As the Coordinator of the Dominican Sisters of Peace Columbus Motherhouse, Sr. Susan Olson’s daily contact with our elderly Sisters has kept her from in-person ministry. While the impact of the pandemic has weighed on her heart, her vow of poverty does not always allow her to help as many as she would like. The #SistersontheFrontlines grants from The Leadership Collaborative with the cooperation of Catholic Extension through the generosity of GHR Foundation have given her that opportunity. #CatholicSistersWeek
Sr. Susan used part of her grant to purchase food and personal items, and with the help of Sisters in the Columbus Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, packed 50 backpacks for the homeless community in Columbus. The backpacks were donated to the United Methodist Church for All People on the South side of Columbus, where they were distributed to those who need assistance.
Sr. Susan’s other ministry is that of a virtual voice instructor for music students. She has a great love of the arts and chose to use part of her grant to assist a graphic artist whose business was suffering during the pandemic with some of her expenses.
“This grant allowed me to offer some support to two populations that are near and dear to my heart. What I hope has been a hand up for these two groups will be experienced by their good works rippling out to our larger community.”
The coronavirus pandemic has affected different groups of people in myriad ways during the past 10
months. Perhaps the most drastic impact has been felt by those caring for the sick on the front lines and those who have been forced to stay separate and isolated from others.
For religious sisters, the pandemic has kept them from much of their in-person ministry because of
safe distance requirements. Because many sisters are in the age group most susceptible to the virus, a number of sisters have stayed in their convents since mid-March 2020.
For health care workers, the 10-month period has been a time of unprecedented stress as hospitals have been stretched to their limits to handle the increase in admissions resulting from the pandemic.
Students in two diocesan schools have recognized the needs of these groups and have been reaching out to let them know they are appreciated and to give them encouragement as they continue to deal with the effects of the disease.
Columbus Our Lady of Peace School is taking part in an “adopt-a-sister” program for members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, whose motherhouse is in Columbus and is home to 76 sisters.
Grove City Our Lady of Perpetual Help School has developed “Operation Gratitude,” a program recognizing people who are working on the front lines of health care at Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital.
Laura Baird, the parent of an Our Lady of Peace student, and Gaye Reissland, a member of Our Lady of Peace Church, began the initiative to help the sisters.
“Gaye was helping the sisters dec- orate for Christmas and doing other projects at the motherhouse,” Baird said. “She told the school’s Home and School Association (HSA) that some sisters had not been out of the building since March and could use something for Christmas to brighten their spirits.
“I got in touch with the sisters at the motherhouse and learned what they would like. The HSA then put together gift boxes with things like Christmas candy, hot chocolate and wine, along with notes telling the sisters we were thinking of them. More than 20 Our Lady of Peace families took part, along with two families from Columbus Holy Spirit School.”
“Laura suggested that families adopt a sister for Christmas, and I thought my fourth-grade class could act as a family,” said Our Lady of Peace teacher Sheri Magee. “We adopted Sister Anne Keenan, OP, and sent her a letter and some artwork. She sent a letter back and we responded by sending her a gift card, a blanket and some chocolate.
“We’re creating some more art for her and the other sisters and planning some Zoom time so we can talk to each other. Now that sisters aren’t as familiar a sight in schools as they once were, it’s great to have students talk with them and see the important role the sisters and their vocation play in the life of the Church.”
Recipients of the boxes included Sister Carol Ann May, OP, and Sister Shawn Fitzpatrick, OP.
“I was not aware of what the ‘adopt-a-sister’ program would be when it began,” Sister Carol Ann said. “I was so touched by the graciousness, the generosity and the kindness of the families that took part. Having these people praying for us and remembering us during this time of isolation was just what I needed during the Christmas season. It was just perfect.”
“Much to my surprise, the personwho adopted me was one of my former first-grade students at Our Lady of Peace,” Sister Shawn said. “It was so surprising and such a blessing to reconnect with this person that I remembered as a little child, now grown up and still in the Church.”
In Grove City, the staff and students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School have cultivated a relationship with the Mount Carmel Health organization that opened a medical center there in 2014. The relationship expanded when the city’s first full-service hospital was opened by Mount Carmel in 2018.
As part of their Operation Gratitude initiative, “families at the school filled packages of snacks and
drinks for caregivers at the hospital who often don’t have time to enjoy a meal break,” said Brad Allen, the school’s enrollment coordinator.
Students made cards with special messages to be included with the packages, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioners have been sharing virtual messages of thanks and motivation to hospital workers.
Volunteers from the school and church have committed to standing outside the hospital to clap nurses, doctors, and staff in and out during four separate shift changes. Parishioners also have been encouraged to support Mount Carmel’s street medicine program with monetary donations.
“With Operation Gratitude, Our Lady of Perpetual Help families have found a way to say ‘thank you’
and give back to those health care workers who have labored and sacrificed so much,” Allen said.
Diocesan Superintendent of schools Adam Dufault praised the two schools’ service efforts, saying,
“Service to others is a foundational part of our Catholic faith. The work being done at OLP and OLPH and so many other Catholic schools is putting our faith into action for the betterment of our community.”
Stop Dangerous Pipelines
Last week we celebrated President Biden’s actions to stop Keystone XL, the pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands to the U.S. There’s a Keystone clone currently being built with similar impacts to climate and water – Line 3 in Minnesota.
Line 3 is one of the last major tar sands expansion projects in North America. It would damage the climate as much as 50 new coal plants and cut across the 1854 and 1855 treaty territory of the Anishinaabe people.
Over the last six years, a powerful Indigenous-led movement of water protectors, land defenders, and ordinary citizens has grown to resist this dangerous pipeline.
Reunite Families Unjustly Separated
In this moment of peaceful transition toward a recommitted democracy, we must make sure the Biden administration keeps its promise of bringing families together. Edith Espinal and Miriam Vargas are two mothers that deserve this promise to ring true. They have both been denied the opportunity to be reunited with their families until now.
Edith has been in sanctuary at Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017 and Miriam at First English Lutheran Church since June 2018. As we began the process of reconciliation, our Congress must act now and do more than pause the current deportation laws. Let’s start by getting Edith and Miriam home with their families.
Protect Essential Workers
Throughout the pandemic, essential workers have borne the brunt of Covid-19’s devastating health and financial impacts, exposing themselves and family members to the deadly virus to maintain the flow of critical food, other goods and services to communities in every corner of our nation. Many undocumented workers have done all of this while being excluded from previous COVID-19 stimulus bills, health insurance, and access to affordable healthcare.
Please sign here to urge Members of Congress to include an amendment to the latest pandemic relief legislation bill which will provide a path to citizenship and protections for undocumented essential workers and their family members.
Tell the New Biden Administration to Dismantle the Federal Death Penalty
For the first time in U.S. history, we have a president who openly opposes the death penalty. President Biden was inaugurated just five days after the 13th and final execution in the Trump administration’s killing spree. While we welcome this return to federal execution dormancy, now is not the time to slow down our advocacy.
Sign Up To View the United Nations Social Development Commission
The Commission for Social Development Forum will be held February 8-17, 2021. The forum addresses social protection floors. The priority theme for this year is: ‘Socially-just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all.’ Registration closes today, January 27. To be part of the virtual program, click here.
March 14-26, 2021, begins the Commission on the Status of Women: Beijing 25+1. You can follow the planning of the conference here.
The Priority theme is: ‘Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.’