Category Archives: Global Sisters Report

Speaking truth to the Speaker

My latest Global Sisters Report column has been posted. This time it is an open letter to House Speaker, Representative Paul Ryan, sharing my concerns about the proposed federal budget.

Here’s a snippet:

In your conversation with Sister Erica on CNN, you shared your appreciation for the model of Catholic organizations that help the poor. You expressed that they do a “fantastic job in spite of government doing wraparound benefits for the poor to make sure that they get to where they are — from where they are to where they need to be.”

My religious congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, sponsors and supports nonprofit services for low-income women in Jersey City, New Jersey, and Seattle with a similar model. Both the York Street Project and Jubilee Women’s Center provide such wraparound services, treat the whole person, and assist the women they serve on their journey to self-sufficiency.

I found it interesting that you referenced the year 1985 in your response to Sister Erica, because that is around the time my sisters started both these innovative programs.

I agree with you that we need to encourage and support such programs, but as partners with government, not replacements for our civic duty to promote the general welfare. Such programs do not do a fantastic job in spite of government, but in tandem with life-giving government programs like the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which are in jeopardy in the budget proposals under consideration. At the York Street Project, for example, CDBG funds support the job readiness program at Kenmare High School, helping women who previously dropped out of the public school system to find jobs that will support their families.

Visit Global Sisters Report to read the entire letter.

Hoping with St Martha

martha1Today is the Feast of St. Martha. My latest Global Sisters Report column, published today, includes my musings on St. Martha as a model of hope.

Martha was indeed real, living in a world where some things just needed to get done, even if her sister Mary was too busy to help. She also lived in a world where the people she loved were suffering. I suspect there may have been times when she too wanted to hide under the covers.

Martha certainly had her own doubts about what was possible in such a world. When Jesus asked her to roll away the stone from her brother’s tomb, she warned him that the smell would be overpowering given that her brother had been dead for four days.

Yet Martha — worried, anxious and doubting as any real woman would be in the face of such stark realities — also listened to the hope and promise of Jesus. She made a home for hope in her heart. She helped to roll away the stone, and her brother Lazarus came out, ready to be unbound and free. We have a lot to learn from Martha, who in the end engaged in hopeful action in the midst of her own anxiety, worry and grief.

Read the whole column here.

Life lessons from my mom

MomMeThis weekend is Mother’s Day in the US. My latest Global Sisters Report column is a reflection on racism, white privilege, and lessons I learned from my mother about confronting systemic injustice.

My mother had a particularly informed conscience and made choices that confronted systems of oppression. While I grew up in a mostly-white suburb, my mother would take me shopping at the mall located in a neighboring suburb where most residents were people of color. This was not only to expose her children to diverse groupings of people, but also because she knew that the major department stores intentionally sent lower quality goods and a lesser product selection to stores in communities of color. She was sending a message by choosing to spend her money in those stores, hoping to contribute the strength of her purchasing power to changing what she understood to be an unjust and racist system. …

This Mother’s Day weekend, I choose to remember and honor my mother by lamenting the ways I am connected to and benefit from systems of oppression and exclusion. As my mother’s daughter, I commit myself, once again, to work for justice and the common good.

Read the whole column by following the link

Global Sisters Column: Easter People

My latest column on Global Sisters Report has been posted- Help Wanted: Easter People. It is a reflection on being Easter people in a mixed up world, in conversation with Pope Francis, Gustavo Gutierrez,  and the founder of my religious community, Margaret Anna Cusack.

In the face of such suffering, against the backdrop of fear-mongering and terrorism, and with the soundtrack of an oftentimes toxic political debate, we celebrate Easter.

Christ is risen. Alleluia!

If Easter and the Resurrection are to mean anything, then we must be Easter people in such a world. …

As Easter people, we are called to find joy, to create hope, and to build peace.

Through us, the Easter story continues.

Click here to read the whole column.

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Me, Sister Camillus, and the Easter Bunny

Love > Fear

This morning, after reading much disheartening news on the domestic and international front over breakfast, I spent some quiet time with today’s Scripture readings and my friend Julia Walsh, FSPA’s latest Global Sisters Report column.

In Hosea, I read: “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away … For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

In Julia’s column, I read: “In this fearful age, God can transform all of us and the ways we feel about each other. We can love in radical ways, guided by our faith that each of us — even the person who scares us the most — are truly children of God deserving to be loved and cherished. Then, freed from the fears that plague our conversations, news, and dynamics, we can powerfully love one another just as God has loved us, sharing transformative mercy and hope.”

Both can be summed up by this equation:

love-greater-than-fear

Worthy of meditation and practice, I think.

It is also important for me to stay abreast of current news and the currents of political discourse. But I can’t let that weigh me down. Fear is not stronger than love. Suffering is not insurmountable. Hatred is a symptom of broken relationships and isolation. We are called to something greater, to community and connection.

We must give voice to love in the face of fear, through our words, our actions, our hopes and desires. Not just in the quiet contemplative moments but in all of our interactions and in our ordinary lives. That is how change happens and how love spreads to dispel fear. Don’t you think?

Writer’s Block

how_to_beat_writers_block_for_content_marketersI realized this morning that I have not posted anything here on the blog in the new year!  I’ve had many things kicking around my head and heart, but I guess they have not been in publicly consumable form for the most part.

I did manage to break through my writer’s block for a bit earlier this week. The result is my latest column on the Global Sisters Report, in which I ponder indifference and disconnection, justice and injustice, privilege and moral action.

Facing an overwhelming sea of social injustice, I am coming to realize that my privilege moderates which realities I choose to see and which I take to heart. My privilege distances me from the experiences of people living in poverty or those who daily struggle against racialized structures of injustice which limit access to education, housing, and employment. My privilege obscures my own complicity and connection to the root causes. My privilege makes indifference and disconnection possible. (Read entire column here)

Have you ever noticed that you really start to appreciate some things in their absence? Friends, family, and in this case, writing. Writing is a gift that helps me process and relate to the world and the movements of the spirit in my life. Writing helps me connect with my deepest and truest self.  Writing is gift … even as these words come forth from my mind and heart through my fingers to the screen.

Maybe I’ll be writing more soon … maybe not. But whatever comes is surely gift!

Remembering, renewing, risking – Global Sisters Report

My latest column has been posted on Global Sisters Report. This one is more of a reflection where I mull over the communion of saints and what their witness and presence means to us today:

There is great wisdom in our Catholic tradition of setting aside time in the liturgical year to remember all the saints and souls, just as we take time to remember and celebrate the impact of our loved ones upon their passing. As theologian Flora Keshgegian writes in Redeeming Memories: A Theology of Healing and Transformation, remembering is meant to be oriented to ‘affect present action'(p. 25). We do not remember to stay in the past. Rather, we remember for the present, and dare I say, for the future.”

Head over to Global Sisters Report to read the whole column.

Be the Present – latest Global Sisters column

Sisters in leadership attending Giving Voice
Sisters in leadership attending Giving Voice

For a little more than a year now I have had the honor and privilege of sharing a virtual space over at Global Sisters Report with other younger Catholic Sisters. The weekly Horizons columns are published every Friday and feature some great writing and important perspectives on religious life, justice and the world.

My own latest column was just published – “Be the Present.” It is my attempt to put my experience spending four days with 70 Catholic Sisters in their 20s, 30s, and 40s at Giving Voice into conversation with spending the next five days with 800 elected leaders at LCWR.  There was an incredible movement of the Spirit at both gatherings–real synchronicity.

My generation is known for its ability to multi-task, and perhaps that is a good thing. So much is happening in this present moment in religious life. We are tending to what is passing. We are discerning and nurturing what is emerging. We are building a bridge between the two. And all the while, as faithful women of the Gospel we are reading the signs of the times and seeking to meet the thirsts of the world. This is a moment which needs all hands on deck, all perspectives, all capacities, all wisdom. This moment needs us fully present.

The Spirit is certainly moving among us. That was clear both at Giving Voice and at LCWR. “Your task,” Janet Mock told the LCWR Assembly, “is discerning where and how to be in communion with the activity of God in our world now, at this present moment.” I believe this is the task of all who are living religious life today. It is the only way we will navigate this tremendous time of change and build the magic suspension bridge to the future of religious life.

Head on over to Global Sisters to read the whole thing.