I have come that you may have LIFE; and have it in abundance

“The call to holiness requires a “firm and passionate” defense of the innocent unborn. Equally sacred are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and the elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”
Pope Francis in Gaudete et Exsultate

Blog by Sr. Mary Ellen Bennett, OP

For me, pro-life means far more than anti-abortion.  I’d like to see pro-life efforts extended to protest the Death Penalty.  I’d like to see support for mothers who deliver babies at term, then keep weekly vigils for them, “The Disappeared” of Central and South America.

Could we re-direct some pro-life efforts to help children wounded by war, gun violence, drive-by shootings, and terrorist attacks?

Malnourished mothers whose empty breasts are unable to feed their babies, people everywhere who are unable to provide adequate nourishment for their families because of unemployment, poverty, drought, flooding, crop failure, and other loss of agricultural land caused by climate change, need our help.

Did you see the picture of the father with his little daughter, drowned in a river while trying to cross into the U.S.?  Their reality, and that of all immigrants, especially at the U.S. southern border is death-dealing, certainly a pro-life issue.

There is life, and there is life. . . or is there?  Where are the advocates for our fellow human beings in these wretched situations?  Are they organized?

True respect for life, all life, true pro-life supporters, would advocate against all of these wretched conditions, and more.

A credible pro-life stance would not be pro-birth only; pro some life, not all, but pro-life for all the members of our one human family; the family of God.”

In this holy season remember that “God became one of us—all of us.”

Posted in Just Reflecting

An Advent Reflection

She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins…Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us.”
Matthew 1:21, 23

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

The Gospel of Matthew ushers in the fourth week of Advent and reminds me once more of the “indescribable gift” we prepare to receive at Christmas. The familiar refrain, “Come, Lord Jesus” has deep meaning this year, as it does every year, because it is a call of hope.

Come, Lord Jesus, bring your peace among us.
Come, Lord Jesus, bring your justice among us.
Come, Lord Jesus, spread your love among us.
And as the days of Advent usher in the joy of Christmas,
I am reminded—Emmanuel, God-with-us, lives!

As we enter into these days of Advent, I invite you to reflect with this different kind of Advent poem by Oscar Romero.  It reminded me that Jesus’ mission is still as relevant today as it was in his time. It reminded me, too, that I am called to share in some part of that mission.  The poem also reminded me of the real joy of Christmas—the presence of God-with-us in our past, in our present and in our future.

What reminders might it hold for you?  Wishing you Advent blessings and Christmas joy! 

The God We Hardly Knew
by Oscar Romero

No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of God- for them there
will be no Christmas.

Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Emmanuel. God-with-us.
Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God.

Posted in God Calling?, News

An Angel Came From Where I am Not Sure

An Angel Came From Where I am Not Sure
December 2017 Anne Lythgoe

This reflection, from 2017, has stayed with me for a long time. I feel that I was led by the Spirit to write it, and my experience was that it was given to me. So I can only give it to you.  I hope you find some insight into Mary’s experience.   Thank you, Anne.

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

An angel came from where I am not sure, sent to this Nazareth town, to seek an answer in the gray mists of night. What far off starlit kingdom sent him here? How did he know to visit me? Was he on his own? He seemed to know his mission, although I was not at all sure of what his message meant. Who told him to come here and disturb me with his words?

“The Lord is with you”, he said in a whisper that pierced me in my soul. God’s favor? Is not every daughter of Judah special in the eyes of the Lord? Do we not all seek to serve?

An angel came — was sent to me, — from where I am not sure, and I cannot tell you what he looked like, so bathed was he in light and so veiled in mystery.

This visit was an enveloping, a cocooning in light and darkness all at once. I felt swaddled in the power of the Lord, in the angel’s coming, and although I was thrilled and fearful, puzzled and curious all at the same time, all was strangely well. He made nothing clear, no plan, so few details, only that I would bear a son in the same way Elizabeth came to be with child. No more a miracle could there be but that which came to Zachariah and my sweet kinswoman! Elizabeth and I would be co-conspirators with God. Emmanuel, “God with us.” An ancient promise kept.

An angel came, from where I am not sure, but nothing is impossible with God. Nothing is impossible with God, of that I am sure.

Then the angel left vanishing like a whisper in the night, just as I was realizing I had been visited. The angel left. Disappeared like footprints in a puddle, leaving barely a trace of evidence behind. He left no assurances that my family would understand or that Joseph would know what to do or even accept such a story. The angel did not tell me his name, so I’m not sure he actually spoke in words to me. But I know what stirred in my soul, a something or someone came to me in this forsaken place where nothing of consequence ever happens.

What did I say yes to?






Posted in News, Weekly Word

Labor Trafficking in India

Blog by Sr. Barbara Catalano

During the ‘Dominican Month for Peace 2019’, Fr. Bruno Cadore asked our Dominican brothers and sisters throughout the world to focus our prayers and efforts on the huge and complex country of India. The great need in that country is due to the many forms of violence against young people particularly those at the lowest levels of Indian society.

India is the 2nd most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion people and is often thought of as being impoverished. In reality, it is the 7th wealthiest country and has recently been experiencing an economic boom. Unfortunately, the brunt of this boom is born by the bottom levels of society.

The historic Hindu caste system in India is smeared with brutalities by those higher up on the caste ladder and inflicted on those who are below even the bottom level of the four castes. These are the people who are the ‘out-casts’, the Dalits, or ‘untouchables’. They are made to do jobs such as working with carcasses or cleaning toilets which the casted Hindus consider impure or profane. The Dalits, along with some other socially deprived classes, such as the indigenous, are estimated to make up over half of India’s population. It is the children and women of these that are most at risk.

Child trafficking for both sex and labor is extremely prevalent in India, and continues to grow rapidly as the economy blossoms. According to UNICEF, 12.6 million Indian children are engaged in hazardous occupations in India.  Legally, children in India are allowed to do light work, but they are easily lured into heavy labor and are often worked far beyond what is legally allowed. Poverty and weak law enforcement are the obvious factors.

Children from the rural areas migrate or are trafficked for employment in industries, such as spinning mills, cottonseed production, manual work, domestic work in family homes, stone quarrying, brick kilns and tea gardens. Often they are required to work in dangerous environments. Those forced into such labor essentially become slaves, and lose their childhood.

Children, especially of the Dalits, are often chosen for the illegal activities of begging and forced organ donation.  A significant number of those on the streets have had limbs forcibly amputated, or even acid poured into their eyes to blind them by gang masters. Those who are injured tend to make more money in begging.

The Dominicans in India are focusing on countering the violence they see every day in the deprivation and abuse against children and women particularly among the Dalits and indigenous.  May we assist them with our prayers and preaching and may we seek other forms of support for them both financially and in awareness raising. Then as we note the great fragility of the Child in the crib this Christmas, may we see modeled there millions of His brothers and sisters born into the poverty of India.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – December 17, 2019

Staying engaged in justice work can be challenging and discouraging. Sometimes we need to treat ourselves to self-care. Buddhist teacher, Haemin Sunim, offers five simple steps for this goal.

A new report found that oxygen levels in the world’s oceans declined by 2 percent over 50 years, threatening marine life around the planet. You can read more here.

Methane was originally positioned as a safer, cleaner fuel obtained by fracking.  However, methane escaping into the atmosphere is causing serious climate issues.  A New York Times visual journalist and climate reporter went to West Texas oilfields and filmed methane escaping from oil and gas sites.  To the naked eye, everything seems normal but when filmed with special cameras, the escaping gas is obvious.  You can watch it here.

Call your governor.  We need refugees.  President Trump signed Executive Order 13888 that requires governors and city councils to approve any refugee resettlement. If you live in one of these states – California – Connecticut – Delaware – Hawaii – Illinois – Louisiana – Maine – Minnesota – Nevada – New York – Rhode Island – Wisconsin – please call your governor and ask him/her to provide written consent to allow resettle refugees and share publicly why they are providing consent.  Here’s more information from Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

Catholic Mobilizing Network presented President Trump and Attorney General Barr with a petition signed by more than 3,000 bishops, clergy, women religious, and laypeople condemning the restart of federal executions.  Then the Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the preliminary court injunction that temporarily placed federal executions on hold.  In the coming months, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbus Circuit will decide whether the executions can resume.  They are still collecting signatures to the National Catholic Petition Against Federal Executions.  You can read the petition and add your signature here.

Did you know that the House of Representatives has passed 389 bills, 250 of which are bipartisan?  The Senate has only passed 91.  Who’s working harder?  Find out more?

Religious Institutions are providing the impetus for a solar energy boom. This is a good news story.

Earlier in the year, Sr. Doris told us about the Honduran climate crusader, Berta Cáceres who was murdered. Seven men were sentenced in early November. Several of these men, Douglas Bustillo and Mariano Dias were both trained at the SOA (School of the Americas) in Bennings, GA.  However, none of the seven sentences were the ones who ordered and paid for Cáceres’ murder. None of these perpetrators have faced trial.  Bustillo and Diaz were sentenced to 30 years and six months and 30 years respectively. They communicated with Henry Hernandez who led a group of hitmen to Cáceres’ home on March 2, 2016 to execute the murder. Hernandez and the other three hitmen were sentenced to 50 years for both the murder of Cáceres and the attempted murder of Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro who was at Cáceres’ home at the time of the murder. The court’s sentences affirmed that Cáceres was murdered for her leadership in COPINH’s (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organization of Honduras)  opposition to DESA’s (Desarrollos Energeticos, SA) internationally-financed hydroelectric  project on the Gualcarque River.  To read more about this, click here.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates