The other day, I commented on how wonderful it was to see four former presidents joining President Barack Obama in celebrating the great civil rights progress that was made in the 1960’s. America was changed, the United States is a better country but the struggle for true equality regretfully is far from being over.
I was delighted to see a statement in the Austin American Statesman on the fact that the struggle needs to continue. An article was coauthored by the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus and they touched briefly on very serious issues that still must be addressed. They state that as Texans:
“We rightly demand a fair system that provides meaningful freedom and opportunity for each of us….
“Instead we see a fixed system that consistently puts well-connected millionaire donors and corporations ahead of middle class working Texans. We still a school finance system that is so unfair and inadequate that most Texas school districts are compelled to sue the state over it.”
“We see a sustained attack on health services, women and the poor, along with efforts to revise history, whitewashing the record and ignoring the plain fact that Texas leads the nation in its percentage of uninsured residents.”
“And in clear echoes of 50 years ago, we see repeated efforts to make it harder for Texans to exercise the most fundamental right of all – the right to cast their ballots.”
The senators are very correct in pointing out that so much still needs to be done. I certainly hope and pray that Texans will continue to work for a more just and equitable society.
Onward through the fog.
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St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Austin’s Parish are the two key downtown Catholic parishes in Austin. They endeavor to serve their diverse, complex communities effectively and really do a great job. Their parishioners are drawn from some of the most affluent and sophisticated people of the metropolitan area, while at the same time, they must reach people living on the streets and for whom every day is an extremely difficult struggle.
I was very impressed and delighted when I opened the Austin American Statesman the other day and saw that St. Austin’s had opened a water fountain on the street in front of the parish. Father Charles Kullmann, the pastor, pointed out the reason. “The street youth were finding it harder and harder to find water and there were no public fountains in the area and fewer businesses were willing to supply water.” The city wouldn’t provide the sustenance. The faithful would. May God bless the faithful.
It was the wonderful parishioners of St. Austin’s who 13 years ago recognized a really pressing problem on the streets. Homeless women with children! I was still in office when a half a dozen younger parishioners came to me with a vision of opening some type of hostel program facing this agonizing problem. When talking to people about this I always like to stress the words and make sure that they catch what it was that I said. HOMELESS WOMEN WITH CHILDREN! The young St. Austinites had a dream of purchasing an apartment house, and helping these women to get their feet on the ground and be able to provide for their children and themselves. I cautioned these generous visionaries about the complexities of their dream. I mentioned the risks, the liability, the ongoing costs, etc., etc. Happily, they ignored my counsel and one month later purchased a 12-unit apartment house for $650,000. The Daughters of Charity and the Seton Fund made major contributions getting them off to a good start. The Diocese itself made a modest contribution of $50,000. They were underway!
St. Louise House is much more than just a roof overhead. This ministry provides counseling, job training and other aids in helping the mother and her children get on their feet. When they enter their new home it is completely furnished and when she leaves, usually in less than a year, she takes everything with her because she arrived with nothing but would be moving into an empty apartment. After she leaves, the wonderful St. Louise House volunteers step in and refurnish the empty apartment preparing for the next heroic mother with her child or children.
St. Austin’s is also one of the downtown churches that works together to provide warmth and sustenance on freezing nights to homeless men who have a desperate need for shelter. May God bless them for that.
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