Justice Updates – 4/1/2020

#EveryKidCounts in the 2020 census

April 1 is CENSUS DAY! The Leadership Council for Women Religious (LCWR) has joined the National Partnership Program of the U.S. Census Bureau to help spread the word about the critical importance of ensuring that the 2020 Census counts each and every person living in this country. Current circumstances including political polarization, fear-mongering, anti-immigrant sentiment, and COVID-19 are enormous barriers to getting an accurate count.

There are many ways you can safely promote the 2020 Census. Post a blog or video message. Send notices to your email lists. Include messages in your newsletters, on your website, and on social media. Invite your sisters to call neighbors and friends who may need help in completing the process. Check out the attached toolkit for resources and for more information visit 2020Census.gov.

Learn More about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On April 3, 2020, at 2:00 PM EST, The Coalition of Human Needs will host a webinar on the historic $2.3 trillion COVID-19 relief and recovery legislation enacted by Congress, and how it responds to the massive public health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Join CHN as we examine the good and the bad of what’s available so far, and the human needs that still must be addressed in a fourth package. We’ll discuss cash assistance, expanded benefits, help for nonprofits, and new programs such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. And we’ll let you know how you can take action to call on Congress to take the next steps needed.

Presenters will include:

  • Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Judy Conti, Government Affairs Director, National Employment Law Project
  • Michelle McGrain, Federal Affairs Manager, National Partnership for Women & Families
  • Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs

This webinar will be close-captioned. If you try to register but can’t sign up, please contact Nicolai Haddal to ensure you receive a recording: nhaddal@chn.org.

Click here to register for this important and informative event.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

How Far Have we Come in 50 Years of Earth Day?

Blog by Sister Judy Morris, OP

April brings thoughts of the beauty that surrounds us. Flowers with a rainbow of colors abound, and the gray of winter disappears. Even though we are limited in our movement because of the coronavirus, the beauty is there to inspire. April also brings to mind Earth Day and all that has happened since April 22, 1970, when Senator Gaylord Nelson hosted an environmental teach-in.

Fast forward to 2020 and we find rubble in many forms:

  • the United States withdraws from the Paris Accord
  • the EPA suffers drastic cuts
  • the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act are weakened
  • changes in the Endangered Species Act threaten all wildlife
  • scientists are ignored

 

Is there any good news in today’s reality?

While our government is ignoring an environmental crisis, individuals are stepping up with a determination that inspires. Students have made the streets their new classroom, drawing attention to climate change and the urgency of the most critical concern of our day. While that may not make parents or principals happy, their voices need to be heard—this is their future!

I have been impressed by students who are collecting plastic bottle caps.  These caps are sent to a company that produces benches and picnic tables made from this normally-discarded plastic.  More individuals are refusing to use plastic straws, instead using metal straws, or simply drinking from the glass.

Informed citizens know the state of our plastic-infested oceans.  The Pacific Ocean is now called ‘plastic island” because it contains an amount of plastic twice the size of Texas, harming marine life and destroying ecosystems. We dump 150 million metric tons of plastic in all of our oceans, and add eight million tons each year, according to the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. One survey found plastic in 94% of our tap water.

What better time than this “Earth Month” to make a difference with our choices and our voices.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Just Reflecting

I must say that my heart fell when I read the news from my parish website, “The Bishops of Ohio have suspended all public masses…no services will be observed during Holy Week or Easter.” Knowing that this message was heard by just about every diocese and archdiocese across the United States, and perhaps the whole world, did not bring me comfort.

A cradle Catholic, I can barely recall a time when I have not participated in Lent and the Triduum. Is this what early Christians felt when their rights to attend church services and receive the Eucharist were denied? Did they ask, what am I going to do? How will I live without practicing my faith?

This catastrophe we are facing is not exactly what the early Christians experienced, but I imagine the feelings it evokes are similar.  I have rarely been absent from Sunday services and when I have been unable to attend Mass I feel as if something spiritual and physical is missing.  Attending Mass makes me feel the real presence of God in my life.  It reminds me that I am human and God will always love and forgive me.

In Jeremiah (17:7-8) we are told, “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches it roots to the stream.  It fears not the heat when it comes…in the years of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”

Jeremiah’s words remind me that during this world-wide pandemic, I must remember to trust in the Lord, place my hope in the Lord to deliver us safely from this devastating illness. I must pray and continue on my journey through Lent and the Triduum, knowing that I am not alone. I will be traveling with the hearts of my fellow Christians, not despairing but looking forward to God’s help.

-Patricia Herrick, OPA

For online resources prepared by the Dominican Sisters of Peace to commemorate the Lenten season, click here

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

Dominican Sisters of Peace Help Meet Needs for COVID-19 Patients

On March 8, 2020, the last weekend retreat at St. Mary’s Retreat House, a sponsored ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Oxford, MI, ended. This retreat, entitled Beatitudes: Hope amidst the Challenges, marked the end of 60 years of ministry for the Sisters in Oxford.

The Retreat House actually closed a few weeks earlier than planned due to restrictions put into place to combat the COVID-19 virus, but the Sisters in the Oxford Community have been able to extend their ministry in an unexpected way.

In the normal course of preparing to close the Dominican Sisters of Peace Oxford Motherhouse, the Sisters made inquiries to find a place to donate beds and other furniture. It was determined that these items would be donated to “House into Homes,” a Ypsilanti, MI, organization that supplies furniture for families moving out of homeless shelters into stable private housing.

But God had another purpose for these items – a purpose specific to the most current need in our world – care for those with the corona virus.

Sisters donated 60 sets of linens to the new quarantine center.

One of the members of “House into Homes” is also employed by Trinity Health, and was aware of an immediate need for furnishings for a new overflow facility for Trinity’s St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti. This facility will house those who need quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19 as well as those who no longer need hospital care but are not ready to go home, creating much-needed room at the hospital for those who need more acute care.

On Monday, March 30, 2020, volunteer crews from Barton Malow Construction, Southfield MI and Kasco Construction, Royal Oak, MI, showed up bright and early to begin the moving process. The two companies donated their trucks and crews for this project. In about 2 ½ hours they had loaded 60 beds and 60 bedspreads, sheets, blankets, mattress pads, and towel sets freshly cleaned by the staff at St. Mary’s Retreat House. Chairs, a few dressers and small desks were also sent to their new temporary home in Ypsilanti.

Volunteer movers took 60 beds and other furniture from the St. Mary’s facility.

After the overflow facility closes, the donated furniture will be moved to the “House into Homes” warehouse to help give a new start to formerly-homeless families.

As St. Dominic preached to the needs of his day, the Dominican Sisters of Peace are blessed to be able to provide for this important need in the Detroit area, and to be able, in the closing of one of their homes, to furnish new homes in their community.

Posted in News

There is Hope in the Midst of a Storm

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

During stormy seasons (like this current pandemic), it can be difficult to maintain hope.

We can be so blinded by the storms in our lives – sickness, job loss, financial crisis, failing a class, losing a loved one, etc. – that we forget the power, love, and mercy of God and we forget the goodness that can be found in humanity.

When life seems to be spiraling out of control, those of us who believe in God should remember that God is in control and is stronger than our problems and that God will give us the strength we need to get through the storm.

For those who may not believe in God or a higher power (and those who do), perhaps comfort and strength can be found in the goodness of humanity – the acts of kindness that we see every day (people shopping for those who are vulnerable; employers who are providing pay to employees who are sheltered in place; restaurant owners who are providing meals for the homeless and economically disadvantaged; neighbors who are checking on neighbors and sharing meals and supplies;  athletes who are donating to food banks and childcare programs; healthcare heroes who  are on the front line; grocery store and retail workers and custodial and cleaning staff who continue to serve, etc.).

A friend of mine, who is a pastor in California, recently shared a message with his parishioners that I believe is worth repeating :

Never forget how far you’ve come.  Everything you have gotten through. All the times you have pushed on even when you felt you couldn’t. All the mornings you got out of bed no matter how hard it was. All the times you wanted to give up but you got through another day. Never forget how much strength you have learned and developed.

I would like to add: Never forget that we lift each other up – we make the world a better place – when we show our goodness.

My prayer is that rather than sinking deeper into fear or pain or chaos, we can all find enough hope to get us through the storm. I think we can find that hope by reaffirming our trust in God and in humanity.

Posted in Associate Blog, News