Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Did you hear about the Gulf War Army Veteran who got picked up by the police, as he was walking along an Alabama highway?

No. It’s not a joke.

It’s a “good news” story. And I love good news stories because they are inspiring and encouraging and build trust and hope in humankind.

So, here’s what reportedly happened:

Gerald David Baldwin set out to walk to an appointment at a VA hospital – 100 miles away. Someone spotted him walking along a highway, with his portable oxygen tank, and called police. A sheriff’s deputy responded and discovered that the veteran (with 22 years of service) needed to get to his appointment or risk losing some of his benefits.

The deputy – Walker County Sgt. Kevin Emberg – agreed to drive Baldwin to the county line, with the assistance of Deputy Chris Doerr, who arranged for deputies in three neighboring counties to transport Baldwin to his appointment. The four departments then made the reverse trip to get Baldwin home.

Now, a social media post by one of the departments is garnering interest in helping Baldwin with reliable transportation and to connect with services for veterans.

Doesn’t that make you feel good and strengthen your faith in humanity? – that is a benefit of good news: positive vibes and positive thinking.

Just like the deputies who went above and beyond their call of duty to make the world a better place, we each have the power to make the world a better place – and write our own “good news” story — one small act of kindness at a time.

What will you do TODAY to make a difference?

Posted in Associate Blog

What is an Awakened Life?

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

Awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep! These two sentences are from the opening verse to the song, City of God.  What does an “awakened life” mean to you?  This is a question posed on an application for a spiritual direction training program that I’m considering.  The question is an intriguing one that invites some reflection.  How might you answer this question?  It’s a good question for those of you considering religious life to ponder.

For many of us, waking up is hard to do, and this is true both physically (from sleep) and spiritually.  Sipping coffee, exercising, or listening to upbeat music may be some ways to awaken your body and mind so that you can face a new day.  But, how do we wake up our heart and soul?  How do we live an “awakened life.”?

I offer three words—awareness, acceptance, and aliveness—as ways to live an awakened life.

Awareness or self-awareness is so important to living a fulfilling life in so many ways. By being aware of my strengths, I can use my gifts to help others and to enrich my own life.  If being an artist, for example, is my gift, I can create beauty for others to enjoy while bringing joy to myself as I nurture my craft.  Knowing my weaknesses teaches me what I need to work on and where I might not be of service to others.  If I’m not mechanically gifted, for example, it’s best that I let someone else take care of such matters or I might create more of a mess instead of being part of the solution.  I need to know my limits and appreciate what others can offer.

Acceptance is another word that communicates an aspect of an “awakened life” to me.  When I can accept myself for who I am and others for who they are, we can both be free to become our best selves.    Acceptance opens the door to compassion and once we have developed self-compassion, we can connect with and reach out to other people in a meaningful way.  Living an awakened life means you accept life exactly as it is and as it unfolds for you.  Acceptance means understanding that life is filled with both joy and sorrow.  Some things we can change; some things we cannot change.  Acceptance sometimes requires letting go of our notions of how life should be and seeking to accept the way things are, and in this process, we may create an open space for God to enter and speak to us.

Aliveness is the third word that speaks to me of an “awakened life.”  When I am fully alive, I am being present to the moment and engaged in my surroundings—I am living life to the fullest.  I am seizing the moment, pushing through the clouds, and finding the light that illuminates my path.  In living life to the fullest, I take risks to discover new possibilities, I am open to exploring new ways of being and doing things, I find and use my voice to speak my truth and to speak up for injustices so others can experience being alive too.

Being fully alive requires a willingness to be stretched and to live outside my comfort zone, to see through a new, unbiased lens and to hear the truth with an openness to being transformed.  To be fully alive, we awaken to God, to others, and to ourselves. As we awaken to all that surrounds us and seek to understand our purpose in life, we become alive with new insights, new ways of employing our senses to live with open hearts and open minds to the Creator’s many blessings.

Awake from your slumber! Arise from your sleep! A new day is dawning for those who seek to live an awakened life.

Are you ready to be awakened by God through life as a religious sister?  If so, we invite you to contact us here to take the first step on the adventure of a lifetime.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Justice Updates – November 5, 2019

Next Tuesday, November 12th, the Supreme Court of hear oral arguments on the legality of DACA.  They agreed to tackle two questions: whether the government’s decision to end DACA is something that courts can review at all and, if so, whether the decision to end DACA is legal. Read more.

Can we eat our way to a healthier planet?  NPR explores a new analysis from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that looked at the health and environmental impacts of 15 different food groups.  To check out the study, click here.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego was one of three U.S. bishops at the synod. He believes that to save the Earth we must “forge a collation between the religious communities of the world, the young people of the world and the scientific community to really bring together a program to educate people about the realities of the destruction of the environment, and how they will come to a point of irreversibility.”  Here’s his take on what happened.

The Blessed are the Peacemakers Webinar recording is available for use by associate groups, study groups, or individuals.  The video is 2 1/3 hours. The materials include the agenda, power point, handouts, and suggested reading. You can access those resources here.

Campaign on Behalf of Immigrant Children.  Here is a report on the reports of the campaign.

Last June, members of the DC Catholic Coalition experienced a call to respond to the immediate crisis of children at the US Border separated from their families and detained in unacceptable conditions.  Representing religious congregations and Catholic justice organizations, we recognized a call to mobilize the collective power of our various constituencies for the sake of the children.

We knew from the outset that the complex issues and immense suffering would not be “solved” with our campaign to raise awareness, inspire action and encourage each one to take increasing risk to raise the consciousness of our leaders.  At the same time, we are people of hope and the response to our collective invitation to join three actions of witness surpassed our expectations. We are profoundly grateful.

The DC Catholic Coalition made a three-month commitment to participate and invite others to join three actions to educate, create a community of commitment, and to act on behalf of immigrant children and families. We thank each one of you who participated, sponsored, supported and prayed with us.  More than 1,000 individuals and groups have been part of this collective witness.  We give thanks for each one.

While the work must continue, this season of harvest and bountiful thanks give us occasion to recall what has happened in our three witnesses:

  • July 18:  Capitol Rotunda (70 arrested and/200 hundred participants):  Gathering for prayer and protest on the grounds of the capitol with a procession to the Rotunda of the Russell Senate office building for an action of non-violent civil disobedience on behalf of immigrant families, particularly the children separated and detained.
  • September  4: Newark, New Jersey: Prayer at St. Mary’s Abbey followed by a procession to ICE offices, Cardinal Tobin’s remarks and blessing, speakers from the community, witness in the street of Newark as a testimony of the power of local and national communities on behalf of those separated and detained.
  • October 12:  Hope Border Institute Teach -In. Two hundred people crossed the Paso Del Norte bridge from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez to meet with immigrant families living on the streets while they wait to be allowed to apply for asylum in the U.S. As they crossed back, each blessed the bridge and prayed for those forced to “Remain in Mexico” and they watched as three immigrant families who accompanied them were permitted to enter the U.S.

Each of these three witnesses for immigrant justice required a wide net of community organizers, volunteers, planning teams, powerful prayerful witness powerfully duplicated in local communities and the testimony of transformational experiences from participants from coast to coast.  This has been an experience of the power where “two or three are gathered in my name” and the effervescence of the Spirit.

The work must continue.  Each of us has both a responsibility and a Gospel call to determine how we will continue this great work that has begun.  As we draw the collective action of this “three-witness commitment” to a close, we invite you to join us in prayer and reflection  on November 2nd. We have attached a prayer for your use and suggested some questions to assist each of us to deepen our understanding how this experience calls us to respond in new ways:

Looking back:

  • How have we changed?
  • How have we experienced new challenge?
  • How have we grown in our commitment?

Looking forward:

  • Realizing that we cannot do this alone, how can we continue to join in solidarity locally, regionally and nationally to continue this work.
  • Consider one or more of the following questions:  What is the relationship between the police and the immigrants in your community? Is there a trust relationship or are the police a tool of ICE? Is your church willing to serve as sanctuary? Is there a local immigrant advocacy organization with which you can become involved. What positions have your elected representatives taken vis a vis immigration. Where is the Governor of your State regarding accepting refugees? Is your parish reaching out to immigrants?

We encourage you to use Bishop Mark Seitz’s pastoral letter, Night Will Be No More to enliven your reflection and deepen your commitment to action.  In addition, you will find listed below some resources for your continued action on behalf End the Inhumanity. We invite your prayers and intentions for the Border Mass that will celebrated November 2 in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

We, the DC Catholic Coalition, know that the power of the three witnesses has been in our collective community response.  It could not have happened without each one of us, with our confidence in the faith that moves mountains and the courage to be “laborers in the field”.

We thank the sponsoring organizations, the generous contributions (human, spiritual and financial) that made the work possible, and our heartfelt gratitude for each one who “kept showing up” in this time that so many choose silence and invisibility.

Let us continue to be the visible Eucharist in the communion of commitment.

With gratitude and hope,

DC Catholic Coalition

Here is a prayer from the campaign:

Welcome! We gather here today in the presence of our loving God to reflect on the lives of our brothers and sisters who have been detained by the U.S. government in their search for a life, and especially to reflect on the children in detention, frightened, alone, hungry and cold. We come also to ask for the strength and courage of our God to act through us as we call for justice for these children and their families, for an end to child detention, and for a moral and humane response to all who come to our country seeking refuge. Finally, we come here to ask for our merciful God to bestow wisdom on our lawmakers so that they do not shy away from their moral duty and show compassion to all, especially the most vulnerable, the children, in their work to create a just, fair and humane immigration policy. Through the power of our faith and in the compassion of Jesus Christ we ask that all human life be respected and that children seeking refuge be no longer detained, left alone and afraid, but rather that they feel the love, warmth and welcome of our great nation.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Justice Blog

Blog by Sr. Carol Ann Spencer, OP

In last week’s blog, Barbara Kane  noted that on November 12,2019, the Supreme Court  will hear oral  arguments about the legality of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ) program.  Some background to this important issue  may be helpful.

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security initiated the DACA  program for certain undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children and met several  guidelines.  DACA was patterned after the DREAM Act, bipartisan legislation that was initiated more than a decade ago but has  not  become law.  The purpose of  DACA was to utilize prosecutorial  discretion  to provide undocumented persons who were brought to the United States when they were children with temporary relief from deportation and work authorization.  The status expires after two years, subject to renewal.

The current administration announced termination  of the DACA program on September 15,2017.  While this termination is now the subject of litigation and multiple nationwide preliminary injunctions, these are only partial and temporary.  This situation has  created  much anguish and uncertainty.  Dreamers are young people who include DACA  recipients, as well  as other undocumented individuals of  similar age group who were brought to the United States by their parents  as children.  They are contributors to our country,veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. .  Dreamers are woven into the fabric of our country and our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth.

We believe that the dignity of every  human being, particularly that of youth and families, must be protected and we believe that our nation has a moral  responsibility to provide a path to citizenship ,not only for DACA and the Dreamers, but for all those with Temporary Protected Status.  Use every opportunity to call on your members of Congress to find  a bipartisan legislative solution to protect all these young people and hardworking  families and pray that our Supreme Court will support the legality of DACA so that we may, once again , make a move to become a WELCOMING NATION.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog