
That your life’s lowest of low points would be your Tallest of Tall?
Did you ever think that another’s ill will
Would be the root of an uprising so outrageously strong
That it was capable of interrupting the 2020 Virus pandemic that had the world standing still?
You said, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe”!
And, you probably could not see.
I’ll bet you couldn’t see what your last breath would be.
Well, let me tell you, Mr. Floyd
Your last breath became a catalytic connection to worlds unseen.
Your last breath was a dual device.
It connected the unpleasantries of the world’s past to the systemic inequities of the present And revealed some things that are not so nice.
Your last breath connected all lives to the past
And to the memory of 1619 and Slave Ships abroad
It reminded all lives of Jim Crow, Picnic Lynchings, Government Supported Racism, Hate, Segregation, No Coloreds Allowed, For Whites Only, Church Bombings, Back Door Gates and Blackface.
Your last breath connected us to Redlining, Targeted Stop and Frisk Harassment.
Your last breath blew the masks off deadly No Knock Warrants, Racial Disparities, Programmed Inequities, Questionable Mortgage Rates, Cultural Mis-Appropriation, Gentrification, and Educated Hate.
Your last breath refueled and jump started the passion of the Fearless Freedom Marchers, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, The Black Panthers, The Freedom Riders, the Greensboro Sit-Ins, The Holocaust Survivors, the Native American Nation, the Japanese Internment Citizens and all others unjustly forced to fight for the right to breathe.
The last breath you exhaled catapulted the world to a place it has never been shot.
Your last exhale pushed people out of their shells, and into the stench of inequity rot.
Your last breath went all over the world in an effort to delete the racism that exists
The intentional, programmed injustice practices have become a target to dismiss.
Dear George Floyd,
I am sorry you had to die… NO,
let me correct that, Mr. Floyd.
I am sorry you died.
I am sorry you died in view of millions and millions who have since cried.
You’re gone now. You begged for your last breath.
And the Universe will forever be grateful
For the catalytic exhale of your unprepared, unexpected, positive action
As you faced, fought and passed your final test.
Rest and Breathe in Peace, Mr. Floyd.
We Feel You
We Respect You
We Thank You for the start of a World of Change.
We Thank You for the message of your last breath, that blew across eternity a mantra for all and a sequential number that no one should ever forget to recall.
Thank you for exhaling the inequitable equation of whose toxicity we will never forget: 8-4-6.
Dear Passionist Family,
As we continue to try to find some semblance of normalcy as our states begin to reopen, I want to take this opportunity to share with you a recent email from my Passionist brother, Father Hugo Esparza-Pérez, CP. Father Hugo has been living and working in Haiti for the past five years.
In Christ’s love,
Father Michael Higgins, CP
Father Hugo writes:
A few weeks ago, just as the first Christian community gathered in the upper room, awaiting the Paraclete, still with a doubting fog and also a sense of expectation in their hearts, I, too, waited with the same turmoil and hope. As the reality of Haiti engulfs me, the fog in my heart was denser than the expectation of the liberating Spirit of God. The historical and fragile state of Haiti is a losing battle for most NGOs, foreign governments, and even for Haitians who want to leave their country. If it is a losing battle even for the most politically astute and economically powerful, what can a simple priest do for and in this place?
In the past five years, I have not accomplished anything in terms of systemic change, which is the goal for real justice and the possibility for life to flourish in Haiti. I have learned the language as a way to honor Haitian People, but that does not put food on their table. I have tried to be respectful and non-judgmental of their idiosyncrasies, but that does not create jobs for them. I have been attempting to organize a group of Haitians in our pastoral center to work together as a team. This, however, does not change the insecurity they live day in and day out. Then, what have I accomplished? Why am I even here? At this moment, I am tempted to spiritualize my presence here in Haiti and use feel-good religious talk to do it. In reality, I do not know what my small actions will contribute and, sometimes, I doubt that even my well-meaning disposition can do much good.
Amid this existential fog and uncertainty that Haiti brings to my life and ministry, I know one thing, and I pray that this comes from the Spirit of God. This morning, I met Therese, who is battling cancer. I begged some people for money, so she comes once a month to collect it to pay for her treatment and some food. Also, today, I met with the mothers of three teens that worked with me in our garden. I gave them a donation of dry food for them to sell and make some money. How long can I keep this going, I do not know. How will this help them in the future, I do not know. I know that for today they have a fighting chance to make it until tomorrow. That is my only goal, and that is what helps me cope with the continual helplessness that creeps into my heart from time to time.
That is the best the Holy Spirit gives me or that I may be able to receive. Just for today, I can try to do what I think is best. I believe that this has pulled me out of the deep desperation that numbs my heart and discourages my action. This thought has encouraged me that, after some conversations with Fr. Rick Frechette and other leaders, I decided that the house where the seminarians use to live and our pastoral center where I work will become a hospitality space for some of those families that have lost their homes due to violence. On June 2, we welcomed seven families. The majority are children, ages 1 to 16, and women, no men. We have been busy trying to reunite some of the women with their children or extended family. We currently have 30 people at our house. With the help of our young-adults, we started tutoring the children in basic courses. We are also working hard to provide care for the children that are sick, especially one of the babies that is in a high degree of malnutrition.
I ask for your prayers and solidarity. Our hospitality program will try to offer these seven families a dignified space for six weeks. We will provide for the women, heads of family, and an opportunity to make some money for themselves by selling pasta in a nearby market. We hope that this way, at the end of our program, they will be able to move on to rent a place to live or to be ready to go back to their homes.
In the peace of Christ,
Fr. Hugo, CP
P.S. Father Hugo continues to raise money to provide food to families through the end of this year. To date, we have been able to raise enough money to fund three months of food for Father Hugo’s ministry. Thank you to all who have donated! Can you help us raise funds to secure a couple more months of food for his ministry?
I know that times are tough right now, but if you are able, please click here to go to our donation page and select “Haiti – Fr. Hugo’s Food Ministry” from the ministry drop-down menu to help Father Hugo buy the supplemental food for the families he serves who so desperately need it. Every donation, no matter the amount, will help.
Current events on the national and international scene powerfully remind us of the gift which is human life.
Be princes or paupers, middle class or blue collar, young or not-so young, God’s gift of life is a precious treasure to be nurtured by strong family ties and an abiding faith. Chief among these family ties is that with our parents. Truly, it is fitting that we celebrate this year the gift of our Fathers on Fathers’ Day, June 21.
We each have a unique experience of our Fathers. Some of us may have been raised by a single father, stepfather, foster father or even grandfather. They have cared for us, helped us grow and experience life’s joys and challenges, helped form us in our Christian faith, and perhaps shared lots of practical wisdom. Gratitude is called for!
During this time of social distancing, one way to express your gratitude, is to use the distinctive e-card that we’ve created as an expression of the feeling deep in your heart. We invite you to remember your father in prayer. Those enrolled will share in the special Novena of Masses celebrated by our Passionist Communities.
As you send the e-card, we invite your support of our Passionist life and ministries. Flowing from our community, our ministries embrace families today with the special experience of God’s Love in the Passion of Jesus. Your gift in honor of your loved ones will help us Passionists minister with the poor and crucified of today.
I pray with you in thanksgiving for the blessing which is our fathers and look forward to adding your intentions to those of our other friends and benefactors. We Passionists are grateful for your ongoing support and encouragement and promise a daily remembrance in prayer.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P.