The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet echo this statement from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which urges Congress to take action to protect the young people who have come to rely on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) shares the disappointment of millions of people across the country who had hoped and prayed that President Trump would continue the protection offered Dreamers by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is a common sense path to stability for families, communities, and local economies and a reaffirmation of American values. Ending DACA will cause irreparable harm to families and communities and force 800,000 of our young people back into the shadows.
In the wake of this unconscionable action by President Trump, we urge Congress to immediately take up and pass the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017.
As women of faith, we take seriously the gospel call to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. LCWR and its members will continue to press for compassion for our neighbors, relief for families, and an end to needless deportations. “We will continue to advocate for bipartisan legislation that addresses our outdated immigration system,” said LCWR Executive Director Sister Joan Marie Steadman, CSC. “We will continue to stand in solidarity with families, regardless of immigration status, who labor daily to provide safety and security for their children. We will continue to walk with Dreamers and together with people of goodwill we will work to ensure that the dignity of all people is fully protected.”
Catholic sisters have a long history of accompanying immigrants and refugees. They continue to minister to these aspiring citizens in schools, hospitals, and service agencies along the southern border and across the country. They see the devastating effects of the current immigration system every day. They share the hopes and dreams of these young Americans who represent so much of what is right and good about this country we all call home.
LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has nearly 1300 members, who represent more than 38,800 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.
Our congregation has joined with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and more than 1,100 other organizations and individuals in endorsing The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative‘s call for the Church to recommit to nonviolence.
In part, the statement reads:
As would-be disciples of Jesus, challenged and inspired by stories of hope and courage in these days, we call on the Church we love to:
As women committed to nonviolence, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet call for an end to gun violence in the United States of America. We are a congregation of 1,123 vowed members who oppose the escalating violence, which is fueled by hatred, intolerance, discrimination, racism, extremism and ignorance in our nation. Violence is leaving in its wake too many broken hearts and spirits by indescribable suffering. Families are torn by violence in the home, schools and streets. Violence seems to be the new norm in the nation and world. It is a public health and moral crisis that is destroying the lives, dignity and hopes of millions of people in our country.
We are committed to a comprehensive approach to gun violence prevention that focuses on prevention of all forms of homicide, suicides, and unintentional shootings. We support the restriction of access to assault weapons. We call upon Congress and state and local officials to enact gun laws that include making assault weapons illegal, insuring comprehensive background checks on those purchasing guns at tradeshows, online and in stores.
We turn to the God of mercy and peace, the God who wipes away every tear, to give us the strength to be instruments and forces of change, to be messengers of unity and reconciliation.
Pope Francis on Gun Control
“Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”
(Speech to US Congress on September 24, 2015)
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have recently welcomed three new candidates to our congregation! Sally Koch, Tracy Watson and Chizuru Yamada were all able to meet each other and join a huge delegation of our sisters, associates and partners in ministry at the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation Event in Orlando, Florida in July. The three of them come to us from different corners of the world—New York, Nebraska and Japan—but they are united in a draw to our charism of “love of God and love of dear neighbor without distinction.” We are excited to share each of their stories with you.
Sally Koch (pronounced “cook”) joined our congregation as a candidate in May. She found us in a truly millennial way: via Google Search.
About two and a half years ago, Sally was starting to feel more open to a call to religious life. “I’d been having a voice in the back of my head like ‘maybe you could do that,’ and I just squashed it down, didn’t want to do that, got angry at God and all that. And finally I was like, you know if this is where I’m going to be most fulfilled and my best self, why am I holding myself back?” So Sally began googling to find a spiritual director. “It was kind of a two-fold thing,” she said. “I wanted a spiritual director, but why not get a spiritual director from a place where I could possibly see myself?”
Sally grew up on a small family dairy farm in Nebraska. She, her parents, two brothers and a sister lived right across from her grandparents. “It was definitely a lot of community living and teamwork,” she said. “Looking back, I’ve lived in community my entire life. That sense of belonging is really deep within me.”
After receiving a degree in psychology with a minor in music from the University of South Dakota, Sally headed for the coasts to serve. First, she was placed at a L’Arche house in Jacksonville, Florida by Catholic Volunteers in Florida, where she stayed for two years. Then she joined the Vincentian Service Corps and served in Santa Barbara, California for another year. Following her volunteer work, she earned her Master’s in Pastoral Ministry from Santa Clara University in California. From there, she worked as a Program Coordinator for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest and then for United Cerebral Palsy.
An attraction to St. Joseph and the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph brought Sally to Los Angeles this summer. After job searching for two months, one of the sisters she lives in community with was able to give her a lead that led her to a position as Campus Minister and College Counselor at St. Joseph’s High School in L.A. “I literally couldn’t ask for a better position than to be there because what I felt then and what I hear from other people is that CSJ charism just oozes out of that school.”
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have recently welcomed three new candidates to our congregation! Sally Koch, Tracy Watson and Chizuru Yamada were all able meet each other and to join a huge delegation of our sisters, associates and partners in ministry at the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation Event in Orlando, Florida in July. The three of them come to us from different corners of the world—New York, Nebraska and Japan—but they are united in a draw to our charism of “love of God and love of dear neighbor without distinction.” We are excited to share each of their stories with you.
Chizuru Yamada grew up in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, as an only child. Compared to her quiet childhood home, living in community now with eight of our sisters in Tsu, Japan has been a challenge, but a good one. “I lived by myself for many years, and this is my first experience living with others,” she said. “Community life is sometimes happy, sometimes difficult.”
After studying chemistry at the University of Tokyo Agriculture and Technology, Chizuru has led an interesting life with many different jobs. She has worked as a recording engineer, a chemical researcher and a Catholic correspondence course teacher. Her favorite job was as the editor of a Catholic encyclopedia, which she did for three years.
She first met two Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet at a bible study at her church about 25 years ago. Later in life, as she practiced the Ignatian Spirituality Exercises, she heard God inviting her to become a sister. Answering that call, she became a candidate one year ago. “I admire the sisters because they are free. While they are part of society, their hearts and minds are free.”
Last year, Chizuru worked as a volunteer librarian at St. Joseph Joshi Gakuen, our high school in Japan. She hopes to eventually work as a spiritual director.
Chizuru came to the United States in June to attend the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation Event in Orlando. At the event, she said she was moved by the themes of reconciliation and unity. “It does not mean making everything the same. It means ‘respecting diversity.’ We are different from each other. We are important to each other. So we must have conversation again and again, and we must listen to another one’s voice.”
Now, she is now spending three months at Holy Family Center in Los Angeles improving her English. She sees this opportunity to travel in the United States as a way for her to connect with sisters. “I want to be a bridge between diverse cultures and generations,” she said. “God invited me to be a bridge between people.”