At least, at stake

Is faith more precious than gold?

It is to the people of Tucuman, Argentina, who have precious little gold to spare, but faith in abundance.

Catholic News Agency reported a few weeks ago that in 2011, two costly monstrances were stolen from the Museum of Sacred Art. Officials plan to make a replacement to use at the 2016 National Eucharistic Conference.

But the gold to make the new monstrance is not coming from a mine:

To create the new vessel, the local faithful are donating their prized possessions – even their wedding rings.

According to La Gaceta newspaper, one elderly woman donated three small gold rings, saying, 'It’s all I have.'

Another woman donated her deceased husband’s wedding ring. 'I was married for 65 years, I want this ring to be close to Jesus,' she said.

Offering a gold and silver crucifix from 1914, one donor commented that 'it belonged to my family, now I want it to be with the Blessed Sacrament.'

The stolen monstrances were valuable not just because of the materials in them, but their history: The newer one was commissioned in 1924, contained several precious stones and had also been made from donations of silver and gold from the people of Tucuman.

It was forged by José Pallarols Torras, grandfather of Juan Carlos Pallarols, the goldsmith who has been given the job of fabricating the new vessel, CNS reports.

And Pallarols sees a message in the crafting of the new monstrance, noting that “all the donated material will be melted down so that we can all be one.”

Tucuman’s Archbishop Alberto Zecca said the effort is like the woman in the Gospel who gave only a few coins, but was recognized by Christ as having given much more than the wealthy who gave a lot, because she gave all she had.

When will family detention end?

Even as government attorneys and immigration advocates negotiate a settlement on family detention for Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States – a deal is expected to be announced June 19 – there is more horrifying news from the prisons women and children are lock in.

The Huffington Post reports that on June 3, an immigrant woman held at the family detention facility in Karnes City, Texas, attempted to commit suicide after being denied parole and asylum.

Lilian Yamileth, 19, was detained last October with her 4-year-old son after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Yamileth has said she faced severe abuse in her native Honduras, including rape and death threats.

“In an interview with an asylum officer, Yamileth said her child's father, her former partner, raped, abused and threatened to kill her, according to a transcript,” the story says. “She also said she was raped by three men and went to police, but they did nothing. Yamileth said she was afraid her former partner would kill her if she was deported to Honduras.”

Yamileth was denied asylum in February and her appeal was denied in mid-May.

Karnes was also home to a hunger-strike by inmates earlier this year, protesting conditions and their confinement.

Finding healing through truth, art

The Society of the Sacred Heart in Canada is doing at least a small part to help find healing in the wake of Canada’s efforts to deal with its history of Indian Residential Schools [IRS].

On June 2, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued a “heart-wrenching and damning” 381-page summary of its coming final report on the schools, which the commission called a tool of “cultural genocide.”

Over the course of more than a century, the families of approximately 150,000 children, some as young as three years old, were forced to send their children to IRS; and more than 6,000 children died in the schools, with many others never returning home. Many thousands of indigenous people in Canada continue to suffer the generational impacts of the IRS policy. The schools were a policy of the British, followed by Canadian governments and were implemented by the churches (Presbyterian, Anglican, United and Catholic). Some of the schools were sites of food and drug experimentation. All the schools used the labour of children to survive. Sexual and physical abuses were rampant.

As part of the effort to find reconciliation, some are trying to transform education. Society of the Sacred Heart Sister Sheila Smith and a colleague are helping lead Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario, toward recognition through better integration of indigenous learning.

As part of that effort, the congregation donated a piece of art by indigenous artist Zoey Wood-Salomon to the university. The painting is titled, “Easter Morning & the Sun Dances Red, Yellow, Black and White.”

Officials believe things such as more indigenous art on campus, as well as elders to serve indigenous students and incorporating indigenous ways of learning into programming will all create a more welcoming space. They also note that this is especially important for a university located on “unceded, unsurrendered Algonquin territory.”

These may be small steps, but the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says that many, many steps – small and large – need to be taken to erase the legacy of the schools, The Toronto Star says:

The report also describes how the legacy of residential schools — described as a central component to a government-led policy of cultural genocide — continues, not only through the direct effect that generations of institutionalization and abuse have had on survivors and their families, but how it is manifested in racism, systemic discrimination, poverty and dying indigenous languages.

It includes 94 recommendations, including the call for a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation that, if implemented, would amount to a complete overhaul of the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples, the Crown and other Canadians.

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[Dan Stockman is national correspondent for Global Sisters Report. Follow him on Twitter @DanStockman or on Facebook.]