Watching and Waiting

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

Most of us down here in New Orleans have been watching and waiting for the last week or more. A building’s partial collapse resulted in closure of main downtown streets impacting tourism and regular business hours and people’s livelihood. How long before things would return to normal? We know now that it will be longer than we hoped.

Our eyes have been on the skies as dire weather forecasts for everything from tropical storms to tornadoes to flooding rains kept scrolling across the TV screens. We know now that most of those predictions passed us by for the most part, but for how long?.

The Gospels for these days have had significant reminders that we do not know the hour nor the day when the “Master” will come. We watch and we wait. How much longer?

Some days are more trying than others in family life, work situations, day to day decision making, and we often wonder how much longer before….before we have peace; before we have success; before we have whatever it is that will mean our waiting is over? The Gospels tell us we know not that hour or the day, and we must be vigilant. In the end our true hopes will be realized, and in God’s time all will be well. Keep watching and waiting!

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Justice Updates – October 22, 2019

When we were in EL Paso last January, we had the opportunity to meet Bishop Mark Seitz.  His connection with the asylum seekers staying in the Pastoral Center where we worked was obvious. In an October 13th Pastoral Letter, he connects the actions against immigrants with racism, writing, “The mystery of evil … includes the base belief that some of us are more important, deserving, and worthy than others.  It includes the ugly conviction that this country and its history and opportunities and resources as well as our economic and political life belong more properly to ‘white’ people than to people of color.  This is a perverse way of thinking that divides people based on heritage and tone of skin into ‘us’ and ‘them’. ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’, paving the way to dehumanization.”  You can read the entire letter here.

Peniel Ibe of the American Friends Service Committee explains the administrations attacks on legal immigration.  There are actions that we can take to resist the anti-immigrant agenda.

What can we do to resist Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda? These attacks on immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and others serve an aggressive white nationalist agenda. Trump is targeting everyone: naturalized, legal, native-born, and undocumented alike. And none of us are safe while any of us are under threat. Here are some steps suggested by the American Friends Service Committee that you can take to resist Trump’s immigration agenda.

  1. Defund hate: Tell Congress that we are a better nation when we accept with open arms those fleeing violence and poverty. Congress has the power to significantly cut the budgets of ICE and the Border Patrol – tell them to defund hate.
  2. Tell Congress to protect vital programs like TPS, DED, and DACA: Terminating TPS, DED, and DACA is a cruel attack on our immigrant communities. Urge elected officials to create a permanent solution to keep their families and communities together.
  3. Create sanctuary:Create safe, inclusive spaces for all people by creating sanctuary everywhere.Here are resources to help you and your community create safety in congregations, schools, and cities.
  4. Use good messaging:Talk about immigration in positive productive ways. How we talk about social justice issues matters. Here are some tipsto help you talk about immigration to build support for more humane policies. And check out this AFSC resource for more research-based tips on how to talk about issues to create social change.
  5. Display love:Make your community more welcoming by printing and displaying AFSC posters – and use them at the next rally or protest you attend. Here are posters to show solidarity for immigrant rights and justice.

 

Since some of our sisters and associates spent time in El Paso, TX, I have focused most of the information in our Justice Updates on asylum seekers at the Southern Border.  But we can’t forget to pray and be grateful for those working in the rest of the world where families are fleeing violence and climate destruction.    Please read this article about how good people are helping others.    

If you didn’t get a change to read the essays and poems in the New York Time’s 1619 Project, here is another chance to do so.

The Board of the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is meeting in Washington D.C. to plan for the year ahead. Please keep them in your prayers including our own Sr. Carol Davis.  On Tuesday, October 22nd, they will be visiting legislators and are asking us to call our legislators about these bills.

  • S. 1781 and H.R. 2836 would authorize funding for the Department of State to provide assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to increase protections of women and children in their homes and communities and reduce female homicides, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
  • S. 661 and H.R. 3729 expands protections to vulnerable migrant children while they are in custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) including developing guidelines for treatment of children in custody. This is particularly important because the administration is attempting to privatize these detention facilities and bypass state laws that protect children.

Even if you can’t call on October 22, please call in.  Here is a sample script you can use:

Hello.  My name is ______, and I am calling as a member of US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.  Today our Board of Directors is on the Hill, visiting with legislators to share about our work to end human trafficking.  One important way to help prevent human trafficking is by addressing root causes and doing everything we can to protect vulnerable populations.  One very vulnerable group to traffickers are migrants and refugees.  (feel free to add in here any story or personal connection you might have to the issue). 

(for the Senate)

There are two pieces of legislation that I am asking the Senator to support in connection to these issues: S. 1781 The Central American Women and Children Protection Act and S. 661 The Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act of 2019.  S. 1781 helps to support women and children in the northern triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador so they are not forced to flee and therefore at greater risk for being taken advantage of by traffickers.  S. 661 would expand protections for vulnerable migrant children while in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol, prevent family separation, and assist with family reunification.  Migrant children who are separated from their families and who have been traumatized are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.

(for the House) 

There is one particular bill that I am asking the Representative to support in connection to these issues: H.R. 3729 The Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act of 2019.  H.R. 3729 would expand protections for vulnerable migrant children while in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol, prevent family separation, and assist with family reunification. Migrant children who are separated from their families and who have been traumatized are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.

Several weeks ago, the Justice Blog described the impact of methane leaks on the environment. The administration wants to reduce regulations against methane pollution. This can result in an increase in health complications including respiratory damage, cancer, birth defects, and nervous system damage. Please use this link from Interfaith Power and Light to express your concern about rolling back methane pollution standards. Click here to let the Trump EPA hear from you.

The House of Representatives has proposed a bipartisan bill to ban assault weapons like AR 15’s. When the original ban was in effect from 1994 – 2004, America saw a 37% decline in gun massacres and a 70% decline in assault weapons tied to crime.  Please call or write your representatives and urge them to support H.R. 1296.  If you want to write to them, you can connect via the Brady and sign on to their letter.  Try to include some thoughts of your own to make  your letter unique.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Gun Safety Legislation

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

I have gun safety legislation on my mind.  The governor of Ohio (Mike DeWine) just spelled out his plan to prevent gun violence in Ohio. This was especially important since we had a shooting in Dayton, Ohio where nine people were killed.  The citizens of Dayton and neighboring cities demanded that he “DO SOMETHING.”   Unfortunately, Governor DeWine’s proposal falls short of expectations.

It’s really baffling to me why our legislators, both state and federal, have so much trouble protecting their constituents from gun violence. After all, the costs associated with it are huge. The Gifford Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports these statistics:

These healthcare costs, costs to employers, law enforcement and criminal justice costs and lost income add up to the billions.  Yes, you read that right, billions!  Interestingly, Connecticut has the most restrictive gun laws in this group and they have the fewest people killed and lowest costs associated with gun violence.  So much for more guns providing safer neighborhoods.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some of that money for things like education, healthcare, job training, refugee resettlement, etc?

Polling by the Washington Post – ABC found that “89% of voters support expanding background checks to cover private sales and gun-show transactions and 86% support Red Flag provisions that allow guns to be taken from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others.”  These include Republicans, white evangelical Christians, and gun owners.  Really how much clearer do citizens have to make themselves about this issue?

That’s what’s so disappointing about Governor DeWine’s proposal.  It doesn’t include either of these issues.   There are a bunch of bills sitting in Ohio’s House and Senate.  Just sitting… since they have not had a hearing.  It’s kind of like Federal House Bill 8 which was passed by the House. It’s a Background Check Bill that has yet to even be introduced into the Senate.  It just sits even though the vast majority of citizens want it passed.

In almost every one of the states where we minister, advocates are working to pass gun safety legislation or stop dangerous gun bills like Ohio H.B. 178 or Kansas S.B. 45 which are Permitless Carry Bills.  Unfortunately, Kentucky recently enacted a law that would allow anyone who legally owns a gun to carry it concealed under a coat, in a purse or hidden in a holster without a permit and without any training requirement.

There is plenty of evidence that less gun legislation results in more gun violence.  It’s really time for all our legislators to DO SOMETHING and stop the proliferation of guns in the U.S.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Mistakes

Blog by Associate Carol Lemelin, OPA

Two adages that I heard when I was about 7 or 8 advised: “Never make the same mistake twice, and “Always learn from your mistakes.”

Oh, how I wish I had been able to do that all the time!  Unfortunately, I have to say I probably scored 50 percent on those tests. But, I did learn one thing; I learned to forgive myself.

So often when people continue to fail at things, they often become depressed and begin to feel worthless. Most of the time it’s because they feel they are a disappointment; a disappointment to parents, teachers, peers or God.

What everyone needs to learn is that you can’t disappoint God. You are God’s very own special creation. God knows you inside and out. He knows what your weaknesses and your strengths are. God’s love is made to order just for you. Our failure to know and embrace this keeps us from forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. If God could be sad, which he can’t, this would do it.

Love, which is God’s other name, wants only our happiness. He conveyed that through the prophet Jeremiah; “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Remember that song which goes “Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again”?  That is pretty much what we are expected to do.

You always have God’s attention; but wait, that’s what you’re afraid of isn’t it? Then, think of God as your very best friend who will not criticize or mock, but just be in your corner all the time.

Remember the promise of Jesus; “Come to me all who are burdened and weary and I will give you rest”. His promises are real and can be trusted. So go ahead and live your life, mistakes and all. The One who loves you best, will be with you to help you pick yourself up.

Be good to yourself.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Friendships in Religious Life

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Last week, at the monthly Emmaus Discernment meeting for our discerners, some of them expressed their desire to know more about friendships in religious life. We all have a variety of different relationships:  with God, yourself, family, and friends, and co-workers. In this blog, I would like to share about relationships with friends when one of us joins religious life.

Before Vatican II, (1962-1965) when individuals entered religious life, they were not allowed to connect with friends or family for their first few years in the convent. Today, there are still some myths saying that sisters in religious life must cut all ties with family and friends. It is not true. Sisters value their relationships with families and friends and are encouraged to maintain them.

Religious life now is different. However, communities are different in their expectations regarding friend relationships. If you enter a cloistered community, you will not go out to see friends or family, instead, they may visit you. If you enter a monastic community, friendship and family connections are physically limited. If you enter an apostolic community, relationships with friends and family are more open; but it also depends on each community. Some communities do not allow members to go home during the formation program for at least three to five years. Most religious communities, on the other hand, like the Dominican Sisters of Peace, allow members to visit their families and friends more often. When you choose to enter a religious community, you should consider a community’s guidelines about relationships with family and friends.

Maintaining healthy relationships in our community is important because one of our commitments is hospitality and we value these relationships. Besides being members of a local community, sisters have wide relationships with family, including extended families, co-workers, sisters, priests, and friends. Some sisters still have friends from their elementary school years. For me, since I entered religious life, I have friends across religious communities and generations. My friends are religious sisters and priests from various religious communities, and people I studied and worked with ranging in age from the 30s to 90s years old.

Having entered religious life, I enjoy a deep level of friendship with many sisters because we share much in common, and we enrich each other through our visions, life experiences, and shared ministry. I also have friends from different religions, from the colleges I’ve attended, from churches where I have volunteered, and with co-workers. We go out to eat and engage in activities together. While my friends may share different perspectives on life, we have built friendships based on trust, understanding, and support of one another.

If you feel called to be a sister, or want to know more about religious life, feel free to move forward. You will be blessed with a big network of support. If you have any questions, please contact us and don’t let your questions/assumptions or your fears block your way. It is a blessed call to live.

Posted in God Calling?, News