Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates




New Pro Life Billboards
Thanks to donations from Holy Family Catholic Church five new pro-life billboards are being displayed around Central Florida. The billboards, showing a woman holding a pregnancy test, reads: “Pregnant? Your baby’s heart is already beating!” followed by a number where women can receive help. These billboards will remain up at least 6 months with the hope of educating the public and saving lives of the unborn. Look for them at the following locations: 1. Orange Ave., south of Gatlin Ave; 2. Maitland Blvd., west of US 17/92; 3.US 441 north of Silver Star Rd.; 4. Aloma Ave East of Palmetto Ave.; and 5. SR 50 East of Dean Rd. Thank you to all who supported this project.  If you would like more information on how to sponsor a billboard, please contact the Office of Advocacy and Justice at

Our Thoughts and Prayers for the People of Japan
The people of Japan have been suffering the tragic effects of the major earthquake, consequent tsunami and fallout from the damaged nuclear reactor. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has offered his prayers for those who have died. Upon their grieving families and friends, he has invoked divine blessings of strength and consolation. The Holy Father also expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those providing rescue, relief and support to the victims of this disaster. We understand from Caritas Japan that the Church’s focus for the moment is on the most vulnerable. Caritas and the local Church are collecting information on affected areas to plan their response efforts. We offer them our solidarity and prayers.

April is Autism Awareness Month
National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) calls on parishes and dioceses to observe this commemorative month.  The NCPD website has resources for this observation such as Prayers of the Faithful and a bulletin announcement to support your ministry at  The NCPD Autism Task Force (Task Force) joins with others across our nation to support efforts of dioceses and parishes in their ministry to and with people with autism and their families.

Special Needs Catechetical Resource

Pflaum Publishing has included suggested accommodations for students with special learning needs, for their Together in Jesus sacramental preparation materials, on their website.  This is something new to their website and is listed under Guides and Manuals section on the main webpage at

Lee Nagel, National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL)
“Inside the Heads of Students With Asperger Syndrome”
In 1997, Dan Coulter’s 14-year-old son Drew was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS). Dan, himself, was diagnosed in 2009. From years of challenges—and triumphs—Dan Coulter has first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to have Asperger’s, and believes teachers are in a unique position to help kids with AS break through the walls that hide their talent and potential. Dan wrote an article about his experience that will help others understand what he and his son have and are going through, see: tips at the end of this article for teachers are also applicable for catechists.

Several Tips for Teachers
1. Discover the strengths of a student with Asperger Syndrome and incorporate them into his class work as motivation. 
2. Take active steps to prevent bullying. Students with Asperger Syndrome tend to be easy targets and are frequently teased or harassed. 
3. Offer clear instructions and assignments and check periodically to ensure a student with Asperger Syndrome understands them. Students with AS tend to take things literally, have difficulty with implied meanings, and have difficulty asking for help. 
4. Establish a safe place and a safe person (such as a counselor) that a student can seek out to calm himself if he gets overwrought. 
5. Accommodate a student’s sensitivities. Some people with Asperger Syndrome are hyper-sensitive to touch or bright lights or loud noises. Take this into account in classroom seating and activities.

FEMA Continues Efforts to Include People with Disabilities
From an article by Jennifer Simpson in the March, American Association of People with Disabilities Newsletter. 
On Friday February 4, 2011, AAPD’s Jenifer Simpson attended a briefing and update by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) on the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). 

IPAWS is the next generation of the Emergency Alert System that most of us know via radio and TV announcements when they say “this is a test of the emergency alert system.”  IPAWS, however, will integrate these TV and radio announcements with messages on cell phones, through Internet services, via weather alert and local systems such as AMBER, electronic road signage and “reverse 911” systems. The aim is to be able to send “one message over more devices to more people for maximum safety” using different technologies. To read more and/or comment, see:

One in Five Americans Struggling to Get Enough Food
Nearly one in five Americans had trouble affording enough food to feed themselves and their families last year, according to the results of a new national analysis released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) of Washington, D.C. Using survey data collected by the Gallup organization, FRAC determined that 18 percent of people in the U.S. experienced “food hardship.” Food hardship was defined as answering “yes” to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”  “There still are unprecedented numbers of Americans who are struggling with no wages or low wages, and we can see the impact of that struggle in the food hardship data,” said FRAC president Jim Weill. “We have to strengthen programs that benefit those who are trying to make ends meet.”  Click here to review the report.

Pope Benedict XVI Addresses Creation Care in Latest Book
In his new book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week—From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, Pope Benedict XVI reflects on crucial questions related to Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Within this context, the Holy Father considers God’s Creation and our human response to this gift.  Here are a few of his reflections: 

  • “[T]he innermost purpose of the whole of creation [is] to open up a space for response to God’s love, to his holy will.” p 78
  • “The Incarnation … is aimed at the transformation of the whole of creation, so that it may become in a completely new way God’s true dwelling place in union with Christ.” p 92
  • “Let us say plainly: the unredeemed state of the world consists precisely in the failure to understand the meaning of creation, in the failure to recognize truth; as a result, the rule of pragmatism is imposed, by which the strong arm of the powerful becomes the god of this world.” p 193 
  • “Indeed, the magnificent mathematics of creation, which today we can reading the human genetic code, we recognize the language of God.” p 193 
  • “And true priesthood is therefore the ministry of word and sacrament that transforms people into an offering to God and makes the cosmos into praise and thanksgiving to the Creator and Redeemer.” p 238

A Greener Campus at John Carroll University, Cleveland
From John Carroll magazine:

JCU’s vision is to have an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable campus and community with employees and students who incorporate sustainability in their education, work, and daily lives. Three overarching strategic initiatives are:

  • Conserve natural resources and reduce waste, energy usage, and its carbon footprint.
  • Identify, promote, and implement sustainable practices in all operational areas.
  • Support a culture of continuous improvement and enhance the Catholic character and commitment to the environment.

The University has done work in the areas of: energy and water use, office practices and IT, waste reduction, food services, design and construction, procurement, transportation, landscaping/grounds, student life, financial support.  The article continues:

Furthermore, the Catholic Bishops and Jesuits believe global climate change is real and it’s the responsibility of this generation to help solve the problem.  Toward that end, the university reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 22.3 percent from 2005 to 2008 and is developing a formal plan for emissions reduction. Half of campus buildings have been retrofitted with an energy management system to optimize efficiency.

Read more about JCU’s sustainability efforts here.

Catholic Climate Ambassador Interviewed on American Catholic Radio
Climate Ambassador Kyle Kramer was recently interviewed on “Living Faith” with Judy Zarick about his choice to forego a promising academic career and instead become an organic farmer so that he could live more simply and be a better steward of God’s creation.  Here is an excerpt:

Judy Zarick: Kyle encourages us all to take a good look at how we’re living out our Catholic Christian faith in our everyday lives. 

Kyle Kramer: There are all kinds of ways to have an ecologically responsible and spiritually rich life in a city or a suburb, and Lord knows, we need folks engaging a more radical, a more simple, a more sustainable lifestyle exactly where they are. Before you do anything concrete, make sure you have some kind of regular prayer practice in place because that has got to be the foundation of any of this other kind of work you do or else you’re going to burn out. 

Judy Zarick: Kyle has written a book about his experience.  In A Time to Plant, he writes about attempting to make simple living reality as a spiritual discipline for himself, as a model for his children, and for the good of Creation.

Listen to the entire interview here. To inquire about scheduling Kyle or another Ambassador to speak to your diocese, parish, school, or other organization, email us at

Advocacy Efforts:

Action Needed to Protect our Nation’s Social Safety Net
Tell Congress to protect nutrition and other human needs budget priorities by joining more than 1,200 national, state and local organizations working to prevent cuts to these programs in FY2011, FY2012, and in the future. Sign your organization onto the campaign’s statement of principles: SAVE for All — Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All.

The Campaign, led by the Coalition on Human Needs, includes a broad spectrum of national advocacy groups, service providers, faith-based organizations, labor, civil rights groups and policy experts. Their common focus is to protect and strengthen the federal programs and services that have fostered economic progress, responded to economic emergencies, and provided protection and greater security for low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

The Statement of Principles was sent to every Member of Congress on March 28. In order to stop these cuts, it is crucial to demonstrate overwhelming support from organizations in every state. The campaign’s goal is to have 2,000 endorsers or more.

Lent Reflections and Resources 
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) presents an online Lent Calendar that features justice-related items during the days of Lent. Visitors can click on a day to see suggestions for prayer, action and reflection throughout the 2011 Lenten season.

The Center for Action and Contemplation also has reflections and resources available online for Lent. This year the title is Food as Holy Provision and Simple Gift. Their intention is to recognize and honor the Creator’s provision through soil, animals, humans, the cycles of the seasons and the ancient communal dance of sowing, growing, gathering and nourishing our lives by food.

Mental Illness Resources
Welcomed and Valued  The DVD features in-depth looks at people with mental illness and how they participate in parish life.  (27 minute open captioned DVD). Accompanying Resource Manual features 90+ pages of information, perspectives and tools to assist in the ministry with people with mental illness.  

Aging Resources:

Coping as Couples – The Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center has a new and unique support group for couples where the “patient” is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.  For more information contact (407) 843-1910 or

Senior Expo & Health Fair – The biggest Expo of the year is almost here!  Mark your calendars – Wednesday May 4th and Thursday May 5th from 9am to 3 pm.  It will be held at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.   Take West Colonial Drive – 3 miles West of I-4 downtown.  Call (407) 836-6581 for the flyer! 

CarFit Florida – The CarFit program is offering a FREE REVIEW at the Senior Expo on Wednesday, May 4th only.  CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them.  More info on CarFit can be found at

Cool Website – Want to see how quickly the birth rate grows world-wide?  Information is updated in real time. Visit and watch the growth!

Webinar on Long-Term Care – This FREE webinar offers consumers exciting information about how long-term care is changing, and how you can find and advocate for care that focuses on your, or your loved one’s individual interests and needs. Sponsored by AARP and Pioneer Network.  Click on the link to watch:

Unemployment numbers – For the unemployment numbers for older adults for 2007 – 2011, visit