For immediate release
Contact: Kim Westerman
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet confirm that Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, CSJ has signed a plea agreement with the Federal Prosecutor in Los Angeles. Sister Mary Margaret has agreed to charges on two counts: wire fraud and money laundering. Her arraignment should occur within a short period of time, followed by a determination of sentence. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet will await the completion of the full legal process before making any further comments.
Associates are women and men from various faith traditions, married and single, who extend the mission and share the spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph without becoming vowed members. Associate Pat Hunt wrote the following tribute after the death of her dear friend and fellow member of the “Four Pats from Syracuse” Associate Pat Race on March 19.
Although I was saddened to learn of the death of my dear associate companion on the journey Pat Race, I found it heart-warming to learn that her passing occurred on the Feast of St. Joseph! What a fitting acknowledgment of her many faithful years with the Albany associate community, and particularly the community in Syracuse.
Pat has a first commitment story that’s hard to beat. In June of 2000, she was driving to the Dominican Retreat House for the first part of the annual Associate Commitment Weekend. Sharing the ride was another first commitment candidate Jane Dommett and associate Pat John. Almost there after a long trip through driving rain, the front passenger tire got caught in the mud on an unpaved shoulder. Pat Race tried to correct, but unfortunately, she couldn’t, and the car started twisting and turning until it came to rest upside-down at the bottom of a hill. Thank God that help arrived in minutes, and all three were taken to the hospital. Pat John was able to join the rest of the associates later that night, but Jane and Pat Race went back home when they were released. Thankfully, they recovered in time to make their first commitment at the first Syracuse associate meeting the following September.
You could tell by the twinkle in her eye that Pat always enjoyed the interaction in our group, especially the annual special occasions: Syracuse Mission Day, our Epiphany parties, our annual Winter Retreat at Alverna Heights, St. Joseph’s Day, our Commitment Weekend in Latham, and our annual June Picnic.
Unfortunately, Pat began experiencing a slow but steady downward curve in both physical and mental health a few years ago. In those early years of symptoms, the Syracuse associates met several times in her home parish of St. James in Cazenovia, where she would join us with her forever Irish charm. Although she wouldn’t have been able to join us last June, even if it we had been able to celebrate in Latham, it would have been her 20th commitment.
Pat John remembers fondly that Pat Race and Sister Joan Killoran would get together with Sister Carolyn Chmielewski and herself for lunch and cards on occasion, especially at the cottage on Tuscarora Lake. “It would be teams—the sisters versus the associates—and our favorite game was nine-card pitch. I can’t remember who won, but I do remember laughing a lot and a good time had by all.”
Our newest Syracuse associate, LuAnn Sims, regrets that she only got to interact with Pat a few times. Despite the few encounters, she says: “What I remember is that she was a lovely woman who had a kind soul and a loving heart.”
Associate Monica James has many wonderful memories of Pat’s influence on her not only becoming an associate but also a Catholic! Monica remembers many deep faith conversations through the RCIA process, which Monica says she found encouraging and full of wisdom. “Pat is the best…she will surely be missed.”
Pat Pilon laments the fact that the famous “Four Pats from Syracuse” are now down to three. We always kidded at associate gatherings about that. It seems like we were always in pretty close vicinity to each other at gatherings. We told them that if they needed a certain Pat, they were either close by or we probably knew where the Pat that they were looking for could be found. Outside the church after Pat’s funeral Mass, Monica brought a friend up to introduce her to us. As usual, we said that Pat Race was one of the four—and we realized that once again, the three of us were standing next to each other! We will miss our D’Artagnan.
Finally, as well as Pat’s passing from this life to Eternity on the Feast of St. Joseph, I am equally heartened by her funeral being held on the Feast of the Annunciation. Having completed her earthly efforts on God’s behalf, Pat followed Mary’s example and willingly surrendered to God’s last call: “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).
Our sisters in Japan have brought to our attention the urgent need of refugees and asylum seekers in their country. They asked us to sign on to a statement of the Joint Christian Churches prepared by the Center for Minority Issues and Mission. After reviewing it along with the report issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet agreed to sign the statement. We were able to engage in dialogue with our partners at the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St Joseph and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and they also agreed to sign.
The congregation is happy to be part of this international effort to address one of the most significant issues of our time. Climate change, nationalism, and racism continue to exacerbate this problem globally.
日本のシスター達から連絡があり、日本にいる難民や亡命希望者の緊急事態に応じる必要があることを知らせてくれました。日本のシスター達より、マイノリティー宣教センター（Center for Minority Issues and Mission）が作成したキリスト合同教会（Joint Christian Churches）のステートメントにサインをするよう依頼を受けました。このステートメントと共に、国連特別審査官（UN Special Rapporteur）が発行した移住者の人権についての報告書を検討しました結果、カロンデレットの聖ヨセフの姉妹は同ステートメントにサインすることに同意いたしました。私たちはパートナーである聖ヨセフの姉妹の米国連盟、そして宗教的女性のリーダーシップ協議会（Leadership Conference of Women Religious）ともこの件につき対話をし、これらグループも同ステートメントにサインをすることに同意いたしました。
The Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet and the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St Joseph, based on our ongoing concerns and written statements in support of migrants, have signed a joint statement by churches opposing the proposed revision of Japan’s Immigration and Refugee Recognition Act.
Compelled by the Gospel and by our heritage to be responsive to the “dear neighbor,” we urge the government of Japan, a country with more than 3 million residents with foreign citizenship, to review its international obligations as a signatory of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on Human Rights, and the International Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as an endorser of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. A careful review of these documents shows that several aspects of the proposed amendments to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act currently under consideration by the Diet (Japanese national legislature) are in conflict with international obligations:
We join with the UN Special Rapporteur in urging changes to amendments that specifically resort to detention as an exceptional measure rather than the norm; that those detained be granted judicial review consistent with international standards; and that the best interest of the child is the guiding principle in designing and implementing policies for migrant and asylum-seeking children.
We join with the UN Special Rapporteur in urging Japan to develop a system that has the protection of refugees and asylum seekers and raises the number of refugees approved for resident status, as well as a review process for those who overstay their visas.
On March 3, 2021 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act. Over the last several weeks 67 sisters and friends sent letters to their representatives urging them to co-sponsor the bill. We are grateful to all who supported our efforts.
Our next step as we journey farther is to support S.1, the For the People Act, the companion bill in the Senate. This bill addresses election reform, making it easier, not harder to vote; ending the dominance of big money in our politics and ensuring public officials work for the public interest. For more information, download our two-page position paper on S.1.
We are promoting three action items to support S.1:
We have prayed for peace and justice. Now it is time for us to act to address the systemic racism and injustice that have so negatively impacted our election laws. Together we can make a difference!
The first action is to contact your Senator in the United States Congress and ask them to support S.1’s rapid movement through the Senate committee process.
Our second action is to increase public awareness of this bill by getting as many letters to the editor published as possible. Often receiving 10-12 letters from different people having similar concerns about an issue will be enough for editors to publish a single letter.
Our third action is to encourage you to set up an online visit with your Senators or their aides to discuss the support of the bill. Sometimes, we have gathered a group to attend this meeting. We have prepared a two-page position paper that will help you to be prepared for this visit. Sister Patty Johnson is available to help any group that feels like they need a subject matter specialist to help them be prepared to meet with their Senators. She can even attend your meeting if it gives you more confidence.
by Diane Smith, CSJ
In light of the current Black Lives Matter Movement, many memories flooded back from my experience of the 1965 Watts riots. This was a time of awakening and conversion for me. Until the riots, I did not know what I did not know. I lived at St. Anselm’s convent in Los Angeles and taught in the school. Until beginning this teaching assignment, I had never interacted with “negros,” the term we used then. I grew up in a farming area where our neighbors were either Italian or Azorean immigrants, my family being of English and Irish descent. It was my first experience of interacting with the Black community with whom I felt very comfortable. In my first year at the school, the student body was about 50% white and 50% Black. By my fourth year, white flight was almost complete.
In the summer of 1965, riots broke out across the country. Though St. Anselm was fairly far from Watts, we were in the restricted and curfew area. We could smell and see the smoke as the fires and unrest escalated and moved into South Central Los Angeles. Sr. Hortensia, our senior sister, decided we should take turns rotating between the chapel saying the Rosary and watching the events on TV. As the riots moved closer, she became more nervous and instructed us to get garden implements to keep by our beds in case our convent was invaded.
Perhaps the biggest conversion moment for me was watching the truckloads of armed National Guards traveling down Florence Ave. It sickened me to know that perhaps some of the people in our parish could be injured or killed. As things began to return to normal, I realized that I knew so little about the oppression, racism, prejudice and mistreatment of Black people that had erupted into this violence. I did not know what I did not know.
Eighth-grade girls from St. Anselm’s School applied to St. Mary’s Academy, then located on Slauson Avenue. White girls were accepted, but a very qualified Black student was not. When our principal called, she was informed that the Academy was limiting the number of Black students to the student body.
Two years later, I taught at Holy Cross in South Central, an area that had experienced unrest and violence during the riots. At report card time, one was returned signed by a parent with an “X” as that parent never had the opportunity of attending school. As a child, she worked in the fields picking cotton. Parents were very cooperative and supportive making sure their children were getting an education, as they knew that was a way out of poverty. I began to observe the linguistic patterns of Black speech.
During this time, a young man I had come to know through his involvement in the parish approached me with a letter he had received in response to his request to enter the seminary. The letter informed him that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was not ready to receive a Black seminarian. What a loss to the priesthood as this was a talented and faith-filled man who would have made a good priest.
On the third anniversary of the Watts Riots, Sister Caroline Chang, CSJ and I attended a street fair in Watts celebrating the anniversary of the riots. I became aware of the cultural expressions of the people in music, dance, art and food. It became evident to me that our educational system was missing an opportunity to build on what was so familiar to our students. I left Los Angeles in the fall of 1968.
Almost 20 years later, I returned to the area as Our Lady Queen of Angels’ regional catechetical consultant for the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education. The 76 Catholic parishes in this region are very diverse both culturally and economically. Knowing the history the African Americans had with the church, I focused on their community. Again, I was about to learn I did not know what I did not know. In visiting their parishes, I became aware that most of the ministers in these parishes were white. Jean Lawrence, one of the African American women who befriended me, bemoaned the fact that so much of the ministry and catechesis was done from the white perspective. I was then encouraged to send out a newsletter highlighting ways African American culture could be included in celebrations and catechesis.
Having an opportunity to provide a catechist formation course on a team with two African American Master Catechists, Marian Fussey and Eva Mai Smith, again enriched me by learning that I did not know what I did not know. Marian was able to teach revelation from the African American spirituals, deepening my own understanding of revelation. All attending were African American. When doing the unit on the church, I enquired about their experiences of church. One woman from New Orleans shared how humiliating it was for her when her father decided that the family should no longer be assigned to the back of the church for Mass and marched the family to the front pew, and the priest refused to begin Mass. Another woman, also originally from Louisiana, shared her experience of being in a youth sodality. Each year the diocese gathered all the sodalities at the cathedral. All the girls from the Black parishes had to sit in the choir loft. After hearing these stories and others, I went home and cried.
I learned much of I did not know what I did not know from Dolores Ricks, who coordinated the religious education program at St. Odilia’s. This parish was established in 1926 for Black Catholics in Los Angeles. It was the only church where they could attend Mass at that time in history. One day while meeting with Dolores, she commented, “Oh no, here comes another volunteer coming to save us. I wonder how long he will stay. I hope it is not another flash and trash experience.” I had to ask myself, was I coming as a savior or someone willing to learn and accompany, to acknowledge I did not know what I did not know? It was a very humbling experience to become aware of my own motivations.
A multicultural panel training session provided for new Master Catechists included representatives from various cultures. I was asked to be on the panel to represent the Black community. There was no way I would represent the community. What an insult! Someone from the Black community needed to be on that panel. The fear from the organizer of the panel was that this person might be militant. “So?” I asked. Someone from the African American community was chosen, and the panel went well.
Each fall a mini-congress is provided for the region. This event was established several years before by Sister Angela Faustina, CSJ to meet the needs of a community that felt uncomfortable and financially unable to participate in the larger Religious Education Conference held every year in Anaheim. One of the tasks of the planning committee was to secure a location for this event, which was usually a parochial high school in South Central. In discussing the use of St. Bernard High School in Westchester, a concern was raised that the Black Catechists would not attend as they were afraid of coming into a white neighborhood.
A committee formed to create guidelines on catechesis from a Black perspective. The committee consisted of very committed, capable and well-educated women. One had been a principal of a school and another a public school teacher. It was a labor of love extending over several months. Often in the process, they would look at me for approval. I would have to remind them this was their project. When the guidelines were completed and presented to the Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Religious Education, he was not going to approve them. The introduction clearly identified the struggles that the community had experienced as Black Catholics within the church. I informed him he would have to meet with the committee and tell them why he could not accept their guidelines. In meeting with a large extended group, he listened and though not his preferred choice, he accepted the guidelines. Emboldened by this success, a request was then made for a full-time African American consultant tending only to their unique needs. Sister Ora Lisa Martin was eventually employed for this position.
The area I lived in at this time experienced seven shootings in one week. I felt safe walking the streets early in the morning as most violence occurred in the evening hours. During my walk, I encountered children on their way to school. Their faces filled with innocence, hope and potential. What would be their future? Summer was coming. How could they participate in productive, safe and life-affirming activities? Thus, Making the Right Connections, a summer gang prevention program, was born and continues over 30 years later under the directorship of the committed and talented Dan Drass. This program has documented success and received many awards.
In 1990, I left Los Angeles but have always carried in my heart a love for the people who taught me what I did not know. During this time of Black Lives Matter, I continue to ask myself, what is it that I do not know?