EPISO Reflects on La Matanza with Pastoral Letter by Bishop Seitz
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting in El Paso, EPISO / Border Interfaith launched a campaign to "Stand Against Fear," mobilizing an assembly of 300 faithful and kick-starting a campaign for gun safety legislation. Leaders have facilitated various listening sessions at their institutions and, after hearing the needs of their community, collaborated with local mental health providers to train and certify leaders in Mental Health First Aid.
Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz soon wrote a Pastoral Letter “Night Will Be No More” calling the shooting “La Matanza” (The Slaughter) and reminding the faithful of the historic and systemic nature of racism in the American Southwest.
Leaders are now incorporating the letter into the listening sessions, unearthing stories of long-term trauma – of discrimination, racism and violence on both sides of the border, and, in contrast to trying to bring things 'back to normal,' are exploring what a better El Paso looks like.
Night Will Be No More: Pastoral Letter to the People of God in El Paso (page 48), Catholic Extension [pdf]
Noche Ya No Habrá: Carta Pastoral al Pueblo de Dios en El Paso, Catholic Extension
Statement on Shooting: El Paso Area Residents Urged to Overcome Fear and Build Relationships for Change
For immediate release: August 4, 2019
|Media Contacts:||Dr. Kathy Staudt||915-240-5826|
|Fr. Pablo Matta||915-500-9919|
EPISO/BI Assembly: Thursday, August 8, 2019, 7PM
St. Paul’s Catholic Church: 7424 Mimosa Ave., El Paso, TX 79915
We are heartbroken over Saturday morning’s attack on innocent victims in our community. This Thursday, August 8th at 7pm, EPISO/Border Interfaith (BI) leaders will come together to demonstrate that this hate-filled act has no place in El Paso, and we will stand as a united effort to grieve and rebuild the bonds of trust to overcome fear and hate.
We as Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders representing 19 local institutions from all walks of life and backgrounds, condemn yesterday’s attack. El Paso is the largest US city on the border and among the safest in our country. We will not let this senseless act of violence define us or define who we are as a border community. We recall the story of the Good Samaritan. In it, we are challenged to see the humanity in those we have been taught to despise and to practice neighborliness, not to be divided by senseless acts of violence.
This week EPISO/BI recommits to its long-term political work of building vital public relationships, rooted in trust. This entails the following:
1) Urging our community to come together and publicly demonstrate our unity and sorrow through the many prayer vigils and gatherings. We must confront this fear together as a community and in local congregations and not allow those most fearful to withdraw into their isolation, whether they require medical care, grief counseling, or simply the caring support of their neighbors.
2) Working to publicly reassure our communities, especially the most vulnerable, to trust law enforcement and local government. On August 8, we will convene with local officials to recommit to our mutual work of creating a safe, vibrant community.
3) Meeting with Congressional members and legislative delegation to propose common sense legislation to prevent such violence in the future.
Most of all, we urge the people of the El Paso area to reach out to those who might feel isolated or fearful and with that same intent and seek fruitful relationships not just in the coming days and weeks, but for the long term. Those kinds of efforts can forge new relationships with people who are different, and to strategize together on building long-term solutions.
EPISO/ Border Interfaith is a multi-ethnic group of institutions, primarily congregations, in the El Paso metro area. EPISO and BI are non-partisan organizations and never accept government funds or supports any candidate. The purpose of EPISO/ BI is to give ordinary citizens a structure through which they can negotiate effectively with the government and private institutions that affect their lives. EPISO /BI are the vehicle through which member congregations and organizations act on the interests of their families and local communities, helping them become an effective force for promoting faith values and democratic traditions.