Serving Those Impacted By COVID-19

Sisters on the Frontlines in Rural Ohio Receive Grant

SALEM, OH – Dominican Sisters of Peace Rene Weeks and Barbara Rapp have each received a $1,000 “Sisters on the Frontlines” grant to support their ministries in rural Northeast Ohio.

Sister Rene and Sister Barbara serve at Centro San Pablo, the immigrant resource center at St. Paul Parish in Salem and St. Patrick Parish in Leetonia, respectively.

Sister Rene’s parish of Salem, OH, is home to a large food processing plant that attracts many Latino employees. Sr. Rene plans to use the grant to help local families obtain necessary back to school supplies. “Education is key to helping these families improve their lives,” she says. “We try to do everything we can to help these children succeed in school, knowing that it will benefit the entire family.”

Sr. Rene will also use these funds for emergency assistance with rent or food for the families that she serves through Centro San Pablo.

Leetonia, OH, where Sr. Barbara Rapp is Parish Minister, has a different set of needs. Among the mostly white population, the median household income in Leetonia is 22% lower than the national average. Many families do not have significant savings to fall back on, and Ohio’s two-month shutdown caused food insecurity for many. Sr. Barbara plans to spend much of her grant to support the food pantry at St. Patrick Church.

“With children out of school from mid-March through the summer, the families in our parish are seeing food expenses sky-rocket. This grant will be a huge blessing to the 75 families that visit our food pantry every month,” Sr. Barbara said.

The Sisters on the Frontlines Grants in Northeast Ohio are supported by the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland.

 

 

 

Posted in News

Be Compassionate About Your Call

Blog by Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen

What do you expect when you plant a garden? To grow and harvest fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fresh flowers? But what if something happens beyond your expectations, then what will you do?  Like gardening, if God’s call is not what you dream about, then what will you do?  The process of vocation discernment in which God invites each of us to grow in compassion about our daily call is like the process I want to share with you about my compassion toward rabbits in my garden.

I planted sweet potatoes in our back yard, and as I did, I imagined eating delicious sweet potato leaves. Sweet potato leaves have healthy nutrients and provide physical healing.

One day I realized that some leaves were partially cut. The following day, more leaves were chopped off. It was the garden rabbits who ate these leaves, and I could not let the rabbits ruin my garden.

I fenced my garden with string. It did not work.  I used vinegar because rabbits do not like the smell of vinegar. Ironically, that night, the heavy rain washed away the scent of the vinegar.  I thought about buying a garden fence to protect my garden.  But then, I questioned doing this because the rabbits might be hungry and city rabbits have a tough time finding veggies. Instead of fencing, I began to plant more sweet potatoes for them. Now, I feel happy every time I water the garden because I know the rabbits will enjoy it. I did not expect garden rabbits to eat my sweet potato leaves, but I learned to make changes and to be at peace with them.

Sometimes, God’s call is not what you expect. You plan for your future, and suddenly, you hear God calling you to consider living in religious life or changing your ministry or your way of life to respond to the needs of our times. This call may disturb your dreams and settled life. However, like the rabbits who kept eating my veggies, no matter what I did to prevent it, God’s call is always there, nudging you and being persistent. When you experience this moment of God’s nudging, be attentive and trust that God will provide in abundance.

Thus, under God’s abundance, if today you feel or hear God’s voice, do not postpone or delay your discernment process. Take some concrete actions to allow your compassion about this call grow in you. Bring your concerns and feelings to God in your prayers, listen to your inner feelings, share with those whom you trust, especially your spiritual director, and contact our vocation team. We have a great discernment program for you to reflect on your vocation call. Once you follow how God is calling you, God will provide more than enough for you as you live this call, and you will find joy, peace, and fulfillment. Take a leap of faith and begin the journey.

Posted in God Calling?

Breaking Through

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Many of you are aware that after the murder of George Floyd, the congregation launched an effort to condemn racism and brutality by the police, by publishing a statement from the Leadership Team and also by promoting the display of a yard sign that read: Racism is a Sin. Period.  These signs were distributed all over, to our motherhouses, ministries, private homes, and many other places around the country.

Some of them were stolen, right off the lawn, and I wondered about that. Was it because someone really wanted to display the sign, sharing our feeling that this was something that we all need to address? Or, were some of them stolen, as a way to quash the message.  I’ll never really know. I tend to think people wanted to use them.  But then that’s stealing. Maybe we needed a sign that read Stealing is a Sin. Period.

But now that seems to have subsided and our remaining signs stand as a continuing reminder. A moral reminder of an immoral thing.

Since then, I had the opportunity to read and listen to Fr. Brian Massingale, a theologian at Fordham, who has written extensively on white privilege. Being an African American man himself, his words hold a special credibility for me, and I have felt a kind of breaking through in a way I haven’t before. I owe a debt of gratitude to him for his wisdom and his kind way of holding up to white people what we most need to hear.

He makes me uncomfortable.  And that’s his mission: to make white people feel the discomfort of being white. Because it is white privilege that holds black people captive, holds black people prisoner in a system that is working just fine. A system that is effective in maintaining economic inequality, educational inequality, and healthcare inequality.

Father Massingale reminds us that rarely– if ever– are young white men arrested or run down and murdered for jogging through a neighborhood or walking down the street, or for going into a store to buy some candy, or even for selling cigarettes illegally on the street.  This does not happen to white people.  Black people are murdered every day and the perpetrators get away with it. The list is too long.

Fr. Massingale talked about the time he went to substitute in a parish to celebrate Mass and the people there asked, “Where is the priest? You can’t be the priest, you’re black.” This is part of the breaking through for me, not that I did not know this existed before, but now I cannot blow it off as the foolishness of stupid people. “You can’t be the priest, you’re black,” rings in me in a new place now. This is what black folks hear all the time. And I don’t. Being white is not a threat to my life.

A small crack in my white armor is breaking through. I’m hoping that this is the hope that Colette Parker expressed in her blog published this week. Optimism? Maybe, on some days. Hope, always. I hope that I can continue to see the experience of people of color more through their eyes and not through mine. Not possible? Maybe. But the breaking through is important for me. I hope that I can tolerate my discomfort long enough that breakthrough keeps happening and I see with new eyes.

Posted in Weekly Word

Peace and Justice Update – 8.19.2020

STOP TRAFFICKING
To read the latest issue of the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking newsletter, click here.

Death Penalty Education and Action Events:
Wednesday, August 19, 2020: Valuing Speed: The Costs in Fairness, Accuracy & Money in Trying to Accelerate Executions. From 3-4:30 pm ET, features renowned speakers Marge Koosed, Jeff Fagan, and Steve Potolsky, with acclaimed Alabama Judge Tracie A. Todd moderating. Register HERE.

Thursday, August 20 and each day/evening until August 28: Death Penalty Action is a co-sponsor of “WalkTheWalk2020.US,” a faith pilgrimage of Racial Reckoning, Resolve and Love, starting August 20th in Charlottesville, Virginia. If you live in the area, come join us or just stop by to say hello to Abe, Shane and Doug. The 108-mile walk will connect to the National Action Network’s Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks on March 28th in Washington, DC followed by the federal execution protest at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC during the scheduled 4pm execution that day. DPA Director Abraham Bonowitz will be a part of first few days of this event, along with DPA Advisory Board Members Shane Claiborne and Doug Pagitt who are among those leading this event. The WalkTheWalk2020.US and the Commitment March have broader agendas which include stopping state violence, racial justice and reform of the criminal legal system. Watch Death Penalty Action’s Facebook Page for details on live programs each evening.

Thursday, August 20, 2020: A Tale of Two Trends: Decreasing Support and Accelerating Federal Executions from 3:30-5 pm ET, and features two pathbreaking speakers, Rob Dunham and Brandon Garrett, moderated by the new co-chair of the ABA civil rights section’s Death penalty committee, J. Wyndal Gordon. Register HERE.

Friday, August 21, 2020: The People’s Forum in NYC will host a diverse group of artists, activists, and community leaders spearheading an online art exhibition and panel discussion titled, #FreeBillieAllen | The Art of Innocence. A panel discussion featuring friends and family of those impacted by the death penalty, musical performances, poets and an art exhibition will begin at 6pm on August 21. It will showcase 23 years’ worth of powerful, thought-provoking, yet, diverse body of work by Billie Allen. who has been fighting a continuous battle to prove his innocence through the use of art by not only raising awareness about his case, but exposing the truth of the unjust and dehumanizing criminal justice system Watch HERE. Also,

PLEASE SIGN THE DEATH PENALTY ACTION PETITION FOR Billie Allen HERE.

Saturday, August 22: Starting at 3pm ET, check out Death Penalty Advisory Board Member Jerry Givens (of blessed memory) in the Socially Relevant Film Festival for Black Voices virtual screening event of In the Executioner’s Shadow, a film about justice, injustice and the death penalty. All details of the SR for Black Voices program, including ticket link to get the film links, can be found here: Facebook Event NOTE: Registration is imperative otherwise film links cannot be sent to you. More information is at www.ratedsrfilms.org. SRFF is based in New York City but all events are virtual.

Monday, August 24 at 11am EDT: Death Penalty Action press conference to call on Congress to stop federal executions will be live on our Facebook page. Save the date. Details forthcoming.

Wednesday, August 26 and Friday, August 28: Starting about 3:30pm  (Time subject to change, and hopefully these will be canceled): Join the Facebook live broadcast of execution vigils at the federal prison in Terre Haute on the Death Penalty Action Facebook page.

Friday, August 28: Federal execution protest at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC during the scheduled 4pm execution.

Please make sure you have signed and shared the Death Penalty Action petition to stop federal executions, here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-congress-abolish-the-federal-death-penalty.

Fund the USPS
In the midst of a historic pandemic, we need vote-by-mail to protect voters and ensure this election is fair in November.

Click here to sign a petition demanding President Trump and Congress fully fund the post office, a service that is essential for a functioning society and democracy,

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Democracy Under Attack

BREAKING NEWS:

We are in the middle of a pandemic that has taken over 170,000 lives.

We are less than 80 days from a presidential election.

That is our existential situation. And now, the Postmaster General is enacting changes that affect the vital operations of the postal service and how it will serve millions of citizens.

The right to vote is fundamental and guaranteed in the U.S. constitution. Today, that right is in jeopardy because of inexperience and partisan actions including:

  • More than 600 mail processing machines have been removed around the country. These machines can process 35,000 letters an hour while sorting by hand would take 30 USPS employees an entire day.
  • Publicly accessible mailboxes have been removed from Oregon to Manhattan and cities in between;
  • Overtime for postal workers is being curtailed, even during times of heavy mail burden (mail-in ballot requests and returns)
  • A hiring freeze is now in place;
  • Neither the Senate nor the White House will provide funding for the post office.
  • The White House has refused to support the US Postal Service, openly admitting the stated purpose of making mail-in voting more difficult.

Because of these blatant tactics being used to slow the mail, the postal service has now warned 46 states that mail-in ballots may not be counted. Voter suppression is alive and well!  Unsubstantiated allegations by the president claim that mail-in ballots have a history of voter fraud, but when asked to prove his theory, there is no reply.

All of this is happening at a time when people are afraid to venture out in a crowd, so in-person voting will be down, while many people will feel they cannot trust the U.S. mail system to deliver their ballots on time. On a personal note, I am now receiving mail at my home at 8 p.m.

The policies of Louis DeJoy, the newly-appointed postmaster, have negatively affected the delivery of millions of prescription medications.  Millions of people in the United States are finding their prescriptions arriving late.  More than 90% of veterans received their medication through the mail, and shipments that used to take 3-5 days now take weeks.

Many people depend on checks coming through the mail, so this avoidable delay provides a hardship.  Census forms have a due date coming soon, and with the completion deadline already shortened by one month, time becomes even more critical. We cannot guarantee fair representation without an accurate count.

These troubling actions could have dire consequences for an honest election, and for allowing all registered voters to vote in safety.

What can you do?

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

Contact Republican and Democratic senators, even if they are not in your state, and urge them to provide funding for the post office, bring back the letter processing machines and allow overtime for workers.  The postmaster must be forced to meet with the senate. This is not just a “balanced-budget” issue – it is a question of basic human rights.

Because of this irresponsible action, I will vote in person. However you choose to vote, be sure to exercise this important right as a citizen.

 

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog