Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Goodbye from Rome

Wednesday, April 30

We closed our meetings today with prayer and reflection (and, of course, the celebration of Blessed Pauline's Feast Day). We thank you for your prayers and ask you to pray for our travels. Until we are back in our provinces, here's a snapshot of the coordinators and some of the Generalate:


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Discovering the Areopogas of Our Time"

Tuesday, April 29
  • We began the morning with a presentation about the ways in which SCC's in Chile are responding to the call of social justice in their country.
  • Then, we were presented a challenge by Father John Kilcrann, CSSp: Discover the Areopagus of our time! That is, as Paul confronted the Athenian philosophers at the Areopogas and challenged their worship of many gods, we should be discovering and confronting the ways in which the Word of God is in conflict with today's culture. Father Kilcrann, of the Spiritan JPIC Services in Rome, spoke to us about his Congregation's experiences in attaining non-government organization (NGO) status. A proposal at a General Chapter in 1998 has evolved into membership in Vivat International, an NGO formed by a network of women and men's religious congregations. Father Kilcrann stressed the importance of partnership and networking to the task that religious women and men have before them today.
  • We also heard about the SCC response to social justice in the Philippines and here in the Generalate.
  • The rest of the day was spent brainstorming practical ways in which we can put what we have discussed into effect. Realizing that we cannot do everything, we must focus our efforts. The JPIC coordinators will share more about this when they return to their respective provinces.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Even More from Rome: "Witnesses of Charity . . . "

Monday, April 28

  • After a bit of reflection and evaluation, we went to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, where we spoke with the president, Cardinal Renato Martino. We were reminded of the importance of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, published in 2004. Cardinal Martino was instrumental in the final publication of the Compendium and is also very interested in the cause for beatification of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, previous president of the Pontifical Council, who died in 2002. Click here for more information on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and here for more information on Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan.
  • We also visited Caritas Internationalis (CI) and had an extensive presentation by the Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General, and members of her staff. As a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and service organizations, CI works for the poor and oppressed in over 200 countries and territories in the world. Firmly grounded in Catholic social teaching, the CI approach focuses on the dignity of the human person as its members work to fight poverty, exclusion, intolerance, and discrimination. Part of our presentation included information on CI's international work against human trafficking and on the coordination of its disaster preparedness efforts. From June 3-9, 2007, CI held its 18th General Assembly entitled, "Witnesses of Charity, Builders of Peace," which included keynote speeches by Cardinal Martino and Wangari Maathai. To get a sense of the flavor of CI's agenda and of its strategic framework for the next four years, see the Secretary General's Address at the General Assembly.
  • As our meetings come to a close this week, we are speaking more about not only what we will take home to our provinces, but also what the Sisters of Christian Charity, as a Congregation, can do for justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. Stay tuned . . .

Saturday, April 26, 2008

More from Rome: "Go and do likewise."

Saturday, April 26
  • Sister Eugenia Bonetti, M.C., shared her wealth of knowledge and her passion about fighting human trafficking in her talk entitled, "The Strength of Networking: The Prophetic Role of Religious Congregations against Human Trafficking." Sister Eugenia is internationally known for her work. In fact, Inside the Vatican listed her as one of its "Top Ten People in 2007." (Click here to read the story.) Using the parable of the Good Samaritan, Sister challenged us to "Go and do likewise" -- that is, to have compassion for the victims of human trafficking, no matter who or where they are. Borrowing a phrase from Starting Afresh from Christ, she urged us to express our love in a "creativity of charity" toward those who suffer. Sister shared a wealth of resources, which we will be able to share with our provinces.
  • This afternoon, we visited Fosse Ardeatine, the site of a mass execution carried out in Rome on March 24, 1944 by Nazi occupation troops during the Second World War. A total of 335 Italians were taken prisoner from the city streets and put to death inside the caves that day. The bodies of the victims were placed in piles and buried under rock debris. Engineers detonated explosives to seal the caves. They were eventually found and given a proper burial in what is now a National Monument and Memorial Cemetery.
  • We also toured a portion of the catacombs of St. Callistus, built around the 2nd century, where many martyrs and popes had been buried.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"A little step every day . . ." in Rome

A brief summary of our days in Rome thus far:

Wednesday, April 23:

  • Our meetings began with a beautiful reflection, "The Prayer of the Street Child." A brief introduction reminded us that the the General Chapter of 2007 called for a JPIC coordinator in each province to keep the Sisters informed of the world-wide issues as well as local needs and to encourage and help the Sisters to become as involved as possible in these issues. Explanations of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, our Congregation's involvement with the USG/UISG Joint Commission for JPIC, and Mother Pauline's life of social justice involvement were helpful in setting the tone for the meetings. The introduction's conclusion beautifully sums up why we are here: "May the intercession of Mother Pauline help us to do something more, a little more, a little step every day, as much as we can and according to the real possibilities we have at hand."
  • A presentation of the initiatives in the North American Western Province gave us insights into our Sisters' responses to the call for social justice there.
  • On our first trip, we went to the headquarters of the Italian Jesuit Refugee Service, Centro Astalli, which includes a soup kitchen serving over 400 people each night, accommodation centers for asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants, an outreach clinic, a legal center, an Italian language school, and a project for victims of torture (just to name a few services). If you read Italian, check out the web site: http://www.centroastalli.it/. However, if you're interested in the JRS in the US, see http://www.jrsusa.org.

Thursday, April 24

  • Our visit to the offices of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided us not only with information about international efforts to defeat hunger, but also with isntructions on how to access enormous amount of information available to those who want to learn more. See the excellent FAO web site -- http://www.fao.org/ -- for further information.
  • Presentations of the social justice initiatives in the North American Eastern Province, Argentina, and Uruguay provided insights into our Sisters' responses to the call for social justice in these areas.

Friday, April 25

  • Our day began with a presentation of the Sisters' responses to the call of social justice in our German province.
  • Our visit to Dono di Maria ("Gift of Mary"), a shelter for the poor operated in the Vatican by the Missionaries of Charity, provided an eye-opening experience. Pope John Paul II entrusted this shelter to the care of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in 1988. At this shelter, poor men and women are fed each day, and about 70 women receive medical care and overnight accommodations.

Of course, our visit is not without its Roman sightseeing, but that would be beyond the scope of the blog! Stay tuned for further updates from Rome and thanks for keeping us in your prayers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Partnership for Global Justice

The 2008 Annual Meeting of the Partnership for Global Justice will be held from April 24-26 at Xavier Center, Convent Station, NJ. Entitled "The Spirituality of Politics: Searching for the Global Common Good," the meeting will provide an examination of politics at its deepest level of serving the needs of peoples and earth as we choose leaders for the 21st century.
Keynotes will be delivered by Barbara Wall, PhD of Villanova University who focuses on political theory and Catholic Social Teaching; and Sister Pat Siemen, OP, JD, who currently serves as the Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, a collaborative initiative co-sponsored by Barry and St. Thomas Universities.

Additionally, a panel from the United Nations will address the topic of Spirituality of Politics from their own point of view. Among the panelists is Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations.

The 5th Annual Justice Award will be presented to Dave Robinson and Pax Christi USA. Mr. Robinson is the Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, which strives to create a world that reflects the Peace of Christ by exploring, articulating and witnessing to the call of Christian nonviolence.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

JPIC Coordinators to Meet in Rome

From April 23-30, the JPIC Coordinators of the Congregation will meet in Rome. Pray for our safety as we travel, and stay tuned for reports about our meetings. The Sisters are: Sister Cecilia Poblete (Generalate), Sister Anna Schwanz (German Province), Sister Juliana Miska (N.A. Western Province), Sister Ann Marie Paul (N.A. Eastern Province), Sister Flavia Perez (Chilean Province), and Sister Maria Adriana Mateos (Uruguay/Argentina Province).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Watch the Pope's Address to the United Nations

If you missed Pope Benedict's address to the United Nations, watch it here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI to Address the United Nations


Let us remember to keep Pope Benedict XVI in our prayers today as he addresses the United Nations. For more information on this Apostolic Journey, go to http://www.uspapalvisit.org/

Keep Feeding the Hungry

Remember to go to The Hunger Site every day. Fight hunger with one click of the mouse!

The Hunger Site

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Ten Days in May"

May 3rd is the 25th anniversary of the U.S. bishops' pastoral on peace, The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise, Our Response. To mark this anniversary, Pax Christi USA has provided resources for prayer, study and action as part of the "Ten Days in May" peace campaign, focusing on commemorating the peace pastoral but especially putting an emphasis on the last words of the title of the pastoral: "Our Response." At the center of this campaign is Pax Christi's new sign-on statement, "God's Promise Endures: The Challenge of Peace Today." This statement was crafted to help revitalize the discussion in our Church that can help us to articulate and embrace a true theology of peace as central to our faith. Also, don't forget to check the Pax Christi USA web site regularly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Integrity of Creation

"Integrity of Creation: An Issue for Religious Today" was written by the Global Warming Working Group of the USG/UISG Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation Promoters in Rome. It is informative and practical, offering web sites, Scripture and Church document citations, dates to observe, and suggestions for reducing, reusing, and recycling. Ultimately, it asks the question, "Why should women and men religious be concerned about global warming and climate change?" A good question to ask and answer! Click here to read the booklet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stop Trafficking Newsletter

The April issue of Stop Trafficking is now available online at http://homepage.mac.com/srjeanschafersds/stoptraffic/
Be sure to read the article on pages 2 and 3 regarding Burger King! Although McDonald's and Yum! Brands have taken the lead on increasing the "piece rate" of the tomato pickers, it appears that Burger King does not plan to follow suit. What can be done? Read the newsletter for suggestions.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Feed the Hungry




FreeRice is an easy way to feed the hungry and build your vocabulary at the same time! Just click on the banner to the left and start to play. For every word you define correctly, 20 grains of rice will be donated to the United Nations World Food Program. It's that simple!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Human Footprint

Did you know that an American at age one has a bigger carbon footprint than a Tanzanian will have in a lifetime? Here are some staggering numbers (from the National Geographic Channel): Americans generated 251 million tons of trash in 2006, the most recent year for which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has data. Our per capita trash disposal rate was 4.6 pounds per person, per day. Sixty-five percent came from residences, while 35 percent came from schools and commercial locations such as hospitals and businesses. Where does it all go? Check out "Human Footprint," premiering on the National Geographic Channel tonight (April 13). An ABC News report on the program can be found at http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4637824&affil=wabc

Book Recommendation - Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations . . . One School at a Time is an incredible story of the difference one person can make in the struggle for peace! From the book's web site: "Do you know anyone who would be willing to sell everything they own and live in their car just so they could save every dollar for someone else? Greg Mortenson, a great American hero, did just that when he followed through on his promise to an impoverished Pakistani village to build a school for its children, and in the process has found himself playing a major role in one of the most historically and culturally pivotal areas in the world today.

In THREE CUPS OF TEA, Greg Mortenson and acclaimed journalist David Oliver Relin, recount the unlikely journey that led Mortenson from a failed attempt to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain, to successfully building schools in some of the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. By replacing guns with pencils, rhetoric with reading, Mortenson combines his unique background with his intimate knowledge of the third-world to fight terrorism with books, not bombs, and successfully bring education and hope to remote villages in central Asia. THREE CUPS OF TEA is at once an unforgettable adventure and the inspiring true story of how one man really is changing the world—one school at a time.

In 1993 Mortenson was descending from his failed attempt to reach the peak of K2. Exhausted and disoriented, he wandered away from his group into the most desolate reaches of northern Pakistan. Alone, without food, water, or shelter he eventually stumbled into an impoverished Pakistani village where he was nursed back to health.

While recovering he observed the village’s 84 children sitting outdoors, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks. The village was so poor that it could not afford the $1-a-day salary to hire a teacher. When he left the village, he promised that he would return to build them a school.
From that rash, heartfelt promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time: Greg Mortenson’s one-man mission to counteract extremism and terrorism by building schools—especially for girls—throughout the breeding ground of the Taliban.

Mortenson had no reason to believe he could fulfill his promise. In an early effort to raise money he wrote letters to 580 celebrities, businessmen, and other prominent Americans. His only reply was a $100 check from NBC’s Tom Brokaw. Selling everything he owned, he still only raised $2,000. But his luck began to change when a group of elementary school children in River Falls, Wisconsin, donated $623 in pennies, thereby inspiring adults to take his cause more seriously. Twelve years later he’s built fifty-five schools.

Mortenson and award-winning journalist David Oliver Relin have written a spellbinding account of his incredible accomplishments in a region where Americans are feared and hated. In pursuit of his goal, Mortenson has survived an armed kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, repeated death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children. Yet his success speaks for itself. This year the schools will educate 24,000 children."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

USG/UISG Letter in Support of Bishop Ramazzini

Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini -- bishop of San Marcos, Guatemala, President of the Guatemalan Bishops Conference, and president of SICSAL, the International Secretariat of Christian Solidarity with Latin America -- received another death threat on March 31, when the car of a woman religious in his diocese was stopped with the intent to send Bishop Ramazzini the death threat. On April 9, the USG/UISG Commission for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation sent a letter to the President of Guatemala requesting the following:

1. Take the precautionary measures necessary to guarantee the physical and psycholocial security of MonseƱor Alvaro Ramazzini, his family, and those who work with him in the Diocese and Department of San Marcos;
2. Investigate and apply the rule of law against the material and intellectual authors of these threats;
3. Offer the legal and judicial guarantees so that these intimidating practices, and violations of human rights, are not repeated against any citizen of Guatemala.

Letters of support may be sent to Bishop Ramazzini at alvaramazzini@itelgua.com. Letters to the President of Guatemala may be sent to: cbarrientos@presidencia.gob.gt.

Please keep Bishop Ramazzini in your prayers.

April Fast to Close the SOA

From April 23-25, people across the Americas will engage in fasts and creative actions to CLOSE THE SOA, a combat training school for Latin American soldiers located in Fort Benning, GA.

From the SOA Watch web site: "Initially established in Panama in 1946, [SOA] was kicked out of that country in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the 'biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.' The SOA, frequently dubbed the 'School of Assassins,' has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. Over its 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence, and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, 'disappeared,' massacred, and forced into refuge by those trained at the School of the Assassins."
For more information about the fast, go to http://www.soaw.org/fast.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jubilee Sunday April 13

"When people of faith join together for a holy purpose, rooted in our scriptures, we can turn the tides of economic injustice, challenge harmful policies and advance a prophetic vision of right relationships among nations, fairness, equality, and hope for the world's poor." - Jubilee USA Network

Jubilee Sunday, April 13, is a day set aside to raise the concerns of countries which have been impoverished by the huge payments they make annually on foreign debts. On this day, congregations will come together across the country to learn and pray, and then call on our national leaders to "Measure up!" to their commitment to end poverty. Resources for celebrating Jubilee Sunday (and many other excellent resources) are available at Jubilee USA Network.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

SCC Provincial Statement on Ecology

On Sunday April 6, 2008, the Sisters of Christian Charity of the North American Eastern Province adopted the following Provincial Statement on Ecology:

"Because we recognize creation as God's gift to us, the Sisters of Christian Charity are committed to a harmonious and interdependent relationship with the earth and its creatures. We will be guided by the principles of sustainability and environmental accountability in our decisions and actions as we claim our responsibility toward self, others, and all of creation."

Guided by this statement, we hope to continue our mission of giving and receiving Christ's love, joy, peace, and healing for the life of the world.