Dan Delany’s ‘Wild, Prophetic, and Holy’ Life

Chris & Dan Delany founded Loaves & Fishes in Sacramento.
Chris & Dan Delany founded Loaves & Fishes in Sacramento.

Dan Delany: May perpetual light surround him. What a giant of a man! I like thinking of all the faces lining up to greet him — all the people that he helped along his Way. Dan died last week, released at last into God’s pure passion.

Catholic Workers’ Dan and Chris are part of my pantheon of spiritual heroes. Not only for their dedication to becoming living epistles of Matthew 25, but in their personal lives and struggles.

Dorothy Day mentioned Dan in at least one “On Pilgrimage” column (The Catholic Worker, January 1972, 1, 2, 4) saying:

… since Jan Adams mentioned in her article all those social alternatives that mean working from the bottom up and with people as they are, rather than from the top down (government), I’d like to write about the “earthy spirituality that Christians need to recover,” that Rosemary refers to. In a way, “Christians” is not quite the right word. The Jews in the tales of the Hasidim show themselves to be masters of that “earthy spirituality.” There is certainly more than a touch of the “wild, prophetic and the holy” in movements like Cesar Chavez’. It is “alive” in the sense that Jesus Christ meant when He said He has come “to bring life and to bring it more abundantly.”

I am sure that it is in the Catholic Worker movement too, and I sensed it in the new houses of hospitality, in San Francisco, run by Chris Montesano, and the one in Los Angeles, run by Dan Delaney, Jeff Dietrich, Sue Pollack (whose article appears in this issue) and several other young men. It is the only thing which keeps me from falling into a state of despair when I see the apparent hopelessness of the destitution situation around us here in New York.

Obituary: Dan Delany co-founded Loaves & Fishes, fought for the poor

He was a Los Angeles priest who fell in love with a nun. Together, they left the Catholic Church, got married, moved to Sacramento and soon began helping the needy in their new hometown by making sandwiches and handing them out from the back of their van.

The need grew and so did the work to address it. Soon the van was not enough and the couple opened Loaves & Fishes. That was 37 years ago.

On Wednesday, Dan Delany, a towering figure in the local plight of the homeless and the battle against injustice, succumbed to a lengthy bout with dementia. He was 80. He is survived by his wife and co-founder of Loaves & Fishes, Chris Delany; their two adult children, Becky and John Delany; and three grandchildren.

Renowned as a storyteller and a wit, Mr. Delany could also be a fierce and persistent voice for the poor. And in many ways, he and his wife lived like those they served, taking only a small salary and never wavering from their vows of poverty they made through the church.

Loaves & Fishes began as a modest soup kitchen and expanded through the years to become a broad-based campus with a private school for homeless children, a shelter for chronically homeless and mentally ill women, a kennel for pets belonging to the poor and a kitchen that continues to serve meals to thousands on every day but Christmas.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article41399673.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://lacatholicworker.org/2015/10/23/lacw-co-founder-dan-delany-joins-heavenly-cloud-of-witnesses

Bishop Francis Quinn: The Spirit is Calling Women to Priesthood

Bishop emeritus Francis A. Quinn
Bishop emeritus Francis A. Quinn

If anyone wants to understand my “Catholic DNA,” it will help to know that Bishop Francis A. Quinn (see below) confirmed me at St. Ignatius Catholic School in Sacramento when I was in 8th grade. God bless him!

From America magazine:

A retired Catholic bishop in California is speaking publicly for the first time about his support for the ordination of women, saying he found “liberation” when Pope Francis encouraged bishops at the extraordinary synod last October to “speak boldly and listen humbly” about issues facing the church.

Bishop Emeritus Francis A. Quinn, who served as the bishop of Sacramento from 1980 to 1994 and gained a reputation for his pastoral nature, outreach to the poor and empowerment of lay leadership in the church, said in an interview with America on Sept. 16 that Pope Francis made it clear that bishops should not censor their opinions based on what they think the pope wants to hear.

“So I figured: Well, O.K.,” he explained.

On Saturday, just days before Pope Francis arrives in the United States for a three-city apostolic visit, Bishop Quinn said in an op-ed in the New York Times that the Catholic Church should consider optional celibacy for priests, the ordination of women, and allowing Catholics who are divorced and remarried (without an annulment) to receive Communion.

In the interview with America, Bishop Quinn said, “I personally think the Spirit is calling women to be deacons and priests, but the Spirit hasn’t yet communicated it to the teaching church. — Luke Hansen, S.J. (Read the whole article here.)

Read more about Bishop Quinn and his ministry on the Yaqui reservation.

Bishop Quinn’s new book is Behind Closed Doors: Conflicts in Today’s Church

St. Francis in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 26 Event

St. Francis, Sacramento

I’ve been hearing from Catholics in various quarters about how they called attention to and honored the contributions of women in the Catholic church on Sept. 26. Here’s a note that Penny at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Sacramento, CA, sent to her friends and parish staff who attend the noon Mass:

Dear Friends,

I will not be at noon mass this Sunday, 09/26/10. I am abstaining from mass in solidarity with other Catholic women-the women of Ireland, who are stunned by the pervasiveness of the abuse in Ireland; the women who minister in other parishes throughout the world who are not valued and respected as we are at St Francis; the sisters who are investigated because of their implementation of the gospels and loyalty to Christ above rules; and, the women who hear the call to priesthood and are vilified by the hierarchy and equated with sexual abusers.

I have spent significant time in prayer to discern whether i would participate in this symbolic action. My decision to join in solidarity with these women has nothing to do with my respect and appreciation of  … the staff at St Francis. I love each of them for who they are and the gifts they so generously share with us. It is because of the many ways they acknowledge the wisdom and sincerity of the feminine that I feel a strong need to stand strong and straight (because its impossible for me to stand tall) with the oppressed women of the Catholic church.

I will be praying with and for all of you on Sunday. Please remember me in your prayers, also.

Thanks, Penny. I look forward to hearing more reports from the field.

“Darth Vader! Only You Could Be So Bold.”

Hi. My name is Rose. And I’m a Star Wars junkie.

As my grade school friends will recall, I saw the original Star Wars approximately 24 times when it was released in the spring of 1977. Nearly all of them were at the Century Theaters at the corner of Arden Way and Cal Expo in Sacramento–huge screens, plush bouncy seats, and the theater had just installed speakers compatible with SurroundSound. I had every line memorized.

I still get chills at the rise of John Williams’ opening score and recall the breath-takingly long Imperial battle cruiser glowering low over my head. The theater walls actually rumbled!

So while the new docuflick The People vs George Lucas may do nothing more than reveal what happens when a culture has no roots, I do understand their hunger for mythos.

Along with all that, the great folks over at Improv Everywhere (“We Cause Scenes”) staged a reenactment of the first Princess Leia/Darth Vader scene from the original Star Wars on a New York City subway car. “The white walls and sliding doors on the train reminded us of the rebel ship from the movie, and we thought it would be fun to see how people would react to a surprise appearance by the iconic characters.” (I love it that Princess Leia is reading “Galactic Rebellion for Dummies.”) Just for fun, here’s the video clip:

Vanessa Ortiz: ‘Everything I Learned About Activism, I Learned from Mom’

Vanessa Ortiz

I came across a fun blog piece titled Everything I learned about activism, I learned from Mom by Vanessa Ortiz. It’s a great testament to the true historical roots of Mother’s Day.

My own Mom took me to United Farm Workers protests in Sacramento in the 1970s, peace demonstrations at the local SAC base and nuclear abolition protests in the 1980s, and showed me what it means to stand up – and show up – for justice. (Thanks, Mom!)

Mothers don’t realize that their daily shows of bravery and seemingly small courageous actions grow another generation of female activists!  Yes, we sometimes take the lessons of cooking and cleaning, or studying and reading, or raising great kids, but often we watch with awe as our mothers take on the world. My mother raised five children, she worked as a social worker and a teacher, she kept an immaculate house, she was a community organizer, she was an educator, and she was politically and locally in touch. Today, I can’t even claim half of those achievements.Everything I Learned about Activism, I Learned from Mom | Peace X Peace, May 2010

Peace X Peace, where’s Ortiz’s post was published, is a global network of women with women-focused e-media, fresh analysis, and from-the-frontlines perspectives. We engage, connect, and amplify women’s voices as the most direct and powerful ways to create cultures of peace around the world. I wrote a short piece on the organization for Sojourners magazine back in November 2004 (see Women Building Peace).

Support Strong For American Catholic Sisters

Sr. Dolorosa Bundy
Sr. Dolorosa Bundy

I was very happy to see that both the Sacramento and Portland-OR Catholic newspapers printed the letter below in support of American Catholic sisters and asking the Vatican to discontinue its investigation.

I was doubly happy that this letter was written by my own parents! In addition to themselves as signatories, 30 others also signed in support.

Any Thought Given to a Year for Women Religious?
To the Catholic Sentinel (Portland, OR):

When Pope Benedict proclaimed the year for priests, the Vatican began an investigation of American Catholic Sisters. The investigation lacks collegiality, subsidiarity and transparency, core values of the Vatican II Council. The investigation is an insult to the Sisters and to American Catholic lay people.

American Religious women, in struggling with the needed reforms from Vatican II, offered vision in examining our Catholic Christian roots. They instilled their charisms of faith, vision and courage and empowered us all to be advocates for peace and justice. They became our witnesses of discipleship and faithfulness. They, too, truly deserve our gratitude and support.
The emphasis from Rome, “Praise the Priests, Investigate the Sisters” illustrates the disparity in our church.

We have much to be thankful for the good and faithful priests who bring us the Eucharist. They deserve our fullest appreciation.

They are reeling from the sordid actions of a few, about 4.5 percent over the past 50 years, including bishops, who perpetrated and covered up the scandals. Financial settlements have cost dioceses, American Catholics, and their insurance companies $1 billion.

The Sisters and we lay people deserve better. We pray the Pope will cancel the investigation of the American Religious women and proclaim a Year of the Sisters.

John and Barbara Berger
Sacramento, Calif.

My Kinda Christian: Sr. Linda Fuselier and 300 Chickens

my-kinda-christian-logoI thought I’d start an irregular series of posts called “My Kinda Christian.” These posts will probably consist of folks and groups that I think represent the best tradition of the Church. Who knows who might show up?

I was prompted in this direction by an email update I got recently from my first-grade teacher – not “a” first- grade teacher, but MY first-grade teacher. Sr. Linda Fuselier, SNJM, taught me first grade at St. Ignatius School in Sacramento in 1969 (or there abouts).

For the last 20 or so years Sr. Linda has been very involved in HIV/AIDS work. She worked in Washington, D.C., for a little while with crack-addicted babies who were also HIV positive. She was a member of the Catholic Network on HIV/AIDS Awareness. She worked on this issue at the United Nations. She worked in the rural South with men with AIDS who were not getting healthcare because the stigma was too great.

Now, Sr. Linda is in southwest Uganda. Through the Volunteer Missionary Movement,  she is working with a school and an orphanage where many babies are infected with HIV. She’s living at the Yesu Ahuriire Community – a Catholic charismatic renewal community in Kamara, outside of Mbarara.

Below is an excerpt from one of Sr. Linda’s letters. (I’ll run more excerpts in the future.) For now, let me just say, Sr. Linda Fuselier is MY KINDA CHRISTIAN.

On May 10 I moved to my new home in Karama. It is about 8 miles into the country from where I lived last year! It is a charismatic renewal center.  On the grounds there is a community of about 30+ members who are mostly in their 20’s with a few 30 or 40 year olds and 3 children aged 2 and under!   This community takes care of hospitality, maintenance and daily prayers! Maintenance includes gardening and caring for the banana plantations.  I think we also have 15 cows and 30+ goats as well as 300 hens laying eggs!!! I think there are hired workers for the animals.

On the farm is a second community of 4 Koreans from The Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus of Kottengnae who do marvelous ministry in Korea as well as around the world.  At our place they have 24 HIV orphans.  In time I hope to be working with them.
Also, we have a school called Ahuriire: Ugandan School for All whether they are of any race, sex, creed, tribe etc. Here I am helping to create a resource room and counseling room of which I will be engaged in.  There are about 80 students in the school. Some of our students are boarders in a girls’ dormitory and a boys’ dormitory. Others walk from the nearby villages. We are in our second term as of May 23rd when the children began returning to school. Registration takes about a week before all return with their supplies, mattresses and uniforms as well as tuition.

Last week I was engaged in posters that need to be displayed for school officials and parents as well as visitors. Basically, the posters tell of class assignments, credentials, heads of departments, prefects, extracurricular responsibilities of teachers, class timetables etc. I thanked God each moment in knowing how to print!

There is no computer, copy machine, pencil sharpeners (razors are in sight everwhere). I also spent time making learning materials.  My favorite project was the slide film for the television box made with cardboard and branches of a tree that role with “film,” handmade pictures created of ball, book, girl, boy, etc, at least 50  identifiable objects for the children to name in English. All students are expected to speak English. The baby class are children of a pre-school level ranging from 3-7 years old. They still are transitioning from local language!

There are no texts, or teachers manuals, crayons or paper. All students copy examples and exercises from black board to copy books. There is a copy book for each of the  subjects. In the baby class, all work for the student is drawn in by the teacher! In the other classes all copy from the board. There is a lot of rote memory work.

There are no learning centers in the classroom as there are no stores for teachers to buy learning materials.  In the capital city there is a book store on par of Barnes and Noble or Borders. The cost of materials and books seem to be higher than what I would pay in the States.

I bought a suitcase and filled it with learning materials and books for the resource room that I am creating for the school. The resources are both for the teachers and the children.  It is a place where I am helping the children who fall behind or just need extra help and encouragement.

My latest purchase was a “floor bear” that holds 3 children to s it and read. I am in the process of getting supplies for my sand tray and art therapy counseling room. It is exciting to createnew opportunities for the children and teachers.

Philip Levine’s “Our Valley”

Pulitzer-prize winning poet Phil Levine has lived and taught for much of his life in Fresno, California, in the San Joaquin Valley of central California. Growing up in Sacramento, that valley is a place I know and love. In fact, the title of my critical thesis for my MFA in poetry was “Writing in Gold Dust” on California poetry.

Enjoy Levine’s beautiful poem about the Central valley published in the November issue of Poetry magazine.

Our Valley

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

– Philip Levine, Poetry (November 2008, p. 110).