Peace & Justice Blog

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


 

Dominican Month of Peace

“Just before he finished his term a few months ago, our beloved Master, Bruno Cadoré, announced that the focus of our annual Dominican Month for Peace for 2019 would be on India. This is a unique moment of solidarity of the whole Dominican Family during Advent, praying that the Prince of Peace will bless all of our efforts.” 

Father Gerard Timoner, OP, Master of the Order

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

On December 1st, we began the Dominican Month of Peace.  It was introduced in 2017 to promote global Dominican solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are trying to bring hope in situations of violence, poverty, and war. It runs throughout Advent until January 1. The focus this year is India and highlights the human rights of children, women and indigenous people. It’s an opportunity to educate the Dominican family about the ‘family’ in other parts of the world and how they are ministering.

What does our family look like? There are 159 friars, 452 sisters in seven congregations, five nuns, 143 lay Dominicans in six chapters and 109 Dominican youth.  You can see where they minister by checking out this map of India (below) or clicking this link to a list of the individual congregations.

Since the 1990’s the Dominican Family in India (DFI) has been working among the marginalized especially with children, women and indigenous rural communities. Through many and diverse awareness and sensitization programs in families, schools, and communities, the DFI is trying to create safe environments and neighborhoods where children can be protected from exploitation and their rights safeguarded. They work with women to challenge gender violence and exploitation and to insist on gender equality and more political participation.  They also work with indigenous communities to empower and strengthen their political participation and to be accepted as integral and equal members of society.

Each week during the Dominican Month of Peace, there will be information on India, its history, its people and life in India today as well as the work supported by the Dominican Family in India. There will also be several blogs on trafficking in India. Please take time each day to pray for the Dominican Family in India and for the people with whom they minister.

Dominican Family in India
Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Gratitude

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

“If the only prayer you ever say is Thank You, it’s enough.”  (Meister Eckhart)

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. There are many things in my life for which I am grateful. Four of my favorites are the Justice Committees that I work with to do our Justice work.  Our Peace and Nonviolence Committee includes Alicia Alvarado, Mary Beth Auletto, Chris Cahalan, Kevin Cahalan, Germaine Conroy, June Fitzgerald, Shawn Fitzpatrick, Michelle Grey, Anne Kilbride, Frank Martens, Judy Morris, and Jerry Stein. The committee developed the corporate stance on Abolition of the Death Penalty, coordinated Blessed are the Peacemakers Webinar, and have worked on Gun Safety Legislation in addition to their individual peace building activities. Go CLARA!

Working to educate us about our environment is our Eco Justice Committee.  The members are Jane Belanger, Marguerite Chandler, Judy Hardy, Jo Hendricks, Karen Martens, Roberta Miller, Terry Wasinger, Mary Kay Woods. The committee has worked tirelessly to help us understand the importance of protecting our Mother Earth, our primary revelation of a generous God.  They have written blogs to get us ready for Earth Day and helped us to participate in the Climate Strike. We are working on ways to calculate our carbon footprint and reduce it.

Our Immigration Committee has written letters, made calls, accompanied immigrants, and made public comments to protect our fragile asylum seekers and refugees.  They include Alicia Alvarado, Esther Calderon, Gemma Doll, Conni Dubick, Judi Engel, Dora Harper, Martha Maloney, Roberta Miller, Rachel Sena, Carol Ann Spencer, Thoma Swanson, Janice Thome, Jim Tinnin, Roserita Weber, Rene Weeks, and Tom Winters.  The committee developed a prayer card using artwork by Sr. Thoma in addition to helping with the Sock and Underwear Drive for asylum seekers in El Paso.

Finally, our Anti Human Trafficking Committee members have been active in work around the country working with trafficked women and educating hotel/motels about how to spot them.  They have written blogs to help us understand what trafficking is and how it affects us especially labor trafficking.  The Dominican Month of Peace will focus on trafficking in India.  Our Trafficking Committee includes Mary Ann Alexander, Nadine Buchanan, Joel Campbell, Barbara Catalano, Carol Davis, Ellen Dunn, and Carol Gaeke.

These are just the highlights of the committee work. They provide so much awareness and guidance for my work. I am also grateful for my leadership liaison, Sr. Gemma Doll, who leads by example and her own involvement in justice work.  It truly takes a village to do justice. Thank you for all your actions and prayers.

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

“Presente” at the SOA Watch

Blog by Sr. Suzanne Brauer, OP

This past weekend in resistance and memory, we returned to the gates of Ft. Benning, where the infamous SOA/WHINSEC is located. We remembered and upheld Celina Ramos, Elba Ramos, Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Segundo Montes, Juan Ramón Moreno, Joaquín López y López, and Armando López who were massacred at the hands of SOA graduates that formed part of the Salvadoran Army’s Atlacatl Battalion. The SOA Watch movement initially formed to denounce this massacre. Now, 30 years later, we continue to work to close the SOA/WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) and to dismantle the structures of oppression on which it is based.

In an article published last week with ABC-affiliated WTVM, WHINSEC’s new Commandant, Colonel John Suggs, said “change occurred” when the SOA became WHINSEC in 2001. He went on to say that “the guys who graduate here are going to go on to be the heads of their militaries,” and that “the relationships they built here…it fosters peace throughout the whole region, it helps them get things done.” Make no mistake, the purpose and the results of the SOA and WHINSEC are the same – training state agents in civilian-targeted warfare that results in violent repression, torture, forced disappearances, massacres, forced migration, the criminalization of dissent, and imperialist coups to impose right-wing neo-liberal agendas. The idea that this training “fosters peace” throughout the Americas is absurd and extremely dangerous.

Over the weekend we learned that in September 2019, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shared that Fort Benning, GA, home of SOA/WHINSEC will be the new location of an “urban warfare” training facility for skills to be used on communities within the United States.

Sisters Kathy Broussard and Suzanne Brauer and Associates Joanna Magee, Chris Cahalan and Kevin Cahalan and a number of our New Orleans friends along with Dominican Sisters from Springfield, Sinsinawa and Adrian and Mercy Sisters, joined in the SOA Watch. On Saturday we heard motivating speeches and on Sunday we participated in the solemn commemorative Funeral Procession, during which there was a litany of hundreds of names of persons who had been killed by SOA trained military. After so many years of protesting we still sing “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. Hold On.”

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Everyone Counts

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

On April 1, 2020, the official Federal census will take place. It’s coming quickly and it’s very important to everyone who lives in the U.S.  The census takes place every ten years and is vitally important that everyone be counted including those who may not be citizens or even have legal papers to be in the country.  Why is it important that everyone be counted?

The census data is used at the Federal level:

  • To reapportion seats in the House of Representatives.
  • For state officials to redraw congressional and legislative districts based on population shifts.
  • To determine how to allocate more than $675 billion in Federal dollars supporting state and local community programs across the country.

This $675 billion is used for schools, hospitals, Head Start, WIC (Women, Infant, and Children), Solid Waste Management Grants, Section 8 Housing Vouchers, Native American Training and Employment and other programs for healthcare, education, housing, food and income security.  The amount given to a city or state for those programs depends on the number of individuals living in those cities/states based on the census count.

Unfortunately, some of the very people who are most impacted by the programs may be missed in the counting. These include children under five, low income households, immigrants, and rural residents.  Many people in these populations distrust the government and fear that they will be in danger from giving their information. The reality is that Census Data is required by law to be confidential. Individual responses cannot be shared with other government agencies but must be reported in statistical summary format only.  Other government agencies will not be given this information.

This is the first year that the census will be conducted on-line.  Invitations will be mailed to households with instructions on how to respond.  One person from each household will respond for all the members of the household. In our motherhouses and care centers, the administrators will submit information for each of the residents.  As a general rule, individuals will be counted where they live regardless of their relationship with the owner of the house or person submitting the information.

If you know or work with someone who is hesitant to respond to the census, please share this information with them and encourage them to be counted.  Everyone deserves to be counted!

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Blog

Blog by Sr. Carol Ann Spencer, OP

In last week’s blog, Barbara Kane  noted that on November 12,2019, the Supreme Court  will hear oral  arguments about the legality of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ) program.  Some background to this important issue  may be helpful.

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security initiated the DACA  program for certain undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children and met several  guidelines.  DACA was patterned after the DREAM Act, bipartisan legislation that was initiated more than a decade ago but has  not  become law.  The purpose of  DACA was to utilize prosecutorial  discretion  to provide undocumented persons who were brought to the United States when they were children with temporary relief from deportation and work authorization.  The status expires after two years, subject to renewal.

The current administration announced termination  of the DACA program on September 15,2017.  While this termination is now the subject of litigation and multiple nationwide preliminary injunctions, these are only partial and temporary.  This situation has  created  much anguish and uncertainty.  Dreamers are young people who include DACA  recipients, as well  as other undocumented individuals of  similar age group who were brought to the United States by their parents  as children.  They are contributors to our country,veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. .  Dreamers are woven into the fabric of our country and our Church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth.

We believe that the dignity of every  human being, particularly that of youth and families, must be protected and we believe that our nation has a moral  responsibility to provide a path to citizenship ,not only for DACA and the Dreamers, but for all those with Temporary Protected Status.  Use every opportunity to call on your members of Congress to find  a bipartisan legislative solution to protect all these young people and hardworking  families and pray that our Supreme Court will support the legality of DACA so that we may, once again , make a move to become a WELCOMING NATION.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog