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December 2, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
I am the parish priest of Santa Rosa de Lima in Las Cruces, and I believe that our community must speak up to preserve the Gila River. Recently, a group of our parish’s youth took a trip to hike along the Gila River and understand the threats to the river and its habitat. We learned that the Gila River is the last natural and free flowing river in New Mexico, and is a tremendous resource providing water to irrigate farms and ranches, a home for wildlife, and a place for people to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.
Yet, the Gila River could become forever altered by a proposal before Governor Martinez’s New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission to build a large-scale diversion reservoir and pipeline from the river to Deming or Las Cruces.
Along with the youth from my parish, I strongly oppose a diversion project on the Gila River. Our faith calls on us to protect God’s creation from destruction or contamination. From the beginning God created a clean, intact world. Genesis 1:31 says, “God looked at everything he had made and indeed, it was very good.”
We have a moral obligation to preserve the natural landscape of the Gila River. It is important for all of us to enjoy places largely untouched by human hands, as exploring the wilderness is one of the ways we are able to take a break from the stress of modern life and connect with what truly matters. Taking my parish into the outdoors for celebrations of mass and community picnics has been a wonderful way to re-energize our spirits. I encouraged the youth from my parish to go on this outing because I wanted them to experience the peace that can be found in the great outdoors. For many, this was their first time camping and hiking in our state’s beautiful wilderness. They returned speaking enthusiastically about the beauty of the river, its natural surroundings and the wildlife they encountered.
The youth also returned with a sense of responsibility that they must care for the Gila River. As one young woman in my parish so eloquently expressed, “God gave us this river and forest to take care of it, not to destroy it.” We are called to not only enjoy the beauty of nature, but to take responsibility for its care as stewards of God’s creation. We can be good stewards of the Gila River by choosing alternative plans that would conserve and provide the water our region needs for generations to come. Not only will a diversion and reservoir alter the natural landscape of the Gila River, but it would hurt the wildlife that call this river home and could result in less water for the Gila River in the long-term. If we are truly to be stewards of God’s creation, we must consider the long-term impact of a temporary solution to our region’s water scarcity. Over the long-term, this river diversion project won’t help our water supply problems in severe droughts because we won’t be able to use the river water if it drops below certain levels.
Sadly, the Gila River is already flowing at historically low levels and a diversion project would only reduce it further. Even the low water levels of the river, recently increased by rain and flash flooding, impressed the youth. Many of them commented that they have not seen a real river in a long time because the Rio Grande in Las Cruces is rarely flowing with water. We may live in a dry region where water is a precious resource, but that should not mean that our children rarely see or experience a healthy river and the wildlife it supports. Neither they, nor I, want to see our state lose another beautiful, free flowing river and important source of water in our state. Through conservation and careful management, we can preserve the Gila River’s natural beauty, wildlife, and water now and for the future.
Our youth are the ones who will gain or lose the most from whether or not we choose to seek alternatives to a diversion project on the Gila River, and they have taken the lead in speaking up for the Gila River at the New Mexico Legislative Interim Drought Subcommittee that met in Las Cruces earlier this month. In following their example, I encourage Governor Martinez to be a good steward of our natural resources by protecting the Gila River.
Father Jesus Martinez is the priest at Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church.
January 22, 2013 by Jennifer Brandt
Do you enjoy being in the outdoors and have photos to show for it? If your answer is YES, join our 4 Stops, 1 Destination Photo Contest to win $500 worth of outdoor gear!
HAF will be accepting your contest photos until July 23rd, 2013 by 6:00pm EST. See contest rules for more information.
Link to contest album with rules:
November 20, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Vega has 40 years of ministry experience in evangelism, event coordination and media relations in Latin America and the United States. Vega has worked with the Hispanic Access Foundation to bring our programs to the employees of the Race Track Industry at four racetracks in California and Texas.
Vega has worked in men’s ministries for 12 years with Promise Keepers as California state director, national bilingual trainer, and international director for Latina America and the Caribbean. Vega also served as director for District Honor Bound Men’s Ministries. He served as a media / crusade coordinator for Latin America Radio and Television Evangelism (now Hermano Pablo Ministries).
While serving at Templo Calvario Church in Santa Ana, Calif., one of the largest Hispanic churches in the U.S. as ministry of expansion/ missions, Vega started two churches and assisted with the establishment of several others. Vega founded Race Track Chaplaincy of California, an evangelistic outreach to the employees of the horse racing industry in 1974. The ministry expanded to 10 tracks and continues to minister to the social, physical, educational and spiritual needs of individuals.
November 2, 2012 by Jennifer Brandt
Letter from the Executive Director from 2011 HAF Annual Report
2011 marked the first full-year for Hispanic Access Foundation and we have truly been blessed by all of those that have supported us in one-way or another.
Hundreds of leaders in our faith-based and community network took up the torch in transforming information into action. Partners like H&R Block and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recognized the importance of grassroots outreach into Hispanic communities. Thousands of Latino families throughout the country embraced our organization, took advantage of the information in our campaigns and took action to improve their futures.
The bridges that we are building are changing lives.
As you read through this annual Report, it should become apparent that what HAF does in reaching the Hispanic community is unlike any other organization. We’ve developed extensive, trust-filled relationships with Latino churches that provide the access to connect with the community at their level. We’ve gained immediate confidence from large corporations and government branches. We’ve mobilized thousands of individuals through our grassroots outreach. We’ve built community bridges and placed many individuals on the path to a better life.
Our message of responsible citizenship, educational attainment, and active engagement in the improvement of the health, environment, and financial well-being of Latino families is resonating at all levels throughout the United States. and it needs to.
By 2050, the Hispanic population is projected to make up 30 percent of the entire U.S. population. The work that we do now is critical to the long-term prospects of this country as a whole. Hispanics need to understand the U.S. tax system and become responsible taxpayers. Latinos need to become advocates of their health and understand the importance of preventative care. Hispanics need to receive a quality education and gain equal access to higher education opportunities.
But, it’s not just about need. It’s about the future of America and making sure we’re all in position to maximize the potential before us.
Hispanic Access Foundation Board Member, María del Mar Muñoz-Visoso has been appointed executive director of the Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“Mar Muñoz-Visoso is a highly respected leader in the bishops’ conference, in Hispanic ministry and in Catholic communications,” said Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, USCCB general secretary. “The experience, expertise and energy she brings to the Cultural Diversity secretariat will greatly enhance the bishops’ vision for this area and will be a gift to the faithful of the communities served by that office.”
The appointment is effective February 27. Muñoz-Visoso succeeds Jesuit Father Allan Deck, the first executive director of the secretariat, which was established in 2008. Cultural Diversity in the Church coordinates the bishops’ outreach to members of the diverse cultures, ethnicities and races that make up the Church in the United States, serving communities of African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Native Americans, as well as migrants, refugees and travelers.
In 2010, Muñoz-Visoso received the Benemerenti Medal from Pope Benedict XVI, at the request of Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. One of the highest honors the pope can bestow on an individual, the medal is given in gratitude for “sustained and exemplary service to the Catholic faith.” In 2011, she represented the USCCB Department of Communications at the Church and Digital Culture conference in Santiago, Chile, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM). She serves on the board of St. Francis International School in the Archdiocese of Washington, which gathers families of mixed income from more than 50 different nationalities.