Hunger for a Conversion of Heart

Blog by Candidate Terri Schell

I’m rearranging the table of donated refrigerated items when I catch the eye of a young man holding a jar of A-1 Steak sauce with a quizzical look on his face. Stumbling through a conversation with the help of gestures and Google Lens, we both laugh and smile when he exclaims “Ah! Salsa!” before placing it in his shopping cart and moving on.

I have the honor of spending time each week this winter with my neighbors of all backgrounds and languages while they are shopping at HEART, a food market that addresses food insecurity and its root causes in the greater Columbus area. HEART is one of three food pantries Shepherd’s Corner partners with to, as Pope Francis says, “hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”.¹ One of our goals we invite others into is rethinking our current economic system and participating in one that’s both good for people and the planet. Last year we collaborated with From Scratch Farms to share over 4,400 pounds of local, naturally-grown produce. It went to folks who on average go hungry for three meals a week due to food insecurity.²

As I pile bags of sweet potatoes, load shelves of egg cartons, and restock the meat freezers, I have a lot of time to consider some big questions.

With the abundance we have in this country, how is it possible that people are unable to access consistent, wholesome, nutritious food?

Why do we, as average Americans, buy into the frantic demand for more: more out-of-season produce flown in from all corners of the globe, more highly processed food, and more individual items wrapped in layers of plastic?

And ultimately, what in our hearts and our systems need to change to push back against overconsumption and food insecurity here in the United States, two issues that are intimately linked?

I recently learned that over one-fourth of food produced nationwide ends up in the landfill.³ In Franklin County here in Ohio, that’s one million pounds of food a day,³ and the number one item of all material that goes to the dump.⁴

Where is that food waste coming from? The largest amount is not from grocery stores, restaurants, or farms, but from the trash cans of common households. Households account for 39% of food going into landfills nationwide.⁵

One obvious solution to this enormous waste is to divert unusable food into compost systems, whether that be in your backyard, employing a private service, or through a municipal program.

But we are called to go deeper, through a conversion of heart.¹ We can change how much even goes into our compost bins by lovingly changing our habits. Buy only what you will eat. Take leftovers to work. Freeze the food you cannot eat before it goes bad. Get creative in your cooking by using scraps. Have a plan and take note of what’s in your pantry or fridge before you go shopping. The earth and our pocketbooks will thank us.

Our patterns at the checkout and kitchen counter also impact our neighbors who are hungry. If we cut down on 10% of food waste, let’s say, that’s 10% less land needed to grow food destined for the trash and can go towards food for people who need it. This also pushes down market prices, making food more affordable for folks on limited incomes.⁵

It can be done. Columbus has been in the national news recently for a successful neighborhood food waste education campaign. Participating households reduced their food waste by 21% and there was a whopping 40% increase in participation of food waste drop off sites.⁴ We are well on our way towards the Central Ohio-wide goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.⁵

Together, let’s step away from the blatant choice of our own convenience and comfort over care for our earth and neighbor and towards actions that inspire creativity, restoration, and compassionate care from our kitchen tables out to the world.

Want more practical ideas on how an average consumer can help fight food waste day to day? Check out this helpful  Washington Post article.


  1. Pope Francis. 2015. Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home [Encyclical].
  2. Nourish to Flourish. HEART Market. 2023.
  3. Know the Issue. 2022.
  4. SWACO News. Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. 2022.
  5. Working to Lower Food Waste in Central Ohio. All Sides with Anne Fisher. NPR, WOSU. Columbus. 11 Jan. 2023
  6. A third of all food in the U.S. gets wasted. Fixing that could help fight climate change. Sarah Kaplan. The Washington Post. 25 Feb. 2021.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Standing up to the Shibboleths

Blog by Sr. Joel Campbell

Do you know what a shibboleth is? A shibboleth is any custom or tradition or phrase, often obsolete or unsupported, that distinguishes one group of people from another. 

In the United States, that “group of people” – a minority, by the way – is gun owners. While nearly 50% of Americans believe that gun violence is a problem, 30% of Americans are literally carrying the facilitator of this problem in their pockets.

Gun owners rely on a variety of popular sound bites – or shibboleths – to rationalize the fact that they own one or more of these instruments of destruction. But these phrases are often incomplete, unsupported, or just plain nonsense. Let’s look at a few of them here.


Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

You might as well say that malaria doesn’t kill people, mosquitos kill people. Mosquitos are the transmitter of the disease …you can’t have malaria without mosquitos.
Guns are the device that affects violence … you can’t have gun violence without a gun.




When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

No current recognized organization working to prevent gun violence has ever made a proposal to eliminate all guns. First, that would be extremely difficult to achieve because there are so many guns in the United States. The United States is 3% of the world’s population but holds 46% of the guns. Eight percent of American gun owners own more than ten firearms.
Second, millions of Americans use guns safely and responsibly.

What is needed is legislation to enforce that safe and responsible use among ALL gun owners, like the laws that control how we use our cars. For example, seat belt laws saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017. About 430 people, many of them children – die of accidental gun deaths very year in America – imagine how many lives safe storage laws could save!



Guns save lives.

Last year’s shooting at Uvalde, TX was the final proof that the mythical “good guy with a gun” does not exist. An article in TIME magazine details that in the 10 years since Sandy Hook, “good guys with guns” have been present or quickly arrived at the scene of nearly every major mass shooting and failed to stop the gunman before he was able to take multiple lives. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center also found that self-defense gun use is “rare and not more effective at preventing injury than other protective actions.”

Even when there is not a “mass shooting” situation, gun take more lives than they save. A gun kept in a house for “self-defense” is 12 times more likely to be involved in the accidental shooting or death of a family member than to stop an intruder. Again, from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, victims use guns in less than 1% of contact crimes, and women never use guns to protect themselves against sexual assault.


Gun control doesn’t work. Look at (Insert city name here.)

Today, Chicago is a popular example of a city with strong gun laws and a high rate of gun violence. Illinois is a national leader in enacting gun violence prevention laws, but it is surrounded by states with much weaker laws, and an outsized share of likely trafficked guns recovered in Illinois are originally purchased out-of-state—especially in Indiana, just across the border from Chicago.

According to a recent ATF report, Chicago’s “time-to-crime” — the period between the purchase of a gun and its recovery by the police in a crime — was far shorter than in New York or Los Angeles.

“Shorter time-to-crime periods are indicators of illegal trafficking and provide crucial intelligence to investigators,” the Justice Department said of the ATF findings. It is estimated that 60% of the guns recovered in Chicago were originally purchased out of state, with Indiana, Mississippi and Wisconsin among the top suppliers.


Calling an AK-47 or an AR-15 an “assault weapon” is misleading and fearmongering.

To the federal government – one of the 10 largest gun purchasers and resellers in the world – the term “assault weapon” usually refers to a military-style weapon capable of firing multiple rounds, either semi-automatic or a fully automatic firearm. Both the AK-47 and the AR-15 do that… in fact, the original AK-47, introduced in 1959, shot 600 rounds a minute. The AR-15 can fire 45 rounds per minute. Modified with a bump stock, it can fire 400 rounds per minute or more.

Gun manufacturers have purposely marketed these weapons as “macho” or as guns for those who want to be as well – or better – armed than police and military. If you want to know how that ended up, take a look at Kyle Rittenhouse. Or worse, check out this poster from the 2022 SHOT Show in Vegas.



The next time you are confronted with a gun owner’s shibboleth, I hope these facts will help you dispel the myths so popular with the gun lobby.

Only when we identify the danger can we begin to eliminate it.







Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Nature’s Hardest Worker

Blog by Karen Martens, OPA

Have you ever focused upon a tree as the object for contemplation? For example, an oak tree would be a wonderful living organism upon which to gaze. Or perhaps a beautiful red maple in the fall, or a blooming redbud in the spring. In the winter, we have the opportunity to see the structure of trees in their strength and glory. Do you appreciate all that they do? What must it be like to be a tree? Did you know trees communicate with one another? It has been said that they are “amazingly efficient machines, constantly working to make Earth a healthier planet.” How do they make a difference?

Trees improve air quality, reduce flooding and erosion, sequester carbon, conserve energy, cool the air while reducing humidity, create essential habitats for plants and animals, reduce crime, reduce noise pollution, promote health, and can even promote community between people. Whew! I’m impressed; are you?

Cities have begun to pay attention to all these benefits and are taking steps to protect and expand their tree canopies. They recognize the importance of planting trees and that it is most important not to cut down mature trees. It takes several years for a tree to be most effective. Do you know the percentage of the tree canopy where you live? It is 22% in Columbus Ohio where I live, with a range between 9% to 41% in different neighborhoods. It is not surprising that lower-income neighborhoods with a history of redlining have the lowest tree canopies. This is likely true for all big cities.

My favorite tree is the oak. Over 500 species of butterflies and moths are supported by native oaks. Oak acorns provide food for more than 100 vertebrate species of wildlife and the trunk and branches provide shelter for many mammals and bird species. They can live several hundred years and are beautiful! What is not to like about such a tree?

My trees speak to me… about yours? What are they saying?


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Dominican Sisters of Peace Support the National Black Sisters Conference’s Call for Reform of Policing Practices

On Monday, January 30, The National Black Sisters’ Conference released the following statement in response to the brutal murder of Memphis artist, son, and father Tyre Nichols. The Dominican Sisters of Peace stand in solidarity with this statement and demand that our elected leaders move forward with the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. Justice Promoter Sr. Gemma Doll, OP, will be publishing action items toward this goal in next week’s Justice Blog.

A Statement by the National Black Sisters Conference  on the murder of Tyre Nichols

The New Year is barely a month old. We have just celebrated the national holiday honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the warrior of peace, and the world sadly commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In a few days, we will celebrate Black History Month as we honor the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the struggle for freedom.

Yet here we are again grieving the death of another young Black man, Tyre Nichols, whose life was taken at the hands of five Black police officers on a night in a quiet Memphis neighborhood.

Tyre Nichols’ life at the age of 29 was taken before he had a chance to fulfill his purpose. This young man was not a person to be feared or perceived to be a threat. He was a son, father, and contributor to society; respected and loved by all who knew him. His only crime was being Black in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Violence against African Americans has been a fact of life in this country since the first slave patrols were created in the 1700s to apprehend runaway slaves. Historically, the system was designed to institutionalize terror against Black people.

The five Black police officers who brutally took Tyre’s life as he cried out for his mother; were indoctrinated into a corrupt system and freely chose to perpetrate violence against other Black people in the name of institutionalized racism.

Unfortunately, police violence is not new. The video of the incident is no different from other police footage, and the only difference is that the majority of the officers are Black!

In speaking to this fact, Mr. Nichols’ mother, RowVaugh Wells, stated:

“…And what they are doing to black communities is wrong. We’re not worried about the race of the police officers, and we’re worried about the conduct of the police officers. Policing in this country is focused on control, subordination and violence…society views black people as inherently dangerous and criminal…”

The National Black Sisters Conference is worried too! When will we wake up as a nation?

How many lives will it take? How often must we bear witness to the senseless killing of African Americans by the police? Where is the collective voice of our religious communities, African American organizations, and Church? The prophet Micah’s words speak to what the righteous are called to do: “The just God demands justice!” God demands a change of heart.

As we move into Black History Month, how will we answer a mother’s prophetic words on the sad occasion of her son’s death? What will we remember? How will this modern-day Black genocide be eradicated? Where do we go from here?

With righteous indignation, we all must act! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes in his book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? “Freedom is not won by passive acceptance of suffering. A struggle wins freedom against suffering.” Let this be our rallying cry for justice!

As the National Black Sisters’ Conference, we are demanding JUSTICE FOR TYRE! and calling for:

  • Immediate passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 by Congress
  • More progressive oversight and accountability of police departments by the Justice Department
  • Local and State reform of policing, and
  • The end to police brutality that continues to plague Black and poor communities

Finally, we call on our Church to speak out in the name of the Gospel. This killing is a pro-life issue that is just as important as protecting the life of the unborn.

Tyre’s spirit cries out for justice, and we will continue to stand in the gap, crying out in the name of justice for our people.

United in the struggle for justice,

The National Black Sisters’ Conference
January 30, 2023


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Seeing the Divine Within the Diversity

Blog by Candidate Terri Schell

I fell in love with a wetland last summer.

I had a hankering to explore, so I strapped on my TEVA sandals, grabbed my journal and watercolor set, and headed down the road to catch the morning sun at the nearby wetland. The midsummer heat was already rising as I walked through the tall grasses to stumble upon the edge of an ephemeral pond still wet with the morning dew and bursting with life and activity. Birds of all shapes and sounds were calling, feeding, flying. Insects were zipping about and frogs, startled by my presence, yelped, and leapt underwater. I was drunk with the vibrancy and beauty of this place and taken with knowledge that God’s presence was glimmering all around me. I guess more accurately, I did not fall in love with the wetland, but deeper in love with God, who just can’t help but to brim and spill over with creative life.

Through moments like this I have come to understand more clearly the relationship we are invited into with God and the earth, not just as a steward (as if God was absent) but as a responsible part of Earth community. I’ve heard the role likened to a custodian who works with God and our animate and inanimate neighbors to collaborate and sustain diversity and balance. We are to embody this peaceful, non-violent, regenerative, existence in every aspect of our lives, in an integral way, like Pope Francis encourages us to do in Laudato Si’.

As a candidate, I get to see with new eyes the Dominican Sisters of Peace’s commitment to integral ecology lived out concretely. One way is through our current wetland construction project at Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center here in Blacklick, Ohio.

I was surprised to learn that prior to the 1800s, over half of the lands that make up the state of Ohio were wetlands. White colonial settlers perpetuated a disordered understanding of our relationship to the creator and the created, and thus these wetlands were considered unproductive, smelly, unnavigable, and useful only when eliminated. Today, over 90 percent of all of Ohio’s wetlands have been drained and developed. This makes me wonder, where else in our society do we adopt the “throwaway culture,” Pope Francis alludes to, failing to see the beauty in diversity, in the things that take a bit more work to love?

Since the 1980s we are slowly realizing what amazing and critical ecosystems wetlands are. Wetlands help us correct our mistakes: they naturally filter water, sequester carbon, refill groundwater stores, and create buffers for flooding events that are becoming more frequent. They also allow us to be good neighbors: wetlands are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, creating a home for flora and fauna throughout all stages of life.  And ironically, they have the highest productivity, turning sunlight into living matter faster and more efficiently, than any other ecosystem on Earth. The wetland at Shepherd’s Corner will also be space for education and contemplation, inviting others to see the divine within the diversity.

I’m proud of the congregation’s long history and invigorated commitment to listening to the voice of the voiceless and honoring the land’s inherent value, not for the usefulness of her ability to provide for humans, but for all of earth community. May we continue on this journey towards integral ecology which, according to Pope Francis, includes: “taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence ‘must not be contrived but found, uncovered’.”


Pope Francis. 2015. Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home [Encyclical].

About Us. Ohio Wetlands Association. 2022.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog