The National Catholic Reporter‘s Global Sisters Report has featured the letter our Congregational Leadership Team sent to Cardinal Dolan on May 1 in their article about various leaders of women religious sending him similar feedback. Excepts from our letter are shared along with quotes from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and Sister Simone Campbell of Network Lobby.
“We find ourselves very discomfited by your praise of [President Trump’s] leadership,” the congregational leadership team of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet wrote in a letter dated May 1 addressed to Dolan.
Guided by the Statement of Future Direction from our most recent congregational chapter, which calls us to work toward an inclusive church and society, the Congregational Leadership Team has sent a letter to Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, asking him to reconsider his well-publicized praise and support of President Trump.
May 1, 2020
Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York
452 Madison Ave
New York, New York, 10022
Dear Cardinal Dolan,
We write to you as the Congregational Leadership Team of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet. Aware that you shoulder great responsibility as the metropolitan of one of the largest archdioceses in the United States, we assure you that we remember you in each Eucharistic prayer when we ask God’s guidance for our Church leaders.
As your sisters in Christ, we also feel impelled to say that we are concerned about your unqualified praise of President Trump as demonstrated during your appearance on Fox News on April 26. We have read various reports and listened to your Fox interview, and we find ourselves very discomfited by your praise of his leadership.
This is not a political disagreement. We know that good and faithful people have very different political opinions, and that people in opposing camps can explain their positions on the basis of Gospel principles. But the current president of the United States is notorious for his consistent lying to the public and for poor judgment. His stances on immigration and migrants are directly opposed to what the USCCB espouses in documents like Welcoming the Stranger and recent pronouncements by Archbishop Gomez and Perez, and Bishops Tyson, Cantú, and Doronsville, among others. Instead of welcoming or even simply tolerating the “other,” our bishops themselves have said that the president sows “polarization and animosity.” Instead of offering moral leadership, he is a philanderer whose business activities like Trump University have taken advantage of the poor and vulnerable. The current president exemplifies much of what John the Baptist condemned in the ruler of his day—a prophetic task for which he lost his head but not his integrity.
The Congregational Center of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet is in your hometown, St. Louis. You may therefore be aware that we have served the People of God in the United States for 186 years. We are sure you know how we and other apostolic women religious built the educational, health, and social welfare institutions of the Catholic Church in the United States. We are faithful women of the Church. Because of that, we believe we must ask you to reexamine your public pronouncements in favor of a president whose verbal support of one or two religious causes is designed to create the impression that he supports Catholic values.
As your sisters, we ask you to reconsider your well-publicized praise and support of this president. It gives the impression that the Church itself stands with him. The scandals of the past few decades call us to a much higher standard. May God bless you with the wisdom and courage necessary to serve in these times.
Congregational Leadership Team
CORRECTION: Cardinal Dolans remarks aired on April 27, not April 26.
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As the challenges of the 2019 Chapter’s Statement of Future Direction begin to permeate our lives, the suffering present in our multiple planetary crises compels us to greater depth, authenticity, and creativity in our responses as Sisters of St. Joseph.
How will we as religious and spiritual leaders provide guidance when the solutions we have counted on in the past are no longer enough to address our world’s extremes, e.g., increasing climate chaos, devastation of the Earth’s capacity to sustain life, extreme polarizations, and increasing despair and numbers of suicides? When people turn to us as spiritual leaders to help them navigate these times, what new consciousness can we offer them that is different from the thinking that brought on these crises?
This course, titled Spiritual Leadership, a New Consciousness, and a World in Crisis, hosted on Deeptime Network, is designed for spiritual and religious leaders who want to frame their life and ministry within the new universe story as taught by Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and John Grim. It will offer insights from contemporary science about the way the Universe and our Earth really work—the way our Creator is continuing to build our world. It will give a firm, sacred foundation from which to address the challenges we face in today’s conflicted world. It will provide us as spiritual and religious leaders with insight into the divine dynamics operating on all levels of our lives—spiritual, social, and ecological.
The goal of this course is to encourage a more radical imitation and adaptation of the cosmos-building principles of the universe—identity, differentiation, and communion. It is to challenge us to greater authenticity in aligning ourselves with the evolutionary forces of the universe. We will look at the behaviors these principles suggest, with particular emphasis on the potential of reinterpreting religious vows in a way that witnesses to the values the human community needs to adopt to survive and flourish.
By deepening our consciousness based on these principles, we will be able to discern new solutions to address our crises and to build a more viable human presence within the community of Earth. These sacred dynamics make the wisdom and resilience of the rest of the natural world available to us. As religious and spiritual leaders we can then midwife more mutually enhancing relationships within our sacred universe.
About the instructor
Toni Nash, CSJ is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet and teacher for over 50 years, a national lecturer, retreat director, and spiritual director. She has ministered on the faculty of a renewal program for Catholic religious and priests, and served in general leadership for her religious congregation. In 1994, Toni and three other Catholic sisters co-founded Sisters of Earth, an informal network of women from across the globe who share a deep concern for the ecological and spiritual crises of our times. Toni holds a doctorate in Philosophy and Religion with a concentration in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. As a Religious Cosmologist, her work helps people to integrate their own religious traditions with the insights of contemporary science about the nature of the universe and the role of humans. Her current involvements include lectures and workshops on the Doctrine of Discovery and neo-colonialism. She’s also applying her work as a religious cosmologist to heal relationships with Native American communities affected by the boarding school era.
About Deeptime Network
This workshop is sponsored by the Deeptime Network (dtnetwork.org), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit registered in New Jersey, US, whose vision is a world in which an evolving interconnected universe, with its unique community of life on our home planet Earth, is a context for understanding, belonging, inspiration, decision-making and creating the future. For more information, write to email@example.com.
As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we echo their call for the United States to act to counteract climate change.
We, the U. S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph join with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious ( LCWR) in expressing our deep disappointment regarding President Trump’ s promise in 2017 to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. We are profoundly troubled by the decision to formally request U. S. withdrawal from this critically important international agreement.
We, the U. S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph who are compelled by the Gospel and by our heritage to be responsive to the ” dear neighbor” without distinction, are concerned for all of God’ s creation and our sisters and brothers everywhere. Catholic teaching is clear… climate change is a grave moral issue that threatens our commitment to protect human l ife and dignity, exercise a preferential option for the most vulnerable, promote the common good, and care for God’ s creation. The failure of the United States to fulfill its 2015 commitment dishonors our nation and threatens our common home. We will continue to raise our voices against climate policies that harm Earth and its people and to advocate for climate justice.
By Mary Kaye Medinger, Consociate
Ten individuals from three provinces who feel called to live into relationship within the Carondelet congregation as agrégées met for our third annual retreat from June 21-23, 2019 at the St. Paul Provincial House. Three others joined us in spirit. The total group includes four individuals from the Albany province, one from the St. Louis province, and eight from the St. Paul province. The two previous retreats were faciliated by Sisters, and the 2019 retreat was facilitated by members of the group ourselves. At the invitation of the group, Jean Wincek, CSJ attended to share observations and reflections along the way. Susan Hames CSJ, a member of the St. Paul Province Leadership Team, also attended part of the weekend on behalf of the hosting province.
The days of reflection reminded us of the purpose of our coming together in our own words: “Just as six unique and most diverse women who felt called to serve came together in LePuy, we respond today in our individual calls of the Spirit to serve. It is an experiential time of a spacious grassroots call to community as Agrégées.” The times of prayer, reflection, song, storytelling, laughter, meals shared and memories made deepened the bonding begun in past years.
Friday evening began with Table Prayer composed by Michael Joncas and led by the Tacheny Family, members of the agrégée group. Parents Steven and Jennifer led the singing and children Delvin (12), Mason (11) and Nora (9) played their violins and sang. Alexandra Guliano accompanied on keyboard. Dinner was followed by Sharing the Heart facilitated by Jennifer and Lois Mineau.
Saturday was a full day and began with a “conversation in the manner of St. Joseph whose name we bear” led by Mary Craven and Nancy Koltko , reflecting on participants’ personal spiritual journeys in light of the Joseph story. Alexandra then led a reflection on Mother St. John in the years between the French Revolution and the refounding of the congregation. Both Joseph and Mother St. John trusted that they were being led by Spirit even when the road ahead was not always clear. So too for us!
Saturday afternoon included Mary Louise Menikheim leading a reflection on the “Sacred is the Call: Reflections on Agrégée” document we developed last year and how we have lived it in the past year, time for personal reflection and an opportunity for Sunday liturgy (anticipated). The evening brought interested St. Paul Sisters and Consociates (including Congregational Chapter delegates and companions) to join the agrégée group for a pizza supper and focused conversation. The evening ended with an agrégée group reflection on our time with our guests: What did we hear? What themes emerged? What might we bring forward?
Our closing session on Sunday morning began with Jean sharing observations and reflections on our time together, our insights, and possible next steps. We ended with a shared conviction that the gift is here, the need is here, the dream is here, the time is here as we move forward step by step. Stay tuned!