Perpetual Profession

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

This weekend, we will celebrate the perpetual profession of our Sister Bea Tiboldi.  It is the final step in a long discernment and formation process.  During Mass, Bea will pronounce her vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience for LIFE.  Afterwards, we will gather to celebrate with sisters, family, friends and other religious.  In our congregation, and in religious life, it is a pretty big deal.

For each sister, whether finally or temporarily professed, it is a time to remember and renew our own commitment to these vows we made and re-make each day in the living out of our religious life.  For me, it brings back memories of my own perpetual profession almost 20 years ago and compels me to reflect on how these vows continue to empower me today.

When I live my vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience in the spirit of the Gospel, I am freed to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly (Micah 6:8) with God and all of creation.  Embracing poverty, I have learned to share my gifts and to allow others to share their gifts for the common good.  I do not hold back out of fear of not having, but share in the faith that what is lacking God will provide.  At times, God’s overflowing love has come back to me through people I have rejected or with whom I have a broken relationship.  In my poverty, I am open to receive.

Living my vow of celibacy has opened me up to witness how God loves unconditionally.  When I betrayed the trust of a close friend, I thought I was never going to learn how to love in the way God wanted me to.  It was through that friendship that God showed me unconditional love—a love that is open, life giving and does not take away another’s freedom.

Obedire (ob=to; audire=listen) is the root of the word obedience, which means, “to listen.”  We are called to listen to God, to prayerfully reflect upon what we hear and to follow that guidance.   In learning discernment, I have had to develop the ear of my heart in order to truly listen, understand, and to follow the voice of God.  When I respond to God’s call in this way, I am living my vow of obedience.

On Sunday, this is what Sr. Bea will profess:

I, Sr. Bea Tiboldi, profess the vows of obedience, celibacy, and poverty
to God and in your hands, Sister Patricia Twohill, to be lived in the
light of the Gospel and according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the
Constitutions of this congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace,
for my whole life.

As Bea pronounces her vows, we are invited to reflect on and renew our own life commitments, whatever they may be.  Come, let us act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our God as people of the Resurrected Christ.

We thank God for the Gift of Sister Bea’s YES and pray for all who are being called to explore life as a Dominican Sister of Peace.  If that person is you, contact us here to explore that call.

 

 

Posted in God Calling?, News

Am I Ready?

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

The Gospel today tells the story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I have heard it forever, but each time, I reflect on how much I have or have not come to know Jesus in any way over these years. Each time I hear it, I can ask what makes me even think I know Jesus?

Who did I meet on this road? Was it only the Jesus who overthrew the moneychangers; was it only the Jesus who cursed the hypocrites who called themselves the church leaders; was it only the Jesus who fought against the same old traditions that were holding the people back from knowing more about God? Did I meet that Jesus so that I could feel justified in my angry feelings about so much that is happening in my world today?

Have I really met the Jesus who is peace, compassion, mercy and forgiveness? Am I ready to meet that Jesus? Somedays it is so much easier to be angry and disappointed, just like Jesus seemed to be sometimes. But what about turning the other cheek or loving my neighbors, that was Jesus too, right? Why do I have to give in all the time? Well, maybe because I have come to know Jesus and it is not “giving in” that Jesus wants or “giving up” either. Jesus wants our hearts, our minds, our very beings to be His forever and ever and to show His compassion to everyone. Am I really ready to meet that Jesus!

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Building a Community of Peace

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

Meister Eckhart once said, “if the only prayer you say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”  I have been praying this all during Lent as sisters, associates, and friends of the Dominican Sisters of Peace have donated socks, underwear, and money for the children seeking asylum in the U.S.  We have collected more than 1350 pairs of socks and 1500 pairs of underwear for Annunciation House.  It represents for me the spirit of the sisters and associates who want to make the world a little better…  to be a part of something bigger… to bring a little peace into the lives of others.

In his book Fear, Thich Nhat Hanh says that looking at another with compassionate eyes and with a spirit of understanding, enables the kingdom of heaven to reveal itself.  “When we are a part of a spiritual community, we have a lot of joy and resist the temptation to be overwhelmed by despair… We all need a community to keep us from sinking into the swamp of despair… We need each other in order to practice solidity, freedom, and compassion so that we can remind each other that there is always hope… In community, we produce the powerful energy of peace.”  The situations facing asylum seekers are desperate and the government response is horrific but our community effort to collect socks and underwear for children in great need has highlighted a powerful spiritual family and given me a sense of hope that we can overcome fear and misunderstanding.

As you know, there are many, many children who need this clothing because their parents are determined to escape violence and live in peace.  So, our work is not finished.  We must continue to help them by dispelling myths and challenging (in a peaceful way, of course) those who criticize their actions.  We must urge our Senators and Representatives to improve the living situations in the countries where asylum seekers are fleeing through diplomacy and aid funding. We must improve our own immigration system especially by speaking out against efforts to ban any group because of their nationality or religion and by resolving the dilemma of DACA and TPS individuals who have lived in the U.S. for much, if not most, of their lives.

I was blessed to be one of the sisters who traveled to El Paso and saw with my own eyes, the love and determination of the parents to improve the lives of their children. I am blessed again to see the generous response to this project. Thank you… thank you… thank you.

A special thanks to Gaye Reissland who painted the moving picture used on our poster.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Action:  Call your congressperson to support H.R. 1945 (The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act). The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (HR1945), demanding a suspension of all U.S. security aid to Honduras, was recently re-introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson with 43 initial cosponsors. The bill will work to ensure that the Honduran government, military, and police cannot commit crimes or acts of violence against the Honduran people with impunity.  Berta Cáceres was an environmental activist who with the indigenous Lenca people waged a nonviolent campaign to prevent the building of the Agua Zarca Dam. She was murdered in 2016 by gunmen in her home.

“This legislation will suspend U.S. military funding to Honduran security forces and discourage multilateral development bank lending until the Honduran government investigates and prosecutes those in the military and police who have violated human rights.” “For years, members of the Honduras police and military have engaged in corrupt practices and gross human rights abuses without consequence. By limiting funding, we have the opportunity to force the Honduran government to investigate and prosecute these crimes,” said Rep. José Serrano (NY-15).For more information about this bill, click here or here.  Co-sponsors of the bill include representatives from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Ohio

Who was Berta Cáceres?  In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres (d. 2016) rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.

Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 percent of the country’s land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land, and uprooting communities.

Among them was the Agua Zarca Dam, a joint project of Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) and Chinese state-owned Sinohydro, the world’s largest dam developer. Agua Zarca, slated for construction on the sacred Gualcarque River, was pushed through without consulting the indigenous Lenca people—a violation of international treaties governing indigenous peoples’ rights. The dam would cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people and violate their right to sustainably manage and live off their land.

Berta Cáceres, a Lenca woman, grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. Her mother, a midwife and social activist, took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people. She grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.

In 2006, community members from Rio Blanco came to COPINH asking for help. They had witnessed an influx of machinery and construction equipment coming into their town. They had no idea what the construction was for or who was behind the project. What they knew was that an aggression against the river—a place of spiritual importance to the Lenca people—was an act against the community, its free will, and its autonomy. With mandates from local community members at every step of the way, Cáceres began mounting a campaign against the Agua Zarca Dam. She filed complaints with government authorities, bringing along community representatives on trips to Tegucigalpa. She organized a local assembly where community members formally voted against the dam, and led a protest where people peacefully demanded their rightful say in the project.

The campaign also reached out to the international community, bringing the case to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and lodging appeals against the project’s funders such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank. Ignoring these appeals, the national government and local mayors forged ahead. They doctored minutes from a community meeting to paint a false picture of unanimous approval for the dam, and offered cash to local people in exchange for their signature on documents declaring their support.

In April 2013, Cáceres organized a road blockade to prevent DESA’s access to the dam site. Using a carefully organized system of alerts to keep everyone in the loop, the Lenca people maintained a heavy but peaceful presence, rotating out friends and family members for weeks at a time. For well over a year, the blockade withstood multiple eviction attempts and violent attacks from militarized security contractors and the Honduran armed forces.

Honduras’ violent climate is well known to many, but few understand that environmental and human rights activists are its victims. Tomas Garcia, a community leader from Rio Blanco, was shot and killed during a peaceful protest at the dam office. Others have been attacked with machetes, discredited, detained, and tortured. None of the perpetrators have been brought to justice. Against these odds, Cáceres and the Lenca community’s efforts successfully kept construction equipment out of the proposed dam site. In late 2013, Sinohydro terminated its contract with DESA, publicly citing ongoing community resistance and outrage following Tomas’ death. Agua Zarca suffered another blow when the IFC withdrew its funding, citing concerns about human rights violations. To date, construction on the project has effectively come to a halt.

Death threats to Cáceres continued until March 3, 2016, when she was killed by gunmen in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Her death, followed by the killing of her colleague and fellow COPINH member Nelson García just 12 days later, sparked international outrage. Dutch development bank FMO and FinnFund have since suspended their involvement in the Agua Zarca project. COPINH, along with fellow activists, are determined to continue her legacy, fighting irresponsible development and standing up for the rights of the Lenca people in Honduras.

 Network Lobby for Social Justice continues its Lenten series on Racism with this reminder: “Being anti-racist is a daily choice. When white supremacy permeates the daily society, structures, and systems we encounter daily, it is not enough to be passive – we must actively counter the presence of white supremacy in our daily lives. However, when you do join a conversation about racism, participate in an action, or just go about your daily life mindful of race, you may slip up. We all have racial biases that we are working to overcome, and sometimes there are things that you just haven’t educated yourself on yet. The important thing is that how you choose to react when you mess up.” This week’s information is called Hope for our Liberation.

Action:  We need to fight environmental racism.  When the federal government wants to build something in our communities, we have a right to be a part of the process – especially if there are potentially harmful environment risks.  It is a part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the administration is attempting to roll back parts of the bill that give citizens a voice. This will especially impact communities of color who are often the victims of environmental racism.  From harmful pollution to the real impacts of climate change, race is the single biggest indicator of how likely an individual is to experience negative environmental and public health impacts. NEPA reviews allow people – especially people of color – the power to fight against systemic inequities to protect their families and communities. Call your senators and representatives and urge them to protect NEPA.

Cecilia González-Andrieu writing for America explores why women stay in the Catholic Church. She states that  “the story of the dysfunction of the Catholic Church as an institution is now the subject of multiple investigations and copious news coverage worldwide. Tragically, at issue is not just the sexual abuse of minors by clergy or the exploitation of women religious or the exclusion of women from positions of authority and oversight or denying women full use of their gifts. We are now confronting all of this together.”   Read “With a Church in Crisis, Why do Catholic Women Stay?” 

Many individuals criticize asylum seekers saying they should enter the U.S. the legal way. While claiming asylum is legal based on both national and international law, it is incredibly hard to enter the U.S. through other legal means. Here’s what’s happening with the current immigration system as explained by Peniel Ibe of the American Friends Service Committee.  One of the major problems is the reduction in the number of refugees allowed into the country. This year’s quota is 30,000. Last year, only around 24,000 were admitted.  On April 9, 2019 Senator Edward Markey, Representative Zoe Logfren and Joe Neguse and 22 Senate and House co-sponsors introduced the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACT) Act. It would establish 95,000 as the minimum goal for refugee admitted each year. Read, Ms. Ibe’s blog “Trump Attacks on Legal Immigration System Explained.”

More Action: Call your Senators and Representatives to support the DREAM Act and SECURE Act.  The USCCB Committee on Migration publicly voiced support and sent letters to the Senate endorsing the “Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors” (DREAM) Act of 2019, S. 874, and the “Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression & Emergency” (SECURE) Act of 2019, S. 879. The DREAM Act of 2019 would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers. The SECURE Act of 2019 would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship to qualifying Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders.

 Yesterday was Earth Day – a day to celebrate the beauty of our Mother Earth. What has been accomplished since the first earth day in 1970?  This article from National Geographic provides a list.  There have been many advancements but there is still a long way to go.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Hope Must Endure

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

“Easter Sunday bomb blasts kill more than 200 in Sri Lanka”

Not the hopeful message (or headline) I expected to awaken to on Resurrection Sunday.

Easter — the season of hope — and April – the month of hope — is a time when I want to focus on the positive. One of the last things I wanted to hear was: “The worst violence in a decade has struck the heart of a nation – bombers target churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.”

Then I began to pray and search for answers that would bring me to a place of hope, optimism, and promise.

As I reflected, I recognized that I was in that moment – when all seems to be lost, when evil seems to have won, the resurrection happens. When we experience situations of suffering and injustice, we also experience love and hope, typically through other people who awaken us to the risen Lord in our midst.

While there are still more questions than answers, the attacks (in a place that is home to multiple ethnicities and religions, with the Buddhist majority living alongside sizable Hindu, Muslim, and Christian minorities) are a reminder that injustice, hate, and evil can manifest themselves anywhere.

But, so too can love, faith and hope. There is hope in the shared message of unity from leaders and people across the globe. There is hope in the solidarity shown by all Sri Lankans, irrespective of ethnicity and religion. There is hope in the acts of people who have stepped forward to donate blood and provide other aid.

The atrocity in Sri Lanka can serve to awaken us to the need for hope to endure — particularly in times of devastation, suffering, grief, injustice, and fear.

Posted in Associate Blog, News