Peace & Justice Blog

Stay up to date on peace and justice issues, both locally and internationally, and learn how you can take action.


Community Supported Agriculture: A New Normal for the Post-COVID Food System?

Blog by Julie Laudick Dougherty, owner/operator of Oxbow Farm in Maryland, and member of the Eco-Justice Committee for the Dominican Sisters of Peace

When grocery stores had shortages at the start of the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders took effect, people had more time and reason than ever to start asking questions about where their food is coming from and how to get it locally. Many expanded their gardens or started one for the first time.

Next to shopping at farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares are one of the most popular ways to get fresh produce directly from local farms. While there are many different variations on the concept, the most basic CSA model involves the customer paying upfront at the beginning of the year for a weekly subscription to a box of in-season vegetables. Some CSA farms will allow you to personalize your CSA box by opting in and out of certain items, and some memberships involve volunteer opportunities at the farm.

The term “Community Supported Agriculture” was first popularized among farmers in the Northeast US in the late 1980s, but the same concept was used by black farmers in the south many years earlier. Dr. Booker T. Washington, a black farmer and professor from Tuskegee University in Alabama promoted “Clientele Membership Clubs” where members would pay an annual fee to pick their own fruits and vegetables at a discounted price throughout the season. This model was particularly helpful for farmers who lacked access to capital in the spring to cover seed, input, and labor costs. The annual upfront membership fee solves this cash flow problem and provides a steady sales outlet.

Despite the benefits of the CSA model and its importance in the local food movement, CSA membership numbers for many farms had been dwindling across the country in recent years before the pandemic. Fewer people had the knowledge or time to cook the variety of fresh produce that comes in a CSA box, and there are more convenient meal kit and grocery delivery options to choose from now than ever before. When the pandemic started revealing weaknesses in our industrial food system, the membership numbers for many CSA farms doubled or even tripled, which provided much needed hope for sustainable and organic farmers who had been finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

Growing your own food or buying from your local farmer isn’t just about your personal health or food security, it is an act of participation in a more just food system, and a way of re-connecting to our original vocation from God: to till the earth and to keep it. Hopefully this trend of people growing more of their own food, buying it locally, and spending more time at home making quality meals will continue as our society returns to a “new normal.” As the pace of life picks up and schedules start getting busy again, take time to consider what you really want to invite back into your life and which things or activities you can do without. If you are interested in supporting a local farm, visit your neighborhood farmer’s market, or look online at Local Harvest to find small organic farms near you:

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Novena Against Gun Violence

“Loving God, You created for us a world of beauty, order, and endless possibilities. But today ours is a world often in chaos: war, famine, drought, so many “isms”, lack of respect for life and for one another. In this our very own beloved country we face these issues day after day. One of these is uppermost in our minds these days—the horror of gun violence which continues to ravage our nation, our society, our people, even the youngest of our children. 

“Spirit God, we give you all names: Holy, Sanctifier, Paraclete, Advocate. Yet you are so much more: Challenger, Nudger, whirling Wind and engulfing Fire, Mover, Enabler, Lover, Breath of Life. Be that for us, we pray. Instill in us your gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, reverence, and awe. Pentecost us. Enable us to be as daring as the newly inspired Apostles—to be bold in our defense of the right of all persons to feel safe wherever we are, unafraid of being forever silenced by those who are armed with weapons and anger and sometimes even hatred.

“Give us the courage to speak the Word. Give us the audacity to take the actions needed to end this needless violence against innocent victims.

In the name of our Creator God, in the name of the Word of Life and in the name of the Fire of Love. Amen.”                                                                                                                   

— Prayer by Sister Michele Bisaillon, DHS  

Click here to download a copy of the novena.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Women Religious Communities Offer Joint Statement on April 10 Mass Shooting in Louisville

We, the vowed, co-members, associates and partners of our women religious communities, are devastated by the loss of five more lives in Monday’s mass shooting in Louisville. This marked the 146th mass shooting of 2023, with 209 people dead and more than 550 injured. We draw strength and solace from our prayer for an end to this senseless violence, but we demand more.

The congregations call on all branches of government, from the White House to the smallest city council, to take immediate and decisive action to reduce gun violence by enforcing existing gun regulations and passing sensible gun regulations such as safe storage and “red flag laws” to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands.

We also encourage states like Kentucky, which have opted out of federal gun laws, to work with ALL branches of government to help ensure the safety of their citizens. Gov. Andy Beshear allowed House Bill 153, which bans Kentucky’s state and local law enforcement from assisting in any federal bans on guns, ammunition or firearms accessories, to become law without his signature. We call on ALL elected representatives to put the safety of their citizens above the safety of their jobs, and act to protect lives despite political consequences.

We call upon ALL Kentucky citizens to reach out to their legislators every day via the Legislative Message Line (1-800-372-7181) until they take action.

At the same time, we ask our representatives to more fully fund efforts that will prevent such tragedies at the source — including mental health services, school counseling, neighborhood improvements, community outreach and mediation — in the 2024 federal budget and beyond. A multi-pronged approach that manages the destructive potential of guns AND offers alternatives to violence is our best hope of saving the nearly 50,000 Americans who die from gun violence every year.

Let each of us lift those affected by Monday’s tragedy and countless other tragedies in love and prayer. At the same time, let each of us reach out to our elected representatives, demanding that they put aside party and power to protect those under their care.

Dominican Sisters of Peace

Sisters of Loretto/Loretto Community

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team

The Leadership Team of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Mother Earth Calls Us to Action

Blog by Karen Martens, OPA

Do you realize that April 22 is Earth Day? The first Earth Day was in 1970. Several years later Pope Francis published Laudato Si’ (2015), calling each of us to action in order to address climate change. DSP has embraced this call by responding to the seven goals set forth by the Laudato Si’Action Platform and is in the second of seven years to meet those goals.

I wonder how well each of us has embraced within our heart the issue of climate change and its effect on all living things. Does it play a role in our daily decisions about what we eat, how often we travel, what we wear, what items we use or purchase, and how often we speak out to our elected officials? Does this influence how we live our lives? To do so, it seems we have to identify with it deeply on both a personal and spiritual level.

Laudato Si’ and climate change should affect each of us on a spiritual level. Unfortunately, I suspect we don’t quickly make that connection. One way to help us make this connection is by reflection and contemplation. Recently, one associate group, the Bethany Mutualities, did that by reflecting on quotations from Laudato Si’. There are many to choose from. The ones we chose were:

  1. Our goal is… become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. LS 19
  2. The Spirit of Life dwells in every living creature and calls us to enter into relationship with him. LS 88
  3. Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society. LS 91
  4. Every ecological approach needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged. LS 93
  5. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. LS 118
  6. When we speak of the “environment,” what we really mean is a relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it. LS 139
  7. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift we have freely received and must share with others. LS 159
  8. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience. LS 217
  9. Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption.  We need to take up an ancient lesson… it is the conviction that “less is more.”  LS’ 222


Perhaps others of you may wish to reflect on these privately or in groups.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

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