End Single-Use Plastic Pollution

Blog by Karen Martens, OPA

Earth Day 2018 envisions a world without plastic pollution. Look around. Plastic pollution surrounds us. On a recent walk in the park, I filled my hands with single-use plastic items discarded by others. What to do? The Earth Day Resources are filled with facts as well as resources about how we can personally end plastic pollution. As I read and thought about this, I wondered…what would it be like to make a change in only one of the components of plastic pollution…having no single use plastic pollution? As I reflected, I remembered from my childhood and young adulthood what it was like prior to the extensive use of plastic. I wrapped sandwiches in waxed paper. Paper bags were used at grocery stores. Toys were made of metal and wood. We ate in-season fruit, purchased from seasonal fruit stands and then canned some for use in winter. Water was drunk in glasses made of glass. People didn’t buy carry-out coffee. Soft drinks came in glass bottles. Eating utensils were made of metal. Straws weren’t used in restaurants. Cloth diapers were used for babies.

We have several established habits in our home that help end single-use plastics. I haven’t used plastic bags from grocery stores for a long time. I have reusable cloth “paper towels”. I use my own water bottle. We rarely use paper napkins. Many foods are purchased at Farmer’s Markets. We often use glass jars to store left-over food. But I still see us contributing to single-use plastic pollution. Just last weekend on our way to Cincinnati for Easter with family, we stopped for a drink and snack. That resulted in plastic throw-aways. Our newspaper is delivered in a paper bag. Many of the food we purchase is packaged in throw-away plastic. What to do? It can feel overwhelming at times. Yet, I see that there are a few more changes to make that hopefully will become habits.

After reviewing the materials from the Earth Day Toolkit, I am committed to making more changes. I will take reusable mesh bags to the grocery for carrying unpackaged vegetables and fruits. I will stop buying carrots in plastic bags. I will use my own cutlery when buying carry-out food. I will no longer use straws in restaurants. Our earth needs all of us to change our ways. What can you do?

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Radical Love is Worth Emulating

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Fifty years ago today, one of the most influential figures of the 20th century – the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — was memorialized and buried.

During a private funeral service (at the request of his widow, Coretta Scott King) his “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon — a prescient reflection on his own funeral — was played on a tape recorder.

The sermon had been delivered two months earlier by Rev. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (where the private service was held) .In it, Rev. King verbalized the fact that many people want to be important and aspire for recognition and to be first.

He called the aspiration “the drum major instinct” and proposed a different way to channel that ambition – through a life of service.

Rev. King (perhaps prophetically) concluded his sermon by sharing what he would like to be said about him at his own funeral:

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize— that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.”

Amen!

As we commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Rev. King, fifty years after his death, may we never forget to honor him daily by practicing the same radical love that he embraced and shared with others.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

April is Autism Awareness Month

Blog by Education Resource Coordinator Mark Butler

Shortly after two of my own children were diagnosed with Autism, I found comfort in these stirring words from Pope St. John Paul II to those participating in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000:

“The Church, as my venerable Predecessor Paul VI liked to say, is ‘a love that seeks out’. How I would like you all to feel welcomed and embraced in her love! First of all you, dear families: those who have children with disabilities and those who share their experience. I say again to you today that I am close to you. Thank you for the witness you bear by the fidelity, strength and patience of your love.”

Catholics are called to welcome and embrace all people and during the month of April, there is a particular emphasis on people with Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

There is nothing about the physical appearance of a person with Autism that would set them apart from other people. People with Autism may learn, behave, react, and communicate in ways that are different than others. Some people with Autism need very little or no assistance with their daily living; others require substantial supports. The intellectual abilities of people with Autism can range from gifted to profoundly challenged. Autism affects every person differently, even among siblings who both have Autism.

Since there is a range of abilities and needs among people with Autism, we must collaborate with them and their families to determine the best way to include each person with Autism in the life of the Church. This includes not only identifying ways people with Autism can benefit as the recipients or subjects of our ministry, but exploring ways for us to work alongside them as active agents of ministry.

Some parents of children with Autism feel isolated and alone. They can be overwhelmed with the needs of their child and sadly, can feel stigmatized in their communities and families. We will never fully understand the needs and hopes of people with Autism and their families unless we take the time to get close to them. We are called to be a love that seeks out and embraces persons with Autism and their families!

PRAYER FOR AUTISM AWARENESS

God of Mercy, We ask that you strengthen our resolve and inspire us to create places of welcome for persons with Autism and their families.
Help us to be compassionate to parents whose child has just been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Help us to be advocates for and with children and adults who are seeking acceptance and access to education, work, services, and therapies.
Help us to be partners with caregivers and service providers to create a continuum of welcome and support for every person with Autism.
Help us to remember that every person is made in Your image and that every life is worth celebrating.
Amen.

Posted in News

Easter and Dr. MLK, Jr.: Live, Die, and Live Forever!

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

As we continue to celebrate Easter every day this week, it seems fitting that during this week, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who gave his life working, praying, suffering, and dying to bring about an end to racism, war, and poverty in our country.  His dream is still beyond us, but some of us have become more aware of the deeply ingrained conscious and unconscious ways we perpetuate systems of racial injustice.  Awareness and acknowledgment of these deep and troubling issues are critical first steps in helping us to make personal and societal changes.

This year our Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace are studying racism and its deadly effects on our Black and Brown brothers and sisters, past and present.  We are also taking a hard look at the ways we individually and congregationally contribute to systemic racism.  As Catholic Christians who believe in Jesus and the life He gave to and for the world, it’s important to let the nonviolent Gospel message truly speak its challenge to us.

A study packet that fits well with this week is “MLK Jr.: Epistles and Prophets”, an online free adult education curriculum that can be used individually or in small groups and was developed by the Trinity Church Wall Street, an Episcopal parish.  Their website states, “Three Epistles on Race in America,” explores contemporary black/white relationships using writings that, while perhaps lesser known than King’s famous “I have a dream” oratory, resonate powerfully today. The speakers are New York City journalist Errol Louis, New York University professor and poet Fred Moten, and Trinity’s Vicar, Phil Jackson. Hear their challenging examinations of three civil-rights era letters from Dr. King, James Baldwin, and Thomas Merton, and share them with friends in your community.”  Click here to further your study and appreciation of MLK, Jr. and to further your commitment to ending racism in our country.   https://www.trinitywallstreet.org/education/mlk-jr-epistles-and-prophets

This Easter as we gladly celebrate, yet sadly commemorate, let us eagerly go forward to put our own lives on the line for the sake of others.

One of our Chapter 2015 Commitments challenges us as Sisters and Associates to “Create environments of peace by promoting non-violence, unity in diversity, and reconciliation among ourselves, in the Church and throughout the world.”  Our hope and goal is to work, study, and pray together to do this in the model of Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  If you would like to learn more about the Dominican Sisters of Peace and/or to join us in our commitment to make a difference in the world, please contact one of our vocation ministers to begin a conversation.  https://oppeace.org/become-a-sister/

Posted in God Calling?, News

Sisters and Associates March for Our Lives

It was cool and cloudy in Columbus, OH. Watertown, MA was a little sunny, but still cool. It was raining cats and dogs in Louisville, KY, but warm enough for short sleeves in the Big Easy.

What did these cities have in common on Saturday, March 24? In each of these cities, as well as in Hartford and Guilford, CT, Great Bend, KS, Harrodsburg, KY, Oxford, MI, and Akron, OH, Dominican Sisters of Peace stood in solidarity with the young people of the “March for our Lives” demanding sensible gun control and an end to gun violence.

In Louisville, KY, Peace Dominicans and associates joined more than 2000 marchers in a cold drizzle to show solidarity with those seeking safer schools and communities. Sr. Catherine Mahady, OP, a Parish Outreach Minister in Louisville, said, “If you can remember back to the 1960’s,  there is nothing like being in a very large, cold, wet, noisy, and energized crowd shouting,’This is what democracy looks like’,  to make you – whether you are young or old – proud again to be an American.”

Sr. Charlene Moser, OP, the congregation’s co-director of founded ministries, summed up the Kentucky contingent’s reason for joining the March.“I think at this point in our country’s history we need to stand up and raise our voices,” Sr. Charlene said.
“We need to support those whose voices may not be heard, or may be dismissed. These young people are an inspiration to us “elders.”

Dominican Sisters of Peace in Waterford, MA took a different path to participating in the day’s events.
The Sisters at Rosary Manor and the Spirit study group gathered in the Chapel for prayer “in solidarity with our youth and adults to demand an end to gun violence.” The group discussed the power of one voice speaking out against injustice and how personal discussions can help to reduce the power of the NRA over public policy. Mission Group Coordinator Sr. Valerie Noone said that while she was no longer able to march, her prayers were with those who did. “Years ago I walked to protest the war in Vietnam…now I march in my heart through prayer,” she said.

At the Congregational Offices in Columbus, OH, preparations for the March began early in the week, when Sisters created posters to carry in the March. A Facebook video of Sisters holding the posters got more than 1 million views, and Sisters attending the Columbus March marched alongside more than 7000 people on the route from a downtown park to the Ohio Statehouse.

The New Haven, CT House of Welcome split forces for the day, with some Sisters attending the March in Guilford while others marched on the capital of Hartford. Posting photos of the March on social media, Sr. Ana said “I marched because I’m pro-life! Basta with the Gun Violence!”

The Dominican Sisters of Peace espouses the following  public position regarding gun violence: “In the US, we will advocate for common sense gun control laws such as requiring universal background checks before purchasing arms; banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines; promoting strategies to prevent gun violence; and providing adequate financial resources to establish mental health programs for victims and perpetrators and prevention programs for at risk people.”

To view the Dominican Sisters of Peace “March for our Lives” photo and video album, please click here.

Posted in News