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.


 

What’s the real question?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

In today’s Gospel Jesus invites several people to follow him.  They don’t see the urgency of this invitation and give all kinds of excuses for not responding.  We might be tempted to criticize Jesus for not understanding their needs to bury a father or say good bye.  And if we focus only on the surface, we will likely miss the more important invitation to participate in the Kingdom of God.

The same misunderstanding might happen if we only look at the surface of the “Take a Knee” movement.  We are in danger of missing the deeper meaning.  Many of us ask “why do these players want to disrespect our flag and, by extension, the men and women who fight or fought to preserve it?”  This is a legitimate question but it misses what’s underneath the surface. The real question is “what is behind this action?” or “what compels them to do this?”  When we get to the real question, we can begin to make progress in correcting it and enable the players (and their supporters) to stand up again.

This opportunity presented to us by the athletes is an opportunity to have real frank discussions about what is happening in our nation today.  Yes, these athletes make millions of dollars but what about the communities where they grew up?  They had the talent and drive to move beyond the poverty and violence.  But most cannot.

At the Dominican Learning Center, we see the effects of poverty every day.  Fathers who can’t support their families…mothers who have children in prison…men and women struggling with the effects of past addictions.  These are the very real problems that exist behind the actions of the athletes.

Jesus invites us to follow him right now.  Let’s accept that invitation and begin substantive discussion about what’s happening in our nation and take action to improve it. Then, our athletes and all of us can stand proudly once again and salute a “land of the free and a home of the brave.”

Posted in News

October 17, 2017: A Day to Heed the United Nation’s Call

Post by Loretta Sullivan, OP

October 17, 2017: A Day to Heed the United Nation’s Call…

  • To eradicate poverty everywhere
  • To become an inclusive society

What will it take to meet this prophetic call?

A Commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty: October 17, 2017

Thirty years ago the United Nations set October 17 as a day to raise awareness of and direct our energies towards the eradication of poverty throughout the globe. Carved in a commemorative stone is the conviction,

“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights are respected is our solemn duty.”

These are the words of Fr. Joseph Wresinski. His life experience of poverty, hope and transformation may be an inspiration to all. Joseph was born in 1917 to immigrant parents in an internment camp outside Paris. His sister died in that camp of malnutrition, and his mother suffered humiliation from her dependence on donations. The intensity of this family’s experience of chronic poverty and social exclusion became a driving force in his life as a priest for all people. His chosen priestly residence was with the poor in a camp for the homeless. His efforts to build relationships with all people finally led him to gather together 100,000 people of all social backgrounds at the Human Rights and Liberty Trocadero Plaza in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.

Out of this ability to bring people together, Fr. Wresinski started the movement “ATD Fourth World “(All Together in Dignity). As an international movement that is active in 34 countries it remains a force in the determined effort to defeat poverty. In solidarity and collaboration with the most excluded families around the world, ATD designs and plans its projects with the participation of people living in persistent poverty. It has been demonstrated that the most disadvantaged people can be empowered to free themselves from the dependence and indignity of poverty when their courage and capacity for action are recognized, and when everyone takes responsibility for overcoming the prejudice and discrimination that continue to exclude people living in poverty.

The United Nations set the theme for this year’s commemoration appropriately as, “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A Path Toward Peaceful and Inclusive Societies.” It has been demonstrated that the poverty of some affects whole communities and leads to the destabilizing of civic structures. We are witnesses to the instability of our age, to a depersonalized world overrun with war, terrorism, human exploitation, and a self-centered will to power.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to end all poverty everywhere by 2030 seems too ambitious to many, but according to the Director-General of UNESCO it is achievable. Irina Bokova claims that success rests on political determination driven by solid knowledge about the causes, mechanisms, and consequences of poverty.

If we look at the magnitude of world and local poverty from a merely statistical reference we learn that 2.4 billion people survive on less than $2.00 a day; 1.6 billion people live in poverty; one half of the refugee population are children.

The poor have a voice. What do we hear them say about the situations that make poverty a systemic trap for them:

“I am not able to find work with my limited skills.

How will I feed my children?

I cannot support my children on low wages I make in 2 jobs

I am forced to choose between food and medicine in my senior years.

I am undocumented and am exploited by my employer.

I am opiad addicted and feel trapped.

My parents may be deported. Who will care for me?

I may be deported. Where do I belong?

The soup kitchen lost its grant. How will I eat?

We have lost everything in hurricanes, floods, etc.

I am hungry and no one feeds me, I want to learn and no one teaches me.

I don’t want bombs; I need bread.”

On the international level, children are the innocent victims of war and violence, famine and displacement. The hostilities in Syria, Yemen and Palestine lead us to wonder how children can live normal loving lives when fear is their emotional response to life. It is heart wrenching to know that children are dying each day of starvation, as I dump food in the garbage.

It is heartening to know that movements of solidarity and care are finding ways to change things. One movement close to my heart is Bread For The World. Its primary purpose is to end hunger everywhere. Although not political in intent, BFW is currently pushing Congress to respond to the spreading famine in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. The famine and displacements are reaching proportions that haven’t been seen since World War II. BFW Churches mobilize people to write letters to Congress and to visit their legislators to effect changes in policy.

Albert Nolan in his book “Hope in An Age of Despair,” 2010, reframes our option for the poor as an option for the cause of the poor. He writes, “Beyond  our ability to be moved by the pain of the poor, as good as that is, we are to take sides against the cause of the rich; to choose to eliminate unjust economic structures that discriminate against the poor, but the poor themselves have to take up their own cause.”

Taking on the call to be in solidarity with the poor is a task and grace given to us by Jesus. “For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sakes He became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor. 8: 9).

As our own legislators are consumed with measures that will remove health care and  safety nets for many, while Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have caused loss of life, destruction of homes, citizens in the entertainment and media industries hosted the telethon Hand-in-Hand, and raised millions of relief funds. The Global Citizens Festival, held in September in New York, was a gathering of 60,000 people of all ages, races and creeds calling for political and social change, with special efforts to defeat AIDS and poverty. As I watched these events on TV and saw faces radiating the joy of life, I wondered if we are witnessing a renaissance of goodness, a new age of spirit and unity!

Our prophetic Pope Francis tells us in his Encyclical “Laudato Si” “that the human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together…affecting the most vulnerable people on the planet…the gravest effects are suffered by the poorest.”

As we commemorate this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, you may wish to Google some websites for the many heartening stories of solidarity. One story that touched me was that of the Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC). It began 15 years ago when parents and families walked in the rain to the juvenile courthouse, stood and gave voice to over 2,000 voiceless families to abolish the school to prison pipeline, thus reforming the juvenile justice system.

Finally, as we join with other alliances to fight poverty, secure inclusion and dignity for all, what would we write on our commemorative stone?  Have we already done so in our Chapter mandates?

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

October 3 – Peace and Justice Updates

Justice Committee Announcement from the Eco-Justice Committee

October 4th is the Feast of Sr. Francis of Assisi. Read this short reflection from Sr. Jane Belanger on Care for Creation and how we, as Dominicans, can learn from Francis’ example to commit ourselves to both compassionate contemplation and Gospel-centered action to care for the Earth.

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Click here for the October issue of Stop Trafficking!

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As Congress returns from August recess, we are gearing up for debates on the federal budget. NETWORK is leading a national letter-writing campaign to Speaker Paul Ryan (a Catholic himself) letting him know that a budget that cuts protections for the most vulnerable families is out of line with Catholic teachings and values.

NETWORK is asking all Catholic Sisters (and Associates) to write a personal letter which includes the following:

  • Introduce yourself; be sure to include your religious order affiliation, where you are located, and a brief description of your ministry.
  • Choose an area or a few areas of the Trump budget that would have a particular impact on the people you minister to in your community or that resonate with your personal experience. Briefly explain the impact of the budget on you or your community using personal experiences when relevant.
  • Highlight the principles of Catholic Social Justice that apply to the issue areas you’ve mentioned and emphasize the importance of a faithful budget that uplifts human dignity and meets the needs of people at the margins.
  • Mail your letter to the NETWORK office by November 10, and we will deliver all of the letters to Speaker Ryan’s office on Capitol Hill.

NETWORK Lobby
25 E. Street NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001 

For more information, click here.

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DACA Action Alert from LCWR
October 5 is the absolute deadline for DREAMers to register for DACA. NOW is the time to bring the Dream Act 2017 to the floor of the House for an up or down vote. Dreamers deserve it. We must demand it.

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Ask Republican Representatives to Sign the Discharge Petition
One hundred ninety-four Representatives have signed the discharge petition, which “discharges” H.R. 1084, the “Today’s American Dream Act” and substitutes the text of H.R. 3440, the “Dream Act 2017.” We need just 25 more Republicans to do the right thing—sign the discharge petition—and give the Dream Act 2017 a vote on the floor of the House.

Please call your Republican Representative today and every day until we get a vote. Urge her/him to do the right thing. If she/he supports DREAMers, then it’s time to step up and take action. SIGN the discharge petition and give the Dream Act 2017 an up or down vote.

Click here for talking points and a sample script.

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Kneel for Justice

Blog by Justice Promoter and Associate  Kelly Litt

There’s a famous quote that goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” I want to reverse that quote and say, “If you don’t kneel for something, you’ll stand for anything.”

The recent political debate has focused on NFL (and other athletic) players who have knelt during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. I’ve seen both support and backlash in the news, on TV, and in endless posts and pictures on Facebook.

However, this protest is about much more than the National Anthem or the American flag. It’s about equality. It’s about justice. It’s about American lives. Where is the moral character of our country when white nationalists who protest are called “fine people” by the president, yet NFL players who peacefully protest injustice are scrutinized and called unpatriotic?

The actions of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi were often viewed as improper, disrespectful, or a mere charade. Yet their peaceful protests became the cornerstones behind major societal shifts.

By taking a knee and bringing attention to a national and moral injustice, these athletes are, by kneeling, standing for what they believe in. I am thankful that these professional athletes are using their platform and positions of influence to stir political discussion on an issue that is far too often swept under the rug. They are coming together, putting their fame and reputations on the line in order to speak out against racial injustice, peacefully.

Some say this display of protest causes division between fans and the public, further polarizing and dividing our country, and others say they prefer to view sporting games for entertainment, not politics. Yet when racial injustice is so clear and so present in our country, when young black men are being brutalized and killed in our streets, perhaps we do not have the privilege to ignore it as we enjoy a ball game.

Whether in prayer or protest, maybe it’s time we all take a knee against racial injustice.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Still Another Way

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

A week ago it seemed all our paths to the first gathering of Ohio Pennsylvania Associate Leaders (OPAL) at Villa Maria, PA, were blocked. Colette Parker, OPA, and I (Co-directors of Associates of Dominican Sisters of Peace) were glad this new regional group of the North American Conference of Associates and Religious, was closer to us—near Youngstown, Ohio, just across the Pennsylvania border—giving us an alternative to the Tri-State regional (Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio) which meets in Cincinnati. Since Colette lives in Warren, OH not far from Villa Maria, and Conni Dubick, OPA, President of NACAR, lives a few blocks north of me in Akron, Conni offered to pick me up, we could drive together, and we’d meet Colette there.. But easier said than done!

We had failed to notice that the Akron Marathon—whose blue line had been painted on several streets marking its path for weeks already—was scheduled to begin that same Saturday at 7 a.m., ending at 1 or 2 p.m. Conni’s street was blocked off, as was every street between her home and mine. Cathy Arnold, OP, hearing of our dilemma joined me in consulting area maps and Google, while Conni talked to patrolmen and neighbors in hopes of finding another way for her to get to my home or I could get to hers. No way.

Conni could only get out of her street by going north, away from the marathon, but also away from me. Just as we were about to give up, Cathy thought of still another way: she and I could avoid the marathon by going the opposite direction to take the highways around the city and meet Conni at an agreed upon site near a highway exit. Bingo! Great idea. We agreed to meet at the parking lot of the International Institute in 15 minutes. I’d switch cars, and we’d be on our way. So we each set out.

Neither Cathy nor I being natives of Akron, we activated her phone GPS whose voice gave clear directions for the shortest way to that parking lot. But the GPS was guiding us right to the streets blocked off for the  marathon, so instead of following it we took the highway route. As we went our way, we noticed that each time Cathy didn’t follow the voiced directions, the GPS immediately showed still another way using our latest position (without announcing “recalculating”). It reminded us how God, having given us free will—is guiding, redirecting us, accepting and cooperating with our choices, ever interacting with us to turn all things to our good.

Thanks to Cathy, Conni and I did meet at the designated parking lot, traveled together, and arrived on time for our OPAL meeting where we met up with Colette.

A Learning and A Reflection

All our roads were blocked except those that went the opposite way of our goal. Considering them led us to a   longer, but effective way. When direct routes to fulfill our hopes and dreams are blocked, a longer and circuitous way may be God’s direction, helping us avoid troublesome roadblocks.

On September 28, Nancy Sylvester IHM wrote in Global Sisters Report: “Since the turn of the last century, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of news we hear or read from every corner of the globe. In turn, there is an increasing sense of disempowerment or impotency in the face of such suffering and pain because we don’t know what we can do….In the face of such knowledge where does our compassion find expression? How can I feel that I am making a difference?…the destruction on the Americas wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the Mexico earthquakes. So many people hurt, injured or dead. Thousands more displaced, their houses ruined, businesses gone. Cities and countries facing weeks or months without power and the astronomical cost of rebuilding their infrastructure.”

She continued: “women religious are in a unique positon to respond. We have sisters in many if not most of the countries of our world. They are in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, as well as Iraq, South Korea, Venezuela and other countries worldwide. They live in Florida and Texas. They are not strangers. They, and the people with whom they work, are our neighbors.”

Men and women in increasing numbers around the world are answering the call to live the mission and charism of Religious Congregations as Lay Associates.  Might this relationship make possible STILL OTHER WAYS for us to make a difference in our hurting world?  How could we use our highly networked web of relationships to find still another way to make a greater impact together to help heal, to rebuild?  

Posted in Associate Blog, News