I recently had the opportunity to travel to New York City to meet with Sr. Griselda Martinez Morales, CSJ, the representative at our non-governmental organization, ( NGO) at the UN. This unique and exciting UN ministry provides the global community of the Sisters of St. Joseph with a voice at the global table where policies and priorities are developed. However, Sr. Griselda envisions the potential for our NGO to play a far more significant and transformative role for the Congregations of St. Joseph, by increasing our sense of unity and global consciousness.
I saw Sr. Griselda networking first hand with other NGOs on important policy discussions regarding sustainable development. These discussions included top-notch leaders who have a finger on the pulse of the UN dynamic. Sr. Griselda represents our vision in a challenging, politically charged climate. She knows that our goals can only be achieved by building relationships with diplomats, their staff, and other NGOs. At the UN, showing up and participating greatly enhances credibility.
I learned about the opportunities the Sisters of St. Joseph have to participate in UN Commissions, by submitting information and recommendations on policies. Our highest priorities have related to issues of social development, sustainable development and women’s issues. Sr. Griselda talked about how important it is to understand that fundamentally all of these issues are connected. Making progress on any one issue essentially impacts vulnerable populations. NGOs continue to emphasize the importance of addressing issues in an integrated and holistic manor, trying to help diplomats see the connections and relationships among issues and government policies.
Sr. Griselda clearly articulates that this NGO office is not her ministry; it is our ministry. This office provides a vehicle for the sisters, associates and partners to be and act as one on important peace and justice issues. We need to surface the issues that emerge in our home countries to provide that grassroots input that is so essential for policy. Here at this UN table, we can participate with other advocates and policy makers to improve the lives of people who are poor. As a global community, we have direct experience of the devastating effects of poverty and of programs that effectively impact poverty, both globally and locally. We can share that knowledge with each other and our UN-NGO office, so that the stands that we take and the resolutions we endorse, reflect our understandings of the needs and hopes of our most vulnerable neighbors. We can ensure that Griselda knows our story so she can speak with authority about the realities we see every day. As we share with her and with each other, we will continue to develop and expand our global consciousness. We can find ways to make the statements and resolutions that we endorse to this global body, real in the places where we minister. We can come to the UN, perhaps with our dear neighbor to tell our story of how programs that respect the dignity of the person and involve them in all phases of program development, make a difference.
But, in the telling of our corporate story, we will face the biggest challenge. Sr. Griselda reminds us that forming a global consciousness is hard, transformative work for an individual. For a multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-lingual group, it is a major commitment and a labor of love. As a corporate body, we are just at the beginning of trying to figure out how we do this, how we listen to each other, how we respect cultural ways of thinking and acting. In this struggle to find our deeper unity, we will share our lives and our hearts. In the tradition of our early sisters, our reflection and sharing will lead us to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a global CSSJ family.
Sr. Griselda Martinez Morales, CSJ at her office near the UN.
Srs. Marianne Sennick and Griselda (pictured above)
along with Sr. Susan Wilcox represent us at the UN. Sr. Mary Legge is our UN Reporter.