Justice Updates – 3/25/20

  • Abolishing Colorado’s Death Penalty

    We could all use a bit of good news, and we are happy to share this with you. On Monday, Colorado Jared Polis signed into law a bill abolishing Colorado’s death penalty, and also commuted the sentences of the three men currently on the state’s death row.  This is in line with Catholic teaching and with our own corporate stance asking for a repeal of the death penalty.

  • Fracking Companies Bailout

    It’s time to take a stand against the Trump administration’s latest move to prop up polluters. Citing economic instability amid the coronavirus outbreak, the administration is considering a plan to give fracking companies a massive bailout.

    Fracking is damaging to the environment, releasing harmful greenhouse gases, spilling toxic chemicals, and disturbing wildlife with heavy equipment. If the Trump administration succeeds in bailing out these fracking companies, the environment we love and the climate we share will be at even more risk from this harmful form of fossil fuel extraction.

    Click here make your voice heard!

  • The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival

    All in-person “We Must Do MORE Tours” have been canceled.Three digital mass meetings will be held, one each month in March, April and May.

    The first of these digital mass meetings will be this Thursday, March 26, at 8.30pm ET/ 5:30 pm PT. Please join us for the Poverty Amidst Pandemic: Everybody’s Got A Right to Live Digital Mass Meeting, featuring testifiers from Arkansas, Washington, Kansas and Missouri.

    During the mass meeting, we ask all attendees to commit to shine a light on poverty by lighting a candle in remembrance of those who have died from COVID-19 and poverty. Tune in at Facebook.com/ANewPPC

  • 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge

    Food Solutions New England network will launch a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge on March 30.

    The Challenge is open to anyone who wants to learn more about the history of race and racism in our food system and about inspiring ways to dismantle racism and build an equitable food future that works for everyone.

    Those who sign up for the Challenge will receive an email prompt each morning with a short reading, video or podcast.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Bring Back the Common Good

Blog by Sister Judy Morris, OP

“Every Storm Runs Out of Rain.”
Maya Angelou


Our nation – and indeed, the world, has been set on its heels by the COVID-9 corona virus. But throughout this dark storm, we are blessed with the occasional glimpse of light and hope.

A television story features six-year-olds writing thank you notes to health care workers.  School bus drivers deliver lunches to children at home because schools have been closed… and for some children, this may be the only meal they eat all day.  Donations are pouring into food banks and to workers who have lost their jobs. People are tipping generously as they go through a drive-through for meals. For all of the negatives we are facing, we are being reacquainted with the concept of “common good.”

We are in a time of deep reflection. Who are we as a country? Deep political divisions are obvious. Racism is ever-present. We face an ever-expanding economic divide. We now share vulnerability. I believe we will soon come to the realization that we, too, are Milan, South Korea, China, and New York. Even though we must now stand six feet apart, we must come together with a desire to help each other, putting aside political differences.

We have become a country of tribes:  red vs. blue, liberal vs. conservative, urban vs. rural.  We are the western version of the Sunnis vs. the Shiites.

The center of Catholic social teaching and indeed, of every faith tradition, is the common good.  We find wisdom in these words from Vatican II’s Gaudim et Spes, “The Church in the Modern World.”

“It is imperative that no one indulge in a merely individualistic morality.  The best way to fulfill one’s obligation of justice and love is to contribute to the common good according to one’s means and the needs of others, and also to promote and help public and private organization devoted to bettering the condition of life.”

Whenever Congress is deliberating bills, and state houses are deliberating bills, I ask myself, “How does this affect the common good?”

We are witnessing a sociodrama of a tug of war in congress.  As government bodies seek to divide a large piece of our economic pie, they struggle with who will get the largest pieces.  I believe the greatest concern needs to be about “the least of these…” the working poor, restaurant workers, factory workers… not major bailouts of large corporations.

Many of us remember the banks in 2008, when it seemed to many that banks seemed to benefit over the good of individuals. We have a chance now to do better.

That is a summary of the dispute.  Those who roll up their sleeves and go to work every day cannot make it on a $600 bailout.  Everybody wins when the poor and middle-class win.

As we have done with 9/11, we can and will get through this together.


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Sr. Peggy Martin, OP

Dear Representatives and Major Superiors:

Sister Peggy Ann Martin, OP, Executive Vice President of Sponsorship and Governance, a guiding light in the formation of both CommonSpirit Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, has decided to start the next chapter of her life and retire at the end of June 2020. Lloyd Dean and I are honored to have served alongside Sr. Peggy and have learned much from her about our sacred scriptures, canon law, and diplomacy. Please join us in celebration of her indelible legacy.

A true visionary, Sr. Peggy was a member of the steering committee that founded Catholic Health Initiatives in 1996. She was instrumental in uniting four healthcare systems under Catholic Health Care Federation, the public juridic person first developed by Catholic Health Corporation in Omaha. A public juridic person allows an entity to operate within canon law similar to how public corporations operate within civil law. She helped define how to honor the Church, healthcare, and law in fulfilling the mission of our founding congregations.

After earning her licentiate in canon law, she joined CHI in 2000 serving as our Senior Vice President for Sponsorship and Governance, where she helped navigate complex issues while operating as a public juridic person, such as merging with other religious and non-religious entities. She also helped provide governance of the CHI Board of Stewardship Trustees throughout many years, and through the most recent merger of CHI and Dignity Health into CommonSpirit.  Her guidance helped CHI grow into the communities we serve today.

Beyond her work with CommonSpirit and CHI, Sr. Peggy was instrumental in 2009 when the Dominicans of Great Bend, Kansas, became one of seven founding members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. With other representatives of the founding congregations, Sr. Peggy helped develop the constitutions for this new religious institution, fluently weaving together canon law and the Dominican Sisters of Peace’s unique vision and mission. She has served on the faculty of the Collaborative Formation Program for Sponsors of Public Juridic Persons, where she has helped inform and shape the future of Catholic sponsorship nationally.

Sr. Peggy has a strong reputation for her ability to explain canon law to religious and lay leaders across industries and geographies. This is a testament to her early professional training and ministries in education. In March 2014, she was invited to speak to a symposium of financial officers of religious institutions in Rome, convened by Pope Francis. There, she helped hundreds of participants understand how their religious operations can best serve humanity with her presentation, “Public Juridic Persons: Advantages and Challenges.”

In 2015, Sr. Peggy received the prestigious Sr. Concilia Moran Award from the Catholic Health Association, one of the highest honors bestowed upon leaders in Catholic healthcare. She was recognized for her commitment to stewarding resources and knowledge to improve and expand Catholic healthcare. Her work and advocacy of public juridic persons has helped institutions care for the poor and vulnerable, defend human dignity, and promote the common good.

Mitch Melfi, Chief Legal Officer, will assume Sr. Peggy’s responsibilities and Sponsorship and Governance will begin reporting directly to him at the end of June.

Sr. Peggy’s passion and dedication is truly inspirational. While we will miss her wisdom, leadership and good company, we are sure that her legacy will live on in all we do. Please join me in thanking Sr. Peggy for all she has done for CommonSpirit, CHI and Catholic healthcare. Her spirit has helped define us and will surely thrive in her next endeavors.


Kevin E. Lofton, FACHE
Chief Executive Officer
CommonSpirit Health

Posted in News

Stay Socially Connected

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I think we got it wrong.

Rather than encouraging social distancing during this pandemic, maybe we should be encouraging keeping physical distance but keeping socially connected?

I can’t claim this idea as my own. It is the brainchild of veterans who work with Jay Glazer, a sportswriter and founder of Merging Vets & Athletes, which brings together ex-combat veterans and former athletes to battle “emotional distancing”.

I think they’re on to something because as we navigate through these times of isolation, we need to empower each other to hold onto hope. We can do that by reaching out to others by phone, email, text, social media and using apps like Skype, FaceTime, and House Party, to offer support to each other – by staying socially connected.

Because we are social beings, deprivation of social connection can create stress and illness, according to psychological research. And loneliness can make people feel more vulnerable and anxious.

Now is a good time to reach out to friends and family and connect with them to let them know how much you care about them.

Who will you connect with today to help her/him feel less alone and more loved?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Trust in the Lord With All Your Heart

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

What does trust in God mean to you?

In January, I had the privilege and challenge of preaching a retreat on the theme of, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” from Proverbs 3:5.  This was before the coronavirus invaded our lives.  It was before we learned there was a St. Corona or that Lysol wipes would become something I carry in my purse.  Even though some things have changed since January – many things stay the same and for me, trust in the Lord is one of them.

What does trust have to do with our Vocation blog, God Calling??  Well, I think it has a lot to do with discernment, prayer, making a commitment to religious life and living our vows each day.  I know that when I was discerning my call to religious life, I had to learn to trust God and to trust myself also.  I did this through prayer and through experiencing God’s abiding love and presence in my life.

Now, I would challenge you to pause for a moment or longer in your reading and think about a few questions:

  • What does trust in God mean to you?
  • Do you trust God? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • Think of the people in your life. Who do you trust?
  • Who trusts you?
  • Do you think God trusts you?
  • How can you grow in trust?

A definition of trust is:  “It is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”  Similar words that convey trust are: confidence, belief, faith, freedom from suspicion/doubt.

So, to answer a few of the questions above –

  • What does trust in God mean to me? I believe that to trust God means to know that God will always be with me, even if I can’t feel that presence.  It is based on faith – which is similar to trust but deeper because it is based on things I can’t really see. I believe trust is a gift.  I pray that God helps me to grow in faith, especially in times like now that are difficult and challenging.
  • Do I trust God? Yes, I trust God.  Well, most of the time.  I must admit though that at times I have doubted.  One time, in particular was when I was on retreat in preparation for my first profession of vows. I was in the chapel praying before the tabernacle.  The scripture verse was from Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the plans I have for you.  Plans for a future full of hope” (paraphrased).  As I prayed, I felt empty and that God was far away from me.  I stuck it out and stayed for the full hour, as my retreat director had recommended.  I stood to leave and said to Jesus, “Where are you?”  In that moment, as I turned from the sanctuary, I felt a warm presence envelope me, as if I was being hugged by a person who was right behind me.  I knew it was God in the person of Jesus embracing me.  I stood there for a long time savoring the consolation before thanking him for his abiding presence with me.  I knew in that moment that Jesus was affirming my decision to make my vows.  This is one of those “touchstone” experiences I recall whenever I need reassurance or lack trust that God is with me.
  • Who do I trust? Who I trust and who trusts me have become life sustaining and lifesaving in this time of social distancing, caring for one another by adhering to hand washing and other disease reducing protocols.  Today, as I ventured to the store for some necessities, I washed my hands several times, kept using sanitizing wipes and thanked those who were working in the store.  Another sister and I picked up some essentials for our sisters in a neighboring convent so they wouldn’t have to venture out.

I’m still working on the other questions I posed above.  So, I will end here, but I encourage you to continue to reflect on the role trust plays in your life and to think about the faith of St. Joseph which we read about in today’s Gospel from Matthew 1:18-21.  Pray with St. Joseph and ask him to help you and all of us to grow in faith and to trust God to lead us in all ways and always.

In the meantime, if you feel God calling you to religious life, contact us to begin a conversation with one of our Vocation Ministers.

Posted in God Calling?, News