Sisterhood is Powerful

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Last week, the Leadership Team hosted the annual gathering of the Dominican Sisters Conference Leaders Meeting.  Each year, leaders from across the country come together to sharpen their vision of Dominican mission and life and share the companionship and sisterhood of those in service to the Gospel.

I love it. I could almost taste the energy and creativity in the room as we looked to the future. Of course, the shrinking number of sisters in the USA is sobering and we are facing a future that is smaller and leaner. But this group possesses the key skills and openness to grace that gives me confidence that God is working within us on the journey.

So many moments during this gathering were electric with the power of sisterhood. Sr. Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian) was introduced as our new NGO Representative at the United Nations, and when that happened, Sr. Margaret Mayce, OP, (Amityville) her predecessor — and the newly elected International Coordinator of Dominican Sisters International — spontaneously leaped up and embraced Dusty in a moment of tremendous affection and sisterly connection. They were surrounded by our approving applause. I loved that too.

The best part of the meeting was the conversations we had with younger Dominican women who were invited to join us in imagining what the future might hold.  Clearly, our younger members need to build their relationship across congregational boundaries, since they will be more connected to their own age cohorts as time goes by.  In fact, many already have meaningful sisterly connections with Dominican sisters their own age in other congregations.  So there was much talk and speculation and indeed serious consideration of just what Dominican sisters might look like 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

The primary symbol of the DSC Leaders Meeting was the Visitation: the beautiful strength of family ties, of Mary and Elizabeth, women who love each other because they shared a common bond, a common mission, a shared hope for the world.

What struck me the most about our meeting, was the courage of the women there to face the future in faith and in hope.  Where does that courage come from? I ask myself that on days when I am not feeling so courageous and want to keep my head down and just do the work. Courage comes from the power of our sisterhood, the energy that women have together.  Courage is what helped women gain the right to vote and fueled the development of Catholic education and Catholic healthcare in the United States. Courage is what animated the development of retreat ministry and spiritual formation for women. Courage put women in outer space, in corporate board rooms, and public office. Courage makes immigration reform and human trafficking advocacy visible to the public at a time when many people would simply turn their heads and look away. And there are so many other spheres where the courage of women has shifted the arc of history toward justice.

Our sisterhood is powerful.  If you are feeling wimpy today, take your courage from your sisters. We have your back.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Trump: Pro-Life?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

In Mr. Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech made last February, he stated, “Let us reaffirm a fundamental truth:  All children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God.”  I certainly agree with this statement although I question whether the president really believes it.  During Pro Life month, here is some evidence that he doesn’t really understand what this means.

Pulling U.S. troops out of Syria and knowing what the Turkish president had planned, the president definitely put Kurdish children at risk. At this writing (Friday), two children have been killed by the Turkish assault.  Two children made in the image of God are dead because of a campaign promise. (Independent.co.uk)

From September 2018 to May 2019, six migrant children (three of them unaccompanied) died while in Customs and Border Patrol custody.  According to the ACLU, over 900 children have been separated from their parents since June 2018. This despite a federal court order to stop.  900 children made in the image of God jailed because they are poor and have brown skin. (ACLU.org)

The administration has conducted an assault on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since the beginning of its tenure. The latest proposed rule change would continue to restrict eligibility resulting in the loss of benefits for 1.9 m children. 500,000 of these children would also lose access to free school meals.  Millions of children made in the image of God, going to bed hungry each night so that the rich can enjoy a tax cut.

In 2019 alone, 755 children have been killed and 2,170 injured by gun violence according to the Gun Violence Archive (gunviolencearchive.org). And yet, Mr. Trump refuses to put forward or support any gun safety legislation.  2,170 children made in the image of God, dead because legislators are too cowardly to go against a very, very small group of gun advocates.

According to the CDC, as many as 1,000 to 4,300 additional premature deaths will occur each year as a result of pollution if nothing is done to clean up the air.  Yet, the administration continues to gut restrictions on vehicle emissions and methane gas leaks.  1,000 unborn children made in the image of God dead so that companies can make more money.  (cdc.org)

So…. Mr. Trump, do you honestly believe that all children are made in God’s image?  If so, why don’t you practice what you preach and stop implementing the cruel actions that you are doing.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates 10-15-19

The US Department of Agriculture just proposed another rule that would cut SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan).It just another in a long string of efforts to hurt hungry households.  This time, $4.5 Billion over five years would be cut based on how states take household utility costs into account to determine SNAP benefits.  19% of SNAP households would get lower monthly benefits disproportionality impacting elderly people and people with disabilities. The administration continues to defy Congress who did not include these changes in the 2018 Farm Bill.  Tell the USDA that you think this change is wrong by commenting here. Comments must be made by December 2, 2019

The administration is planning to privatize housing for unaccompanied or separated migrant children. Here’s the latest action by the administration to get around rules associated with treatment of children.

For decades, the oceans have served as a crucial buffer against global warming, soaking up roughly a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans emit from power plants, factories and cars, and absorbing more than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped on Earth by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Without that protection, the land would be heating much more rapidly. Read more about a UN Report explaining how the oceans are in danger.

World Food Day is October 24th. Check out this webinar, “How Our Food Choices Can Save the Planet” presented by Catholic Climate Covenant.  Our food system is responsible for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. We can make food choices that are sustainable, less wasteful, and just.  The webinar is Thursday, October 24 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm (eastern time).   To register click here.

Back in January and February and later in July, our sisters and associate traveled to El Paso, TX to work with asylum seekers at Annunciation House.  The difference between the first visits and later visits were dramatic largely due to the MPP – Migrant Protection Protocol – or Remain in Mexico program.  CBS News did a three-part series on the policy and its impact on thousands of asylum seekers.

Part 1. “Leave me in a cell”: The desperate pleas of asylum seekers inside El Paso’s immigration court.

Part 2. “I fear for our lives”: Asylum seekers forced to wait in Mexico face danger and desperation

Part 3. Advocates say “Remain in Mexico” policy turns migrants into a “marketable commodity”

The administration continues to make it hard for immigrants – both legal and undocumented by using executive orders and rule changes.  Here are two examples:

Restrictions have been placed on the Diversity Visa Lottery making it harder for low-income immigrants to apply.

Another rule change may result in immigrants who have work visas will have trouble getting green cards if they need assistance.

 

Robert Ellsberg speaks on whistleblowing, truth-telling and the Pentagon Papers

Farming is critical for providing the food we eat but it is also a huge cause of climate change.  Here are two films showing farmers trying to change their practices to mitigate the impact on climate.

Farmers Footprint (20 minutes) seeks to expose the science behind glyphosate’s (i.e. RoundUp Herbicide) impact on human and environment health through the lens of human stories that illuminate the impacts on farmers and their communities.

The Need To GROW (90 minutes) highlights the hearts and innovations of three very different leaders – an 8-year-old girl challenging the ethics of a beloved organization – a renegade farmer struggling to keep his land as he revolutionizes resource-efficient agriculture – and an accomplished visionary inventor facing catastrophe in the midst of developing a game-changing technology.

If you didn’t see this yesterday in OP Peace… The Catholic Action for Immigrant Children Campaign will hold its third protest to lift up concerns about the immigration system, access to asylum, and growing racism. They have protested in Washington, DC, Newark, NY and now in El Paso, TX. To support them, they have asked us to join the National Call-In Day, A Journey for Justice, on Tuesday, October 15.  Call the Department of Homeland Security to demand justice for immigrants.  The Operator Number is 202-282-8000.  The comment line is 202-282-8495.  Here’s a suggested script but try to use your own words:

Hello, my name is (insert name) from (Location: City, State, Zip Code). As a person of faith (and a Catholic sister/lay person), I am calling DHS to demand humane changes on immigration policies. As Catholic leaders we are asking the Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to honor the dignity and rights of all immigrants and to:

Recognize the sacred covenant, internationally recognized, legal right to seek a asylum, stop the Remain in Mexico Program, stop the use of the “metering list”, make Due Process the standard NOT the exception, collaborate with NGOs and local communities to support and expand humane services for Asylum Seekers, provide additional funding for immigration courts and asylum officers.

Thank you for your time and God bless you.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

SEEDS of HOPE

Blog by Associate Frank Bevvino

Even though there is much frustration in the world today regarding political, economic, and social issues, there is reason for hope.

Your political ideology or your cultural background doesn’t matter. Our concerns are based on events we see all around us. Misinformation, lying, the curtailment of freedoms, the disregard for laws, our failing environment, tensions among cultures, race, gender and sexual orientation are all creating concerns worldwide. Issues such as these are being attacked or ignored. People of faith know, however, that God — although He challenges us constantly — never abandons us.

Our faith in God gives us the tools to be an example of Christ and to be part of the solution. It is incumbent upon us always to be the example that allows for change that respects personal freedoms, human rights, and a custodial approach to all of God’s creations.

We see that example demonstrated by young and old throughout the world; once obscure names — Malala Yousafzai; Greta Thunberg; and just this past week, Brandt Jean — are recent examples in the news. They show the world that every day examples of love and concern are not lost forever but exist in the hearts and souls of all of us. We simply need the courage, with God’s grace, to speak up and act.

None of these three young people were initially famous, rich, or promoted by commercial industry. Malala Yousafzai had the courage to stand up to radical fundamentalism within her faith. She put her life on the line advocating for the education of women and other human rights issues.

Greta Thunberg spoke out against the ignorance surrounding the deteriorating environment and the call for people and nations to begin now with changes to preserve the world from global warming.

Brandt Jean, the brother of a murdered black man mistaken to be an intruder, embraced his brother’s murderer, forgiving the former police officer after being convicted.

All three of these young people are examples of courage and determination to make changes in our world. Examples that we need to reflect on.

These acts of kindness and the courage to speak out occur daily in our world but not all of them make the news headlines.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we saw men and women moved by the resurrection of Jesus bring about change. Their courage in the 1st Century is an example of the courage we need today to make changes in our Church and the world around us. It all starts locally in our families, our communities, and our workplaces. Through faith that God is with us, we can all be agents of change.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Attack on Immigrants

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Migrant Protection Protocol…. Remain in Mexico….. family separation…. Lowest refugee ceiling in recent history…. Bans on Muslims…. ICE raids….  The attack on immigrants has been relentless and increasingly brutal.  The recent action – to reduce the number of refugees to be resettled to a mere 18,000 is just the latest action.  What does this mean?

This number refers to those who are accepted into the U.S. Resettlement Program (USRP).  A refugee is a person outside of his/her country who is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

The U.N. recommends groups for resettlement. These individuals apply in their own country or resettlement camps in neighboring countries for entry into the US and where they will be settled. They receive extreme vetting.  Since the program started in 1980, an average of 95,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S. There are currently around 40,000 who have gone through the process and are ready to be resettled. Sadly, the administration recently announced that they would only admit 18,000 in 2020.   These 18,000 will be used to resettle 4,000 Iraqis who have assisted our forces there, 1,500 refugees from Central America’s Northern Triangle, 5,000 refugees fleeing religious persecution, and a remainder of 7,500 for other needs.

In 2018 only 1 out of 500 refugees needing resettlement received it with only the most vulnerable refugees being considered for resettlement. Reasons for admittance include medical needs, children at risk, women and girls at risk, and survivors of violence/torture.

The decline in the U.S. refugee admissions comes at a time when the number of refugees worldwide has reach the highest levels since WW 2 to 70.8 million. Around 80% of the world’s refugees have been living in exile for 5 years and around 1/5 of them for 20 years.  Violence, war, economic collapse, and climate change are the primary reasons that refugees flee their countries.

Many of the members of the House of Representatives don’t like this reduction.  They have introduced HR 2146, the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act to ensure that the U.S. would admit no fewer than 95,000 refugees each year.  Call your representative if you think the U.S. has a responsibility to welcome those in need.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog