Dominican Sisters of Peace Founded Ministries Director Mark Butler Honored

Mark Butler, Director of Founded Ministries for the Dominican Sisters of Peace, was honored with the “Champion of Children Award” by the Ohio Family and Children First Coordinators Association.

Dominican Sisters of Peace Director of Founded Ministries Mark Butler was honored by The Ohio Family and Children First Coordinators Association (OFCFCA) at a banquet on October 21. Mark was awarded the “Champion of Children Award” by the OFCFCA for his work to encourage the state of Ohio to establish the Multi-System Youth Fund within the State budget.

The Ohio Departments of Medicaid (ODM) and Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will issue $31 million in new funding in state fiscal year (SFY) 2020 to directly support children, youth and families served by multiple systems.

Multi-system youth are children and teenagers with complex needs that cannot be met by a single state department. These children have two or more significant challenges, including physical or mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, developmental disabilities or severe trauma. According to Public Children’s Services Association of Ohio (PCSA), of the multi-system youth that are in custody, nearly 30% are voluntarily relinquished by families who have no other option to obtain the care that is needed.

Mark’s son Andrew is considered a multi-system youth. He and his wife Susan were forced to surrender Andrew to the state. Since that terrible experience, Mark and Susan have shared their story as they lobbied for more state support for families of children with disabilities, mental illness and complex behavioral needs.

Mark acts as a liaison between the Dominican Sisters of Peace and their founded education, ecology, social service and spiritual ministries. He is a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Whitehall, OH.

“We are so very proud of Mark and the work that he has done for the youth in Ohio,” said Sr. Pat Twohill, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. “Mark truly lives our Congregation’s commitment to stand with the marginalized in his work with his very special and personal cause.”

About the Dominican Sisters of Peace:
Dominican Sisters of Peace, members of the pontifical Order of Preachers, are vowed Catholic women who strive to live a life of peace-making. The Dominican Sisters of Peace are present in 22 states and two countries. The sisters serve God’s people in many ways, including education, health care, spirituality, pastoral care, prison ministry, the arts, and care of creation. There are 438 sisters and over 700 lay associates affiliated with the congregation.
About the OFCFCA
County-based Family & Children First Councils were established in the mid-nineties in response to Section 121.37 of the Ohio Revised Code. The Ohio Family and Children First Coordinators Association provides professional development opportunities that will improve members’ capacity to serve their councils and their communities and to provide advice and advocacy to local and state decision-makers in making and carrying out decisions regarding the well-being of children and families.


Posted in News

Radiating God’s love by being the children of God

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

I became a U.S. citizen at the end of October, and the memories are still so vivid. There is no good way I can describe the joy and the emotions we all felt, because it would limit the experience. It left me very inspired, grateful and with deep joy.

Just a day after the ceremony, a line caught my eyes during morning prayer: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God…” (1 John 3:1) By God’s grace, we received God’s parental love for us, a parental love that always loves and has our backs. What does that mean for us? Can we claim being children of God or being “citizens” of God’s kingdom with (at least) the same enthusiasm, excitement, and overflowing joy as when immigrants become U.S. citizens?

The oath ceremony was all about what we were about to become and how we would use this new gift of citizenship. A feeling that is very similar to when we hear a Gospel passage – we might have a bumpy journey some days, but when we hear God’s Word, let us pay attention to how we receive it, how we claim it, and then how we share the love that God has for everyone.

I entered the congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace in 2011. The call to religious life came from God, and I chose to respond God’s call by entering this congregation – the Sisters were always so welcoming and their witness of faith was very visible; like the Sisters, I had a deep passion for the mission, I loved the way we prayed, and I felt a great sense of community. However, the more I learned about our mission, the more we worked for a more peaceful world, the more I felt limited by not having a voting voice. I built and preached peace in various ways, but it has been difficult to listen to the news – whether it is a mass shooting, human trafficking, death penalty, or the situation at the USA border, the list goes on. I wanted to respond compassionately, speaking on behalf of those in need, but I didn’t have a voting voice to use.

Twelve days after becoming a citizen, I went to a B.R.E.A.D. Annual Assembly meeting with some of our Sisters. At the entrance, some of the organizers were collecting signatures for advocating for background checks to create safer gun laws. I was so happy that, finally, I could give my signature. Being a new citizen empowers me to speak on behalf of the less fortunate – like the children effected by school shootings. I invite you to ponder what it means to you that God’s love has been bestowed on us, and how we can radiate this love in a heartfelt way.

If you would like to learn more about Dominican Sisters of Peace, go to If you would like to learn more about becoming one of us, contact us at May God continue to bless you and peace to you!

Posted in God Calling?, News

An Invitation to Brave Space

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

On the way home from retreat, a long drive across the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I found a podcast to listen to: On Being with Krista Tippett. I thought it might break up the 7-hour drive. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Krista interviewed two millennial women, Lennon Flowers and Rev. Jennifer Bailey, two of the founders of the Faith Matters Network, a newly-formed movement that focuses on sustaining the energy and passion of community leaders in social justice networks. According to their website, they “embody a particular wisdom of millennials around grief, loss, and faith.” Together they created The People’s Supper, which uses shared meals to build trust and connection among people of different identities and perspectives. Since 2017, they have hosted more than 1,500 meals. In the words they use, the practices they cultivate, and the way they think, Flowers and Bailey issue an invitation not to safe space, but to “brave space.”

“The People’s Supper is an initiative to repair the breach in our interpersonal relationships across political, ideological, and identity differences, leading to more civil discourse.”

Lennon and Jennifer talked about their experience of organizing these community meals that bring very diverse people to the table to listen to each other’s stories. It does not begin with “Why did you vote the way you did?”  It requires “brave space” where people are willing to share a meal that forms a bridge across the political, economic and social divides we know today.

How can you argue with someone’s politics when passing a basket of bread?

This idea of brave space transforms my idea of safe space. It is a movement from being secure to vulnerable, from armored to open, from guarded to curious.  I wonder if brave space might be a way to build peace, by being peace in conversations we have (or don’t have) with people different from ourselves. Brave space calls us to look at one another with softer eyes.

This poem, taken from their website, inspired me and I hope it inspires you.

Invitation to Brave Space

By Micky ScottBey Jones

Together we will create brave space
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space”
We exist in the real world
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be
It will be our brave space together,
We will work on it side by side.

Maybe this could start something.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

“Presente” at the SOA Watch

Blog by Sr. Suzanne Brauer, OP

This past weekend in resistance and memory, we returned to the gates of Ft. Benning, where the infamous SOA/WHINSEC is located. We remembered and upheld Celina Ramos, Elba Ramos, Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Segundo Montes, Juan Ramón Moreno, Joaquín López y López, and Armando López who were massacred at the hands of SOA graduates that formed part of the Salvadoran Army’s Atlacatl Battalion. The SOA Watch movement initially formed to denounce this massacre. Now, 30 years later, we continue to work to close the SOA/WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) and to dismantle the structures of oppression on which it is based.

In an article published last week with ABC-affiliated WTVM, WHINSEC’s new Commandant, Colonel John Suggs, said “change occurred” when the SOA became WHINSEC in 2001. He went on to say that “the guys who graduate here are going to go on to be the heads of their militaries,” and that “the relationships they built here…it fosters peace throughout the whole region, it helps them get things done.” Make no mistake, the purpose and the results of the SOA and WHINSEC are the same – training state agents in civilian-targeted warfare that results in violent repression, torture, forced disappearances, massacres, forced migration, the criminalization of dissent, and imperialist coups to impose right-wing neo-liberal agendas. The idea that this training “fosters peace” throughout the Americas is absurd and extremely dangerous.

Over the weekend we learned that in September 2019, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shared that Fort Benning, GA, home of SOA/WHINSEC will be the new location of an “urban warfare” training facility for skills to be used on communities within the United States.

Sisters Kathy Broussard and Suzanne Brauer and Associates Joanna Magee, Chris Cahalan and Kevin Cahalan and a number of our New Orleans friends along with Dominican Sisters from Springfield, Sinsinawa and Adrian and Mercy Sisters, joined in the SOA Watch. On Saturday we heard motivating speeches and on Sunday we participated in the solemn commemorative Funeral Procession, during which there was a litany of hundreds of names of persons who had been killed by SOA trained military. After so many years of protesting we still sing “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. Hold On.”

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – November 19, 2019

A focal point of our democracy is the right of every adult to vote. Sadly, there are constant challenges and threats to this right.  The League of Women Voters is asking us to contact our representative and ask him/her to support H.R.4,the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA). According to the LWV, “More than 50 years ago, we saw the most sweeping advancement to voting rights with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made racially discriminatory voting practices illegal.  Since the court’s decision in 2013, voters across the country have faced issues at the ballot box including unlawful purges, shortening of voting hours, and the closing of polling places in communities with large populations of voters of color…. The VRAA will strengthen our democracy by ensuring that race is not a factor in determining who has access to the ballot box.” Catholic Social Justice affirms that it is the right and responsibility of each and every person to participate in the political process. No individual or community should be disenfranchised by federal policy. Tell your Representative that you support H.R. 4 by dialing 888-496-3502.

Almost a million children could lose free lunch because of a SNAP rule change.  The change, first announced over the summer, would eliminate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or SNAP, as the food stamps program is now known, for more than 3 million people by eliminating something called broad-based categorical eligibility, a policy that gives states the flexibility to waive some asset and income limits for households that receive both SNAP and other welfare benefits. To learn more, click here.

Human Rights Watch reports that loopholes in US labor law make it legal for children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours on farms of any size with parental permission, as long as they don’t miss school. There is no minimum age for children to work on small or family farms. New research published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reinforces just how dangerous agricultural work is for children in the United States – and how unprepared most are for what they face in the fields. More US child workers die in agriculture than in any other industry. Every day, 33 children are injured while working on US farms. And they receive frighteningly little safety training, making their work in demanding environments even more dangerous.

Count us in. Watch this one-minute video about why the census is important. 

Fossil fuels and extraction industries have caused massive damage to our environment.  The recent Amazon Synod addressed these issues.  Here are key take-aways from the synod:

  • A concept of “ecological sin,” which is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 340-344, says that the Creator established the world as a web of dependence. When we break that web, all are harmed, and we turn from our Creator’s love.
  • We have compassion for the people who have been victimized by ecological sin, and especially for the indigenous people who suffer invaded, degraded lands and broken families.
  • Divesting from fossil fuels and reducing our overall dependence on fossil fuels, as well as living more simply and sustainably, are concrete ways to recover from this sin.
  • Our God is merciful, and we can recover. Integral ecology, which sees the deep connections between how we relate to God, each other, and our common home, is the way forward.

There hasn’t been a federal execution in 16 years but the administration has stated they will being executions again. As support for the Death Penalty is waning, this moving in the wrong direction. Please call your President Trump and Attorney General Barr that you are opposed to capital punishment.  Read how hundreds of victims’ relatives are asking the administration to stop this.

We hear with more and more frequency people killed in gun violence. More than 34,483 individuals have been killed in 2019.  We don’t often hear of those who were injured but their trauma continues long after the shooting are passed. Read about the survivors of the El Paso Walmart shooting.

Will we have to stop eating hamburgers?  Scientists say we should shift away from carbon-intensive beef toward poultry, fish and plant-based food and toward agricultural practices and food preparation that make the meat we do eat more sustainable.  Here’s what they say.

Need a little fix of joy?  Here’s something beautiful. Bay Area youth activists are creating 15,000 butterflies to stand in solidarity with the migrant children who have been and are currently in U.S. detention centers.  You can act also.  Read about The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates