congregation of the sisters of st joseph of peace
facebook twitter instagram twitter

September 2017 NewsNotes

 

Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace

NewsNotes
September 2017

 

Greetings Friend!

This has been a summer of rest for some, but a summer of unimaginable suffering from others. The people of Yemen are dying of starvation and cholera while the world ignores them. Floods in Bangladesh and South Texas have brought death and displacement to many and stand as an ignored rebuke to those who choose to deny climate change. A nuclear armed rogue dictator in South Korea is facing off against a struggling president of the nation with more nuclear arms than any other. God only knows what will come of this.

This summer I have been drawn to re-read Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation and a new book on Merton by James Forest, The Root of War is Fear. It is still amazing that a monk who lived a cloistered life so many years ago writes so clearly and contemporaneously about the threat of nuclear war and the tendency of Christians to forget Christ, to whom they owe their first loyalty... not any nation or weapon nor any political party or economic system. I suppose the clarity of his vision is connected to his contemplative practice. I close this NewsNotes with some of Merton's words for our reflection

This edition of NewsNotes offers many actions that can be taken for peace...disturbing the arms sales show in London, initiating silent peace walks, becoming a speaker on issues of war and peace. There are several actions to take on protecting Earth, and others that encourage us to stand with brothers and sisters who are at risk.

Finally, I want to share that I am encouraged every day as reports from CSGs arrive telling of what you are all doing for migrants and refugees. Thank you all!

 

Peace and all good,

Frank

Frank McCann
Peace through Justice Facilitator

 


 

Contents:

  1. Caring for the Environment
  2. Season of Creation
  3. Stop the Fracking in Lancashire
  4. Insist on Sustainable Rebuilding of Texas Coastal Communities
  5. Stand with the Polish Forest Protectors!
  6. 2017 International Day of Peace
  7. Defending DACA Youth & Families
  8. Stand in Support of Dreamers
  9. Pope Says Rights of Migrants Should Trump National Security Concerns
  10. End the Torture of Yemenis
  11. Protests to Begin at the DSEI Arms Fair in London
  12. NETWORK Invites Sisters to Write Paul Ryan on the U.S. Budget
  13. A Brief Update from Calais, France
  14. What to do after Charlottesville?
  15. Silent Marches for Peace
  16. Speaking and Advocating for Peace Through Justice
  17. Thomas Merton on Christian Duty in the Face of War

 


abc

Arizona Sunset Photo by Frank McCann

 

Caring for the Environment

 

Each of the next four stories offer us opportunities to act to save our environment. They are an opportunity to put A Covenant of Peace with Earth: Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace Land Ethic into practice.

 


abc

Season of Creation

 

TODAY, Friday, September 1st is  World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, celebrated by the Orthodox Church since 1989 and by the Roman Catholic Church since 2015. It is also the beginning of the Season of Creation,  which ends on October 4th, the feast day of St. Francis. 

Today, take a moment to appreciate and give thanks for God’s gifts of nature. Join with Christians around the world praying for creation. Together with Pope Francis, pray for our common home.

To help you celebrate the Season of Creation we are pleased to share with you the following Covenant-produced resources:

1) A prayer service series,  Finding God in the Wilderness  to be used on the four Sundays between Sept. 1st and October 4th. Download the prayer service here

2) 2017 Feast of St. Francis program,  Befriend the Wolf: A Blessing of All Creation , which can be used on October 4th, or any date of your choosing. The Feast of St. Francis program includes a Blessing of the Animals liturgy. Download the program here.



abc

Stop the Fracking in Lancashire

 

The fracking company Cuadrilla has begun drilling in Lancashire. Drilling is a final step before fracking begins. The 24 hour, 7 day-a-week noise begins with the drilling. Fracking uses chemicals, sand and pressurized water to release fossil fuels buried deep underground. Local water supplies are threatened.

Before the fracking can start, the Secretary of State for Energy, Greg Clark, must approve Cuadrilla’s fracking consent application.

NOW is the time to tell Greg Clark to reject fracking in Lancashire!

Making our voices heard opposing fracking's onslaught on the land is an important way to express our Land Ethic.

 


abc

Insist on Sustainable Rebuilding of Texas Coastal Communities

 

First, we pray for the victims of the on-going flooding and wind damage in Texas.

Second, we need to be aware! On August 15 th , the climate change deniers in the White House and the administration dropped requirements that federal funding in relief of communities experiencing natural disasters no longer have to consider climate change and rising seas in their rebuilding plans. Those requirements for federal funding were required by the Obama administration but have been dropped by Trump. This may lead to on-going expensive claims for flood relief to be borne by U.S. taxpayers. The National Flood Insurance Program was nearly $25 billion in debt before Hurricane Harvey arrived.

Third, we should reach out to our senators and representatives (202) 224-3121 and ask them to insist that the Obama era, risk management standards be reinstated as part of the process of restoring the Texas Gulf coast region. Harvey alone should be evidence that warming waters and rising seas contribute to the intensity of storms and the damage they do. If you want more contact information on your federal representatives visit http://www.commoncause.org/take-action/find-elected-officials/

 


abc

Stand with the Polish Forest Protectors!

 

State sanctioned logging is destroying the Bialowieza Forest in eastern Poland. It is Europe’s last primeval forest, a priceless heritage. The government claims it is protecting the forest from a bark beetle, a claim refuted by Polish and European scientists. The European Union’s courts have ordered a stop to the logging until the case can be heard. Polish authorities refuse to stop.

The only thing standing between the trees and the harvesters is the power of the people’s protest. The people at the grassroots Camp for the Forest patrol the woods collecting evidence of trees being cut down. They organise road blockades and occupations of the massive harvesting machines - everything to stop the felling of the trees, if only for a day.

We can support their brave stand by offering a message of support and solidarity.

Sign on here to stand with the Defenders of the Forest!

Why would we want to get involved over a Polish forest? Because we share one sacred earth, our common home.

From our CSJP Land Ethic:

“For too long we have thought of land as a commodity whose value is determined by its usefulness to humans. Our decision-making now must put the sustainability of ecosystems before financial profit.”

 


abc

 

2017 International Day of Peace

 

A celebration of an International Day of Peace will take place at 2 PM on Saturday, Sept. 16 at St. Mary on the Lake. Due to last minute complications, Brother Johannes, the featured speaker is unable to travel from Calais, France to be with us. Instead, Sr. Sheena George, CSJP with Associates Donna Clifford Bryan Johns and Frank McCann will be presenting the “We Journey Together” theme.

 


abc

Defending DACA Youth & Families

The President’s threat to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) by September 5 th is still a threatening reality. Yesterday was the official call-in day to protect DACA, but please call today if you can. 

We need your help to protect the approximately 800,000 DACA recipients and their families. Please call 1-888-496-3502 to be connected to your Representative and then call 1-888-410-0619 to be connected to your Senators’ offices. If those numbers are not working call 202-224-3121 (not toll free).

Sample call in script:

Hi, my name is X and I’m calling from City, State and my zip code is X. I am a person of faith. I’m deeply concerned about the reports that President Trump could end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) very soon. I support the program and strongly oppose any attempt to terminate or alter it. I urge the Representative/Senator to do everything in his/her power to protect 800,000 DACA-recipients from deportation and support their right to work and study in this country. There are three things I’m hoping your office will do right now. Can the Senator/Representative appeal directly to the President to keep this program in place, issue a public statement of support for DACA recipients, and support a clean passage of S. 1615/H.R. 3440, the Dream Act of 2017?

 


abc

Stand in Support of Dreamers

 

The following comes to us from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Passing the legislation proposed would protect the young people who have come forward and declared themselves to benefit from the DACA program initiated by President Obama and now threatened by Trump.

The Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615 / HR. 3440) was recently introduced in Congress as a bipartisan effort. The bills are intended to protect immigrant youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. The bills offer qualifying immigrant youth "conditional permanent resident status" and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship. These bills would protect numerous youth, including the over 780,000 individuals who received temporary relief from deportation and employment eligibility through the Department of Homeland Security's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We ask you to renew your support for DREAMers by urging your Senators to co-sponsor S. 1615 and your Member of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 3440.

 

You can do so by sending the following messages:

 

Dear Senator,

As a person of faith, I stand with the U.S. Catholic Bishops and write to express my strong support for the "Dream Act of 2017" (S. 1615). The young people protected by this bill are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. As Catholics, we have long supported DREAMers as we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially that of our children. Among those protected by this bill are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, a program that has benefited over 780,000 young people. DACA has ensured that recipients are able 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. We believe immigrant youth deserve continued protection and a path to citizenship.

I urge you to:

  • Support and co-sponsor S. 1615, the Dream Act of 2017; and
  • Continue to work towards larger legislative reform of our immigration laws. The faith community stands with you in support of the DREAM Act of 2017, S. 1615, and vows to work with you to reform our immigration system in a humane and common-sense manner.

Thank you.

 

Dear Representative,

As a person of faith, I stand with the U.S. Catholic Bishops and write to express my strong support for the "Dream Act of 2017" (H.R. 3440). The young people protected by this bill are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. As Catholics, we have long supported DREAMers as we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially that of our children. Among those protected by this bill are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, a program that has benefited over 780,000 young people. DACA has ensured that recipients are able 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. We believe immigrant youth deserve continued protection and a path to citizenship.

I urge you to:

  • Support and co-sponsor HR. 3440 the Dream Act of 2017; and
  • Continue to work towards larger legislative reform of our immigration laws.

The faith community stands with you in support of the DREAM Act of 2017, H.R. 3440, and vows to work with you to reform our immigration system in a humane and common-sense manner.

Thank you.

 


abc

Pope Says Rights of Migrants Should Trump National Security Concerns

 

In preparation of the 2018 Day for Migrants, to be celebrated January 14, the pope issued a controversial public statement.

The news story can be found here.

 


abc

NYC Catholic Worker demonstration for Yemen, Union Square, NYC Photo by Frank McCann

 

End the Torture of Yemenis

 

In Yemen, every 10 minutes a child dies from malnutrition, a cholera outbreak rages -- and a savage Saudi bombing campaign threatens to cut off all aid access. It’s an apocalyptic scenario for these innocent people.

20 million (!) Yemenis need aid, but the world has barely noticed.

Why? More than a dozen of our governments are fueling Saudi's war -- Trump just began a new $100 billion arms deal! For our leaders, Saudi friendship and oil have been more important than Yemeni lives.

It is important to get beyond the statements of nations claiming to be acting in self-defense against a nation with no real government or army.

The UK and the US are among those who see a Russian-Iranian-Houthi rebel connection, and so they sell arms to the Saudis who:

  • bomb hospitals and critical water infrastructure
  • use anti-personnel cluster bomb munitions-the same ones Western nations condemn Assad for using in Syria
  • refuse to allow journalists to witness the horror
  • have destroyed the port preventing the reception of food aid.

See a photo essay by Nicholas Kristoff of the NY Times entitled: The Photos the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Don’t Want You to See


abc

Protests to Begin at the DSEI Arms Fair in London

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade produced a 2 minute video explain why they will be resisting the DSEI Arms Fair in London September 4-11. You can view the video below.

 

For more information visit the websites of Stop the Arms Fair, or see a list of all the individual protests from 2 September through 15 September at https://www.caat.org.uk/events.


abc

Sisters at St. Michael's writing for peace earlier this year Photo by Frank McCann

 

NETWORK Invites Sisters to Write Paul Ryan on the U.S. Budget

 

The Trump administration’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 would cut funding for programs that help working families in order to give tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest people in the United States. As Congress enters into budget reconciliation discussions, we invite women religious across the country to write letters to Speaker Paul Ryan letting him know that a budget cutting protections for the most vulnerable families is out of line with Catholic teaching and values.

When writing:

  • Introduce yourself; be sure to include your religious order affiliation, where you are located, and a brief description of your ministry.
  • Choose an area or a few areas of the Trump budget that would have a particular impact on the people you minister to in your community or that resonate with your personal experience. Briefly explain the impact of the budget on you or your community using personal experiences when relevant.
  • Highlight the principles of Catholic Social Justice that apply to the issue areas you’ve mentioned and emphasize the importance of a faithful budget that uplifts human dignity and meets the needs of people at the margins.
  • Mail your letter to the NETWORK office by November 10, and we will deliver all of the letters to Speaker Ryan’s office on Capitol Hill. If you have any questions, please email Network here.

Letters should be mailed to:

NETWORK Lobby
25 E. Street NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001

Download these instructions in a printable PDF.

 


abc

A Brief Update from Calais, France

 

Conditions in Calais France are worsening for refugees. The “Jungle” was destroyed in October/November of 2016 but refugees continue to come to Calais, as it is the closest point in France to England where most refugees hope to go.

Police are harassing refugees sleeping in the open air in the forested areas of Calais. Patrols awaken the refugees in the middle of the night, often using pepper spray. Tents and sleeping bags are confiscated and destroyed. Food distribution points are strictly limited and often disrupted by police. Those distributing food are also harassed and those providing food are often fined.

The local courts have ordered Calais to provide showers and toilet facilities for the refugees, however the city is delaying implementation of the court’s orders.

Maria Skobtsova House is still operating although with too few volunteers to handle the 19 now living in the house and the 20 or so who come by each day for food, showers and to do their laundry. The shortage of volunteers makes it impossible for Brother Johannes to come to the United States in September, as was planned.

Without more longer term volunteers, it is possible that Maria Skobtsova house will have to close at the end of the year.

 


abc

Engraved wall at the Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington, DC Photo by Frank McCann

 

What to do after Charlottesville?

 

(Edited from the Comboni IPJC Newsletter)

August 12 was a shocking day for Americans as anti-racism counter-protesters at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville were confronted with violence by white supremacists and Neo-Nazis who were there for a "Unite the Right" rally. By the end of the day, two troopers had died, and one woman and 19 others were hurt when a speeding car slammed into them. Anti-fascist protesters were participating with the counter-protesters which further clouds the waters.

The U.S. bishops have announced an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism led by Bishop George Murry with plans to convene a national summit of religious leaders. Read more, here.

The Southern Poverty Law Center produced a 36 page guide entitled Ten Ways to Fight Hate . The ten chapters include: (1) Act; (2) Join Forces; (3) Support the Victims; (4) Speak Up; (5) Educate Yourself; (6) Create an Alternative; (7) Pressure Leaders; (8) Stay Engaged; (9) Teach Acceptance and (10) Dig Deeper.

You can download the guide here.

 


abc

Silent Marches for Peace

 

The Silent Peace Walk is an effective way to contribute to peace. Get together with your friends, and walk in silence for peace.

What we want with the Silent Peace Walks is very simple: we simply want to bring people together so they can express their desire for peace. It is not our intention to proselytize, lecture, recruit, convert... we don't want any of those things, and that's why we do it in silence. We simply want to create opportunities for people to walk together in silence for peace, so they can have a chance to get to know one another, and connect with one another at the level of the heart.

Anyone can do it. All you have to do is to walk in silence mindfully, and experience peace within and around you. By doing so, you will grow your reserves of inner peace, which will help you bring more peace to the world through peaceful thoughts, words and actions.

The world needs us. The world needs more people engaged in the work of promoting social justice, peace and protection of the environment. It is evident that there is a lot of apathy in our world, so we need to be creative and come up with initiatives where people who currently don’t do so can gather to collectively express their desire for a better world without feeling threatened. We need to offer non-threatening venues for people to express themselves. We need to find ways to bring those “non-engaged” individuals together to publicly advocate for worthy causes and get their voices heard. We need to create events where those more hesitant and less confrontational individuals can feel safe to participate.

Initiate a monthly Silent Peace Walk in your community. Don’t think too much. Just do it! www.silentpeacewalk.org

The Benedictine Sisters of Peace in Erie PA have begun monthly silent marches for peace.

 


abc

Speaking and Advocating for Peace Through Justice

 

At the suggestion of a group from the West region, we are working to establish a CSJP speakers’ bureau of volunteers who would be willing to address parishes, schools or community groups on areas of concern for creating peace through justice.

Researched addresses will be created around the following subjects as starters:
1) Reducing the growing military budget for our nation (US & UK)
2) Ending arms sales to nations at war
3) Promoting the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
4) The UN’s ban on nuclear weapons.

Anyone interested in participating in the research or in speaking is very welcome to join in.

Additionally, we are investigating the possibility of teaming up with the Friends (Quakers) as part of their advocacy teams. Volunteers would be provided with materials produced by the Friends staff in DC. Teams could be formed in congressional districts where there is interest. The theme of Friends advocacy this year is reduction in military spending.

Both of these efforts are in their infancy. Anyone interested in either should contact Frank McCann.

 


abc

Thomas Merton on Christian Duty in the Face of War

 

What are we to do? The duty of the Christians in this crisis is to strive with all their power and intelligence, with faith, with hope in Christ, and love for God and humanity, to do the one task which God has imposed upon us in the world today. That task is to work for the total abolition of war. There can be no question that until war is abolished the world will remain constantly in a state of madness and desperation in which, because of the destructive power of modern weapons, the danger of catastrophe will be immanent and probable at every moment everywhere. Unless we set ourselves immediately to this task, both as individuals and in our political and religious groups, we tend by our very passivity and fatalism to cooperate with the destructive forces that are leading inexorably to war. It is a problem of terrifying complexity and magnitude, for which the Church itself is not fully able to see clear and decisive solutions. Yet she must lead the way on the road to nonviolent settlement of difficulties and toward the gradual abolition of war as the way of settling international or civil disputes.

Christians must become active in every possible way, mobilizing all their resources for the fight against war. First of all, there is much to be studied, much to be learned. Peace is to be preached, nonviolence is to be explained as a practical method, and not left to be mocked as an outlet for crackpots who want to make a show of themselves. Prayer and sacrifice must be used as the most effective spiritual weapons in the war against war, and like all weapons, they must be used with deliberate aim, not just with a vague aspiration for peace and security, but against violence and war.

This implies that we are also willing to sacrifice and restrain our own instinct for violence and aggressiveness in our relations with other people. We may never succeed in this campaign, but whether we succeed or not, the duty is evident. It is the great Christian task of our time. Everything else is secondary, for the survival of the human race itself depends upon it.

from "The Root of War" by Thomas Merton, published in the Catholic Worker, October 1961.

 

 

"We must be signs of hope and healing in the midst of the cultural reality in which we find ourselves."

Ann Rutan, CSJP