Arenas de Ruiz, formerly of Venezuela, had been among parishioners in Harris County, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties who took the three-day leadership training offered by The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), a nonprofit grassroots group. In mid-summer, more than 1,250 TMO leaders from 30 churches and other institutions convened on Zoom and Facebook watch parties for a virtual “Get out the Vote Rally” and made thousands of phone calls to 16 Harris County precincts that traditionally had low voter turnout.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has offered a teaching document on the political responsibilities of Catholics called “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” The document urges all pastors, lay and religious faithful and all people of good will “to help form consciences, teach those entrusted to their care; to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue and to shape politics.”
Father Rodney Armstrong of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Fifth Ward and his parishioners set up a voter registration table at a nearby McDonald’s fast-food restaurant with owner approval. The pastor also made a video that TMO placed on its Facebook to encourage voters.
Dr. Fernando Scaglia, a parishioner at Assumption Catholic Church off Airline Drive, said he participated in the church’s phone bank as well despite his busy schedule as a researcher and professor of genetics at Baylor College of Medicine.
He also participated in “Virtual Accountability Sessions,” where TMO invited candidates from Democratic and Republican parties to discuss how they stood on a variety of issues.
“There are so many important issues that impact all of us — health and the pandemic; economic issues like evictions and even the DACA issue for dreamers,” Dr. Scaglia said.
[Photo Credit: St. Leo the Great Catholic Church]
Faithful Citizenship Sparks Nonpartisan Voter Rallies at Houston Parishes, The Texas Catholic Herald [pdf]
In the face of constituent stories about bayou flooding, DACA, the need for mental health facilities and the power of Capital IDEA, candidates for federal, state and county office made public commitments on mental health, infrastructure/flooding mitigation, public education, immigration and more.
In Congressional District 29 & County Precinct 2...
250 leaders packed the parish hall at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church for a nonpartisan accountability assembly with candidates for CD 29 and Harris Co. Precinct 2. DACA recipient Ms. Puente shared that as a student and nearing young professional, she relies on DACA to live outside of the shadows, an essential element for a bright and successful future. Impressed with Ms. Puente’s story, and others like hers from Assumption Catholic Church, All Saints Catholic Church, and St. Andrews Episcopal Church, candidates committed to fight for a pathway for DREAMers at the federal level.
In Congressional District 7...
and joined by leaders from Faith City Church, Chapelwood United Methodist Church and Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, Congregation Beth Israel hosted a nonpartisan accountability assembly with 125 TMO leaders and candidates for CD 7. After hearing how the nearby bayou had wrecked surrounding neighborhoods during Hurricane Harvey, flooding for the third time in 3 years, candidates committed to championing Harvey recovery by bringing local, county, state, and federal entities together with TMO to expedite mitigation projects for this area.
In State House Districts 146 & 147...
nearly 100 TMO leaders from St. James’ Episcopal Church, Pilgrim Congregational UCC and Trinity East United Methodist Church assembled at St. James’ Episcopal to secure commitments from candidates for State House Districts 146 and 147. Mr. DuPont, a TMO leader and member of St. James’ Episcopal Church, expressed the need for more funding and oversight for mental health facilities in the area. The candidates agreed to work with TMO on understanding and improving these housing and mental health facilities.
In State House District 139...
close to 100 TMO leaders from Hope Episcopal Church and Santa Monica Catholic Church assembled at St. Andrew’s UMC to secure public commitments from state house district candidates to work with them on flood mitigation, infrastructure, public school, and immigration. Capital IDEA graduate, and Registered Nurse Tanesha Brown, shared how she went from making minimum wage to nearly six figures following her graduation from Capital IDEA. In emotional testimony, she thanked TMO and Capital IDEA for changing her life. Both candidates agreed to fight for $5 million dollars at the state level for Capital IDEA funding.
TMO clergy and leaders took to the podium to demand that their US Senators and Congressmembers resolve the crisis which has jeopardized the status of thousands of Houston-area DREAMers who have relied on DACA to build their lives.
Immigrant leaders testified, with personal stories, that a failure to compromise would not only harm families, it would undermine the capacity of the hospitals and health care systems that currently rely on their talent.
[Photo Credit: Maria de Jesus, Houston Chronicle]
Dreamers Feel They Are Americans Contributing to Church, Community, Texas Catholic Herald
'Dreamers' Say They're Not Asking for Handouts, Just Chance to Stay, Catholic Philly