As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we recommit ourselves to address racism in all of its forms. The Federation released the following statement today:
In the presence of constant and painful reminders of the deep roots of racism in our country, we, the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph join with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in committing to the critical work of creating communion, examining the root causes of injustice and our own complicity, and purging ourselves, our communities and our country of the sin of racism and its destructive effects. ¶ Following in the footsteps of Jesus, we commit ourselves to examine the root causes of injustice, particularly racism, and our own complicity as congregations, and to work to effect systemic change as we struggle to ensure immigrant rights, promote non-violence and protect Earth and its biosphere. ¶ We pledge prayer, education, and advocacy and commit to using our collective voice, resources, and power in collaboration with others to establish justice, which reflects God’s abundant love and desire that all may have life.
by Sister Ida Robertine Berresheim
It was arduous work. I was just too tired. It was out of the question. To do one more grant proposal in addition to all I had already done as a board member in attempting to assist Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, would be more than I could undertake.
But stories of actions at the U.S.-Mexico border continued to worsen. Families had had to face the uncertainty of abandoning their homes in Central America and some departments of Mexico because of extortion and terrible threats of kidnapping, murder, and disappearances. They hoped to find safe haven in the United States. But within the excruciating trek, came their terrible treatment at the border. Now came the intolerable, horrible, wrenching imprisonment of parents together with separation from their children. God’s call was very clear: “Your fatigue is nothing, Ida, compared to the suffering that calls. Get busy.”
Two messages came: one from our congregation’s Sister Danielle Bonetti and one from my longtime friend, a Daughter of Charity team member. The Conrad Hilton Fund for Sisters was offering an emergency grant to help alleviate the suffering, especially of parents and children. So it was that I began the process, knowing that Director Ruben Garcia and many Annunciation House volunteers were working extremely hard, struggling with the chaotic fallout from President Trump’s Operation Hold the Line.
As the deadline approached for submitting the proposal, I felt that my entire effort might be for naught as a serious setback seemed to place my efforts in jeopardy. I met only with the greatest kindness, however, from Fund staff members who were extremely caring as they acknowledged that the setback was on their end.
Then late in the day on Wednesday, July 25, came the email announcement of a six-month grant of $50,000 from the Conrad Hilton Fund for Sisters to be used for Annunciation House during the next six months. The purpose of the gift was clearly stated: All aid necessary for the reunification of parents and children, especially physical, legal, and transportation aid. After filling out the acceptance form online and receiving the affirmation that it had been successfully submitted, I received notice that the check would be awarded within a week. Many families will find hope because our congregation could be the recipient of such a gift thanks to many who have helped to make it a reality.
As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we stand with the Muslim community and call for an end to the discriminatory Travel Ban. The Federation released the following statement today.
The U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph is extremely disappointed with the June 26, 2018, United States Supreme Court Decision in Trump vs. Hawaii, commonly referred to as the travel ban. The ban restricts travel from seven countries: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. We believe that this travel ban intentionally targets Muslims and that the Court’s decision adds to the climate of fear of Muslims and fuels the flames to anti-Muslim sentiment in the country. The travel ban, aimed primarily at Muslims, contradicts the values and principles of the United States.
¶ As Catholic sisters, our mission is one of unity. We are grounded in a loving relationship with God and neighbor. We live the Gospel values and view each person, regardless of their race, religion, or nation of origin as our dear neighbor, whom we love without distinction.
¶ We join with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and other women religious in the belief that all people are created in God’s image, all are worthy of respect, and all are entitled to the protection of their human rights and religious liberty. We strongly object to President Trump’s continued attempts to use his authority to create policy by fiat, particularly when that policy is used to deny access to our Muslim sisters and brothers because of their religion. Such discrimination violates our deeply held faith beliefs and is inimical to the principles upon which this nation was founded.
¶ LCWR joined other faith-based groups in filing amicus briefs in this case challenging the government-imposed anti-Muslim discrimination. When religious-based discrimination is permitted, especially when sanctioned by those at the highest levels of government, the free-exercise of religion by members of all faiths is threatened.
¶ We will stand with the Muslim community and all who are subjected to the deeply troubling discriminatory policies of this administration. We call on Congress to exercise its power to challenge the President’s offensive and dangerous policy and ensure that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are upheld.
As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we call for an end to the family separation policy at the U.S. border. The Federation released the following statement today.
The U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph Leadership Council Decries Human Rights Violations and Terrorism Perpetrated by the Trump Administration at the U.S. Border
¶ The U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph Leadership Council joins with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Sr. Teresa Maya, the President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), and members of many faith traditions in calling for an end to the separation of children from their parents at the border where they are seeking asylum.
¶ In May 2018, the U.S. Government began prosecuting migrants who illegally crossed the United States border from Mexico. Their children are then detained separately from their parents.
¶ We agree with Sr. Teresa Maya, CCVI, President of the LCWR when she states, “as women of faith, as Catholic sisters, we strongly oppose the Trump administration’s decision to forcibly separate parents from their children in an effort to punish families seeking safety in the United States. Mothers and fathers are taking tremendous risks to bring their children to safety. These are families fleeing violence and death in their home countries. They have every right to ask for protection in the United States and the Trump administration is legally and morally obligated to give them a fair chance to seek asylum. It is impossible to imagine the fear of a child being ripped from the arms of her mother or the pain of a father watching a stranger take his son. It is cruel and inhumane, and it must stop. Our faith demands it and our national values require it. We are better than this.”
¶ The president of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, declared, “our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together.” During his remarks June 13, 2018, at the USCCB General Assembly gathering in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, DiNardo added, “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”
¶ We call on Congress and the office of the Presidency of the United States of America to stop this deplorable practice immediately.
“After bidding adieu to our good Sisters in Carondelet, we started on our long and perilous journey to Arizona.” (Sister Monica Corrigan, Trek of the Seven Sisters)
by Jeanne Marie Gocha, CSJ
In some ways, there are a lot of similarities between the journey of Monica Corrigan and her six companions to Tucson, Arizona and the journey Sisters Carol Brong, Chizuru Yamada and I began on March 27th of this year. Both required a spirit of adventure, complete trust in God’s providential graces, the support of our Sisters and a reliance on the goodness of those we journey with to begin a new mission within the congregation.
Though Carol and I prepared for months to welcome Chizuru Yamada into the newly formed Congregational Novitiate here in Porter Ranch, California, it all became real when Sister Miriam Ukeritis, in the name of the Congregation, accepted Chizuru Yamada’s request to enter into the next step of her discernment journey to become a Sister of St Joseph of Carondelet. The candidate became a novice whom we now call “Sister.”
After celebrating the Triduum and great feast of Easter, our first “field trip” took place as we set out on a “half Trek,” echoing the trek of seven Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet to begin a mission in Tuscon in 1870. We drove out to Phoenix to celebrate with Sister Adele O’Sullivan and other Sisters in the annual Circle the City Tea. Then we took some time to see for ourselves the wonderful ministries that Circle the City supports to serve the homeless population of Phoenix.
Sister Mary Murphy, the aficionado of the history of our first sisters in the West, joined us to begin a “mini-Trek” through the deserts between Phoenix and Tucson to visit the holy places where our early Sisters first ministered back in the 1870s, some of which continue today. We rested at Picacho Peak, felt the presence of our early Sisters as we prayed in the chapels of St. John’s in Komatke and San Xavier del Bac, and experienced first-hand how our charism continues to be lived in the staff and patients at St Mary’s Hospital in Tucson. Our journey was sweetened by the gracious hospitality of our Sisters in Tucson: Marge Foppe, Michelle Humke, Irma Odabashian, and Barbara Sullivan. A wonderful mixture of past history and present realities all lived for the sake of the Mission!
Returning home, novitiate life began to find its rhythm of prayer, classes, community life, and personal reflection. Sister Darlene Kawulok offered Chizuru insightful classes on Vatican II and its documents. Sister Ingrid Honore-Lallande shared her expertise on Ignatian Spirituality and Discernment. We are in the midst of weekly classes with Sister Anne Hennessey, CSJ from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange on Fr. Jean Pierre Medaille and our first Sisters in France in the 1600s.
We grow in relationships with those who come share a meal and insights too. The Northridge Caritas community of Associates meet at Caritas for their monthly gatherings. A Readers Circle of Sisters meets monthly for a meal and sharing highlights of their latest spiritual reading. There is also a Friday night gathering once a month of Sisters who come for dinner and theological reflection.
Sally Koch, a candidate here in Los Angeles, will join us in July as a novice. Both novices will be heading out to Rochester to participate in the Federation Novitiate beginning in August. Though you all can’t come to visit, share a meal, or teach a class, we certainly need and rely on your prayer-filled support. We promise you our prayer-filled support in return and will keep you updated on our journey.
“Now that we are settled in our new home, we trust our good Sisters will continue to pray for us, recommending the success of our mission… to our dear Lord, to the end that we may labor earnestly to promote His greater glory, and have this, alone, in view, in all our undertakings.” (Sister Monica Corrigan, Trek of the Seven Sisters)
Sisters Carol Brong and Chizuru Yamada prepare for their journey creating a timeline of events of our early sisters. and missions.
Off we go! Sisters Jeanne Marie Gocha, Carol Brong and Chizuru Yamada begin their “half trek” to Arizona.
Sisters Mary Murphy, Carol Brong, and Chizuru Yamada at St. John’s Mission in Komatke, Arizona.
Sister Adele O’Sullivan tells stories of patients who have received care at the Medical Respite Center for those experiencing homelessness in Phoenix.