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February 2017 NewsNotes



Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace


February, 2017


Greetings Friend!

2017 promises to be a very interesting year if the first month is any indication.

If nothing else, it has put my understandings of nonviolent practice to the test. Marches and protests are becoming a daily occurrence. #Resist is a trending hashtag on Twitter. Who would have ever seen that coming? The divisions in the country are wide and deep and I fear they are getting wider and deeper with each passing day. It is easy to see how a message of doom would be forthcoming. 

But to quote Desmond Tutu, I am a “prisoner of hope.” I do not need to be optimistic about the future, but as a disciple I have an obligation to live into the hope we have been given in the death and resurrection of Jesus. For me that means first and foremost choosing to live the gospel to the best of my ability; to live nonviolently in the face of so much violence and hate. I am genuinely trying to listen to those people I know who support Trump to understand the reasoning even when my own critical thinking prevents me from trusting anything that comes from Trump’s mouth or that of his surrogates. 

Living gospel hope also means standing up for and with the poor and marginalized in our country and around the world. As new policies are announced and their effects on individuals becomes clear, the action necessary will become clear.

Finally, I understand that I am an American by accident of birth, not by choice—unlike many of our maligned immigrant or refugee brothers and sisters. Living the gospel is my choice. If a conflict between the two loyalties becomes evident. I will make my choice for the gospel.


Frank McCann

Peace through Justice Facilitator


  1. Protests Erupt over Trump's Muslim Ban
  2. Standing with Standing Rock
  3. Sherwood Forest Threatened by Fracking
  4. USCCB Seeks Support for the Bridge Act
  5. Ireland Votes to Become First Nation to Completely Divest from Fossil Fuels
  6. Calais Update
  7. Protect the Water in the Pinelands in New Jersey
  8. Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast

Protests Erupt over Trump's Muslim Ban

Sisters Mindy McDonald, Eleanor Maragliano,Susan Francois, Maureen D'Auria and Associate Kate Chambers were among those who demonstrated Saturday night January 28, at the Hudson County Jail in support of Haitian and other immigrants held in detention. Most had spent the earlier part of the day on retreat joining a "pilgrimage with the refugees of Calais."


Mr. Trump's Executive Order of Friday, January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, created an almost immediate response of people taking to the streets at America's major airports to protest the ban and to demand the release of detained travelers. There are still questions over whether or not the Homeland Security officials are obeying the ban placed on the deportation of any persons traveling to the U.S. with a valid  green card (issued to permanent residents) won in the Courts on Saturday.

This is the second consecutive weekend of massive demonstrations since Trump took office. Last weekend over 3 million women marched against his personal treatment of women as well as his policy decisions to limit health care options for women. Indeed, health care is on the table as the Republicans look to abolish the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and threaten to restructure Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid reducing benefits to all recipients.

The ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations took immediate effect causing people to be taken off flights or detained at airports when they landed. The executive order has also been widely condemned as both un-American and unchristian. The following are the most recent statements by Church officials on banning Muslims from the U.S.

Pope Francis

Cardinal Joseph Tobin (Archdiocese of Newark)

Cardinal Blaze Cupich (Archdiocese of Chicago)

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

You may also want to reference our own Congregational Statement entitled " Welcome Immigrants and Refugees" issued last year, or the Leadership Team's Letter to President Trump on the Executive order banning travel from Muslim majority countries.

Standing with Standing Rock

Native Americans on the plains of North Dakota saw their fears become reality when Trump signed an executive order to revive and expedite the Dakota Access pipeline.  The good news is, they still have the power to resist Trump. He can’t prevent an Army Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Impact Statement that has the potential to stop the pipeline. The statement is open to public comment, and they are asking for our support to contact our legislators.

Here is a sample script/letter:

On Tuesday morning, President Trump issued an executive order to revive the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and promised to fast track approval of its construction. DAPL tramples on tribal sovereignty and threatens millions of citizens who depend on clean, fresh water from the Missouri River. We must act now to protect Indigenous rights and our natural environment!

On December 4th, 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers halted drilling under Lake Oahe, the last phase of the pipeline’s construction. Now, the Army Corps is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement open to public comment. Use this form to add your own comment to the Army’s report and tell the engineers we want a thorough review of the environmental implications of the project!

Write or call as soon as possible. you have until Feb. 20 to submit your concerns to the Environmental Protection Agency.

You can also use this link to submit your response electronically.

Sherwood Forest Threatened by Fracking

Sherwood Forest is under threat from a chemical company that wants to explore it for fracking. If means rare wildlife and trees could be at risk.

38 Degrees members delivered a big petition to the government demanding they protect Sherwood Forest. Already 190,000 people have signed the petition. But if more than 200,000 of us sign, it’ll send a strong message that the public wants Sherwood Forest protected.

Can you help the petition reach 200,000 by signing the petition now? You can add your name with one simple click .

Here's what the petition says:

TO: The Forestry Commission.

Please keep chemical companies out of Sherwood Forest.

USCCB Seeks Support for the BRIDGE Act

The Justice for Immigrants program of the USCCB is urging members of congress to support the bi-partisan BRIDGE Act which would protect students now protected from deportation by DACA from being deported if the Trump administration dismantles DACA.

Please call or write your representatives asking for their support. A Sample script/letter follows:

My name is ______________________. I’m a Catholic and a constituent. I’m calling to express my strong support for the "Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act," S.128/H.R. 496. The BRIDGE Act protects the dignity of DACA-eligible youth by ensuring individuals who were brought to the United States as children and are contributing so much to our nation can continue to live their lives free of the anxiety that they could be deported at any time to a country they do not know and separated from their families.

I urge you to:
·         Support and co-sponsor the BRIDGE Act (S.128/H.R. 496); and
·         Continue to work towards larger legislative reform of our immigration laws.

Can I count on your boss to support the BRIDGE Act? Thank you!

Ireland Votes to Become First Nation to Completely Divest from Fossil Fuels 


The Irish Parliament voted 90-53 to completely divest the nation from fossil fuels. Funds in the € 8bn Ireland Strategic Investment Fund would be reinvested over the next five years. The law is expected to take effect  5-6 months after review by the finance committee.  The legislators suggested that two-thirds of the fossil fuels that are currently in reserve must never be burned in order to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Read more...


The Maria Skobtsova house in Calais continues to be a place of refuge. Reports are that there are 30 refugees in the house with people sleeping two to a bed. Despite the camp being demolished and the refugees moved throughout France to relocation centers, many still migrate to Calais in the hope of finding a way to get to England.

About a dozen of the young men we worked with, including several pictured above were among 80 from the Jungle chosen by a French University to get 4 year scholarships. This year they are studying French language and culture, they go on to regular university studies in September. Many of the Jungle's former residents are still awaiting their asylum hearings.  

Many young persons who had hoped to make it to the UK under the Dubs Amendment have been disappointed. In one group sent to Taize, only 5 were given welcome in England, 45 others were rejected. Some youth are committing suicide, or are running from the centers to try and fend for themselves. Yared, pictured to the right, someone we knew from the Orthodox Church in the Jungle, has gone missing after making it to London. He suffered from depression, due to trauma that he endured during his trip from Eritrea to Calais, but he may also have been taken by traffickers.







One of New Jersey's largest drinking water sources, the Pinelands, is at risk of contamination if a new pipeline gets approved.

The South Jersey Gas pipeline would cut through sensitive forest areas in Cumberland, Atlantic, and Cape May counties. The construction will destroy critical habitat and could affect drinking water for more than a million people. Longer term, if the pipeline is approved it would open the floodgates to even more development.

The Pinelands Commission is accepting public comment through Wednesday, February 8, which means we have time to stop it if there's enough pressure. Will you add your name to say you oppose the South Jersey Gas pipeline that threatens the Pinelands?

Yes, I believe we should protect clean drinking water in New Jersey and oppose unnecessary pipelines in the Pinelands!


The Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast will be a re-run of the 2016 ELCF.  Use this link to sign up. On the right hand side of the page you can sign by email, text or through Facebook.
Free Eco-Theology Course from Yale - participate from your home - make this a Adult Study Group in your church.
     Free Yale MOOC on Thomas Berry and Journey of the Universe
     February 13, 2017 - April 3, 2017
For more information and to access this, click here:
Take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity - three free courses centering on eco-theologian Thomas Berry and the application of his work and writing to understanding the earth, God's gift of creation - the cosmos, and our relationship and responsibility.  This is an excellent opportunity for small groups in churches to participate in the courses, and then gather weekly to discuss with one another... and then launch a green team in their church.
Two courses - each of them two hours long - can be viewed at any time.  They center on the Emmy-award winning film, Journey of the Universe, the book from Yale University Press, and a series of 20 interviews with scientists and environmentalists, titled Journey Conversations.
The third course focuses on the life and writing of eco-theologian Thomas Berry (1914-2009) whose early voice awakened moral sensibilities to the environmental crisis.  He is known for articulating a "new story" of the universe that explores the implications of the evolutionary sciences and cultural traditions for creating a flourishing future.  It is in seven parts, and you can spend 1-3 hours on each of those seven parts. 

"So yes, we are forever beginning, and the best we can do is be very grateful that each new beginning is one more chance to grow. "

Margaret Byrne, CSJP