What’s happening to America?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Several weeks ago, I saw a cartoon singing the praises of the current president.  The items consisted mostly of ways that the rich got richer, the climate got dirtier, and businesses got rewarded (ie more rich got richer).  There is no doubt that the economy has continued to improve under this president. But at what price?

American has the reputation for being a land of milk and honey. A place where someone who works hard can ‘pull himself/herself up by their bootstraps’ and become rich/powerful/famous.  But at what price?

The U.S. has prided itself on having a free press, freedom of speech, academic freedom. The internet and services like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been invaded by hackers seeking to influence our government and our civility. We have universal, 24-hour communication. But at what price?

The country continues to be governed by rich white men who while some may be concerned about the common good, they still protect their place in society. But at what price?

Many Americans especially young people are aware of their personal and communal impact on our environment while corporations are given a pass to increase pollution. They stand to makes lots of money. But at what price?

When a society becomes a transactional one, that is, one concerned only with buying and selling – making money –  and refuses to recognize the dignity of each person, the price is a loss of our humanity and will be high. Already we see climate disasters around the country…an unraveling working class and their communities … growing homelessness, mental illness, and addiction…even shorter life expectancies. We live in a country where a child is born into poverty every 41 seconds.

The U.S. will only be great again when we become relational and consider the impact of our actions on all our brothers and sisters, especial the least among us.  This includes our Mother Earth.  Only then will we all regain our dignity, reduce our despair, and repair the divide among us.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – January 14, 2020

Will the killing of Soleimani have consequences for Iraq’s Christians? Kevin Clarke of American Magazine writes “Following the news reports last night that eventually confirmed that a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 2 had killed Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, and associates including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, I found myself hoping that someone in the Trump administration was remembering the perilous status of the Christian remnant in northern Iraq.” Read more.

We need a dose of good news.  Read Beyond Racial Strife, a Dose of Optimism for the New Year.

Tom Reese of religion News Service called Greta Thunberg a prophet. Here’s why.

Good news for immigrant farmworkers and their families. On December 11, 2019, the U.S. House passed HR 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill which would improve conditions for immigrant farmworkers and their families, ensure the stability of the U.S. agricultural industry, offer legalization to certain farmworkers and their families, and reform the H2A worker program. After the vote of 260-165 for passage, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, and Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement in support of the legislation. After passage in the House, there is hope that this bill will be taken up in the Senate.

In one Kenyan fishing village, women have found a way to take care of their families without giving up their dignity. Find out how in No Sex for Fish.

The administration is rolling back several major environmental regulations viewing many Obama-era environmental regulations that curb carbon emissions as burdensome to businesses. Read more.

When people eat better, they enjoy better health, reducing not just suffering, but also some expenses. The NY Times explains how Cutting Food Stamps Can Add Costs Elsewhere.

The Federal Death Penalty is on hold for now but for how long?  Read more.

There is an update from the Casa Alita Welcome Center.

Dear friends,

In my last update for the Casa Alita Welcome Center, I wrote about the implementation of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), which had begun to bus asylum seekers to El Paso to return them to Ciudad Juarez to await their court proceedings in the US. We were told that we would only be receiving women who were more than six months pregnant, and families with children under one year of age. The Good News is that we are receiving more families and pregnant women traveling alone than usual! Every night, our shelter is full to capacity with guests from Ecuador, Cuba, Southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras as we juggle rooms for new incoming families. MPP is in place and people are being returned to Mexico, but apparently there isn’t the infrastructure or will to carry out this policy as publicized.

Families come to us throughout the day, arriving exhausted and greatly distressed by their journeys. In the past three days alone we have welcomed a hundred and seventy guests. Since I returned from my trip to visit seven shelters from central Mexico down to the southern border, I know better what they go through to get here. While we are told stories, to see the realities that our guests live through stays with me, as does their tenacity and courage under the most pressing and dangerous circumstances.

As the families leave their ICE vans, they pass the clothing room where they can get two changes of clothes. They enter the reception area and sit in church pews, where we share a breath prayer before orientation. I tell them that Paul says that sighs are prayer too deep for words. I invite them to take a deep breath in through their noses, and sigh out loud through their mouths as they exhale. Breathe in the peace of God. Breathe out the stress, fear, bad treatment, inadequate food from Ice detention. We repeat this several times and I invite them to close their eyes, and that is when the tears start to slow. In the privacy behind their eyes, the suffering they have endured touches them and then recedes and the sense of safety and gratitude for making it sink in. We can see them visibly relax as they hear that they are in their home, that we are all Americans, and that they are very welcome  at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center.

Children are quickest to leap to life in these new surroundings, attacking coloring books and toys with vigor. By their second day, after choosing two sets of clothing, bathing, and resting, they are almost unrecognizable. Imagine working your way on a six month journey through central America and Mexico. One dad asks me when is the soonest he can shower. “It’s been weeks,” he tells me, as I assure him that within the hour he will have his wish.

During this holy-day season, the song “Shout for Joy” sung by Odetta comes to mind, which is one of my favorite songs for this season, but most recently, here at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center for families seeking asylum every day has been Christmas. People are getting through to us when both we and our guests had imagined the worst. There is room at the inn! And for the several pregnant women, Christ is born, even into the most difficult circumstances.

These are some of the lyrics. Imagine Odetta singing them!

“Mary had a baby. (Shout for Joy!) Born in a stable. (Shout for Joy!) They laid him in a manger. (Shout for Joy!)  They named him Jesus. (Shout for Joy!) He was the Prince of peace. Mighty counselor. (Shout for Joy!) King Herod tried to find him. (Shout for Joy!) They went away to Egypt. (Shout for Joy!) Mary rode a donkey.(Shout for Joy!)Joseph walked beside her. (Shout for Joy!) Angels watchin” over. (Shout for Joy!) Angels watchin” over. (Shout for Joy!)

This brief respite that volunteers at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center provide is one small step along our journey to be the church/synagogue/mosque with all of God’s people. Grief and anger must be punctuated by joy or we run out of steam, fall into despair, and lose faith in ourselves and others. Our guests, who arrive wearing such trauma, years of trauma, teach us the simple joy of sitting outside, eating a good meal, reencountering a friend lost along the way, speaking to a family member by phone after months or years of separation, listening to music. Joy incarnate is surely what Jesus was all about – Good News here on earth.

Sometimes I see our guests and volunteers with such a look of contentment, I wonder at how that is possible in these difficult times. I don’t believe that we are doing together “saves” anyone in the traditional Christian doctrinal way. But I know for certain that we are saving lives and souls, both our guests and our own. For this little window in time we can be the person of faith that our faith practices call us to be. We are family that stretches far beyond our walls and wildest imagination.

Please feel free to share this letter with others who might be interested in learning more about our important work, and/or who might also like to offer financial support. Your support makes our work possible. Together, we provide help, create hope, and serve all. Your gift strengthens children, families, adults, and communities. Donations can be made directly to CCS at  Support Migrant Aid – Tucson and through our GoFundMe page https://www.gofundme.com/casa-alitas-for-migrant-families. For more information about Casa Alitas shelter programs, please see ccs-soaz.org.

Thank you for reading this and for your support to continue this important ministry.

“Mary had a baby. Shout for joy! Herod tried to find him. Shout for joy! They went away to Egypt. Shout for joy! Mary rode a donkey. Shout for joy! Joseph walked beside her. Shout for joy! Angels watchin’ over. Shout for joy! Angels watchin’ over. Shout for joy!”

In joy and gratitude for the birthing of Christ in each new day and dark night.   Rev. Dr. Delle McCormick

At the recent Lunch & Learn: Examining the Refugee Crisis with Art at the Martin de Porres Center, I read the following poem by Warsen Shire.  It is a powerful explanation of why refugees flee their homes. The author recites her poem here.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Dominican Sister of Peace Joan Marie Hill

Dominican Sister of Peace Joan Marie Hill

Dominican Sister of Peace Joan Marie (James Michael) Hill (88) died at the Ohio State East Hospital in Columbus, OH, on December 21, 2019.

A native of Dorchester, MA, Sr. Joan Marie was one of seven children born to Marie Furlotte and Douglas Hill. Given her love of crafts and group activities, she must have been a wonderful sister to her siblings, as she was a wonderful Sister to those of us in her Congregation for more than 68 years.

Sr. Joan Marie studied at St. Catharine College in St. Catharine, KY, and continued her studies in Theology at DePaul University. Her first ministry was in teaching, and she shaped the hearts and minds of elementary school students in Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana and Massachusetts for nearly 12 years. But a brief time working at Sansbury Care Center stirred an interest in nursing. She believed that “Nursing brings the church’s ministry to the lost, the last, and the least among us.”

Sr. Joan Marie continued working as an aide at Sansbury while she studied to earn her LPN from the Appalachian School of Practical Nursing in Lexington, KY.

After earning her LPN, Sr. Joan Marie brought her ministry of care to patients at Mary Immaculate Hospital, Sansbury Care Center, and the Nazareth Home, all in Kentucky, as a staff nurse.

Even after retirement, Sr. Joan Marie continued to serve the “least among us” as a volunteer to the elderly at the Nazareth Home, the St. Catharine Motherhouse, and the Sacred Heart Village.

Sr. Joan Marie entered a ministry of prayer and service at the St. Catharine Motherhouse in 2013, joining in many Community activities. Sisters throughout the Dominican family knew Sr. Joan for her famous bourbon ball candies and her welcoming hospitality.

When Sister Joan Marie moved to the Columbus Motherhouse in 2017, she immediately became an active member of the Community and a willing volunteer. Her final ministry of prayer and presence was a blessing to all.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Douglas and Marie Furlatte Hill, her brothers, James, Fred, Douglas, Raymund, a step-brother, James DeWolfe and her sister Veronica Hamel. She is survived by several nieces.

A Vigil of Remembrance Service was held at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse Chapel in Columbus, Ohio on December 27, 2019. The funeral liturgy was held at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse Chapel on December 28, 2019. Sr. Joan Marie was interred at St. Joseph Cemetery by Egan Ryan Funeral Home.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Joan Marie’s memory may be sent to:
Dominican Sisters of Peace
Office of Mission Advancement
2320 Airport Dr. Columbus, OH 43219.

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

To view or print this memorial, please click here.

Posted in Obituaries

Hugs are Important

Blog by Associate Michelle Gray

Hi. My name is Michelle and I am a hugger. I always have been.

To me, a hug is the best way to say hello or goodbye, I love you, I’ll miss you, I’m sorry.

My goodbye hugs when leaving my daughters at college are a family legend; I insisted on a 30 second hug, which of course left us all laughing. But I admit I never gave my penchant for hugging much thought until recently, when I read an article on Facebook.

It began with the quote: Hugging is the most beautiful form of communication that allows the other person to know beyond a doubt that they matter.

That they matter — so simple and so easy. And so needed in these divisive times. And, quite frankly, I don’t think we hug each other enough. And I don’t know why.

About a year ago, my daughter’s best friend lost her mother. I didn’t see Annie until she came into the flower shop where I work to order flowers. I hugged her as soon as she walked in the door. Then, through our tears, we ordered the arrangements. It wasn’t until later that evening that Annie told my daughter I was the first person who had hugged her. And I admit I was shocked because a hug is my first instinct.

Current social conventions do have us conditioned not to touch others not closely related to us. I must say I really don’t agree.

And I have good company. According to a Healthline Media Inc. article, family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”  Hugs have been shown to reduce stress, pain, and fear. Hugs can make us happier and allow us to connect emotionally with others.

My job has given me the opportunity to offer hugs to grieving people, some of whom I know, many of whom I had just met. But I know without a doubt that those hugs left us both feeling a bit better.

If you would indulge me for a minute, I would ask you to place your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder. Now squeeze gently for as long you need for a hug from me. And know that you are cared for and loved.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Immersed in the Mission

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

For the last few days, I’ve been at the Mission Immersion experience with the Vocation team and with a few other women. We chose to come to New Orleans for several reasons. First, because even though it has been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina hit the city, it still hasn’t recovered fully yet, and secondly, we have a rich congregational history in the city, as our sisters have been in the Crescent City since 1860.

We planned the five-day mission immersion specifically to respond to the most direct needs of the city: caring for the homeless and providing much needed affordable housing. We cooked and served a meal for families at Hotel Hope, which is a short-term residence for homeless women and their children. On weekday mornings, we helped to rebuild New Orleans through the  St. Bernard Project, which is an organization whose goal is to shrink the time between disaster and recovery. Each day, we started and closed the day with prayer, asking God’s blessings upon those we served and praying for a more peaceful world.

In the afternoons, we met Dominican Sisters of Peace at their ministry sites, and when opportunity allowed, we immersed ourselves into the experience. We went to the Spirituality Center, where we met Sr. Dot Trosclair, OP, who guided us in a prayerful reflection. We visited  St. Mary’s Dominican High School, where we met a few of our Sisters, and learned from Dr. Cynthia Thomas and Mrs. Jill Cabes about how St. Mary’s continues to educate women in the Dominican tradition and challenge young women to excel, i.e. robotics program. The students were very articulate and

Sisters and discerners gather for a photo on a build site with the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans.

excited to share what they were learning. That evening, we listened to Sr. Kathy Broussard, OP, as she shared about her ministry. As a Death Penalty Mitigation Specialist, she advocates for those who are facing the death penalty and works to save their lives. The importance of her ministry, her compassion, and her passion for this ministry left us speechless. We also visited the Peace Center, where we learned about our Sisters’ ministry to the Gert Town neighborhood community of New Orleans and interacted with the students who attend the after-school program there. The Sisters also treated us with a delicious jambalaya meal. We also talked to one of the Dominican friars, Fr. John G. Resrepo, O.P at St. Dominic’s parish, where we learned how Katrina effected the parish.

We are very grateful to Sisters Kathy Broussard, OP and Sr. Binh Nguyen, OP, whose hospitality, witness of what community-life is about, and witness of faith were transformative.

The Mission Immersion group met with Fr. John G. Resrepo, O.P at St. Dominic’s parish, to discuss the effect of Hurricane Katrina on
the parish.

The women who participated in this immersion experience left everything behind, traveled hundreds of miles to experience the ‘unknown’ when our mission asks us to be open to bring God’s presence where ever God is calling us to do that. This reminded me of the song from Frozen 2: Into the unknown, or click on this link: https://youtu.be/gIOyB9ZXn8s.

In the movie, there is a voice that only Elsa, the main character, can hear. She is trying to ignore it at first, but then she investigates what that voice is and where the voice is calling her to find truth. When you feel nudged by God, what helps you staying open and attentive to God’s nudging?

Here are a few lines from the song to ponder, and click on the link for the entire song. I can imagine that those who came to this week’s mission immersion may have pondered these lines before they came.

“There’s a thousand reasons I should go about my day,  and ignore your whispers which I wish would go away.”

 “I’ve had my adventure; I don’t need something new. I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you.”

“What do you want? ‘Cause you’ve been keeping me awake. (…)

“Are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me? Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?”

“Where are you going? Don’t leave me alone. How do I follow you into the unknown?”

Elsa left everything behind to find truth. There is so much going on in the world. What are we willing to do to keep searching for truth, and speak truth to power?

We experience in the movie the importance of processing things, and that there is a place for transformation as long as we keep asking our questions. If you feel nudged by God, I encourage you with a line from Olaf’s song, When I am older: “someday I will see that this makes sense.” Will it make sense? Pray with the question where God is calling you, and see where it takes you. If you would like to talk to a Sister, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org

To view photos from our week, please go to our Facebook page, and view posting between January 4-8, 2020.

 

 

Posted in God Calling?