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International Solidarity Days – May 2023

May 1—International Workers’ Day

Also known as May Day, International Workers’ Day is a day to honor the workers and laborers around the world who build and maintain societies, economic systems, and support families and communities every day. We are all becoming acutely aware of the dangerous conditions that so many workers face every day. It is common around the world for workers to lose their jobs if they miss work, even when they are suffering from serious illnesses. Many jobs are extremely dangerous, threatening the lives of workers and the well-being of their families.

With the advancement of technology and the intelligence of man-made goods, many workers lose their jobs and cannot even support their families and themselves. We also remember workers who have lost their jobs due to injustice and war. Although Catholic social teaching upholds the rights of workers to organize so that their needs can be known by their employers, many workers still do not have this right. In many jobs, workers have little or no job security and can be dismissed without due process. In other situations, the wages workers earn after working a full day (often 12 hours or more) do not even reach a living wage.  May 1st is a day to call attention to worker safety issues, to demand fair and just living wages, and to call for paid sick leave not only to protect the health of the sick worker but also his/her coworkers.

God of justice, we thank you for the brave men and women whose work sustains their families and communities and who make our social structures possible. We also remember the struggles of past and present workers for fair wages, a safe workplace and paid sick leave. As workers continue to advocate for their rights, give them job security so that they can continue to earn a living. Bless their labor and inspire us all to express gratitude to those who serve their communities and society, whenever we have an opportunity to do so.

May 2- World Tuna Day

World Tuna Day was created by the United Nations as an official holiday in 2017. However, this holiday was celebrated for several years before that date. It was originally celebrated by various groups in 2011 and was celebrated every year until the UN decided to pick it up. Although just about everyone is familiar with tuna in its many forms, few people know all that much about tuna or how it intersects with the world’s food supplies. That’s why we’ve decided to list some of the facts we learned about tuna so that everyone can have a better understanding of its importance to the world.

  • On average, Americans eat almost 3-pounds of canned tuna per capita.
  • That means that Americans eat almost a billion pounds of canned tuna a year.
  • About 70% of canned tuna enjoyed by Americans is skipjack tuna. Only 30% if albacore.
  • Worldwide populations of skipjack tuna are considered to be stable.
  • Unopened canned tuna has a lifespan of about 4-years, if not exposed to extreme condition.

World Tuna Day should be observed first and foremost by making politicians aware of the problem of overfishing so that one day it can be solved. People can also observe this day by incorporating tuna into their diet for the day or by using the hashtag.

This is a precarious situation considering that the U.S, the European Union, and Japan are the largest consumers of canned tuna. Although efforts are currently underway to solve the overfishing epidemic, we aren’t quite there yet, so it’s important for everyone to work together to celebrate this day and raise people’s awareness about the problem.

God, we are grateful for the nature that you have given us. help us and awaken us so that we are able to take care of your creation. we ask you to open everyone’s hearts to jointly overcome the problem of overfishing and realize that it is important to preserve the fish in the sea.

May 03 – World Press Freedom Day

World Press Freedom Day is an annual event that is observed on May 3rd to raise awareness about the importance of press freedom and to highlight the challenges faced by journalists worldwide in carrying out their duties. The idea of establishing World Press Freedom Day was first proposed in 1991 by a group of African journalists who had gathered in Namibia for a UNESCO seminar on promoting an independent and pluralistic press.

They suggested that May 3rd be recognized as a day to celebrate and defend press freedom worldwide.  The proposal was later endorsed by UNESCO’s General Conference, and the United Nations General Assembly declared May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day in 1993. Since then, the day has been observed annually.

The main objective of World Press Freedom Day is to promote press freedom and to defend the media from attacks on their independence. It also serves as a reminder to governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

World Press Freedom Day Theme 2023: “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights”

These themes aim to raise awareness and encourage discussions about specific issues related to press freedom and the role of media in society. They highlight the importance of protecting the independence of the media and the rights of journalists to report without fear of intimidation, censorship, or violence. At this moment let us also remember and pray for our brothers and sisters and countries that are experiencing violence, injustice and war. We hope that with our anti-cruelty movements and calls for peace our world will experience peace and prosperity.

God of peace and justice we pray for the world, our country and our brothers and sisters who are in distress due to violence, injustice and war.  May they experience your protection and loving hands wherever they are. We ask that you make us instruments of peace where there is war and injustice and your love where there is strife, wherever we are.

May 15—The 92th Anniversary of Quadragesimo Anno

On May 15, 1931, Pope Pius XI published his encyclical Quadreagesimo Anno (QA) on the 40th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. These two encyclicals outlined the moral principles that should inform the just development of the social order that was emerging following the industrial revolution.

In QA, Pope Pius XI addressed issues such as private property and the common good, the rights and responsibilities related to capital and labor, the right to work as a human right, and the right for workers to earn a living wage for themselves and their families.  QA further highlighted the essential role of labor in creating capital, and capital’s essential role in creating flourishing economies.  It also called on governments to ensure the common good by taxation and equitable redistribution of goods and services, and building and maintaining infrastructures needed to support all members of society.  We continue today to work toward this balance in societal relationships.  We often find that government and the wealthy who own and control capital work hand in hand, with little or no input from the poor and from workers, without regard for the common good.  Today is a day to remember the messages of QA, and to call on governments, capital and labor to come together for the sake of the common good and for the good of Earth herself.

Holy One, we pray for the poor who suffer because of the imbalance in power and wealth created by the globalization of indifference.  Inspire those who lead governments and those who control capital to listen to the poor and representatives of labor in order to build a sustainable future together that is just and compassionate.

May 16 – International day of Living Together in Peace

Unesco declared 16 May the International Day of Living Together in Peace, as a means of regularly mobilizing the efforts of the international community to promote peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity. The Day aims to uphold the desire to live and act together, united in differences and diversity, in order to build a sustainable world of peace, solidarity and harmony.

The International Day of Living Together in Peace reminds us of all the work that remains to be done to achieve and maintain peace and non-violence. The importance of this work must never be underestimated and there will always be more to be done. This work is the raison d’être of UNESCO. Founded after the most terrible war, it aims to construct the defenses of peace in the minds of women and men through the common goods that are education, science, information and culture.

God of mercy and compassion, of grace and reconciliation, pour your power upon all your children in the Middle East: Jews, Muslims and Christians, Palestinians and Israelis. Let hatred be turned into love, fear to trust, despair to hope, oppression to freedom, occupation to liberation, that violent encounters may be replaced by loving embraces, and peace and justice could be experienced by all.

May 21—Feast of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

Franz Jägerstätter, like St Francis had a rather wild youth, joining a motorcycle gang and often disturbing the peace of his little village.  After marrying, he seemed to settle down into his life as a farmer, studying scripture and becoming a third order secular Franciscan. He took the Gospel and Franciscan message of non-violence to heart just as the Nazi party was coming to power in Germany.

After the Nazi annexation of Austria, where Franz lived, he quickly learned of their activities and intentions. Based on his religious convictions, he refused to cooperate with their agenda. When he was conscripted into the German army, he refused military service, believing that this would be a form of complicity with the Nazi regime. In spite of the fact that he had a wife and three daughters, he continued to follow his conscience.  He was arrested and later beheaded for treason on August 9, 1943 at the age of 33.  His life gives testimony to the fact that active nonviolence can demand much of us.  Standing up against intimidation, war, injustice and oppression can even cost us our lives.  Like Franz, we are called to live Jesus’ message of love, peace-making and non-violence.  May our lives inspire others, just as the life of Franz Jägerstätter inspires us.

Loving God, we pray for an end to injustice, intimidation, violence and war.  We recommit ourselves to Gospel love, compassion and peace-making.  We ask that you bless us with courage and determination whenever we face threats or hardships because of this commitment.  Make us true bearers of Easter light to our suffering world.

May 22—International Day for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity is what forms the web of life of which we are a part. It is   product of billions of years of evolution. Globally, 25% of all plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. Biodiversity is created from the words Bio and diversity. Bio means life while diversity implies a range of different things. Biodiversity, therefore, can be defined as the desirable range of plant and animal life in the world.

The planet Earth inhabits a vast variety of living organisms, from tiny bacteria to gigantic elephants. All these are a representation of particular ecosystems. To celebrate these organisms, the World biodiversity day is celebrated on May 22nd every year. According to the UN General Assembly, the aim for this holiday is to create awareness of the many challenges facing biodiversity. The first celebrations of International Day for Biological Diversity were held in 1993. Earlier in 1992, several governments’ leaders assembled at the Earth Summit UN conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The leaders agreed on a strategy for sustainable development that would meet the needs of people while at the same time ensuring that the planet remains healthy for future generations. It is during this conference that the leaders reached an agreement on the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The convention, however, came into force on December 29, 1993, and in the following years, the date was designated as the International Day for Biological Diversity or International Biodiversity Conservation Day.

In 2001, the UN General Assembly moved the celebrations of this holiday to May 22nd due to the numerous holidays that were observed in late December. Each year, the UN chooses a theme for the World Biodiversity Day geared towards educating the public on topics that fall under the veil of diversity. Recently, the themes have been, Biodiversity and Agriculture, Biodiversity and Poverty Alleviation and Biodiversity and Climate Change.

Whether you are from a desert climate, swamp, forest or even a valley, you can celebrate International Day for Biological Diversity in your own unique way. For instance, you can mark this day by learning more about biodiversity. Get an understanding of the importance of biodiversity to your daily life and its benefits to the entire world. The best way to get all this information is by visiting a local library and reading books about nature, ecosystems, plants, etc. You can also visit a local conservation area like a zoo, nature reserve, or an aquarium and get to experience the life of various animals firsthand. You’ll be amazed to discover wild animals, insects, and plants you have never noticed. International Day for Biological Diversity is also a great time to participate in a local clean-up campaign. During the cleanup, remove any invasive plants that are negatively impacting the local fauna’s biodiversity. It is regrettable that human trash and pollution have negatively impacted biodiversity in a great way.

As a contribution to keep International Day for Biological Diversity celebrated for many more years, donate to a center that supports biodiversity. These funds usually go into a kitty meant to secure species that are on the brink of extinction.

Human beings are the dominant species on the planet. We are living creatures that can enforce positive change and encourage growth and diversity. We can also impose a negative change to morph the earth into something unable to sustain life. Observing the International Day for Biological Diversity makes it a constant reminder that we have the power to change the world into something great. We recognize that to care for our common home requires us to live in harmony with nature.  We know that we have the capacity to “bend the curve” on biodiversity loss, for the good of Earth and to create a sustainable future for our planet.  Now more than ever, we realize that human health depends upon the health and diversity of Earth’s ecosystems.  Species extinctions ultimately lead to the collapse of ecosystems, and will eventually make our planet unrecognizable, and unable to sustain human habitation.  Today, let us renew our determination to protect Earth’s biodiversity.  Let us evaluate our life choices and begin to live sustainably and responsibly for the good of all creation. 

Creator God, awaken us to the urgent need to change our lives in order to protect the biodiversity of our planet.  Open our eyes to the wonders of creation which reveal your presence and love.  We give thanks for all your creatures, realizing that each is a unique gift.  Help us to protect the treasure of biodiversity by living in right relationship with each other and with creation.

May 24—Eighth Anniversary of Laudato Si: On the Care of Our Common Home

Laudato Si—On the Care of Our Common Home is the encyclical published in 2015 by Pope Francis.  It calls on all the people of the world to reflect on the divine love revealed in all of creation and to dedicate ourselves to the care of creation. The Pope calls all of us to recognize the wonder and beauty of Earth and to take time to contemplate its mysteries. 

He focuses our attention on the destruction of the planet that we are witnessing today, much of which is due to human activity.  He also links the care for the poor and the care of creation in what he calls an “integral ecology”.  Care for creation demands that we create a future where the needs of the poor are met and the gifts of creation are shared in a sustainable and equitable way.  This 8th anniversary of the encyclical is a time to renew our efforts to create a sustainable world together.

Read encyclical Laudato si from Holy Father; ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER

Holy One, thank you for the wonder of creation which reveals your beauty, power, and love.  We pray that you will open our hearts so that we can discover new vision and new ways of living that will allow us to move forward in harmony with creation.  Help us to live sustainable lives for the common good and for the good of Earth, our common home.