Japanese flag

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。

当修道会は世界が直面しているこの非常に深刻な問題に対応している国際的活動に参画できることを光栄に思っています。気候の変動、国家主義、そして人種差別問題は、国際的にこの移民問題を一層悪化させています。

Statement ステートメント

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:

  • The detention of migrants would become mandatory, could be for indefinite periods of time, and the terms of provisional release would be challenging for most migrants to meet.
  • It is not permitted under international law to return asylum seekers to their country of origin when there are substantial grounds for believing that the returnee would be at risk of irreparable harm.
  • There is no prohibition of immigration detention for minors nor provisions for a separate and speedy process for minors and unaccompanied children.

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.

カロンデレットの聖ヨセフの姉妹と聖ヨセフの姉妹の米国連盟は、現在起こっている様々な問題を考慮し、移住者を援助するために作成された報告書に基づき、私たちは日本の出入国管理及び難民認定法の修正案に反対する宗教団体の合同ステートメントにサインをしました。

福音と、私たちが受け継いだ「愛すべき隣人」を大切にする精神に則り、私たちは、外国籍を有する居住者が300万人以上在住する国である日本の政府に対し、国連の市民的及び政治的権利に関する国際規約、人権の国際的条約、難民の地位に関する国際的条約に参加調印した一国として、かつ、安全で、整然とした正規の移住を確保するための国連グローバルコンパクトを支持する国として、国際的義務を見直すことを強く要請いたします。書類内容を慎重に確認しました結果、日本の国会が検討している出入国管理及び難民認定法の修正案に含まれている下記内容は国際的義務に反することが発覚しました。

    • 移住者の拘留は強制となり、拘留期間は不確定、かつほとんどの移住者が仮放免されるための条件を満たすのは非常に困難である。
    • 祖国に戻った場合回復不可能な損害を受ける可能性のある亡命希望者を祖国に送還することは国際法に反する。
    • 未成年者の移民拘留の禁止令はなく、未成年者や同伴者のいない子供のための特別かつ迅速に手続きを進めるといった内容の条件が含まれていない。

私たちは国連特別審査官と共に修正案の内容を下記のように変更することを要請します:

拘留は通常取る手段ではなく特別な場合のみの手段として用いること;拘留された者は国際基準に基づき公平な審査を受けること;移住・亡命を希望する子供に対しては、子供にとって最も有益である方法を優先すること。

更に、私たちは国連特別審査官と共に日本政府に対し、難民や亡命希望者を保護するシステムを導入すること、難民に対する在留資格の発行数を増やすこと、そしてビザが切れた者のための審査プロセスを設けることを要請します。

   April 19th, 2021      Posted In: Congregation, Featured Stories, Federation, In The News, Japan, Justice


Sisters urge Senate to pass S.1, the For the People Act

Our Congregational Efforts for Election Reform

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:

  1. Ask your Senators to support S.1
  2. Send a letter to the editor
  3. Schedule an online conversation with your Senators

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!

Action 1: Contact your Senator

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. We have prepared a sample letter that you can edit and submit. Just fill out the form below, make any changes to the letter and click “Send My Email” to send your email to your Senators.

Action 2: Send a letter to the editor

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. We have prepared a sample letter to the editor for you to customize. Adding a response to an article in their paper helps them know you are a reader. Right now, there are many articles being published related to election reform, so this is a timely topic. Please fill out the brief form, and choose an appropriate paper.

Action 3: Schedule a meeting with your Senator

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.

   April 5th, 2021      Posted In: Congregation, Featured Stories, General, In The News, Justice


Sister Diane Smith with some of the men she taught in a catechist formation class in Los Angeles.

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.

Eva Mai Smith

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.

Sister Diane Smith with Dolores Ricks, parish religious education coordinator at St. Odilia Parish.

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?

   March 26th, 2021      Posted In: Featured Stories, In The News, Justice, Los Angeles, Vocations


"We vow to use our Gospel Charism and mission of unifying love for the healing and transformation of the world to commit ourselves to cleanse our hearts and rid our land of these twin evils."

The U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph stands against the racism and misogyny directed towards the Asian-American and Pacific Island communities. As members of the Federation, we join them in this public statement.

The U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph joins the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in condemning racism and sexism in all their harmful forms — whether the violent acts of white supremacists and misogynists or the daily acts of hate and discrimination that diminish us all.

We grieve with the citizens of Atlanta and the Asian-American and Pacific Island communities. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones to hateful acts of violence, with all who live in fear, and with all whose dignity is threatened by xenophobia and chauvinism. We lament the racism and sexism that continue to afflict our communities, threaten neighbors, and denigrate all we hold dear.

We acknowledge our own complicity in institutional racism and sexism. We vow to use our Gospel Charism and mission of unifying love for the healing and transformation of the world to commit ourselves to cleanse our hearts and rid our land of these twin evils. We promise to continue to use our collective voice and energy to build God’s beloved community where all are one.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS ISSUE AND HOW TO GET INVOLVED, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO VISIT AND DONATE TO THESE ORGANIZATIONS:

    • Asian American Advancing Justice- Atlanta:  a nonprofit legal advocacy group protecting the rights of Asian-Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in Georgia and the Southeast
    • AAPI Women Lead and #ImReady Movement: support AAPI women and girls with workshops and research, and promotes movements such as #ImReady, which addresses issues like gender-based and racial discrimination and sexual harassment in the community
    • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: a national organization, founded in 1974, working to protect and promote civil rights for Asian-Americans

 

read the statement on the Federation website

   March 24th, 2021      Posted In: Featured Stories, Federation, General, In The News, Justice


We released the following statement in 2016, and we are saddened to have to continually echo our call for an end to gun violence, racism and white supremacy in the United States. Tuesday’s mass shooting in Atlanta is the latest tragedy to make headlines, while 100 people are shot and killed in this U.S. every day.

A call for an end to gun violence

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 835 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 U.S. Congress on September 24, 2015

   March 18th, 2021      Posted In: Congregation, Featured Stories, In The News, Justice


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