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.
Sisters of Earth was founded in 1994 by several Catholic Sisters from the U.S. and Canada, who were engaged in exploring the new cosmology and implications for this emerging worldview. Sisters of Earth is an informal network of women who share a deep concern for the ecological and spiritual crises of our times and who wish to support one another in work toward healing the human spirit and restoring Earth’s life support systems. We are teachers, gardeners, artists, writers, administrators, workshop and retreat presenters, mothers, contemplatives, and activists in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and beyond. This network of sharing and support is open to all women whose life and work would identify them as Sisters of Earth. We hold a general meeting every two years in different parts of the USA.
This July, Sisters of Earth met in Cincinnati at Mount St. Joseph University. Representing Carondelet were associates and Sisters from most of our provinces. The theme for the 2018 conference was “Sharing the Wisdom, Shaping the Dream: Creating the Future We Want.” Throughout the conference, we together explored this theme through prayer, ritual, conferences, workshops, conversations, and pop-ups. Pop-ups were five- to ten-minute presentations that gave attendees a chance to share examples from their work/ministry/lifestyle of Active Hope.
Those of us from Carondelet would like to share with you our own pop-ups in the context of our takeaways from the conference experience. Some of our takeaways are connected to specific conferences and moments within the Sisters of Earth 2018 Conference. Other reflections/concerns are takeaways that are located in the context of our preparation for Chapter in 2019.
This was my first time attending the SOE Conference. My most significant learnings, came from the “pop-ups” They were full of examples of various communities living out their relationship with the entire Earth Community. I began to see ways forward for all of us that would impact the Earth Community in a positive way. Some ideas shared were:
I would be glad to have conversation about any of these topics.
The main points that struck me at SOE as relating to the idea of Earth as context were the following:
Life on Earth has been successful in adapting to change for about four billion years, why not use some of her strategies? One way to do this would be to use, in Gloria Garcia, IHM’s terms, bio-mimicry or bio-emulation, using life’s strategies. Principles involved in doing this include interdependence and valuing diversity for health of the whole.
So some questions for us as we adapt to change might include:
“What you can plan is too small for you to live.” -David Whyte, What To Remember When Waking
The best part of this conference for me was the reconnecting with sisters from all over the globe who are actively trying to live in an Earth-sustainable way within unjust social and economic systems that affect Earth’s ability to renew life. It is hard to remain counter-cultural and challenging to keep aware of my own choices. Reconnecting with the Sisters of Earth is like a shot in the arm to continue responding to our Acts of Chapter question: “How will this action affect the whole Earth community?”
A very powerful experience of the SOE conference was the “hybrid” presentation of Awakening the Dreamer. The process of beginning in gratitude (Who are we?), moving to our pain (Where are we?), seeing with new eyes (How did we get here?) and going forth (Where do we go from here?) deepened my awareness and called me to active hope. I felt these questions echoing within me as a way to reflect and to live more authentically in my personal life, and also in my ministry and community circles. There is an urgency to question the long-held assumptions of church, country, and community. There is an urgency to live the challenges of “inter-being” and to truly be in communion with the Earth family. The SOE conference was a gift and a privilege!
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.