As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we echo their call to action during this election season.
As mid-term elections draw near, one thing Americans can agree on is that we are a deeply divided country. Frustration, bewilderment, and distrust abounds and manifests in everything from cynical resignation to turning on one another. Madeline Albright once described the experiment of democracy as paradoxical: equally characterized by fragility and resilience. These challenging times have exposed the delicate nature of our body politic, and will test our nation’s spirit of resilience as never before. ¶ As a nation, political vitriol, vastly compounded by the echo-chambers and bad behavior of social media, threaten the very institutions on which we’re founded. The news cycle is dizzying — making the upcoming election feel like we are nearing a panicky crescendo. In some ways it seems like the most consequential midterm election in American history—and those paying attention, regardless of political affiliation, are full of anxiety about its outcome and implications. But those who strive to keep the faith count on the hope that it is never too late for real, meaningful change that can lead us into a positive future.
As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we call the U.S. federal government to protect immigrants. The Federation released the following statement today.
We, the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, join with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in strongly opposing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s proposed changes to the public charge regulation. We view such changes as yet another attempt by the Trump administration to restrict immigration and punish immigrant families, to force parents to make impossible choices between the well-being of their families and the prospect of future citizenship.
¶ The rule changes would dramatically increase the barriers to lawful status for low-income immigrants and their families. It could dissuade parents from obtaining benefits for which their children qualify out of fear that they may not be able to regularize their immigration status in the future. Lack of access to public-benefits programs will increase poverty, hunger, homelessness, and disease, as well as decrease children’s school attendance and general well-being.
¶ This stark attempt to target the most vulnerable within the immigrant community violates the tenets of our faith and threatens the values of our nation. We are called by our faith to welcome the stranger and care for the most vulnerable and we are challenged by our national values to promote the welfare of our children and tend to the common good. If we want our communities to thrive, all families in those communities must have access to the care and services they need — and to which they are entitled as human beings. The Trump administration’s proposed changes to the public charge regulation threaten all of us.
¶ As Sisters of St. Joseph, committed by our heritage to embrace the Gospel message of unity and reconciliation, we urge people of faith to call for the protection of immigrants, especially those who are most vulnerable, and to register their objections to this unreasonable and mean-spirited proposal during the 60-day comment period.
As part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, we oppose Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule. The Federation released the following statement last week.
We, the U. S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, 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. ¶We stand with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in our deep concern about the release of the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule. The proposed rule would significantly weaken the Clean Power Plan (CPP) which sought to speed the closure of coal-burning plants and the conversion to clean energy in order to reduce carbon pollution, mitigate climate change, and protect the health and welfare of all people, especially the most vulnerable.
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!