Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thank You to Our Friends Who Made the New Website Possible

"Being and Acting as One" is really hard work under any circumstances.  The US Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph now have a tool that provides concrete ways for the sisters, associates and agregees to share their message of unioning love with all through our new website.  Visit us at .

This website would not have been possible without the voluntary assistance provided by several of our Congregations.  Two committees provided the muscle we needed to do the heavy lifting on this project.

The first committee was the one that proof read our proposal for the bidders who wanted to build our website. They provided valuable feedback and then evaluated the submissions we received from several companies.  The committee helped us evaluate whether the companies had the technical expertise we were looking for, the experience in creating the type of outcome we needed, and had a competitive pricing structure. 

Barbara Hecht
Jenny Beatrice

Our committee of 5 consisted of two public relations people, Barbara Hecht of the Baden CSJs and Jenny Beatrice from the Carondelet-St. Louis CSJs; our two technical experts, Sasha Josipovic from the Carondelet- St. Louis CSJs and Joe Favazza from the US Federation Office, and me, Sr. Patty Johnson, also from the US Federation Office. 

After reading the proposals and evaluating them, we concluded that the Hopeworks proposal was the one we recommended.  Hopeworks  provides learning opportunities for inner-city Camden, New Jersey youth, The heart of their program is technology training. They train their youth in state-of-the art computer applications: Web site design, geographic information services (GIS), computer networking and repair, and video.  Additionally, for the youth they work with they try to keep them in school and prepare them for good-paying jobs.  Many of the youth they serve are African-American and Hispanic youth between the ages of 17 and 25 who have dropped out of school.

I want to be clear; Hopeworks won the US Federation website development project totally on the merits of their proposal and experience.  They received no extra points for their mission.  They had the unanimous backing of the whole committee.  They were the right group for the job, as you will see if you visit our new website.

Sr. Joanne Gallagher
Dawn Gruba
So, then we had to develop our plan for the site.  Again, a volunteer committee really helped us make the important decisions.  This committee benefitted from the expertise of four professional communicators, Sr. Joanne Gallagher of the Boston CSJs, Stephanie Hall Cabelof from the Erie SSJs, Sr. Rosemary Noonan from Carondelet-Albany and Dawn Gruba from Rochester SSJs.  This group helped to determine the layout, color-scheme, look and feel of the website and type of content we would need.  The expertise of this group was invaluable.

Stephanie Hall Cabelof
Sr. Mary Rose Noonan

The adult/youth team from Hopeworks that worked on our project was Terran and Zjustyn.  They were easy to work with, flexible, and responsive to our suggestions.  Technology changes every day.  I was very impressed when they reworked a few pages to incorporate new and better technology that just became available.
Zjustyn and Terran

Last but surely not least is our administrative assistant at the US Federation Office and our new webmaster, Joe Favazza.  It was Joe’s expertise that helped us at every major decision point.  He researched all the tools that we are using on the website to ensure that they would achieve the goals that we set and were cost-efficient.  As my eyes would glaze over as he tried to explain a decision we had to make, he would patiently start over and try to explain it in a more basic way so that I was making informed decisions at every turn. 
Joe Favazza, Administrative Assistant and Web Master

And now on to the future.  We have several feature pages which be updated with new content on a regular basis.  Several people have volunteered to serve on the editorial boards for those sections:
  •  Justice and Peace Editorial Board: Marie Elaina Perales, Orange, and Esther Pineda, Concordia
  • Becoming a Sister: Jill Underdahl and Jean Marie Gocha, Carondelet
  • Archivists from each Congregation will be suggesting sisters to be featured on our history page.
  • We are looking for two or three people who might be willing to serve as the editorial board for the spirituality section. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Who is Representing us at Rio

Here is the list of Sisters who are representing us at the UN Conference- Rio+20
Gertrudes Balestieri
Maureen Finn
USA living in Brazil
Joan Atkinson
Rita Bosch
St. Joseph Argentina
Maria Ines Coelho
Eliete Dal Molin
Patricia Anne Day
Australia, living in Perú
Anari Felipe
Orfila Carmelita Gobbi
Linda May Gregg
Lucia Hertz
Marisa Elena Santino
St. Joseph Argentina
Olga Manosso
Griselda Martínez-Morales
NGO-UN  (México)
Arzila Portile
Elizabeth Rangel-Reyes
Luiza Rodrigues
Rosane Steffenon
Rita Tessaro
Helena Tums
Suzanne Marie Wilson

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summary of Congregations of St. Joseph Statement for Rio+20

Twenty-two Sisters of St. Joseph representing Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Peru and the United States are attending the Rio+20 conference sponsored by the United Nations.  This conference will evaluate the progress made over the 20 years ago since the first historic global plan to address climate change occurred in Rio.  World governments will hopefully renew their commitments to a “green economy” and sustainable world development.
Our delegation’s most important message to the UN is that at the heart of the climate change      discussion and decision-making  must be a commitment to an ethical framework for sustainable  development.  In its six page statement, our delegation states that sustainable development is an ethical challenge which urges all nations and peoples to act on their ‘common but differentiated   responsibilities’ to care for the earth, protect human rights and eradicate poverty.  Together, we must answer a fundamental ethical question:  Will we choose human transformation or earth  devastation?

We live on a finite planet.  We are liquidating the earth’s natural assets to fuel our consumption.  In system after system, demand is overshooting supply.  Current agricultural practices account for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  Climate change is already responsible for forcing some 50 million additional people to go hungry and driving 10 million additional people into extreme poverty.  As climate change worsen, migration will    become a growing issue. 

We believe that developed countries need to take the lead in changing their patterns of production and consumption while developing countries maintain their development goals even as they move toward sustainable practices. 

Our experience causes us to have deep concerns about human rights, which are fundamentally related to access to natural resources such as clean air, water and land.  The ethical task is to ensure that the trajectory of the Green Economy is clearly in the direction of building     sustainable, local economies which protect and enhance earth’s systems while meeting the needs of humanity,   especially earth’s poorest peoples.

While we commit ourselves to personal changes that will reduce our consumption patterns and  support a “green economy”, we also know that we must advocate for systemic changes at a local, national, and global level.  We recommend that governments:

·         End subsidies for large, export-oriented agricultural and resource extractive industries

·         Ensure that trade agreements  protect the environment and address climate change

·         Incorporate gender analysis into governmental policy development– women produce half the world’s food, yet typically earn much less than men

·         Create mandatory standards and regulations within all sectors of the green economy

·         Ensure greater transparency and strict regulation on financial speculation especially with regard to carbon markets as well as food stock exchanges, future markets for food and agriculture

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Message from Griselda at Rio+20

Hi everybody! Greetings from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  I arrived yesterday morning to this city that is welcoming thousands of people around the world who will participate in one way or another in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

The climate here is "winter" with 18 to 25 degrees!  So far, the experience is of people being very friendly, attentive, kind and helpful.  We have some limitations due to language differences.

The delegation of Sisters of St. Joseph (22) is hosted in two different houses, with considerable distance between them.  The house where I am will have 11 CSJs, who have been arriving little by little.  Today we are 7. There are other religious organizations hosted here also.

Yesterday was the day to explore ways and times to reach the Rio Convention Center, where the sessions and side events official UN Conference will be held. It's an adventure! It takes at least 2 hours to get there by bus.

We have obtained our authorization passes and tickets which will be required in the following days. The process was very quick, in and out.  Those arriving in the days closest to the conference will have more time in line waiting their turn.

There will be another meeting space for the civil society, “the People's Summit” where we will also be present.  It is closer and only took a bus.  We discovered that route today. We were able to do some exploring of the civil space site and some of the city.

We had the opportunity,  not planned to be in an alternate event with a painter and sculptor! haha He was unique and very in tune. His art was something like the seeds of change, women and the environment through art. It was something different that made us realize that we come to this conference with a different perspective.  We live it from a different path. We say enough of control, , manipulation, exploitation, use and abuse, of all living things.

I think these two days we had time to locate and explore. Hopefully during the following days we do not lose the ability to let ourselves be surprised by the day to day, so unplanned.

The photos .. ha ha ha will try to upload! They are the first we have taken, of course we will share between us which we take, but that takes time and we walked in the street all day yesterday and today.

Rio+20 and the Congregations of St. Joseph

Twenty-two Sisters of St. Joseph will take a compelling message to the    United Nations Rio+20 Conference of Sustainable Development. Our message is that at the heart of the climate change discussion and decision-making must be a commitment to an ethical framework for sustainable development.  Sr. Griselda Martinez Morales, our UN-NGO Representative says, “The Congregations of Saint Joseph, present in more than 50 countries, affirms our commitment of collaboration for human  development that includes the whole of the person, that creates an interdependence of the human family, allowing them to live fully and in harmony with all creation.”

The Rio+20 Conference will focus on two themes:

·         A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and,

·         Creating the international structures to promote sustainable development.

The Sisters of St. Joseph message at the Rio+20 Conference is strong and clear.  It is based on our global experience with the people who suffer most when the world exploits the environment for economic gain.  Sr. Griselda  states, “Rio+20 presents a moment of opportunity in the wake of the past decades which have seen economic crises, social disparities with one fifth of the population consuming 80% of the Earth’s  resources, and environmental disasters including food scarcity, water  shortage, loss of biodiversity and natural disasters.”

She goes on to say, “The three pillars of sustainable  development: the economic, the social and the   environmental, and the inter-relationship between them, all point to the urgent need for a new paradigm – a green economy – one that strikes a harmonious balance between social and environmental rights and sound economic principles. The Global Family of St. Joseph will join with other religious NGOs at the United  Nations and people of faith to present this perspective at Rio+20.”

Beginning today, our delegation will have the opportunity to participate in meetings, conferences, and forums both within the United Nations and with the civil society organizations (CSO).  More and more, NGOs and other civil society organizations (CSOs) are indispensable UN system partners and valuable UN links to civil society. CSOs play a key role at major United Nations Conferences like Rio+20.  NGOs are consulted on UN policy and program matters.

Sr. Griselda acknowledged that, “Only by the simple act of getting to know and connecting with people and organizations from all over the world, can we bring about these needed changes.  Our presence here is itself a witness as well as a great richness for us!  We will continue to live our charism of relationship and interdependence.” The Sisters of St. Joseph delegation will be sharing its statement  regarding the care of the environment, and that urges us to act locally, nationally and internationally, and advocate with our  governments so that they implement effective measurements for a sustainable development.  Sr. Griselda closes by    saying, “We will try to be in touch with you by sending pictures, comments,  experiences during the Conference.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

More from the Agrégées Vow Ceremony in Concordia

Sisters Lorren Harbin and Kathy Schaeffer wearing their profession crosses after making their life commitment

Yesterday, after a two to three year preparation process, in the context of a eucharistic liturgy Lorren and Kathy accepted both their rights and responsibilities of membership in the Sisters of St Joseph of Concordia according to the Constitutions for Agrégées.
Marcia Allen blessed the rings and profession crosses presented to Lorren and Kathy

The vow that they took was one of fidelity, which is a private, non-canonical vow for a lifetime and implies the same seriousness of life that canonical vows imply. 

At the end of the ceremony, Sr. Marcia invited all of the sisters to circle around Kathy and Lorren to confirm that they"are one with us as members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia."
In the chapel, the Sisters confirm their relationship Lorren and Kathy

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Agregee Vow Ceremony in Concordia Kansas

Sr. Kathy Schaefer, Agregee and Sr. Marcia Allen, Concordia CSJ President

Today Kathy Schaefer made her initial commitment as an agregee in the Concordia Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.  She told me that she was amazed with the peace that has come over her (she was a nervous wreck yesterday).  She said the best advice she got in preparing for this day was to just be herself.

I met Kathy last year when she and I both attended the “Falling in Love for a Lifetime” program in Concordia.  I had just recently learned of the Agregee program that is functioning in both Concordia and Springfield.  At mealtime sharing and in classes, Kathy helped me begin to get a feel for what being an agregee is about.  However, I also began to realize that it is an evolving way of relating to the charism and mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph- so it really is hard to describe to anyone.
So meet Kathy Schaefer.  She works with the elderly and you don’t talk with her for very long before you realize that what she does is much more than a job.  This is a woman on a mission.  She is joyful, incredibly funny but also has a serious side too.  I get the sense that she is a real presence where ever she is.  She feels drawn to the call of unioning love and exemplifies zeal and compassion in her everyday life.  About becoming an agregee, Kathy says, “I am more aware of the importance of my physical and attentive presence to the people I work with in the nursing home and the small rural community I live in.”
Today in a simple ceremony with a mass she became an agregee sister.  Her life is now more deeply entwined with the Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph.  One of the readings that seem to strike an emotional cord with all present was from Samuel. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” 
  Also making vows today as an agregee was Lorren Harbin.  When asked about today’s commitment Lorren said, “The call is so mysterious.  If you hear the call take it.  The journey is spectacular.

  Lorren and Kathy make their vows

I am at a rest stop driving home to St. Louis.  So I will share more tomorrow.
This summer  on our new website, which will be up and running at our old website address in mid-June,  I will present a more in-depth explanation of the agregee programs and their historic origins at  our foundiation in Le Puy

Friday, June 1, 2012

Good to Touch Base with our Partners

Dominc Smart, the General Manager of the Millennium Hotel visits with Sr. Patty at the Federation Office
Today Dominic Smart came by the Federation Office in St. Louis to discuss what he refers to as our ongoing partnership.  Dominic continues to be very interested in our efforts regarding the erradication of human trafficking.  He reports that there continues to be a clear and resolute determination on the part of management and staff to ensure the health and safety of all who come to the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis.  He shared some ideas on how we might engage other hotels in this important effort that I will pursue. As Dominic left, I assured him we are very much partners!