News

For further information on any of the news items listed here, please contact Alice Black, PhD, OPA, Director of Communications & Mission Advancement, at 614-416-1020.


 

A Gift for Everyone

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

What is one gift everyone can enjoy receiving?

I think the gift of listening is that gift. It’s priceless and something we can all give. We often need to be reminded how treasured such a gift is to us and to others.

How many times have you yearned for someone to just listen, to truly listen with their heart and their eyes to your joys, your sorrows, your concerns?  In the hustle and bustle of Christmas gatherings or any social gathering, we need to stop, look, and listen to each other.

Can we stop long enough to let others know we hear them, acknowledging their existence and that they matter?

Can we look around us and make eye contact with others, seeing into the eyes of the lonely and offer companionship and compassion?

Can we take time to listen by giving others our undivided attention, silencing and not fiddling with our electronic devices, and letting others find and speak their voices without interrupting their thought process?

I know when someone stops, looks, and listens to me, I feel valued and uplifted. I know too that when I don’t listen to others, I’m hurting and discounting the other person, even if this is not my intention.

Imagine what peace would abound all year round if we all listened more to each other.

Are you ready to listen to how God is calling you?  Take courage and take a leap of faith to explore with us whether God is calling you to religious life as a Sister. We welcome journeying with you and invite you to contact us.

 

Posted in God Calling??, News

Sex Trafficking in India

Blog by Sr. Carol Davis, OP

Dominicans around the world are uniting to shine a light on human trafficking in India where there are more than one million child prostitutes. Girls as young as seven years old are forced into the nightmare of the commercial sex trade. Girls, who should be in school, are being sold, starved, locked up and raped. Being sold into a brothel in India is a death sentence: only one percent escape or are rescued. Poverty, living on the streets and lack of education for women and girls increase the risk of being forced into the commercial sex trade.

Al Jazeera reports an increase in child pornography in India that has become an $8-billion-dollar industry. The US Department of Justice advises that in USA and in all countries: “The continuous production and distribution of child pornography increases the demand for new and more egregious images, perpetuating the continued molestation of child victims, as well as the abuse of new children.” There is no international law to check the data service providers responsible for online child pornography.

Victims suffer loss, disorientation, sorrow, anger, fear, frustration and depression. Sex trafficking survivors experience social discrimination and rejection.  In their own voices, survivors in India said in a confidential study:

“After your honor is gone, nobody will ask about you, not even people in your village.”

“They don’t give respect to girls like me, even to small girls.”

“People should understand us…They should treat us like human beings. Not judging.”

“The world is not safe. I went through suffering. All this happened to me because of no protection. My mother and father, they don’t like me. They left me…To be abandoned was the most difficult thing in my life….All this happened to me because of no protection.”

“So many girls lost their identities, like so many girls lost their families, or so many girls are sold…There should be people who should do work for them…like true love.”

Psalm 146 tells us that our God keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry and sets captives free.  May it be so in India.  Please join us in prayer and share this story with others.  Ask friends, family members, church groups to pray.  See if you can get a prayer intention in your parish mass or church bulletin. A small action on your part is more than a “drop in the bucket”; combined with others it could create a sea of change.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – December 10, 2019

Need a dose of cute? Watch Hafod Hardware’s 2019 Christmas Advertisement, Be a Kid this Christmas.

Do you knit or crochet?  You might want to make a plastic mat for a homeless person.  It’s a great project for Christmas vacation.   Check out the directions.

This December, people around the country will gather to honor and remember those who have lost their lives to gun violence. As of December 1, there have been 35,943 gun deaths including homicides, suicides, and accidents.  There have been 385 mass shootings.  Take a minute and pray for these victims and their families.  Write a note or make a call to your legislators, either state or federal, and tell them to take action to stop these shootings. If you know someone who has lost a loved one to gun violence, contact them and send them your love.

Call your representative!   The world’s annual carbon emissions need to drop by nearly half by 2030 to net zero by 2050 to keep global warming at 1/5 degrees Celsius. However, the 2018 UNIPCC report projects that annual global carbon emissions are on track to stay the same or increase, not decrease, by 2030. Call your representative today about the 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019 (R.R. 5221). This legislation sets a nationwide foal of achieving a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050, defined as net-zero pollution across all sectors of the U.S. economy. The 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019 lays out principles for federal agency action, including, but not limited to:

  • improving public health, resilience, and environmental outcomes, especially for low-income and rural communities, communities of color, Tribal and indigenous communities, deindustrialized communities, and other communities disproportionately impacted by climate change;
  • enhancing quality job creation and ensuring fairness and equity for workers and communities affected by the transition to a 100 percent clean economy;
  • providing benefits for consumers, small businesses, and rural communities; and
  • preparing communities for the impacts and risks of climate change.

The administration has proposed raising fees for those seeing asylum and naturalization.  The proposed fee structure changes would:

  • Drastically increase the cost of naturalization from $640 to $1,170 – this is a historic high and a staggering 83 percent increase.
  • Establish an unprecedented, new $50 fee for affirmative asylum. This would make the U.S. one of just four countries (Australia, Fiji and Iran being the other three) to levy such a fee.
  • Create a new fee for DACA renewals, raising the total cost from $495 to $765.
  • Effectively end a long-standing fee waiver program that has kept naturalization, green card renewals and other benefits accessible.
  • Transfer $207.6 million in funds that should be used for immigration and naturalization processing to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to use for enforcement.
  • Increase Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent Residencyfrom $1,225 to $2,195 by requiring separate filing fees for work and travel authorization. The current fee includes applications for both work and travel documents.
  • Charge asylum-seekers for work permit applications. Currently, there is no charge for asylum seekers to seek work authorization for the first time.
  • Limit stakeholder participation by shortening the comment period from the standard sixty days to only thirty days.

You can make a public comment by using the Sisters of Mercy website.  Reminder:  Personalize the message of any sign-ons.  Rule of thumb – ⅓ original content (unique language) to be counted.  Consider putting in Scripture, faith-language, stories,

Archbishops Coakley and Gregory and Bishop Dewane have served in death penalty states. They believe it’s time to stop federal executions. They write “Human dignity can be difficult to understand when we are confronted with the depths of our sins. But we believe, from Scripture and tradition, that each person is created by God in his image and likeness, and the dignity that flows from God’s creative act cannot be removed by the actions of any person, no matter how bad, no matter how hurtful. We reverence God’s gift of life in those at the beginning of life and those at its end, in the weak and in the strong, in the poor and in the rich, in the happy and in the sad, in the honored and in the forgotten. And we reverence God’s gift of life in the guilty and in the innocent.” Read more here.  (Note. The Supreme Court stayed the execution of three federal prisoners who were supposed to be executed this week.)

Immigration is being used as a political weapon and is fueling division and violence in our country. Frontline from PBS  produced at 54 minute video called “Zero Tolerance” that explains how this has happened.  You can view it here.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Dominican Month for Peace – December 10, 2019

The situation of children in India can be dire. Children under the age of 18 comprise 37% of India’s population. Many of them experience deprivation such as lack of access to basic education, nutrition or health care. In addition, many are subjected to various forms of abuse, neglect, violence, and maltreatment which dominate their childhood experience

Further violations of child rights, legitimized by cultural practices and customs deeply rooted in the male-dominant patriarchal society, involve child marriage, of which 326 incidences were reported in 2015-16, and gender discrimination, which has created significant gender disparity.

This is reflected in the preference for providing educational opportunities for the male child. The perception of girl children as a burden to the family also leads to sex selective abortion which has resulted in an unequal sex ratio in the country with 933 females per 1000 males (Census, 2011).

Indian Center for Integrated Development provides programming for the children and women in Nagpur India.  There are a number of programs working with youth. You can check them out here.

A prime example of this is an initiative, Project Bloom, of Dominican friars in collaboration with Dominican Sisters of the Presentation and Dominican Laity in the Yuvajyothi Children’s Home of the Indian Centre for Integrated Development (ICID) in Nagpur.

This project strives to rescue children and female youth from exploitative, abusive and other disadvantaged situations such as street and pavement dwelling, work places, children begging, picking waste material and neglected children, and provide a protective environment where a child finds a safe, dignified and child-friendly atmosphere including their rehabilitation with their families.

 This is done through various programs, such as street outreach, formation of children’s groups, counselling, life skill education, educational support and sponsorship, provision of safe shelter for children in need, organizing child right awareness and advocacy programs.

 The Dominican Family of Friars, Sisters and Laity also work in collaboration with a team of social workers and volunteers in Nagpur district to assist with children who are already living on the streets with adequate and necessary support:

  • Providing street-based support, protection, rescue, rehabilitation and integration (with family), maintaining street presence through volunteers, and awareness creation among children about the risks and dangers on the streets.
  • Residential care (counselling, food, accommodation, education, life skill development, livelihood training and opportunity, and preparing them for family life). Children are referred to Yuvajyothi or other homes for children.

 And to work with economically and socially disadvantaged families whose children may turn to the streets:

  • Sensitization visits to the families, life skill education to children in the families, child rights awareness in communities and schools, interventions at the school level in order to retain children in the schools, networking and advocacy.
  • Livelihood training and opportunities for women from disadvantaged families at community-based centers.

In addition, all the Dominican entities in India are developing a training project, Safe Childhood: Breaking the silence and preventing incidences of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), to equip sisters and brothers with skills in dealing with child sexual abuse through activities such as:

  • Children’s groups and training in safety lessons against CSE
  • Increasing the knowledge and life skills of children to understand CSE and appropriately report the same in time
  • Awareness and sensitization on CSE in communities
  • Strengthening families by assisting parents to understand their children’s issues and how to help them be free from sexual exploitation
  • Providing nurturing support by visiting at-risk families at home and ensure family counseling and parenting support
  • Training of teachers, counselors and others on child sexual exploitation and enhance their capacity to effectively protect children from sexual exploitation
  • Dialogue and networking with schools and Government and Civil Society Organizations

 

If you want more information in the Indian Centre for Integrated Development run by the friars in India, click here.

Indian society is tremendously diverse. According to the Asia Society, “India offers astounding variety in virtually every aspect of social life. Diversities of ethnic, linguistic, regional, economic, religious, class, and caste groups crosscut Indian society, which is also permeated with immense urban-rural differences and gender distinctions. Differences between north India and south India are particularly significant, especially in systems of kinship and marriage. Indian society is multifaceted to an extent perhaps unknown in any other of the world’s great civilizations—it is more like an area as varied as Europe than any other single nation-state. Adding further variety to contemporary Indian culture are rapidly occurring changes affecting various regions and socioeconomic groups in disparate ways. Yet, amid the complexities of Indian life, widely accepted cultural themes enhance social harmony and order.” You can learn more here.

Christians represent only 2.3% of the population of India. Over 75% are Hindu and 15% are Muslim.  Here are Five Facts about Religion in India.

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

We Have One Lifetime to Make a Difference

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I am always heartened when I find inspiration that motivates me to live my best life.

Thankfully, that inspiration can be found all around us – sometimes we have to look for it, sometimes it shows up unexpectedly.

The latter happened to me a few days ago, when I read a quote from the longest-living president in American history:

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.”

No matter your politics, I think we can agree that former President Jimmy Carter has been an example of an honest man with integrity. During his post-presidency, he has remained active in public life and has consistently demonstrated his convictions, based on honesty and spirituality.

Even in his twilight years, the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, continues to provide lessons about peace, justice, fairness, honesty and integrity, while promoting and expanding human rights.

We can all learn something from his words of wisdom (cultivated by 95 years of living and 73 years of married life).

I, for one, will strive to make my life count for something by doing whatever I can to make a positive difference.

How about you?

Posted in Associate Blog, News