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.


 

Justice Updates

Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM)

The proposed rule, or Notice of Proposed Rule making (NPRM) is the official document that announces and explains the agency’s plan to address a problem or accomplish a goal.  All proposed rules must be published in the Federal Register to notify the public and to give them an opportunity to submit comments.  The proposed rule and the public comments received on it form the basis of the final rule.  Usually the public has 30-60 days to comment although an agency can petition for an extension.  There are two ways to make a comment: by mail or on-line.  Most agencies prefer to receive comments electronically so the comments are more easily available to the public. Electronic comments are submitted to the Federal Register that manages the process. Written comments to the agency.

The notice-and-comment process enables anyone to submit a comment on any part of a proposed rule. It is not a vote on the legislation and an agency cannot make its final rule based on how many supported or opposed the rule. At the end of the process, the agency must base its reasoning and conclusions on the rulemaking record, consisting of the comments, scientific data, expert opinions and facts accumulated during the pre-rule and proposed rule stages.  To move forward with a final rule, the agency must conclude that its proposed solution with help accomplish the goals or solve the problems identified. 

If the rule making record contains persuasive new data or policy arguments, or poses difficult questions or criticisms, the agency may decide to terminate the rule making. Or the agency may decide to continue the rule making but change aspects of the rule to reflect these new issues.  (Information from A Guide to the Rule making Process prepared by the Office of the Federal Register)

A comment can express simple support or dissent for a regulatory action. However, a constructive, information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision making. Some tips for good comments:

  • Be concise but support your claims
  • Base your justification on sound reasoning, scientific evidence, and/or how you will be impacted
  • Address trade-offs and opposing views in your comment
  • If a rule raises many issues, do not feel obligated to comment on every one – select those issues that concern and affect you the most and/or you understand the best.
  • If you disagree with a proposed action, suggest an alternative (including not regulating at all) and include an explanation and/or analysis of how the alternative might meet the same objective or be more effective.
  • Consider including examples of how the proposed rule would impact you negatively or positively.
  • Click here for more tips.

Proposed Undoing of the Flores Settlement Agreement 

The Trump administration has proposed changes in regulations that would allow the U.S. government to detain immigrant children and families indefinitely. The administration’s proposal would curtail minimum standards for how to care for children held in federal custody – standards set by a court agreement that has guided U.S. policy on the treatment of such children for more than two decades.  On September 6, 2018, the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services said in a joint notice of proposed rule making that the new policy would “satisfy the basic purpose” of the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement by ensuring that migrant children “are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”  But the proposed changes eliminate the 20-day limit on the detention of children, a limit the Trump administration has repeatedly mischaracterized as a “legal loophole” rather than a basic standard to ensure that children are treated with careTo learn more about the current regulations, read this Flores Settlement Agreement flyer produced by the Justice for Immigrants Campaign.  The proposed rule changes would allow the government to detain parents and children, or children who enter the country without adults, for the duration of their immigration court cases which, on average, take years to complete.  (From Maryknoll)

Please take action to protect immigrant children: 

SUBMIT A COMMENTClick here to register your opposition to the administration’s proposal and stand up for immigrant children’s safety. On the right-hand side, please adapt the template language in your comment. Identical comments will be counted as one comment.

CALL CONGRESSCall (866) 940-2439  three times to be connected to your 2 Senators and 1 Representative. Here is a sample script:  “I am your constituent from [CITY/TOWN], and [as a person of faith] I urge my Senator/Representative to reject family detention for immigrants. Incarcerating children with their parents is not a solution to family separation. Rather than detention, Congress and the administration should use and invest in community-based alternatives to detention such as the Family Case Management Program. Such an alternative is cost-effective and humane. My community welcomes and values immigrants, and we urge you to do the same.”

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

How Will You Vote?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

One of the freedoms that I am most grateful for is freedom of speech. As citizens, we are able to disagree publically with our elected officials and each other without worrying about the police arresting us when we walk out the door. And most importantly, we can make our voice heard through our vote. 

When we vote, we look for the person who will best represent our values. This can be especially difficult in today’s climate and we might be tempted to vote only for our party, or for women…or Latinos…or liberals… or…..   You get my point.  

Some might vote only for a candidate who professes to be pro-life. Voting for a person who is anti-abortion is not necessarily the same as voting pro-life.  Life does not stop when a child is born.  There are so many other important life issues to be considered.  I would suggest that all the issues that the Dominican Sisters of Peace have included in our voting guide are pro-life including protection from violence in our own communities and welcoming people escaping from it in their countries…ensuring that our creation is protected and its resources are available for all…protecting adults and children from sex or labor trafficking. They address the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

So what do you do when a candidate professes to be pro-life but addresses none of the life issues after birth? That’s where our consciences come into play.

A recent article in America called Catholic Teaching on Conscience is (Again) Topic of Discussion at Synod, states “Catholics believe that following one’s conscience is paramount—and that believers should do their best to form their consciences in the light of reason, experience, Scripture and spiritual formation, always with the help of church teaching.”  The Church’s Social Teaching is one source of formation and includes the rights to life, dignity, work, care for the poor and vulnerable, and care for creation. Perhaps we need to work together to end abortions by helping women to avoid them or supporting mothers when their children are born.

So, in the end, each person must make his or her decision on how to vote. That decision must be done with prayer, information, discussion.  Voting is an important action that cannot be taken lightly. It affects each of us personally and communally.  May you find peace in this important action. 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

WHAT CAN EQUAL THE VALUE OF A HUMAN SOUL?

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I’m pretty sure that we have all heard “Everything has a price” – as in: for the right price, anything can be bought or sold.

As I pondered that idea, I was reminded of a dialogue between a professor and fellow student in one of my history courses in college (a few years ago, wink wink). It went something like this:

Professor: Anything can be bought.

Student: Well, you can’t buy love.

Professor: Maybe. But for the right price, you can buy a pretty good imitation of it.

The class erupted in laughter, as the student conceded that the professor had a good point.

I think that memory moved to the forefront of my mind because I needed a light moment before tackling the really serious question that started my deliberation: How much is a human life worth? – $10 million, the EPA’s value of statistical life for 2016? a billion? $18 billion, the amount that the U.S. reportedly cleared in new arms deals with Saudi Arabia in 2017? a trillion? Or is it invaluable?

I choose the latter. I believe that life is a sacred gift from God; therefore, it is not to be treated like a cheap commodity. I believe that it is a mistake to disregard the value of human life, no matter what the circumstances.

I choose to respect and value my life and the lives of others. I believe the dignity of a human soul is worth more than any economic gain.

I was horrified when I heard an Evangelical leader say “you don’t blow up an international alliance over one person” in response to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

I am not willing to give up my commitment to championing human rights for economic benefit. I am not okay with jeopardizing America’s global reputation as a moral authority that advocates respect for human rights in exchange for money from arms sales.

Are you?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

The Transformative Power of a Smile

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

Have you ever caught yourself smiling when asking others to smile while taking a photo?

I have a yellow bowl with a smiley face sitting on my desk and sitting on top of the bowl is a stuffed smiley face figure. When I need a ‘lift-up,’ I look at these inanimate objects, and magically, I catch myself happier and able to reciprocate this smile toward others.

A simple smile has such transformative powers, changing how we feel about ourselves and how we see others.  When we visualize smiling from within and share this positive energy with others, we create a welcoming and accepting atmosphere around us.   A smile directed to others can spread like wildfire and light a path of joy and peace among its recipients.  This kind of power is life-giving and can be far-reaching.  Just imagine how the spark of a simple smile has the power to ignite a glow of positive feelings.

Think of the people who bring smiles to your face.  What characteristics exude from them when they smile? Cheerfulness?  Warmth?  Calmness?  Optimism?  How do you feel when someone smiles at you?  Special?  Recognized? Affirmed? Hopeful?   Smiles have a way of connecting us to each other, whether we are exchanging or giving a smile to a familiar acquaintance or a stranger.   If we all smiled more, we might be able to keep the spirit of peace, hope, and happiness lingering longer.

There are many benefits to smiling.  Smiling is contagious and can lower your blood pressure, relieve stress, and strengthen your immune system.  Even in perilous times, smiling can lessen the pain of suffering and give you strength to deal with whatever ails you.

In Proverbs 15: 13, we are told that “A glad heart lights up the face, but an anguished heart breaks the spirit.”  While life can be filled with moments of sorrow and sadness, we can begin to find relief by striving for a cheerful disposition.  In Proverbs 17:22, we are cautioned to recognize that “A joyful heart is the health of the body, but a depressed spirit dries up the bones.”  Although circumstances can cause us to despair, our faith teaches us to have hope and to believe that God smiles upon us.  We can smile back in gratitude for how our God carries us through the good and the difficult times of our lives.

If we start each morning with a smile, we might experience more fulfillment in what we do and how we see things throughout the day.  So, every day, think of the people, places, and things that make you smile.  Then, light up your surroundings with your smile and watch how you and others are transported to a happy place by this simple, powerful and meaningful gesture.

One of my friends’ Skype greeting is this quote by Lawrence G. Lovasik, “Nobody needs a smile so much as the one who has none to give. So get used to smiling heart-warming smiles, and you will spread sunshine in a sometimes dreary world.” How true! A good reminder of God’s call to share God’s love and smile.

Are you ready to share your smile with God’s people and to bring hope, peace, and love to others as a religious sister?  If so, I invite you to contact one of our Vocation Ministers.

Posted in God Calling??, News

St. Agnes Student Brings Peace to the Refugee

St. Agnes Academy Senior Gracie Fogarty served at a Texas refugee center this summer.
The book of Proverbs says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

 

We see this verse in action as the students of the founded educational ministries of the Dominican Sisters of Peace build peace in their communities every day. Gracie Fogarty, a student at our St. Agnes Academy in Memphis, TN, learned to build peace at a refugee center in Texas. She tells her story here.

Tic-Tac-Toe — a game loved by children everywhere — will now forever hold a special place in my heart. I know that it may seem a little peculiar that such a simple game could hold such importance; however, once you hear why this game changed my life, it may hold a new meaning for you, too.

On June 30, I was asked by the Religious Education Director at my school, St. Agnes Academy, if I would be interested in joining the Catholic Charities of West Tennessee team on a mission trip to Texas. She told me that we would be working at a respite center that welcomed refugees who are entering the United States for better living conditions and that we would leave in four days.

All I could say was, “Wow. Why me?” My heart was saying, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” But my mind was hesitant. It all felt too sudden. I then remembered a quote that has been my motto for a while now: “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.” I like to believe God was the one telling me, “yes,” and after this experience, I know full well that God was the one calling me and tapping on my heart. God was calling me to help God’s people, to do God’s work, and to spread God’s love. I knew I had to go and do God’s work and bring others closer to God as I shared God’s love.

One way I made known God’s love was through the simple and well-loved game of Tic-Tac-Toe. I know it sounds farfetched, but I uniquely discovered it to be a gateway for new friendships. While I created many friendships through my mission trip in Texas, three stand out, and they all began with this child’s game.

First, I met a nine-year-old girl who spent a lot of time talking with me. I came up with the idea to teach her how to play Tic-Tac-Toe, and she thought it was the best thing ever! I asked her if she had any favorite games, and she replied, “This game!” It made my heart so happy that I had brought her some joy. I was intrigued that something so simple could bring so much joy to a person.

  The next day, some of the other Memphis group members were talking with a young man when I walked into the room and they introduced me. He asked me to play Tic-Tac-Toe with him. He was a remarkable man. We all got to know him really well that day. He told us that he would never forget us and that we were his best and first friends here in the USA. He even drew a heart on a piece of paper and began to write something inside it. Once he finished, we saw that he had written “amigos” on the paper inside the heart. He told us that we have created that meant so much to him.

The third day of our mission trip, I met a little girl with the sweetest smile and most beautiful heart. Again, we got to know each other through a game of Tic-Tac-Toe! She taught me so many things in the few hours I had with her. She taught me what it means to be a friend, and how important it is to make others feel beautiful and loved. This little girl has a huge piece of my heart, as do all of the other refugees that I had the privilege of meeting. Saying goodbye has never been easy for me, and saying goodbye to this little girl was no exception. Before I left she said: “Please don’t forget about me. I love you with all my heart.” It was so hard to say goodbye to each of these people that I met. However, how lucky am I that I was able to have such an experience and meet so many new people that made saying goodbye so hard? God truly blessed me through this mission trip. He blessed me with new friends, a new view on humanity, and He grew my heart to love service even more.

My week in Texas was an experience unlike any other. I got a real glimpse into the “uproar” that our country has been focused on. I have come to realize that this is more a human issue than a political issue. These people were living in terrible conditions. They need only to feel loved, accepted and cared for. These people are some of the sincerest, kindest, gentlest, and most grateful people I have ever met. These people are so special to me, and they have taught me so much about how to be a genuine person. They deserve to have their dignity restored, and I pray that I was able to play a role in that. The mission I was on was about welcoming these people with open arms and offering them peace, which they so richly deserve. Who knew that part of bringing them peace would begin by playing a simple game? All, I know is that I give all the glory to God.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace build peace at our ministries across the country and around the world. To support our work to bring peace to the marginalized, please click here.
Posted in News