Attack on Immigrants

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Migrant Protection Protocol…. Remain in Mexico….. family separation…. Lowest refugee ceiling in recent history…. Bans on Muslims…. ICE raids….  The attack on immigrants has been relentless and increasingly brutal.  The recent action – to reduce the number of refugees to be resettled to a mere 18,000 is just the latest action.  What does this mean?

This number refers to those who are accepted into the U.S. Resettlement Program (USRP).  A refugee is a person outside of his/her country who is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

The U.N. recommends groups for resettlement. These individuals apply in their own country or resettlement camps in neighboring countries for entry into the US and where they will be settled. They receive extreme vetting.  Since the program started in 1980, an average of 95,000 refugees were resettled in the U.S. There are currently around 40,000 who have gone through the process and are ready to be resettled. Sadly, the administration recently announced that they would only admit 18,000 in 2020.   These 18,000 will be used to resettle 4,000 Iraqis who have assisted our forces there, 1,500 refugees from Central America’s Northern Triangle, 5,000 refugees fleeing religious persecution, and a remainder of 7,500 for other needs.

In 2018 only 1 out of 500 refugees needing resettlement received it with only the most vulnerable refugees being considered for resettlement. Reasons for admittance include medical needs, children at risk, women and girls at risk, and survivors of violence/torture.

The decline in the U.S. refugee admissions comes at a time when the number of refugees worldwide has reach the highest levels since WW 2 to 70.8 million. Around 80% of the world’s refugees have been living in exile for 5 years and around 1/5 of them for 20 years.  Violence, war, economic collapse, and climate change are the primary reasons that refugees flee their countries.

Many of the members of the House of Representatives don’t like this reduction.  They have introduced HR 2146, the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act to ensure that the U.S. would admit no fewer than 95,000 refugees each year.  Call your representative if you think the U.S. has a responsibility to welcome those in need.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

10-8-19 Justice Updates

Keep in your prayers the attendees at the Amazon Synod. There are some significant issues being discussed.  At the Amazon synod, the church must stand with indigenous people to protect creation.

The Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region was controversial long before it began this fall. Self-described orthodox Catholics have worried over its potential impact far from the Amazon. One of the issues to be discussed at the synod is the acute shortage of priests in the nine countries that make up Amazonia.

A proposal that has been kicked down the road for years is the ordination of what are known as viri probati, a Latin expression best translated as “family men of virtue.” Some view it as an opening for the wider church to begin accepting married men for the priesthood. (News flash, it already does in a number of traditions united to Rome.) Worse, they suspect the crashing of the male celibate priesthood by male not-so-celibates could be a vanguard move to women’s ordination.

These anxieties are confounding to the bishops and laypeople who actually live in the Amazon, who are acutely aware of the spiritual devastation the priest shortage is causing. Many Amazon communities may not see a priest more than two or three times a year.

But the synod’s working document, building on the agenda set out in the pope’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), actually devotes most of its ink to different crises of the Amazon—the unique fragility of its ecology and a related threat to the self-determination of its indigenous people. And the Amazon bishops’ intervention on these matters could not be more timely.

For more information and some excellent articles about it, click here.  I recommend Amy Woolam Echeverria’s From Cry to Song: Protecting our Climate and Biodiversity.

Take action.  

Senate Bill 102:  A bipartisan bill called Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 has been introduced into the Senate.  It sets a rebate for all prescription drug price hikes above inflation, prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from arbitrarily raising their prices to increase profits.  For more information, see this backgrounder from Network.  Call you senators and urge them to support S. 2534.

Senate Bill 2137: The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2019. Increasing energy efficiency could meet more than 30% of our expected electricity generation needs by 2030.  This bipartisan legislation would improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, and major industry including federal buildings and facilities.

House Representatives 2143: The administration just reduced the number of refugees who could be resettled to 18,000. Call your representative and ask him/her to support HR 2146, the GRACE (Congress has the power to uphold America’s legacy by passing the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act, a bill that would ensure the U.S. welcomes no fewer than 95,000 refugees a year, in line with the historic norms.

Dayton, Ohio’s Mayor Nan Whaley has been a vocal advocate for gun safety legislation. Here is a sign-on letter to get the Senate moving on a Background Check Bill.

From Mayor Whaley:

I have been fighting for our leaders in Ohio and D.C. to take action on gun reform. Too many lives have been lost while our elected leaders have failed to act.

It’s time to do something. 

This February, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take action on the bill, despite 90% of Americans supporting the universal background checks for gun sales in H.R. 8.

SIGN NOW: Add your name to demand Mitch McConnell to take a vote on H.R. 8!

Together, we can enact commonsense gun reform legislation.

Thank you,

Nan Whaley

Mayor of Dayton, OH

Can Meatless Monday make a difference? Check out this article from NCR.

Phil St. Romaine of the Heartland Spirituality Center penned this “Impeachment Survival Guide: How to Retain Your Sanity and Get Along with Others During a Time of Political Crisis.”  Read it here or you can purchase a Kindle version on Amazon for $1.00.

What happens when an asylee gets sent back to Mexico to wait for an asylum hearing?  Advocates argue “that the program violates U.S. law because it forces migrants to wait in places where they’re not safe and can’t get lawyers…. The human toll is enormous, with vulnerable migrants targeted in dangerous Mexican border towns.”  Read more in this NPR story.

The International Dominican Commission for Justice and Peace released this statement in conjunction with the UN summit on climate change. They invite us to commit to all levels with an ecological conversions and spirituality, consistent with the lines of guidance and action of Laudato Si’ with children and youth as protagonists. Read the entire statement.

The 10th Anniversary Talitha Kum General Assembly took place on September 21-27 in Rome.  During the assembly delegates reflected on the reality of human trafficking around the world and the priorities for the work of Talitha Kum International for the next five years.  Read the Final Declaration from the Assembly.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

RECONCILIATION REQUIRES FORGIVENESS AND JUSTICE

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I have really hesitated about engaging in a conversation about the murder of Botham Jean and the trial and sentencing of his murderer, Amber Guyger.

[Sidebar: I wanted to avoid the conversation because sometimes it just seems too difficult to be civil, when trying to navigate through an exhaustive conversation (about a 26-year-old black man, who happened to be an accountant and choir director at his church, who was murdered while sitting on his own sofa, in his own apartment, eating ice cream, by a white woman, who happened to be a Dallas police officer, who claims she mistook his apartment as her own and thought he was an intruder) with someone who will never really understand what “living in America while black” means.]

Then, news broke over the weekend that Joshua Brown — a key witness in the trial — was gunned down in the parking lot of the apartment complex where he lived.

Soon after, I saw this tweet:

Black woman who filmed Jean’s last moment, where he asked Amber Guyger, “Why did you shoot me?”:  fired from job, film confiscated by police.

Black man who testified against Guyger: murdered, suspects still at large.

Botham Jean: dead.

National conversation: black forgiveness.

It was the last line that got me.

As I listened to and read the commentaries on the “act of forgiveness”  — the hug that Botham Jean’s 18-year-old brother gave to the woman who murdered his brother, after the younger Jean finished his victim impact statement and the convicted murder was sentenced to 10 years in prison – I was conflicted.

I am not going to speculate about his reasons for hugging her, but will accept that it was something he needed to do to move forward.

What I am extremely disheartened by is this national conversation that is celebrating this “act of forgiveness” as some sort of proxy for racial reconciliation or some kind of example of how the oppressed should respond to the oppressor or some form of absolution from sin – in this case, the systemic racism that plaques our nation.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in extending forgiveness.

But I also believe in seeking justice.

Therefore, I believe that any conversation about “black” forgiveness must include interactive communication about racial justice. Racial reconciliation is no easy task – it involves both forgiveness and justice.

My hope is that the embrace from Botham Jean’s brother does not distract us from his mother’s message, urging reforms to a (racially and culturally) biased system (during the trial, allegations surfaced of tampering with evidence and police misconduct):

“What you saw and what you heard in the courtroom really showed what your system is and you must seek to do something about it …You saw a contaminated crime scene, you saw deletion of evidence by persons in high offices. You saw turning off of body cams …You saw investigations that were marred with corruption … While we walk as Christians, we still have a responsibility to show that our city does what is right.”

As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation – reconciliation is the heart of the Gospel. So, while we must practice forgiveness, we must also seek justice. Forgiveness does not negate our obligation to seek justice.

Miroslav Volf warns us, in his award-winning book Exclusion and Embrace, “forgiveness is not a substitute for justice.”

Forgiveness without justice is not reconciliation. Genuine and lasting reconciliation is possible only when both forgiveness and reparation of wrongs are satisfied. Reconciliation has two locks to open – forgiveness and justice.

Forgiveness is the one half of reconciling work that a victim exercises, while justice is the other half of reconciling work that is reserved for the perpetrator. Only after having achieved both goals can true reconciliation occur.

There is still plenty of work to be done. We all have a role to fulfill. Are you willing to do your part?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Telling Our Stories

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I remember as a young child of elementary school age wanting to write stories.  I even requested one of those writer’s kits to have my writing evaluated for publication.  I’m sure the publishing house that received my request must have known I was a young child and so they responded kindly, assuring me at my tender age that I had some writing talent.

We all have a story. Stories are an important part of our lives. Wherever we are and wherever we go, we tell and hear stories from sunrise to sunset. Stories emerge from the moment we wake up and recall our dreams to the stories we share with each other throughout the day.  Stories can be told in words, images, laughter, tears, dance, music, art, film, theater, and so many other forms. Each form evokes or conveys emotions that tell us about the human journey and connect us to each other. Stories can be uplifting and inspiring or thought-provoking or heart-breaking. All stories are important and deserve to be told and heard.

From the earliest of times, we know that stories were carved on cave walls to entertain, to inform, and to convey the culture, history, and values held by prehistoric societies. Stories are part of our oral and written traditions, where archives and museums exist to preserve humanity’s stories.  How stories are communicated may have changed over the years, from cave art and paintings to emoji’s and texting in our modern times.  But, it is clear that we have a longstanding, instinctive need to tell our stories and this holds true for the living and the dying.

One of my fondest memories as a hospice volunteer was the honor of assisting a dying man record his stories for his young children. He wanted his young children to know about his parents, his childhood, and his marriage to their mother—as seen and told by him.  He wanted to share his values, what was important to him, and his special memories with his children. Sharing this time with him was both heartbreaking and endearing. In telling his stories, he was finding meaning in his life and reconciling with the loss of not being around as his children grew up.  His life’s stories would give his children a connection to him even after he was gone. What a beautiful gift he was giving to his children!

Biographies and autobiographies are my favorite stories because they take us along a journey, where life unfolds often through poignant revelations and sacred recollections of where a person has been. Two starkly different stories, Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl captivated my attention as a young child and teenager.  Helen Keller’s story as a deaf-blind person and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, gave me hope and confidence in achieving success as a hearing-impaired person. (One person’s story can be a lifeline for another person.) Anne Frank’s journal of her family’s time in hiding during the Holocaust and her experiences as a Jewish teenager taught me not only about the inhumane atrocities that occurred in Nazi Germany but also about the resiliency of the human spirit to forge on even in the midst of dire circumstances.  Courage and fortitude are just some of the characteristics that these woman’s stories tell.

Whether a story is about hope or despair, or survival or loss, we can find meaning in the telling and listening of our stories.  Whether the telling of a story is about the past, the present, or future dreams, there is a liberating, affirming, and healing component to a story’s message.  Stories can empower us or disarm us, paving the way to new possibilities or awakenings.

When the Vocations team hosts retreats, discernment groups, and outreach programs, women participants always want to hear the vocation and ministry stories of our Sisters. The Sister’s stories help them to reflect on where they are, what their gifts are for ministry, and to envision what religious life is about.

Part of the application process for becoming a candidate within this community even includes writing an autobiography, where a woman can share her life’s story and spiritual journey as she reflects on God’s imprint on her life.

Are you ready to tell your story? To use your story to lift up others? To offer stories of healing and hope to others?  Want to know more about our story as Dominican Sisters of Peace?  We’d love to hear your story.  Contact a Vocation Minister today.

Posted in God Calling??

October Programs at Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center

 

 

Storytelling Experience
Wednesday, October 16, 6:30-8:00 pm
Registration closes three business days prior to program.

Led by Donna Doone
$5 donation

Storytelling is powerful. Come engage in the process of storytelling as we build, create, and share true and fanciful tales.

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Mindfulness in the Labyrinth: October Labyrinth walk
Friday, October 18th, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Registration closes three business days prior to program.

Facilitated by John Seryak, Labyrinth Caretaker
Suggested Donation: $5

Walking the sacred space of the labyrinth in silence and in the present moment allows for each sojourner’s inner voice to speak to one’s mind and heart. Minimum of 5 participants.

***Location of walk depends on status of outdoor labyrinth***
Our labyrinth is located on Wengert Road, at the second drive to the right. A snack and beverage will be included. Please wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. No previous meditation experience or experience walking labyrinths is required.

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Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
Book Discussion series
Tuesdays 10:00 am – 11:00 am (Oct. 29 – Nov. 19)

Led by Marguerite Chandler, OP
Suggested Donation: $15/all $5/per week

Eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Food is as much about pleasure and community as nutrition and health. Food Rules guides us with humor, joy, and common sense toward a happier, healthier relationship to food and the planet.

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Come Visit Shepherd’s Corner.
Walk our labyrinths and meditation trail.
Most Wednesdays-Fridays (from April to mid-November) we are open to visitors between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Dates when were are not open can be seen on our website calendar. You can always call ahead just to make sure we’re open for visitors.

Closed: October 3 & 4, 23 & 25.
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We ask that you register for programs by calling (614) 866-4302 or through our website calendar, https://shepherdscorner.org/calendar.
All programs have a minimum of 5 participants.

Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center is an outreach of The Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Posted in News