Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter

The Holy Father has announced the theme for World Communications Day 2016 -- "Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter."  Click here for more information.  World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council, is marked in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (in 2016, May 8th).  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Deo Gratias!

One of the things we marveled at in Philadelphia was how the Papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway could be seen and heard so well by the million or so friends who gathered there.  From time to time, the volume of the sound was loud enough that the last words spoken or sung would echo for several seconds afterwards.  This was especially noticeable when the words "Deo gratias" -- that is, "Thanks be to God" -- were sung at the end of the readings.  It seemed as if they reverberated for 20 seconds or more!  How appropriate to this weekend to have thanks echoing through that large crowd!

During this much-anticipated visit of the Holy Father to Philadelphia on the occasion of the World Meeting of Families, there was so much to be thankful for, mostly having to do with the encounters along the way.  We are grateful for so much:
  • The reason everyone was there -- families!  How edifying it was to see families of all shapes, sizes and ages from all over the world come together.  Deo gratias.
  • The people we met on the streets of Philadelphia and the stories they told.  There was a man who had grown up in Passaic but who now lives in South Jersey.  When he asked where we were from and some of us said, "Passaic," there was an instant connection.  There were people who originally came from Reading (but were now living other places) and were taught by our Sisters at Reading Central Catholic.  There were people who were connected to us through other people.  Deo gratias.
  • Reunions with people we had not seen in years.  Every one of us encountered someone we had known previously, but had not seen in many years. How could we possibly find each other in those crowds?  Only God could do that!  Deo gratias.
  • The people who stayed.  Because of the massive road closures, most schools and many workplaces were closed.  Many Philadelphians took this opportunity to leave town until the roads opened up and life returned to normal.  However, those who stayed could not have made things more hospitable for visitors.  There was such a generous, festive atmosphere, especially in the homes that opened their doors to us!  We celebrated with Catholics, other Christians, Jewish people . . .  a truly catholic (universal) event!  These people were very interested in the Holy Father, his mission and this visit.  We were able to share our Catholic traditions far and wide.  Deo gratias.
  • The people who left.  Some folks were able to rent out their homes for thousands of dollars during the Papal visit.  We are aware of one family that went to the shore and gave its empty home to five Sisters of Christian Charity for the weekend -- for free!  Deo gratias.
  • Mass with 800,000 of our closest friends.  How profound it was to participate in a Eucharistic liturgy of that size!  The participation, singing, responses and reverential silence we experienced made the Body of Christ tangible and palpable.  Deo gratias.
  • The Holy Father. Enough said.  Deo gratias.
As we move away from the experiences of the weekend and our resolve begins to fade a bit, let us always remember the importance of gratitude, especially for the people we encounter each day.  Let us remember especially those people who might make it difficult to be grateful each day.  For them we say, "Deo gratias."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

With the Holy Father in Philadelphia

As we prepare to celebrate the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families with the Holy Father on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, we are so grateful for the opportunity and so edified by the families we have met.  We are grateful for the many modes of transportation -- planes, trains and automobiles -- that have brought us here and the people who worked to make each of those modes of travel possible. We are grateful to our community for its support of this venture and for accompanying us in prayer.  We are grateful for all the shared stories we will have to tell about every leg of our journey.  We are grateful to Pope Francis for bringing all of us together!  Here are some photos of our pilgrimage thus far.
One of the many families who wanted their picture taken
with "the Sisters."  The orange t-shirts were worn by
all volunteers at the World Meeting of Families.
SCCs meeting on the Parkway!

The newly-professed:  IHM and SCC
Artwork on the side of a building in the
Fairmount section of Philadelphia

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pray for the Papal Volunteers

As we continue to follow Pope Francis's visit to our "neighborhood," we ask for prayers for the thousands of volunteers at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, including our SCC volunteers.  On Sunday, September 27 at the Papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Sisters Ann Marie, Bridget, Maria Angeline, Marie Jose, Mary Amata, Mary Peter and Mathilde will volunteer as "Guest Service Associates" -- greeting, welcoming, directing and otherwise assisting visitors.  Those of us who are qualified might be called upon to offer medical assistance or translation services, as well.  Here is a front and back view of our "uniforms" for the event:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Peace Day Celebration at ACS

From Sister Joseph Spring, SCC, President of Assumption College for Sisters (ACS):
On September 21,  International resident students of Assumption College for Sisters, Denville, gathered in the convent chapel to pray a special Evening Prayer commemorating the International Day of Peace.

Flags of the various countries represented by the students were depicted surrounding a globe placed in front of the altar.  Pictured here are the students who have come to Assumption College for Sisters for the first time this year:  Sister Charity Nkwera, OSB (Tanzania), Sister Marie- Therese Nguyen, SPP (Vietnam), Sister Mary Cecilia Akol, LSOSF (Uganda), Sister Norbertha Mlowe, OSB (Tanzania), Sister Lucia Anh Nguyen, SPP (Vietnam), Sister Monica Nakawala, LSOSF (Uganda),  Sister Catherine Thu Le, FMV (Vietnam).

Assumption College for Sisters is a two-year Sister Formation College, the only one of its kind in the United States.  ACS is sponsored by the Sisters of Christian Charity. For more information, visit

Monday, September 21, 2015

We Serve People

While we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Pope Francis in the United States this week, we should pay attention to his message in Cuba:  "Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people."  In his September 20 homily as he celebrated Mass in Plaza de Revolucion, Pope Francis reminded us of the good news of Jesus:  "Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others."

Peace Day

Today marks the International Day of Peace, whose theme is:  "Partnerships for Peace -- Dignity for All."  Click here to access the resources on the official Peace Day site and here to access an Evening Prayer for the occasion.  For collections of prayers from different countries, click here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

40 Days for Life Webcast

Click here to join the webcast (Tuesday, 9 pm Eastern) sponsored by 40 Days for Life in which you will learn more about and about how to stop the horrific practice of harvesting and trafficking of aborted babies.

What is the Hunger and Homelessness Committee of the WMOF?

As part of Pope Francis's papal visit to Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families (WMOF), the WMOF leadership mandated the creation of a Hunger and Homelessness Committee.  This committee will use the occasion of the papal visit and the WMOF to increase awareness of issues of hunger and homelessness in Philadelphia and throughout the United States.  The goal of the Committee is to spark more effective action and advocacy around these issues in the spirit of justice and compassion.  Click here to learn more about the WMOF Hunger and Homelessness Committee.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What is the World Meeting of Families?

There is so much talk about the World Meeting of Families right now, but do we know what it is and why it is convened?  The website provides our answers.

Since its inception by St. John Paul II in 1994 [the International Year of the Family], the World Meeting of Families has strengthened the sacred bonds of families across the globe.  Held every three years and sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family, the World Meeting of Families is the largest Catholic gathering of families.  Each World Meeting of Families has a theme that energizes and enlivens the event while adding great depth of meaning to our understanding of families.  The theme of the World Meeting of Families  -- Philadelphia 2015 is "Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive," emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on our society.

At the conference, families share their thoughts, dialogue and prayers, working together to grow as individuals and family units.  Families can participate in discussion groups on the Christian family's role in the church and society, led by many distinguished speakers.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Undoing the Knots

The 2015 World Meeting of Families Hunger and Homelessness Committee has several great initiatives to share.  The first one we'll share with you is the "Mary, Undoer of Knots Grotto."    From the website:

 Throughout time and across all cultures, a knot has been used to symbolize tension and struggle. The undoing of a knot symbolizes freedom from these burdens - a release of pressure. In the tradition of Mary, Undoer of Knots, Pope Francis' favorite artwork, visitors of the grotto will be able to add or remove knots, symbolizing their personal struggles and sharing the burdens of others.

Where is the grotto?  How can you submit a "knot"?  Where can you get more information?  Click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

9/11: Let There Be Peace on Earth

... And let it begin with me.  (Click here if you do not see a video below.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September Issue of Stop Trafficking

The September issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- focusing on how demand for services subtly promotes human trafficking -- is available here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Prayer Resources for 9/11

As we approach the fourteenth anniversary of "9/11," several prayer resources are available.  Click here to access resources on Beliefnet and here to access resources from the Western Region of the Sisters of Christian Charity.  Resources from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are available here.  Prayers and other resources are available from "The Text this Week" (click here).  Remember that we are also asked to give service on "Patriot Day," as the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks is now called.  How will you mark this day?  How will you be an instrument of peace?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hands at work . . .

Click here to read the USCCB Labor Day 2015 Statement, written by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, FL, and to find other Labor Day resources.  Here's an excerpt of the statement:

This Labor Day, the violation of human dignity is evident in exploited workers, trafficked women and children, and a broken immigration system that fails people and families desperate for decent work and a better life. How do we participate in this wounding of human dignity, through choices about the clothes we wear, food we eat, and things we buy--most of which is unaffordable to the very workers who make it? Do we give a thought to this truth, that for our wants to be met, economic realities are created that cause others to live in ways that we ourselves would not? How can we advance God's work, in the words of the Psalmist, as he "secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, [and] sets captives free" (Ps 146:7)? These are difficult questions to ask, yet we must ask them.

On this Labor Day, perhaps Colossians 3:23-24 could be our prayer:  "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord, and not for yourselves.  Remember that the Lord will reward you; you will receive what he has kept for his people.  For Christ is the real master you serve."

Finally, an often-quoted maxim of Pauline von Mallinckrodt, founder of the Sisters of Christian Charity, expresses sentiments appropriate for Labor Day.  In a January 20, 1880 letter, Mother Pauline advises Sister Honorata to assist as best she can in the formation of young Sisters and postulants:  "Let their hands be at work, their hearts with God."

Saturday, September 5, 2015

European Migrant Crisis

 Images of human beings -- especially children -- drowning or being forced to walk 100 miles to safety should motivate us to do what we can to aid our suffering brothers and sisters.  What will you do -- individually, in your ministry?  Your parish?  Your community?  Your convent home? Click here to go to the Caritas Internationalis site and here to go to the Catholic Relief Services site to learn how you can help support their efforts to aid the hundreds of thousands of refugees and economic migrants fleeing war-torn countries, especially Syria.  Click here if you'd like to make a very direct donation to the organization that is dedicated to providing assistance to migrants who "find themselves in distress while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels." In the past year alone, this organization -- the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) -- has rescued more than 11,000 migrants attempting a crossing in "unseaworthy vessels."

Would you like to share information with us about what is being done in your area to help refugees?  Just click the "Comment" section to let us know.

Friday, September 4, 2015

NativityMiguel School of Scranton

Congratulations to our very own Sister Maria Angeline and everyone at the NativityMiguel School of Scranton for an awesome opening to their school year.  Click here to read Friday's story in The Scranton Times. (Watch the video to get a glimpse of Sr. Maria Angeline in action.) If you're on Facebook, "like" the school and view photos of all the wonderful things going on there, including a first-day-of-school visit from retired New York Yankee, Mariano Rivera.  The Sisters of Christian Charity are proud to be among the founding sponsors of the NativityMiguel School of Scranton!