Art Gives a Voice, Speaking Louder Than Words

Blog by Judy Engel, OPA

“Art is often intended to appeal to, and connect with, human emotion. Artists may express something so that their audience is stimulated in some way—creating feelings, religious faith, curiosity, interest, identification with a group, memories, thoughts, or creativity.” (Google definition)

The Angelico Arts Program for Refugees and Friends operated out of St. Joan of Arc parish in Toronto, Canada for 16 years (1992-2008). It gave refugees a way to begin to share their stories and start to build some relationships with Canadian citizens who could assist them in their resettlement process.

This is my life. It is torn apart.



These three pieces of artwork were done by one female refugee. She was a journalist from Oromo, a province of Ethiopia. There was an active rebel group opposing the oppressive Ethiopian government and she wrote in strong opposition to the government. Consequently, she and her family were targeted by the military and fled to Canada. The captions on each image are her commentary on her art and her life.





This is what happened to my village. It also is what happened to my life.














Now I have hope for my life here. I still feel torn, but I have hope . . .


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Season Of Creation Prayer Service: September 26, 2021

Season of Creation
September 26, 2021


Introductory Comments

Today is the Fourth Sunday of the 2021 Season of Creation. Today’s readings continue to warn us that our sinfulness is destroying our communities, the human family, and Earth, the supportive and nurturing home of us all. They challenge us to be active and prophetic in working for the New Creation in these times. And they guide us in prayer to ask for greater awareness of our “unknown faults” and of their grave seriousness, to ask for freedom from their destructive power no matter the cost.

A reading from Numbers 11:25-29

Reflection: May God bestow the Spirit on everyone, raising people up around the planet as prophets to speak out now as the destruction and dangers to Earth are escalating so rapidly. How might I/we be prophetic?

Responsorial Psalm  19:8-14

Response: Alleluia

A reading from James 5:1-6

Reflection: This reading from James is a direct condemnation of the rich. It reflects the judgment widespread through the early centuries of Christianity that those who have more than they need are in effect stealing from those who don’t have the basics they need. What can I/we do to end this injustice?

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Reflection: Will we adopt the necessary measures to stop the devastation of the environment or will we continue denying the evidence? What tangible action can I/we do to stop this devastation?

Music selections: optional

Entrance: All Are Welcome – Marty Haugen, c.1994 GIA Publications, Inc.

Offertory: Here I am, Lord – Daniel L. Schutte, c.1981 OCP

Communion: At the Table of the World – Brian Wren, c.1989 Hope Publishing Co.

Dismissal: Stewards of Earth – Omar Westendorf, c.1984 World Library Publications

Click here to download and print this prayer service.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Letters to the Editor for National Migration Week

One way to stand with our neighbors who are coming to the United States for a better life is to send letters to the editors of our local newspapers. The USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants page has these tips for successful letter writing. 

National Migration Week Talking Points

• Catholics are called to stand with immigrants and refugees as our brothers and sisters. This is who the Catholic Church is. This is what we as Catholics do.
• Pope Francis invites us to be part of a culture of encounter as we welcome, protect, integrate, and promote
immigrants and refugees in our midst.
• Immigration is about real people who are trying to find a better life and a new beginning. It’s about more than
statistics, it’s about families. As Pope Francis stated, “Each migrant has a name, a face and a story.”
• Welcoming immigrants is part of Catholic Social Teaching and reflects the Biblical tradition to welcome the stranger.
• The Catholic Church has been welcoming immigrants and refugees to the United States since the nation’s founding and has been integral to helping them integrate into American culture.
• In addition to welcoming and caring for those in need, the Church continues to uphold the centrality of family
reunification as a critical component of our immigration and refugee systems.
• Forced displacement of people is at the highest level since World War II, with more than 65 million people displaced around the world and over 22 million refugees.
• Refugees are the most rigorously screened population coming into America. This screening happens before they ever set foot in our country. The United States has the most thorough background checks of immigrants of any nation in the world.

Letters to the Editor Tips

Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) is the perfect way to add another perspective, offer a rebuttal, or express your appreciation for an already-published article or commentary piece. Please let us know if your letter to the editor is published!

We’ll deliver it to elected officials and promote it on our social media. Completing this final step in the letter
to the editor process helps ensure that your letter’s impact is even greater. Email us at with a link to your published LTE.

Letter to the Editor Writing Tips
• Keep it short (150-250 words) – If you don’t edit your LTE, the news outlet might edit it for you. Since they could cut out your main point, it’s best to write something both punchy and brief.
• Speak in your own voice. Tell why the article matters to you. Talk about your faith, professional experience or
knowledge of climate change. Be personal and authentic.
• Get local. Editors are generally more interested in letters that highlight local impacts. Can you relate the issues raised in a national piece on migration and immigration to issues impacting your own community?
• Get personal. Migrants are people on the move, but they are first and foremost human beings with families.
Show that human side. Personalize your perspective with a story about people you know affected by migration – a family member or someone you know from your church.
• Follow these best practices:

1) Reference a recent article (if possible). Your letter is most likely to be published if it responds directly to the
newspaper’s recent coverage of a specific migration issue. Mention the article you’re responding to by its
headline and date.
2) Send your LTE in the body of your email, not as an attachment.
3) Include contact information: Include your full name, contact information, location, and profession or
expertise (if relevant) in the email as well. (The paper will not print your contact information.)

• Be timely – Try to get your LTE in within one to three days the relevant article is published.

Get Engaged!

National Migration Week
Sample Letters to The Editor

Dear Editor:
Your recent article, [name of article], discussing the issue of immigration/refugees was alarming [or reaffirming
(depends on tone of article)]. [name of State or community] has a proud history of welcoming newcomers, including immigrants, refugees, and newly naturalized citizens.
It is imperative that our local communities continue to provide a warm and welcoming presence to newcomers, so that they can feel a part of the community and contribute to its ongoing well-being and prosperity. In fact, more than 40% of America’s largest companies were founded either by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Newcomers, such as immigrants and refugees are indeed a part of our future community well-being.

(in an article that has a religious angle or mentions a bishop, Church leader, or the Catholic Church)
Dear Editor,
Your recent article, [name of article], discussing the issue of immigration/refugees was alarming [or reaffirming
(depends on tone of article)]. As a Catholic, I have long held pro-immigration/pro-refugee beliefs and support for migrant communities as a central feature of my life of faith. We affirm that all people – immigrants and native-born alike – are made in the image and likeness of God whose human dignity is deserving of respect. The Church celebrates National Migration Week this week, which is a week-long opportunity to raise awareness on Catholic teachings related to migration. It is encouraging to see religious leaders stand in solidarity of migrants and encourage positive reforms that will help to fix our broken immigration system during this special time for the Church.
Estimado Editor:
En su reciente artículo [nombre del artículo], donde discute el asunto de la inmigración/los refugiados ha sido
alarmante [o reafirmante (dependiendo del tono del artículo)]. [Nombre del Estado o de la comunidad] conserva una orgullosa historia de acoger a los recién llegados, incluyendo a los inmigrantes, los refugiados y a los nuevos ciudadanos naturalizados.
Es imperativo que nuestras comunidades locales continúen ofreciendo una presencia cálida y acogedora a los recién llegados para que ellos sientan que son parte de la comunidad y contribuyan a su continuo florecimiento. De hecho, más del 40% de las grandes compañías en los Estados Unidos fueron establecidas por inmigrantes o por hijos de inmigrantes. Los recién llegados, los inmigrantes y los refugiados, forman realmente parte de la futura prosperidad de nuestras comunidades.


(en un artículo que tenga un ángulo religioso o que mencione a un obispo, líder de la Iglesia o a la Iglesia Católica)
Estimado Editor
Su reciente artículo, [nombre del artículo], donde discutía el asunto de la inmigración ha sido alarmante [o reafirmante (dependiendo del tono del artículo)]. Como católico, por mucho tiempo he mantenido a la inmigración y al apoyo por las comunidades inmigrantes como una característica central de mi fe. Nosotros afirmamos que todos los individuos— inmigrantes y nativos por igual—han sido hechos a imagen y semejanza de Dios y se merecen nuestro respeto y apoyo.
Mientras que esta semana la Iglesia celebra la Semana Nacional de la Migración, lo cual brinda una oportunidad para concientizar sobre sus enseñanzas relacionadas a la migración, es muy alentador ver a los líderes religiosos en solidaridad con los migrantes y apoyando unas reformas positivas que servirán para arreglar nuestro quebrado sistema migratorio.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Show Me The Way!

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Laughter echoed in the front hallways of the Akron Motherhouse as five women came from across the country gathered in person for our Come & See retreat this past weekend.  (A sixth woman attended the retreat in person at our St. Catharine, Kentucky Motherhouse.)  What joy to see their faces!  (Albeit masked faces.) This, our first in person retreat in two years took extra effort on the part of retreatants, Ministry of Welcome – Vocations team and the Sisters & staff in our Motherhouses, but it was certainly worth it to be together “in real life.”  With strict COVID protocols in place, including testing, masking, and maintaining appropriate physical distance from each other – we were able to have a blessed retreat.

The four pillars of Dominican Spirituality formed the framework for the presentations, which were conducted, in person and via Zoom.  Sr. Linda Lee Jackson shared about the Pillar of Prayer and how the Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic can be practiced today from a more wholistic, incarnational approach to spirituality.  Sisters Maura Bartel and Ana Gonzalez explored the Pillar of Study in their lives as Dominican Sisters of Peace.  Sister Joanne Caniglia shared her deep love of the wide Dominican mission of service and of how God has called her to use her gifts as a teacher and professor for almost 40 years.  Rounding out the pillars, Sisters Annie Killian and Mary Vuong shared about their experience of Community.  They highlighted how they discerned and chose to establish a new local community in South Bend, Indiana as a response to one Sister’s new ministry in the area.  All in all, there was a deep sense of connection, love, support, and encouragement.  Questions flowed during the sessions and in between times at meals and informal sharing.

This retreat was truly a hybrid retreat in that we had five women in person at the Akron, Ohio Motherhouse and one woman retreating with the community at the St. Catherine, Kentucky Motherhouse.  In both places, the retreatants were able to enjoy the beauty of the motherhouse grounds, open areas, farm animals, chapels, community rooms and heritage exhibits.  Woven within it all was time for both communal and personal prayer.  Capping off the evening on Saturday was a social with our sisters in formation who zoomed in from Indiana, Illinois, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Ohio to share with the discerning women.

From the opening prayer on Friday evening as we sang the Salve until we closed the retreat with a rousing rendition of the Dominican Blessing by James Marchionda, OP, we felt the prayers and support of all of our Sisters.  It indeed takes an entire Congregation to conduct a Come & See retreat.  We are grateful to all who made it possible in Akron, St. Catharine’s, and beyond.  Our locations might have been more than 300 miles apart, but the distance was made much shorter by the Spirit of God uniting us in a common quest – to discover God’s plan and path for our lives.

We closed with the words to the Dominican Blessing:

May God Creator Bless us,
May God Redeemer Heal us,
May God the Holy Spirit fill us with light. 

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Peace and Justice Updates 9.15.2021


EARTHDAY‍.ORG invites you to join the next installment of our Earth Day Live series: Teaching the Teachers on Thursday, September 16th from 3:30-4:15 pm ET. Please join us for a critical discussion on how global youth are leading the way in climate education by teaching educators. Join us for the live event.

Panelists include:

  • Aishwarya Puttur, Project Coordinator at Teach the Teacher
  • Josh Tregale, Campaign Coordinator for MockCOP 26 and International Campaign Coordinator at Teach the Future

This panel will be moderated by Nick Nuttall, EARTHDAY‍.ORG’s International Strategic Communications Director.

Climate Week NYC is taking place September 20-26. The event will focus on fulfilling and increasing commitments made by businesses, governments, and organizations.

Interfaith Power and Light will showcase two zero carbon congregations during this virtual event. Click here to RSVP for virtual tours of two inspiring congregations, on Sept 22, noon Eastern time.


Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates