Seven Years to Sustainability – Laudato Si’ Goal 7

Associate Mary Kay Wood looks at Goal #7 of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, which is a seven-year Catholic Effort Addressing the Climate Crisis instituted by Pope Francis. Here are some possible ways that we can attain Goal #7 in our communities.

Goal  7: Emphasis on Community involvement and participatory action to care for creation at the local, regional, national, and international levels (promote advocacy and people’s campaigns, encourage rootedness in local territory and neighborhood ecosystems, etc.)

It is important to recognize that the Laudato Si’ initiative is a global initiative as well as an effort that focuses on national, regional, and local levels.

Religious Sisters respond globally as well as nationally, regionally, and locally. For example, the Sisters of St. Agnes serve in Nicaragua;  the Franciscan Sisters of Renewal serve in  England and Ireland, and our own Dominican Sisters of Peace minister in Peru and Nigeria.

Suggestions for action:

  • Continue to support and participate in the work of BREAD (justice advocacy) and other grassroots organizations such as Mid Ohio Food Collective and local Food Pantries.
  • Support and network with state and national involvement groups
  • Identify and connect with groups that promote e.g.: clean energy, public transit, waste reduction, eating locally, establishes policies that will help marginalized people.
  • Look for opportunities to be of service locally (e.g. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Dinners, community gardens, meals to the homebound, community clean up days etc)
  • Look for opportunities to serve as an advocate for local, state and national causes
  • Develop an informational program for use in local parishes and seek support from local Bishops.
  • We need to continue to pray and be supportive of those in the mission field.

 

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Have You Ever Promoted Religious Life?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

“Why do you enter religious life? Why don’t you want to get married?”

Many young women have encountered these questions from their loved ones or friends when they mention feeling called to religious life as a Sister. More than 50 years ago, the trend for young women to enter religious life seemed more acceptable and was supported by parents, family, and friends. Parents were willing to be involved in promoting and nourishing their children to live the religious life. Young people felt comfortable then sharing their dreams to be a Sister. Sometimes, they even invited their friends or siblings to consider religious life too.

Many religious sisters have blood sisters, cousins, and friends who joined the same community with them. Even now, our congregation still has some examples like this. One example is our dear Sister Marie Antoinette Klein, OP, who died last week. She was the daughter of Anthony and Mary Hoffman Klein, who had three children, and all of them were girls. Anthony and Mary supported all three girls in their call to religious life and all three became Dominican Sisters.

Both parents were involved in supporting their daughters’ religious communities. As a carpenter, Anthony made many tables for our sisters to use while Mary continued to volunteer as an organist at church. When her parents got older, especially when their mom died and the father had a stroke, Sister Marie’s middle sister was allowed to take care of him. What a wonderful, inspiring story to hear and to share with young women.

These days, the call to live in religious life seems neglected and families and friends are less supportive of a woman’s desire to follow this call. Today, when a woman shares her dream of becoming a sister, her parents and friends often oppose her decision. Knowing this likely opposition, a discerner may wait to share this call with parents and friends until she begins to fill out the application or is accepted. Sometimes, because of the lack of support, these young women are scared to think about their call or do not know where to begin pursuing this call. A young woman may have never thought about becoming a religious sister until someone suggests that they consider religious life.

The good news is that God still calls women to religious life. They are happy to discern, join, and live authentically with this call. In fact, they are walking this journey together with others who, too, are praying about God’s call. They enthusiastically share their talents, gifts, and vision with our mission. To address the needs of our discerners, we created a discernment program where these discerners can come to discern and get support from sisters and their cohort group. Many discerners around the country benefit from this program.

Many young women are waiting to be encouraged to consider life as a religious sister. They may be your friends, daughters, nieces, and granddaughters—who may need a simple nudge or acknowledgment from you. They may be a woman in your parish, a co-worker’s daughter, a youth minister, a church volunteer, a co-worker, a student—the possibilities are everywhere. They need your words of encouragement, support, and affirmation to think about and reflect on this call.

All of us (associates, friends, family, and discerners) can reach out to these young women and ask them “Have you ever thought of being a Sister?” You just might open the door for a young woman to explore what God is calling her to be.

Here are some ways you can promote vocations to religious life:

If you are a woman who wants to discern your call, contact us. We are happy to journey with you. We are going to have a hybrid Come and See event this September 10-12. Click here for information and to register.

Posted in News, Vocations Blog

Gossip lives a long time after we say it

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

On July 22, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Mary Magdalen, a close personal companion and follower of Jesus, and one of the women present at the crucifixion. She is the only person of whom it is reported in all four Gospels, as having been a witness to the resurrection of Jesus.  On that Easter morning, Jesus told Mary to go and tell the apostles that he had risen and thus, she is considered the Apostle to the Apostles. “Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.” (John 20:18) Among Dominicans, she is treasured as the first to preach the Good News of the Risen Jesus.

But most people don’t think of her that way. Mary Magdalene is frequently identified as a prostitute in popular culture, a sinner who was cured of seven demons. Or, it is speculated, that she was possibly the wife of Jesus, if you believe Dan Brown, the author of the provocative novel, The Da Vinci Code.  The book made Mary Magdalene a celebrity a few years ago and made Dan Brown a gazillionaire. I wonder what she thinks of that.

Was it true? Does she deserve the prostitute reputation?  All those depictions of her in paintings as a harlot, an adulterous woman, a sinner — with a mournful pose, bare shoulders, and repentant gaze — is it true? The answer is no. The truth is that Pope St. Gregory the Great, in 591 AD, wrote a homily in which he connected Mary Magdalen’s seven demons as the seven deadly sins, a construct in Gregory’s mind, a useful literary tool to make a point at the time. [In case you don’t know, the seven deadly sins are: wrath (or anger) greed, laziness, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.] Of course, the worse possible sin is lust, the big “S” which stands for sex. Pope Gregory’s words stuck, the damage was done, and it would seem that her reputation would be sealed forever.

For 1400 years she has had a bad reputation. The Gospel reading for Mary Magdalene’s feast on July 22 used to be the story of the repentant sinful woman and her “tagline” was Mary Magdalene, “Penitent”.  Recently, things got a little better. In 1969, the readings for her feast day were changed to the story of her encounter with the Risen Jesus and her commission to “go and tell the disciples”. (John 20:1-2, 11-18). Much better don’t you think?

So what might we learn from Mary Magdalene?

One lesson is that other people are in control of your reputation and by the same token, you are in control of other people’s reputation. So doesn’t it make sense to give someone the benefit of the doubt when you hear gossip or rumors?  Protect the reputation of other people as you want your own reputation to be protected. What we say about other people lives a long time after we say it.

The particular feature and attraction of gossip is the sense of belonging that comes from being knowledgeable about some only a few people share. And belonging is one of the most powerful attractors in the human heart. We all wanted to sit at the cool kids table in school, get picked first for the team, or win the 4H prize.

You might say that Mary Magdalene suffered from a kind of identity theft. What we know of her reputation has been distorted for more than 1400 years.  That’s a long time to wait until you can straighten things out. You and I don’t have that much time, so be careful. When you hear a rumor or sniff some gossip, it may feel cool to be in the in-crowd, to have that secret guilty pleasure in being part of those “who know.”  But think again.   How would you feel about being on the other side of that?

What would you say to Mary Magdalene?

 

Reprised and revised from a 2015 blog

Posted in Weekly Word

Peace and Justice Weekly Updates 7.21.2021

Call for a New US Policy Toward Haiti
Please urge the Biden Administration to prioritize human rights and the needs and aspirations of the Haitian people in its policy toward the Caribbean nation amid the violence that has been all too prevalent both prior to and after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Adding your personal experiences of Haiti and the Haitian people will give your message additional weight.  Click here to sign the petition from the Sisters of Mercy.

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
July 30 is the United Day World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. In keeping with our Congregational Commitment to stand with the marginalized, including those who are enslaved, we offer this podcast from A Nun’s Life featuring Sr. Anne Victory, a founder of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. Click here to listen on your smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

Support an Infrastructure Plan that Tackles Climate Change!
Rebuilding America will take a transformational investment plan that delivers jobs, justice, and clean energy to communities across the country and curbs the carbon pollution that is driving the climate crisis. Ask your members of Congress to support investments that create new jobs and a just, equitable, and sustainable economy. Click here to sign the petition from Interfaith Power and Light.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

A Taxing Question

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

Recently, the following headline caught my attention: “Mackenzie Scott donates $2.7 billion to charity.”  The result of her generosity meant the 286 organizations supported could breathe a little easier and provide scholarships, increase community organizing and advocacy or engage in research.  Organizations serving African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans benefitted greatly.  Mackenzie Scott also provided $4 billion for COVID 19 relief in 2020.

Donors like Mackenzie Scott deserve all the applause they receive.  One of the privileges I have in working with Water With Blessings is to thank donors for their generous gifts—gifts that save lives.

While I celebrate the generosity of donors like Mackenzie, I have great concern regarding corporations that pack away billions of dollars by not paying federal taxes.  Amazon is one of those companies, and they join 54 others that escape paying federal taxes. 

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, at least 55 companies in the United States paid no federal corporate income taxes, despite enjoying substantial pretax profit. These tax-shirking companies represent various industries and collectively made almost $40.5 billion on U.S. pretax income in 2020.  The 55 companies would have paid a collective total of $8.5 billion for the year had they paid that rate on their 2020 income.  Instead, they received $3.5 billion in tax rebates.  From FED EX to NIKE to AMAZON, corporations have found ways to avoid paying federal income taxes.

In 2017, the Trump administration tax bill greatly benefitted millionaires and billionaires, but not middle-class workers.  In 2021, Republican Senators are refusing to fund the IRS tax enforcement staff, even though the agency has lost 20% of its staff through budget cuts. These enforcement officials would the people that help prevent people and companies from cheating the tax code, and it was expected that they would help add more than $100 billion to federal coffers.

People like Scott or organizations like Nike Purpose or Fed Ex Cares can easily afford to donate billions to nonprofit organizations because they have benefitted from the 2017 tax bill and years of tax loopholes.

The need for a level playing field for paying taxes is clear. The working poor and middle class continue to struggle to pay the bills and have money to set aside for retirement.

The United States continues to struggle with large numbers of homeless people, skyrocketing childcare costs, affordable health care and deteriorating infrastructure.  Federal taxes paid by large corporations could have provided much needed relief in all these areas.

There is a reason “the poor are always with us.”  Powerful decision-makers can change the script with financial decisions that respect the basic rights and dignity of all its citizens.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog