Join the growing number of people of faith
who are speaking to current public policy concerns.

Active Programs


This group is currently headed by Mary Morich.  It works with Rochestarians Concerned about Unsafe Shale Extraction (R-Cause) and New Yorkers Against Fracking on activities related to the environmental health and economic impacts of gas extraction using slick-water high volume hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) in New York State.  Specific activities have included commenting to the Department of Environmental Conservation about proposed policies meant to protect the health and welfare of New Yorkers, co-sponsoring a forum on the potential health impact of hydrofracking, speaking at a public meeting of the Monroe County Legislature against any  possibility of taking hydrofracking wastewater for treatment in Monroe County, and co-sponsoring - as well as attending - a rally in Albany demanding that New York  pursue the development of renewable energy instead of hydrofracking.  For information about hydrofracking, go to the R-Cause website, or the New Yorkers Against Fracking website,  To be put on TIAR’s e-mail list to be notified of activities dealing with environmental issues, send an e-mail request to

August, 2013

Government and Corporate Economic Justice

The GCEJ (Government and Corporate Economic Justice) group is working with other social justice groups to monitor economic policies and practices; and advocate to advance economic justice.  It is currently headed by Becky Elwell and Sr. Beth LeValley. To be put on TIAR’s e-mail list to be notified of activities dealing with economic justice issues, send an e-mail request to

August, 2013


The Health Care Group is currently headed by Donn Rice and John Noronha.  It has been active recently in two areas.  Even though our overall goal is to promote single payer or Medicare for all, recent activity has focused on implementation of the complex ACA. The other focus has been to promote the understanding of and need for improved mental health services.
Implementation of the ACA is now concerned with the organization and operation of so called health care exchanges. The goals are to have them set up by October 1 and fully operational by January 1, 2014. At this time, only 22 states have agreed to comply; New York is one of these.

There are three approaches to get everyone protected by health insurance. The well- to- do will continue to be on their own. The middle class will have access to federal subsidies. The poor will be covered by expanded Medicaid. Unfortunately, less than half the states have agreed to accept the expanded Medicaid.  The cost of medical care in the United States is twice that of every other developed country with hospitals. drugs, medical devices, being the major drivers.
Improving mental health services has been spearheaded by the Mental Health Care Coalition as part of the Faith in Action Network. TIAR has been a part of this effort. The plans were initiated on February 13, 2013, when representatives of many local mental health services met at  the County Office of Mental Health.  This discussion led to a seminar held on May 15, at the St, Josephs Neighborhood Center. Follow-up is still needed. To be put on TIAR’s e-mail list to be notified of activities dealing with health issues, send an e-mail request to

August, 2013

Immigration Reform

This group is headed by Heide Parreno.  Immigration forums on various aspects of the immigration problems have been held and as work on the Immigration Reform Bill continues in Congress, we also see increasing anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from national and local groups.  A helpful website that can offer clues about the hate language and where it comes from is:  Check it out-it's really good! To be put on TIAR’s e-mail list to be notified of activities dealing with immigraton issues, send an e-mail request to

TIAR’s Immigration Committee actively participated in the formation of the Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice( GRCIJ) and continues to be an  integral member of the coalition.  GRCIJ works to help others see immigration issues in the context of human rights and to promote immigration reform.  To connect with Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice, sign up for Facebook today.

Following is a comment by Sr. Gratia from a Christian perspective:  “If Jesus Christ came back tomorrow in the Second Coming, would we want to label him an undocumented immigrant and arrest, imprison, torture, deport, or execute him (as he was in the First Coming)?”

Here is an Interfaith Statement on Humane Immigration Reform:

Our diverse faith traditions teach us to welcome our brothers and sisters with love and compassion--regardless of their place of birth.

The Hebrew scripture tells us” “The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 12:33-34).  In the Christian Gospel, Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger, “for what you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me” (Matthew 25:40).  The Qur’an tells us that we should “do good to...those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer that you meet” (4:36).  The Hindu Taitiriya Upanishad tell us:  “The guest is a representative of God” (1.11.2).

We witness the human consequences of a broken and outdated immigration system:  exploitation, separated families, the escalation of community fear due to indiscriminate raids, and local police acting as federal immigration agents.  Humane immigration reform would help put an end to this suffering, which offends the dignity of all human beings.

Therefore, we call on the Administration and Congress to commit to uphold human rights and family unity as a priority of all immigration policies:

1)  Prioritize family unity for those separated due to lengthy visa backlogs.
2)  Create a process for undocumented immigrants to earn their legal status and eventual citizenship or lawful permanent residency after satisfying reasonable criteria.
3)  Expand legal, safe, and orderly avenues for workers who seek to migrate to the United States for work, and cease discrimination and unfair hiring or firing practices.
4)  Restore due process protections and reform detention policies to respect human rights.

Vast resources are used for fence construction, mass arrests, detention, and deportation of immigrants who contribute to the U.S. economy and culture.  While we need to identify and prevent the entry of persons who commit dangerous crimes, all immigration laws must respect the dignity of every person with humane treatment.   As people of faith, we call attention to the moral dimensions of immigration policy.  We are dedicated to immigration reform because we value family unity, equality, justice, equity, compassion, and love.

Proposed to and adopted by The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester  on January 15, 2009.  It was adapted from the Interfaith Platform for Humane Immigration Reform, Friends Committee on National Legislation.

August, 2013

Peace and Non-Violence

The Peace and Non-Violence group focuses on local and national peace efforts.  Heide Parreno ( and Marilyn Wienk ( co-chair this committee. Please contact either of them for information about our activities and how you can be involved.

We have been educating and advocating with elected officials about how military expenditures adversely impact local human needs programs.  Every minute, the United States Government spends $1.2 million on the military.  A total of 57% of the current federal budget goes for war with 43% going for everything else.  You can receive a foldout prepared by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) that shows the breakdown of the federal budget by emailing a request with your mailing address to Marilyn Wienk. 

During the fall of 2012, a group of TIAR Board members researched our nation’s deployment of lethal drones abroad and their increasing use for surveillance at home. They reported their findings at the October 2012 Board Meeting and were encouraged to continue their research.  In March 2013, they shared an update revealing even more information about civilian casualties caused by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Board voted to join several other Rochester peace and justice groups in co-sponsoring the weekend of April 26-28 for workshops about drones in Syracuse and demonstrations at the nearby Hancock Air Base from which drones for targeted killings are controlled.  You can receive an electronic copy of the October 2012 report and annotated lists of sources by requesting these from Marilyn. To be put on TIAR’s e-mail list to be notified of activities dealing with peace and non-violence issues, send an e-mail request to

August, 2013


Because of the availability of TIAR’s Poverty Video and workbooks, we are now using these resources to carry out a program to educate the general public, including religious groups, about the problems of poverty in the Rochester area and ways to get involved in addressing it.

Sr. Gratia L’Esperance coordinates our reconstituted Task Force to take on this task.  She has several volunteers who are acquainted with the video (now a DVD) and other resources, and are a prepared cadre of speakers.  However, an effort like this needs audiences to hear the message and be motivated to take action.

TIAR is offering to any community group the opportunity to schedule an informative and enlightening presentation on poverty issues in Rochester. This free program is composed of the 28-minute DVD, "The Faces of Poverty: Not Just Faces, But Our Neighbors." It puts real faces on poverty, and is accompanied by a knowledgeable group discussion leader. Appropriate handouts will be available including a list of Volunteer Opportunities to provide suggestions for involvement.

The purpose of the presentation (one hour with discussion) is to help educate the community about the realities of poverty in Monroe County, raising such questions as, “If you had a sudden large unexpected expense next month, and your funds could not cover all the needs for housing, transportation, child care, health care, food, and clothing, where would you turn? Which would you choose to do without?”

Anyone interested in participating in this effort – whether a member of TIAR or not, or whether as a trained presenter or to schedule a presentation – is welcome to contact Sr. Gratia at To be put on TIAR’s e-mail list to be notified of activities dealing with poverty issues, send an e-mal request to

Two other significant activities under the Poverty Task Force are the Coalition for a Dignified Burial and the Monroe County Reentry Task Force.

Coalition for Dignified Burial

TIAR has supported the efforts of the Coalition for Dignified Burial to give all people - no matter what creed, color, sex or financial situation - access to a simple, decent and respectful funeral.

An Unexpected Gift:  In December, 2006, a donation was made to TIAR from the proceeds of a concert by a musical artist as a special memorial to her deceased father. Her gift was a most creative way of memorializing him, and we are blessed to have people like her making a difference in our troubled world. It was a great honor for us to be entrusted with it; however, TIAR has since used all the funds to assist persons in need, and so is not currently accepting requests.  This effort has now been taken over by the Faith in Action Network.

Monroe County Reentry Task Force


Photos People, Stock Photography, Elderly Photos, Minority Photos, Education Photos, Teen Photos, Photos of Families, Children Photos, Photos of Babies

“Blasting through obstacles.”


Here in Monroe County, more than 2,500 people are released from incarceration every year. Without help, about two-thirds of them will return to prison within three years, at a cost of about $35,000 a year per person; prison, for most people, is an expensive and ineffective deterrent to crime. 

What’s this got to do with you?  Maybe more than you think.  In the U.S., we incarcerate people at about eight times the world average—in our country, more than 2 million people are in state prison, 70,000 in New York alone, and that doesn’t include county jails or federal holding centers.  Most people are incarcerated for non-violent offenses.  It is very likely that someone close to you will be touched by the corrections system.  Of everyone who goes to prison about 97% return home, regardless of their crime.  At that point, the community ex-offenders return to has a vested interest in each releasee’s success.

A safe, stable place to live, food, health care, and jobs are just the beginning.  The most important gift we can give them is hope, a reason to live and the sure knowledge that they have what they need to overcome the past and find their true future. And success does happen!  The result: lower crime rates, safer neighborhoods, healthier families, and lower costs for all of us.

For more information, please contact:
Ann Graham
Monroe County Reentry Task Force
Catholic Family Center
1645 St. Paul Street
Rochester, New York 14621
585-546-7220  Ext. 4501

The Monroe County Reentry Task Force is a program funded in nine counties across New York by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, Monroe County, and Catholic Family Center.  It represents an unprecedented level of cooperation between corrections, law enforcement, service providers and faith-based groups to enhance the safety of our community by working together to stabilize the lives of people leaving prison and giving them the tools and support they need to succeed.

August, 2013

State & National Government Issues

This area focuses on how well our governments work.  Specific concerns, such as immigration or health, are handled as separate issues.  Here, we deal with how fairly elections and political campaigns are run; how well and how fairly the legislatures and government agencies carry out their business, including the rules they follow; and accountability to the electorate.  We are currently focused on the three areas below: Fair campaign practices, voter registration, and campaign finance.  If you would like to be on the e-mail list to keep you informed of opportunities for involvement in any of these matters, send an e-mail to njaschik@

Fair Elections Practices Committee (FEPC)

The purpose of the FEPC, a joint project of TIAR and the League of Women Voters, is to encourage positive campaigning and to keep the focus of the election on the issues. Candidates are encouraged to sign a pledge to refrain from negative campaigning. Negative campaigns discourage citizens from voting; positive campaigns educate people about choices among candidates and makes all of us feel empowered with our vote.

There is an annual "Fair Election Campaign" ceremony at the Monroe County Office Atrium held right after Labor Day.  Candidates are there to formally sign the pledge.
Members of the FEPC are selected by both TIAR and the LWV.  The Committee is balanced between Republicans and Democrats and are respected former elected officials, judges, or party members.  They are chosen for their reputation of not letting partisanship get in the way of a fair and honest determination.  The FEPC hears complaints of alleged violations.  In 2009, there were a total of 26 complaints received with 20 of them having a hearing. There were 3 primary election complaints and 17 general election complaints heard by the Committee. [These figures will be updaed] 

Because of the formal selection process and the limited involvement of the TIAR and LWV membership, there are really no opportunities for volunteer activity.  However, we always need a roster of potential nominees for the FEPC, so suggestions are welcome.  Many, many thanks go to the current Committee members: Jim Morris (Chairperson), Ralph Esposito, Lois Geiss, Channing Philbrick, and Kay Wallace.  Alternates are Jim Peters, Sue Roberts, Jean Keplinger, Carol Saum, Peter Knapp, Tom Frey, Michael Miller, and John Curran.

Rochester Voters Alliance (RVA)

The RVA is a coalition which was established several years ago by TIAR.  Participating organizations recruit members who are willing to station themselves at various locations to register voters in advance of elections.  Sites are chosen with an emphasis on those areas serving populations which are normally underrepresented in elections.  Since interest in registration is very low in off-years – that is when only local offices are up for election and there are no state or federal contests – we will not be active in 2013.  However, the coalition will be up and running starting in the summer of 2014 with planning beginning earlier.  If you are interested in voter registration, contact [insert contact info].

Campaign Finance Reform

TIAR supports the public financing of election campaigns which is also an issue at the federal level.  There are several state and national organizations working on this issue including Move to Amend, a national group with local activity focused on passing a US Constitutional Amendment that would overturn the Citizens United decision which allows for unlimited corporate campaign contributions.  At the state level, Common Cause, Fair Elections for New York, Citizen Action, and the Public Campaign Action Fund are examples.  If enough TIAR members show interest, we may select one of these groups with which to develop a hands on relationship.  If you have any thoughts on this matter, contact Neil Jaschik at  Go to the following web site for more information on this important issue and guidance on urging your Congressperson and Senators to add their support.

August, 2013


Who Represents You

A Guide to Your Elected Officials for Monroe County, by the League of Women Voters Rochester Metropolitan Area


Mission of The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester

We are committed to an inclusive democratic process based upon the mutual responsibility of public officials, public institutions, and the general public. It requires honest and civility through open discussion of issues and full participation open to all citizens.

We work towards a public good that offers dignity and wholeness to all people. This includes a quality public education, a sustainable environment, a living wage, comprehensive health care, adequate housing, and a voice for people of faith in the political arena that respects the First Amendment.

As a growing and diverse interfaith community, we bring a constructive and healing witness to public and political life in the Greater Rochester community. The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester is one of many local alliances in a national coalition of people of faith.

Home | Active Programs | Calendar | Meeting Minutes
President's Report | Take Action Now! | Sign Up! | Links | Contacts

The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester, PO Box 25245, Rochester, NY 14625
© 2006-2013 The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester. Report site problems to