Do Our Own Biases Hurt Women?

Blog by Sr. Roberta Miller

Are we women aware of our hidden cognitive against ourselves?

How often do we find ourselves critical of women as unsuitable for leadership positions in political, religious, or economic arenas?

Judgements like:

“She can’t compete at this level.”

“She doesn’t have the qualifications or experience.”

“She can’t relate to ….”

“I can’t see her as a … [name the position].

The negatives go on and on as to why I, a woman, cannot support another woman candidate for office.

We have a presidential election coming up, and it seems that we have already written off women candidates as unsuitable. Yet women in the US population outnumber the men – by about 7 million in 2019.

Out of 535 congressional members in 2019, only 126 are women (25/100 in Senate; 101/435 in House). There are only four women of color are in the Senate (1 Latina, 1 multiracial, 2 Asian Pacific); only 35 in the House (19 Black, 9 Latinas, 7 Asian Pacific).

Women are well under-represented in State offices. Why?

Women in religious life have proven repeatedly their executive, legislative, economic, social and religious leadership capabilities. Why not in our general society? And how often do we also hear women religious question or not defend the capabilities of women candidates for positions?

What’s wrong with this situation?  We oppose racism, but racism and sexism often go hand in hand as we see in wages, hiring and advancement disparities. How many of us have experienced a job rejection because of “Too much experience” or the lack of “desired credentials?” How many women have taken the blame under the failures of male leadership?

Is it cultural upbringing and tradition which create our cognitive bias? Why can’t each of us break out of the societal patriarchy which still strongly exists in Church and Society?

In the increasing examples of when women assume reins of leadership in a society, programs of social justice and environmental development are initiated for the health and well-being of underserved, poor and marginalized minorities within.

In September, 2019 the Council of World Women Leaders at the UN initiated the Generation Equality Campaign, following up the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration for Women’s Rights and Empowerment; Mexico City in 2020 hosts the Generation Equality forum. They noted that if our democratic institutions do not reflect the nature of our societies, we fail to ensure equal opportunities at all.

Posted in News

How Amazing to Touch a Moment in History

Blog by Associate Vicky Ortega

I love old books and documents; and as a government employee, I help make records available to the public, including documents with historical value.

I recently had an opportunity to touch such a historic document. The experience was amazing!

On January 17, 1964, the City and County of Denver entered into a contract with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., under which Dr. King asked to provide lectures and question-answer sessions in the Denver community.

The Denver Commission on Community Relations, whose powers and duties included developing educational campaigns devoted to “teaching the need for eliminating group prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, disorder, and discrimination”, agreed to pay Dr. King the total sum of $200.00 at the rate of $20.00 per hour for his services.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the signatures, especially that of Dr. King.  The blue ink was still vivid on the page fifty-six years after Dr. King’s hand touched the page to sign it.

As I gazed at Dr. King’s signature, many things raced through my mind.  I was born in July 1964.  I wondered what it was like to listen to Dr. King speak in person about civil rights and equality. I tried to imagine the community meetings and lectures where he discussed his quest to eliminate prejudice, intolerance, and racial discrimination in this country.

I wondered how city and state government officials responded to his presence in Denver, especially since it was well known that some government officials were also members of the KKK in the 1920s and 30s. I thought about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1964, and the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to Dr. King on November 11, 1964.

Returning to the present, I thought of all the things we do currently to celebrate Dr. King’s life including the Denver “Marade” which is a combination of a march and a parade where thousands of people gather on Dr. King’s holiday to remember his legacy and to continue the pursuit for peace and justice. We also pray the same prayers Dr. King offered in the hopes of opening hearts, minds, and spirits.

A few days afterward, I was in morning prayer and found myself drawn to the words in Psalm 78 where the Psalmist advises us, among other things, to stay faithful to God by teaching lessons learned from the past to the next generations. The psalm powerfully reminds us to reach out to the next generations so they will learn to place their trust and hope in God for themselves and for each other.

News reports indicate that Dr. King told the people of Denver, “The shape of our world today does not afford our nation the luxury of an anemic democracy.”  He emphasized that “We made of this world a neighborhood. Now we must make of it a brotherhood. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”  He decried “the appalling silence of the good people” in the fight for better civil rights laws.

One such article can be found here.

Yes, it was exciting to touch the same document that Dr. King once touched.

It was sobering to realize that today we face the same reality where the silence of good people will be the greatest tragedy of our times. There is little doubt that our world is at a point of historic social and environmental transitions. The clamor of bad actors seems to be as strident and as loud today as it was in 1964.

It is necessary to continue to learn from this country’s sorry history of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination, and injustices. We have made a world that desperately needs to hear a voice that inspires all of us to work for equality among all God’s people.

The psalm motivates us to keep reaching out, with love and respect, to the next generations in our communities so they too will work to energize anemic neighborhoods and to promote peace and justice for all people.

Keep Hope alive!  Keep Faith alive! Let’s do this for ourselves, the next generations, and for God.

Posted in Associate Blog

The Simple Faith and Inspiration of Mister Rogers

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I just finished reading Amy Hollingsworth’s book, The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers and saw the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  Both the book and the movie are equally poignant stories about this icon of children’s television, Fred Rogers.  If you grew up between 1968 and 2001, or were the parent of a child during this period, you may have watched this daily, educational show.  The PBS series, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, was a safe place for children to learn about the importance of expressing feelings, how to deal with new and scary moments and to feel valued as human beings.

The persona he showed on camera of kindness, compassion, and friendship was the same persona he showed to others off-camera.  He lived what he preached and the spiritual legacy behind his words and actions are both simplistic and profound.  He always offered hope and encouragement, telling his viewers:

“Don’t ever give up on yourself or your dreams.  You’re worthwhile, and always will be, no matter what.  Just remember to always be who you are, because that person is very special.  There’s no person in the whole world like you.  And I like you just the way you are.”

Though some mocked/ridiculed him and his television show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, he wanted children to hear and believe that they were unique and special.  In the show’s opening theme song, Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” he expresses a desire to be neighbors with his young viewers, immediately extending a caring hand of friendship.  In his closing song, It’s Such a Good Feeling, he affirms what a good feeling it is to be friends with these young viewers. During this closing song, he speaks these endearing words:

“You always make each day such a special day. You know how: by just your being you. There’s only one person in the whole world exactly like you, and that’s you yourself, and people can like you exactly as you are.”

Imagine if every child (and every adult) heard and believed these words daily.  For Mister Rogers believed that “The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.”

According to Hollingsworth, even Mister Rogers’ ritual of changing from a suit coat into a cardigan sweater and from dress shoes to tennis shoes was designed intentionally to have a calming effect and to teach children the importance of slowing down.  He wanted children to know the value of feelings, to know that feelings of anger, hurt, sadness were all right and “that you don’t have to hide them and that there are ways that you can say how you feel that aren’t going to hurt you or anybody else.” (Hollingsworth, 61-62)

Walking out of the movie theater, I wanted to stay and see it again so I could soak up the inspirational messages Mister Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) imparts to the man he befriends, Lloyd Vogel, who is an investigative reporter assigned to profile Mister Rogers.  Vogel is skeptical of Mister Roger’s good nature but is changed by the compassion and friendship Mister Rogers extends to him.  Vogel is initially annoyed by Mister Rogers’ gentle questioning of Vogel’s painful past with his father but the support and affirmation he receives from Mister Rogers enables him to reconcile with his father.  Mister Rogers even comes to be with Vogel’s family when Vogel’s father is dying and asks the dying father to pray for him, a moment where he sees the gift of a dying man being able to bring him closer to God.

In an interview with Fred Rogers, Hollingsworth quotes him as saying “And so, for me, being quiet and slow is being myself, and that is my gift.”  Being able to acknowledge his own gifts enabled him to serve others well.  Closely related to this gift of being quiet and slow, was appreciating silence. Hollingsworth notes about Mister Rogers that “It wasn’t just the absence of noise he advocated, but silence that reflects on the goodness of God, the goodness of what and whom He made.  Silence to think about those who have helped us. He knew that silence leads to reflection, reflection to appreciation, and that appreciation looks for someone to thank.”  (Hollingsworth, p.7)

Someone who Mister Rogers appreciated was his close friend, Henri Nouwen, a well-known Catholic priest, author, and theologian, whose spiritual writings inspired and influenced him. Although he was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian faith, Mr. Rogers had ties to Catholicism.  Speaking of his friend, Rogers noted how Nouwen taught him the importance of silence, writing that “Even though most of the world knows Henri by his words, I’ve come to recognize his deepest respect for the still, small voice among the quiet of eternity.  That’s what continues to inspire me.”  (Hollingsworth, p.12)

Whether reading the book or watching the movie, the lessons learned from Mister Rogers’ humility, his sincerity, his authenticity, and his wisdom make you want to be a better person.  His ministry and purpose in life centered on seeing and affirming the good in people and helping those he met to see the good in themselves.  He rarely spoke about his faith on his show, but his inspirational messages flowed from a life of prayer and served to communicate a message of love and compassion for self and our neighbor, just as Jesus did.

Are you eager to be a neighbor to those in need, to those seeking a deeper meaning in life?  Why not consider exploring a call to religious life as a Sister?  Come and be a neighbor to God’s people.  Contact us to learn more about how we can help you discern God’s call in your life.

Posted in God Calling?

Unexpected Gifts

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

The Burren is one of the most desolate looking places in the otherwise lush green landscape of Ireland. Located on the northwest corner of County Clare, the Burren is a limestone (called karst) field, gray and craggy and on the edge of the sea.

The silence is one of the first things you can notice without much coaxing; not too many birds calling or trees rustling from the offshore breezes. Flat as far as the eye can see, there is not much to draw the eyes upward, but downward, well, that is another story.

Obviously one must look down as she walks because of the cracks in the rocks but then…. Looking down also means being surprised. Down between the cracks and the gray stones, something unexpected hits the eye, for growing between the cracks are tiny, beautiful wildflowers of magnificent hues with tender green leaves. They are so small they have to be pointed out to folks or they would just walk over them so as not to trip on the uneven rocks.

The amazement does not stop there. These lovely flowers are harvested, and just down the road and around the bend is a quaint farm place where the flowers are processed and become lovely Irish perfumes. Who would have known? What an unexpected gift from an unlikely looking location.

As the new year of 2020 has begun, what are the unexpected gifts that might come your way? Will they be welcomed or spurned? Will they be fanciful or useful?

God is a God of so many surprises….just keep the eyes of your mind and heart and soul open!

Posted in Weekly Word

Dominican Sister of Peace Adrian Marie Hofstetter

Dominican Sister of Peace Adrian Marie Hofstetter

Dominican Sister of Peace Adrian Marie (Mary Harriet) Hofstetter (100) died at the Sansbury Care Center in St. Catharine, KY, on January 9, 2020.

Sr. Adrian Marie was born on April 6, 1919, in Nashville, TN, the daughter of Marguerite Sanders and Oscar B. Hofstetter.

Gifted from God with a sharp, scientific mind, Sr. Adrian Marie earned her Associate’s Degree in Math from Siena College in Memphis, TN. She earned her Master of Science and Ph.D. in Biology/Zoology from Notre Dame University in South Bend, IN, and her Doctor of Ministry from Creighton University, Omaha, NE.

Sr. Adrian Marie began her ministry as a teacher, serving in Indiana and Tennessee. She worked briefly as a social worker at Holy Name Parish in Memphis before becoming a Professor of Biology at LeMoyne Owen College in Memphis, during which time she worked for racial equality in that southern city.

Sr. Adrian Marie served her community as the Director of Ecumenism and Religion at St. Catharine, then added duties as a visiting professor at Savannah State College. She served as a visiting professor at Knoxville College, as University Chaplain and Religious Education Coordinator at Creighton University, and Director of Ecumenism and Reconciliation at the Resurrection Convent in Brooklyn, NY, before moving to Boughton Place in Highland, NY, to serve in a variety of positions including CCR Chair, Coordinator of Home Sharing, and Director of the Center for Ecumenism. She also authored a book, EARTH-FRIENDLY: Re-Visioning Science and Spirituality through Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and Rudolf Steiner.

Sr. Adrian Marie returned to St. Catharine in 2006, where she began a ministry of prayer and study. She began her final ministry of prayer and service at the Sansbury Care Center in 2011.

At her Memorial Mass, Sr. Elaine DesRosiers recounted some of the comments made of Sr. Adrian in the days following her death:
“She was indeed a prophet.”
“Our bright light has been extinguished.”
“She was about the most determined person ever created.”
“She was a great example of living the 4 Pillars of Dominican life.”
“Heaven will never be the same now that Adrian is there.”

Sr. Adrian is survived by one brother, Rev. Robert Hofstetter and several nieces and nephews.

A Vigil of Remembrance Service was held on January 16, 2020, and a Memorial Mass was held on Friday, January 17, 2020, both at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel in St. Catharine, KY. As a final act of charity, Sr. Adrian Marie donated her body to science. Burial will take place at a later date.

Memorial gifts in Sister Adrian Marie’s memory may be sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, OH, 43219.

To donate in Sr. Adrian Marie’s memory, please click here.

To download a printable copy of this memorial, please click here.

Posted in Obituaries