Work as Purpose

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George

Have you ever been unemployed?  Or, do you know someone who has experienced being unemployed?  Why is work or ministry so important to how we feel about ourselves? Beyond a paycheck, does work matter?

If you’ve ever experienced job loss, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, you know the accompanying feelings of doubt, despair, and loneliness that come from not working. Even when we are not occupationally employed, work of any kind matters to our sense of well-being, to our ability to interact and connect with others, and to contribute to our communities. Work gives us meaning and a purpose for our lives.

Having just celebrated Labor Day, I think it’s fitting to take a moment to reflect on the value of work. What does being able to work or not being able to work mean to you?  How does your work or ministry affect how you feel about yourself?  Do you take being able to work and to perform a job or task for granted?  What makes your work or ministry meaningful?  Is there some work you would never want to do?

What makes work meaningful to me is to see it in the context of ministry, that is, as a way of serving God and of using my gifts to help others. When I see my work as ministry, my work becomes more than a job or task to do.  By viewing work as having a spiritual or ministerial component, I find it easier to carry out whatever tasks I need to do and to see my work as having a deeper purpose and meaning. Thus, in my administrative role here with the vocations and formation teams, I see my work as a way of serving God, of using my gifts to help the Sisters in their ministry with women who are discerning religious life.

What I learned also from my years as a hospice caregiver is to appreciate that by simply being present to others and by listening to the women I visited, a reciprocal relationship of ministering to and being ministered to can happen.  Wanda, who was one of my hospice patients, for example, taught me to quilt and her gift has blessed me immensely.  So, when we adopt a service attitude and work from the heart, it  can change us and perhaps others. Through our work or our ministry, we can become the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears that bring love, hope, peace, and healing to a broken world.

Work is an important part of who we are and gives us an opportunity to share our gifts, to be in community with others, and to contribute to some mission or to someone.  We are each called to be workers in the harvest of God’s kingdom.  Our work or ministry is also one of the tools God uses to transform us and to teach us life lessons.

As Martin Luther King Jr. noted, “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Or, another way to think about our calling in life is to recognize what Frederick Buechner once said, and that is, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”

There are many ways that our work, our ministry, our calling can be beneficial to ourselves, to others, and to our communities.  Perhaps you can think of ordinary people whose simple or extraordinary work has contributed to the well-being of others.

Work can be physical or intellectual, creative or mechanical, domestic or industrial. All work matters and has the potential of making someone else’s life better, bearable, or more enjoyable. For example, an athlete or musician can entertain us in different but joy-filled ways or a scientist can discover a life-altering cure, or an artist can help us see beauty around us, an electrician can assure that a building is wired properly, a housekeeper can make a nursing home patient feel special just by tidying her personal space.

Even if we have physical or intellectual disabilities, our “work” or “calling” can make a difference in the lives of others. Do you know of someone with physical or intellectual limitations whose simple presence brings you joy—a Down’s Syndrome person, a blind or deaf person, or some other person who has learned to use their gifts for the betterment of others?

Whatever work we do, how we do this work is important also.  Do we do our work with a cheerful heart or with drudgery?  Are we hospitable and compassionate when working with others?  Are we competitive or cooperative?

As God’s work of creation, we are each endowed with gifts given to us for a purpose. Our work matters to God and it is through our work that we can serve God and others.

What is the work you enjoy doing?  Are you being called to put your gifts at the service of others as a religious sister?  Come and be a part of our work and our mission to preach the Gospel in every season.  Begin the journey of discerning your calling by contacting one of our Vocation Ministers.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Guided Tour of Creation (Cont.)

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

Please click here for a continuation of Sr. Pat Connick’s guided tour of creation as a reflection of our Blessed Trinity.

Please click each link below to reference her previous blogs:

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Take the Challenge

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Over the past 29 days, we’ve prayed for the victims of mass shootings in our daily prayer on Facebook.  Twenty-nine was the number of those killed in El Paso and Dayton and we started our litany right after those shootings.  We prayed for 432 individuals killed and 794 injured in mass shootings.

These are only a faction of the mass shootings occurring in the U.S. on a regular bases and don’t include the average of 100 people killed each day by gun violence. Those killed are men and women, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, siblings, friends, co-workers, neighbors… all killed by gun violence. Is this the reward of living the second amendment in such a broad way?

In a study by the Children’s Defense Fund in September 2018, children were asked about what worried them the most. The top two responses?  Being bullied (42%) and a shooting happening at school (33%). One third of children go to school anxious about their safety.

At a Big Table gathering in Columbus, I sat with four high school students from both inner city and suburban high schools.  They described being afraid that their school would be the next site of a shooting or strategized about the best place to hide from a shooter. (Not under the desk – too obvious.)  Kids should think about their futures not their deaths.

What’s next?  Will everyone need to lose someone close to them to do something? Anything?

So here’s my challenge, sisters and associates – write a personal, handwritten letter to one of your senators and demand that they act on common sense gun safety legislation.  Tell them how gun violence has touched you… your family… your students. Use your righteous indignation to demand change.  Remember gun safety is a pro-life issue.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – September 3, 2019

Catholic organizations are doing phase two of the Catholic Day of Action to end harm against immigrant children. Please keep the activists in your prayers as they protest in Newark, NJ tomorrow. Call your Senators (202-224-3121) and call the White House (202-456-1111). Tell these elected officials to—Stop the inhumanity—NOW.

Here’s a sample script but use your own words:

I am a person of faith and I am calling to demand that [Senator ____ or President Trump] immediately end the unjust and immoral practice of detaining children and families. Family is sacred. It is the cornerstone of our church and our communities and it must be protected. Guided by our Catholic faith and our national values, we affirm the dignity of all people and our call to love our neighbors. We can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence and persecution. Thank You!

During this Season of Creation (September 1 – October 4), consider taking a moment each day to reflect on the gift of nature. The EarthConnection, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, has prepared a calendar to help.

Help to protect the oceans. Every year 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans. They break down into micro-particles and get eaten by the fish. This year scientist found disposable plastics at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, the deepest depths of the oceans.  Scientists predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish!

There are many ways to tackle this problem. One is to cut off pollution at its source – the petrochemical industry.  A Coalition of environmental groups is demanding the EPA ban the discharge of plastic pellets and other pollutants from the petrochemical industry. They need our help.

Tell the EPA to place stricter regulations on the petrochemical industry as it ramps up production. Plastic plants discharged 128 million pounds of pollutants into the U.S. waterways last year.  The petrochemical industry is taking steps to expand recycling efforts and increase consumer awareness around recycling. But this is not enough. We really need to stop manufacturing plastics and curb the release of tiny plastic pellets and pieces that go into the waterways and oceans.

Tell the EPA to ban plastic pellet discharge in our oceans by signing and/or commenting here.

Bryn Greenwood wrote this thoughtful perspective on why some women are forced into prostitution.  It might be a net that catches them before they fall into destitution. Read her article from The Lily titled Sex work encompasses more than what we see on TV. It saved me from poverty.

One year ago Pope Francis made clear the position of the Catholic Church on the death penalty when he ordered the revision to the Catechism of the Church.  The text now affirms, “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”

There seems to be a move toward abolishing the death penalty across the U.S. Here are some highlights from the Catholic Mobilizing Network.

  • 2 states (Washington and New Hampshire) abolished the death penalty.
  • The governor of 1 state (California) declared a statewide execution ban.
  • 1,569 copies of Harm, Healing, and Human Dignity, CMN’s restorative justice faith formation guide, were sold within two months of its May release.
  • CMN supporters sent 24,345 letters and emails to lawmakers and Boards of Pardons and Paroles, advocating in support of clemency and death penalty repeal.
  • CMN hosted 2 Restorative Circle Intensives, with plans for two more circle events this fall.

CMH has prepared a 4 ½ minute video on Catholics and the Death Penalty and why they work to abolish the death penalty.

JAMA Pediatric reports that more than eight million children currently enrolled in Medicaid and the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) or receiving SNAP benefits are at risk of disenrollment under the October 2018 proposed public charge rule because they live with a noncitizen adult. This includes 5.5 million children who have specific medical needs such as asthma, epilepsy, cancer, and disabilities or functional limitations.  You can read more about the implications of the proposed public charge immigration rules in the Food Research & Action Center’s summer issue of ResearchWIRE.

Human Rights Watch has just published this report “You Pray for Death: Trafficking of Women and Girls in Nigeria.” It is a detailed account of how human trafficking operates in Nigeria and reports that the nightmare does not end for survivors who manage to return home.   This is a rather long report but given our connection with the Dominican Sisters in Nigeria, it is an important read.

Here is an excerpt:

When she was 18 in 2013, Adaura C. met a woman who promised her a job earning 150,000 naira (US$414) as a domestic worker in Libya. Adaura agreed and the woman made the arrangements for her to travel from Nigeria to Libya. After a long, dangerous journey through the Sahara Desert, witnessing drivers and other men beat and rape women and girls, she arrived in Libya only to find that she had been deceived. The “madam”(a woman who is part of the trafficking ring and controls women and girls) there told Adaura and her friend Jane V. Adaura and Jane were recruited by the same woman in Nigeria, but traveled separately—to undress and have sex with clients. “We said, ‘We were told we would be house helps,’” Adaura explained. The madam responded, “This is house help.”

Business Roundtable CEOs Release New Statement of Corporate Purpose. The BRT, which represents the largest U.S. companies, released a new statement of corporate purpose on August 19.  The statement is an important acknowledgment that corporations must look beyond short-term shareholder value to account for the full impact of their business on society, and must view the well-being of all of their stakeholders―including their workers, customers, and the communities where they operate — as integral to their long-term success.  We hope that the BRT’s pledge is followed up by concrete action by its signatories to invest in their employees and communities, to reverse the push for deregulation, and to support public policy that has the public interest – and not corporate profits – at heart.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Whistle While You Work

Blog by Associate Frank Bevvino

Hanging on the walls of the basement office in my home are two fairly large poster prints. One is a photo of Grand Central Station in New York City taken in 1939 and the other is a picture of steelworkers who were building the Empire State Building in 1930 sitting on a steel girder enjoying lunch high above the Manhattan skyline.

At a time when we celebrate the great accomplishments in technology that have given us iPhones, Facebook and the convenience of ordering online anything and receiving it at our doorsteps in minutes or hours, little attention is made of the major works of art that stands as a tribute to the American worker such as Grand Central Station and the magnificent presence of the Empire State Building on 34th Street in NYC.

Every day, more than 750,000 people pass through Grand Central Station. Most of these people are going to and from their jobs coming from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Many of the people who use Grand Central Station are the 15,000 people who work in the Empire State Building alone.

My point is that while we celebrate the titans of business and industry in the press, in movies and documentaries, we seem to have lost the gratitude and appreciation of the workers who built these great structures decades ago. We need to be conscious of the people today who maintain these buildings daily, year after year. They are black-skinned, brown-skinned, yellow-skinned and white-skinned. They speak many languages and worship God in different ways or not at all; but in their need to sustain themselves and their families, they allow you and me to be able to work and perform our services to sustain our lives and to help others.

Grand Central and the Empire State Building are just two of the thousands of buildings throughout the United States which stands as a monument to the American worker — workers who were our mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles. Workers who migrated from all parts of the world to build and maintain these great structures that still function to make America work.

As we paused from our work on Labor Day, I hope we took time to celebrate the ordinary everyday workers who make this country run. They may not make great scientific or technological discoveries or invent the efficiencies which get us our goods and services quickly; but they clean our houses and buildings, they make sure they get us to and from our jobs daily. They clean our restrooms, prepare our food, pick up our trash and make sure our baggage gets to the same destination we travel to.

The workers of America make it possible for you and I to work every day. They keep our sick healthy and safe, they assist our seniors in getting through their daily lives, they get our children to school safely and teach them how to read and write.

If there ever is an example of sisters and brothers in Christ functioning daily as a family it is those who work every day to benefit others.

God created us to love Him with all our heart, and with all our strength. We do this daily just by completing tasks that ultimately help others.

We should celebrate the common workers that we encounter each day because without them you and I could not do what God calls us to do. Billionaires and millionaires are the visible signs of American success; however, it is the worker that we encounter daily that we need to thank. Without them there would be no billionaires or millionaires.

Posted in Associate Blog, News