Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sister Margaret Mayce Presents on UN Dynamics

Dominican Sister Margaret Mayce, OP, presenting "Core Values" of Religious communities and NGOs, many at the UN (Monday, April 28th, Morning Session).

Day Three: Sharing words

Common English words which arose this morning from a meaningful time of sharing. The larger the word, the more common.

Words of the day in its entirety.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29th update: Estrategias y Conversaciones

Pictures from a day of learning, brainstorming and considering the work forward together.

Perspectives on UN Advocacy Tools

Afternoon questions for small discussion groups (gathered into common language groups):

Question #1:
  • Quels sont les domaines que les Soeurs de St Joseph devraient aborder ?
  • ¿Cuáles son los asuntos que las Hermanas de San José deberían abordar?
  • What issues do Sisters of St. Joseph have a special voice for?

Question #2:
  • Auxquels domaines ou problemes avons nous accès pour avoir l’information ou avoir une meilleure perspective?
  • ¿A cuáles asuntos o problemas tenemos acceso especial en cuanto a la información o para tener una mejor perspectiva?
  • What issues or problems do we have special access to information or a privileged perspective on?

Question #3:
  • Quelles sont les personnes cles dans notre pays? Qui sont les partenaires cles avec lesquelles nous devrions travailler?
  • ¿Quiénes son las personas claves en nuestros países? ¿Quiénes son los mejores colaboradores con que deberíamos trabajar?
  • Who are the key people in our countries? Who are the key partners we should work with?

Question #4:
  • Comment abordons nous les domaines ou problemes en termes des “Droits de l’homme”?
  • ¿Cómo podemos abordar estos asuntos o problemas en términos de “derechos humanos”
  • How do we talk about these issues or problems in terms of “human rights”?

Question #5:
  • Cooment pouvons-utiliser les instruments des Nations Unies, comme l’EPU (Examen Periodic Universel), les Rapporteurs Speciaux, le Conseil de Droits de l’Homme?
  • ¿Cómo podemos utilizar las herramientas de la ONU, por ejemplo: Los relatores especiales, el Consejo de Derechos Humanos?
  • How can we use these UN tools, like UPR, Special Rapporteur, Human Rights Council?

Responses from the groups:

Marissa (Argentina): Tragic and terrible. At first we had anxiety, a number of difficulties with the website, we couldn’t get it to work nor was it very user friendly. So we need to verbalize and express what happened for each one of us and what we understood. We thought we all understood the same but then realized we each had a different understanding. So we needed Griselda to be with us to give some concrete examples. So she explained how the mechanism of the UN works together in terms of how things are done. [Griselda takes over as the airline called about her lost suitcase].

Sr. Nilva (Brasil): After that tragic, comic experience, we did discover some of the tools available on that website. We discovered where the recommendations were located, who made them, which were accepted and rejected. We talked about the process at the grassroots level and how to move up to the higher levels and how to work with that process, then how to go back to the grassroots. It became concrete for us because Nilva was able to look at what was happening in her country and she found a summary of recommendations, those accepted and rejected, and what happened. So from there it was easier to see how to move from the standpoint of advocacy and lobbying at different levels. Where those embassies in terms of ours in relationship to other NGOs and through all the other Federations of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Everything is interconnected and we almost achieved it.

Sr. Anita (India): We spoke about our problems in India. 75% percentage of population lives in countryside and depends upon agriculture. We mostly do the natural process of agriculture. We don’t know from where these multinational corporations came from and the GMOs (genetically modified organisms). We don’t need any companies help or additions. These companies and the GMOs they appear in Indian countryside and everything has changed. They took control of our own seeds, the farmers and the land. We actually keep the seeds after the harvesting is over. But now we cannot keep anything with us because of these companies and genetically-modified seeds. Due to this company, all in Southern and Northern parts of India we have lost many fruit products and even farmers are committing suicide. It still continues and we say no to it. Still multi-national companies are strong. It was proposed to modify, genetically, a vegetable called prinja. We, the students, the farmers, the church leaders, almost the whole nation, were protesting against it, and we want none of it. We don’t know how long it will be. And the farmer says, “We don’t want any GMOs in India.”

The second thing, being a large country, full of rivers and natural resources, we actually do not utilize them carefully. But the companies buy our waters and deprive us from drinking water and utilizing them freely. We never had this kind of problem of only being able to get drinking water from purchasing it. The nuclear power plants and thermal plants - we actually do not need all these things, but in the name of development, the lands of the poor people are grabbed, there comes deforestation, they pollute the waters, everything is disturbed. ...

But as we Sisters of St. Joseph can join the global sisters, the NGOs which are really interested, same like us, and the signature campaign in the local, national and international levels. We can also cooperate with the press and doing a lot of paperwork, to inform everyone to know that what we are really going through and what we are really doing. I think our group believed that development doesn’t mean having everything, but we should live in communion with nature, fellow human beings, without having any racial, gender bias or caste and giving good health to everyone and eradication of poverty and everything that does good to human beings and nature.

Sr. Joan (Canada): We had a very good discussion with US issues, Australian issues and Canadian issues. Our first step is that we have to try to - I think at the beginning we are trying to struggle to get to one or two issues we can agree on. So we sought some help as we had different understandings at the table about the task we were to engage in. We liked the human rights framework to do an analysis of just about any issue we had identified and recognizing different capacities on the home front to analyze issues. So then we talked about the importance of building networks and gave some examples that were successful. And, then talked about how important it was to find vehicles to share our work as a CSJ justice committee. Again, recognize perhaps we need to find resources to get a savvy young person to help us share our work in different countries, perhaps more effectively using the website and other vehicles of social media. We talked about issues from human trafficking, immigration, resource extraction, the economy, poverty and we can’t take them all on so we didn’t quite get far enough to find those vehicles other than we like the framework.

Sr. Jeanette (Chad/Algeria): Here it is - we were talking together, for us this was a new discovery, this UPR (Universal Periodic Review, a tool at the UN). We mentioned that in order to use an instrument or mechanism we need to know it better. This for us involves information communication and follow-up. We also spoke about education around this new mechanism. So in order to discovery the situation and needs we have to discern and don’t know always how to do that. Because governments are always going to say or show something that is good for them, they are always going to show that good side (as the Sister was saying about GMOs). We also talked about the work at the grassroots level. They also gave an example from Madagascar of how the lands are taken out from under them for purposes of mining. So the question came up that whenever these situations arise should we go to the government or should we go to the NGO. We said that because we are at the grassroots level we need to bring the voices of the grassroots community. For us it’s very helpful to know more about the NGO so that at the NGO we’ll be able to participate in more advocacy and lobbying. We also spoke about the importance about building up that network, especially as Sisters of St. Joseph. Would anyone like to add anything?

Sr. Mimose (Haiti): From the beginning we had talked about this new mechanism - UPR - and it is something new for us. This will help us to become more informed about the treaties that our government has signed. And we are trying to carry out how we can better help the people and become better informed and organized.

Sr. Graziella (Italy): Our table was very small, a few people. We were immediately aware of the lack of knowledge that we had. And so the first thing we had to do was to increase our knowledge and understanding of what we were about. It was very interesting and important for us to know our reality through the documents that come to us through the UN. And we tried to see how we can insert ourselves into the larger reality. Our justice & peace group in Italy is just beginning, it is just a seed, just beginning to take shape. In order to really move and do more and have a wider influence, we need to begin to raise our own awareness and teaching other people the same thing. So that we will be able to move together with the Sisters and then to move with the laypeople we are working with. The second aspect is organization. ... So first of all we need a linker amongst ourselves, asking our Sisters in other countries to begin collaboration in other countries where they find themselves. Then we really need to come to know the reality, analyze it, and then move towards action. Working in each place, with other groups, who are working on these things as well. Up to this time we have worked on those themes and issues that have been raised in other international meetings. They are interpretative creation, violence against women, and immigration for us. We continue to work on these same topics. That’s it - grazie.

Sr. Sue (Canada): Well, Ken was taking notes for us but he wouldn’t speak for us. I have a few threads, so others can add. We started talking about the UPR process and we focused on the dialogues that can be created back in our home country. So we like the idea of using the process to create attention in the media or have grassroots dialogue about the issue and raise awareness that way to in order to create momentum for change. We talked about our strength as religious orders, from our perspective, in our ability to mobilize the grassroots, to stir awareness and dialogue, and the special role we can play in political advocacy, first because our congregations have built up a lot of credibility, based upon the history of our work in school systems, healthcare, or other areas. Also, politicians see us as a group that comes to talk about issues without a personal agenda. We talked about immigration and migrant workers, the hypocrisy of globalization (products, consumer goods, money can cross borders freely, but not people). We made links here with what is happening in each of our countries so we may know where we might collaborate with each other, where what is happening in Haiti might be something I want to bring to my government. We also made links to the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers. That’s an area where no country who actually receives migrant workers has signed on to it, only countries that send migrant workers have signed on to it. So that’s an area where many of us here have work to do with our own governments before anything can happen at the UN. 

April 29th: Morning invitation to gather

Sr. Roja (India): "With a grateful heart, let us begin this new day, the countless blessings the Lord showered upon us throughout yesterday, especially for the knowledge, wisdom, discovery, understanding and friendship. Let us take a moment, quieten our being, experience the breath we take in, and breath out. Let us remember as we breath in, our God’s saying, “My daughter, you are precious in my sight and I love you.” And as we exhale, we shall remember our brothers and sisters and tell them “You are precious to me and I love you.” Let this thought linger in our mind and heart. Gathered as one privileged CSJ family, we praise our God the creator, the Father-Mother God, to take hold of us, and thus we pray this Psalm and give praise to Him." 

Psalm of the Cosmos (read aloud by Sr. Henrietta) 

Loving God, loving God 

all creation holds you blessed, 
 and so do we, and so do we. 
 Loving God, 
all your creation calls you blessed. 
 Your spirit imprints the whole universe with life and mystery. 
Yes, all creation proclaims your love. 
 We now join this chorus of praise. 
Loving God, 
 all of nature calls you blessed, and so do we. 
 For you have woven an intimate tapestry 
 and call it life and called it good. 
In love you have formed a universe 
 so diverse yet so related, 
 and into its web you call us forth 
 to walk the land and swim the sea 
 with all our natural brothers and sisters. 
To the stars we seem no more than blades of grass. 
Yet to you, each of us, as each blade of grass 
 and each star, is an irreplaceable treasure, 
 an essential companion on this journey of love. 
Loving God, 
 as you lure the whole world into salvation, 
 guide us with your Spirit 
 that we might not be only pilgrims on the earth, 
 but pilgrims with the earth, 
 journeying home to you. 
Open our hearts to understand 
 the intimate relationship that you have with all creation. 
 Only with this faith can we hope for tomorrow’s children. 
Amen. Alleluia! 
Loving God, loving God, 
 all creation calls you blessed, 
 and so do we, and so do we.

Dear friends, 

Let us bring before our minds our peoples for whom we are called to live and for whom we are sent for. To proclaim that world that we are doubters of the great cloud of God, remembering the needs of all our dear brothers and sisters, asking God to grant us the grace to empower them and I want them to live in peace and joy. And so we pray to our dear God, trusting in his providential love and care. Let us hold the hands of our neighbors and sisters next to us, praying our father together in our own language.

International JPIC Opens

The International Justice and Peace Commission of the Congregations of St. Joseph began its week-long meeting on Sunday, April 27, 2014 in Brentwood, New York.  With Sister Gloria Philip of Argentina guiding the process, the group began by touching into the differences of language and culture that are part of every international gathering.  With sisters having come from 12 different countries (Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Haiti, India, Italy, Madagascar. Mexico, USA), speaking four different languages, making connections at the beginning was important.  On the first night, Gloria led the group through moving to music and simple exercises to connect heart to heart.

Monday began with Patty Johnson, member of the Global Coordinating Group, giving some background on the beginning of the JPIC group and the more recent work that led to the present meeting.   The morning was dedicated to this topic and gave rise to a valuable discussion of what happened in the past as well as hopes for the future of this group.

In the afternoon, Margaret Mayce, OP, an NGO at the UN gave an excellent presentation of the role of NGO’s at the UN.  Having noted how the values espoused by the UN Charter are truly gospel values, she emphasized the importance of the presence of religious congregations among the NGO’s at the UN.  She showed how the changes in the world since the beginning of the UN in 1945 have led to different emphases in the UN focus, with the idea of development now embracing not only human subjects but also the planet earth. This is important to keep in mind since the degradation of our planet and climate change is linked to poverty, affects food production and leads to increased migration, among other things.  She stressed the important role of civil society (non-governmental organizations) in keeping the voice of grassroots groups alive and calling the member states to accountability, to bring to life the words they have written concerning human rights.  While the Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved by the 2015 deadline, she noted that there is an increasing accent on sustainability and Sustainable Development Goals which embrace and move beyond the MDG’s.  Discussion of the social protection floor, as important to development, was an idea that will certainly be part of the ongoing discussion this week.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday afternoon update

Sister Magaret Mayce (OP) is presenting to us on the United Nations and UN-NGO (non-governmental organization) dynamics. The singing bowl beckons us to gather once again. 

Later into the evening there were enjoyable times with games and conversation. While there were calls of doctoring the games and tipping the tables (no one seems to be naming names), some thought the rules were never announced in the first place :).

April 28th JPIC update

The Justice and Peace International Commission

With these words, "The day that has been anticipated has finally arrived.  We are starting this
Sr Griselda welcomes us
adventure of faith, heart, and dreams," our Representative at the Congregations of St Joseph UN-NGO, Sr. Griselda Martinez Morales opened our Justice and Peace International Commission.  28 sisters representing 13 countries have gathered in Brentwood, New York.

Throughout these days we will be sharing our daily summaries with you on this blog.  It will include pictures, links to presentations and a sense of how the "global family of St Joseph" is gathering. 

Sr Gloria, our facilitator
This meeting could not happen without the work of many sisters and friends who have helped with the planning.  Most especially, we are grateful to the Sisters in Brentwood who are hosting us and have 6 sisters helping us with everything from technology to hospitality.  Sr. Gloria Philip from Argentina is serving as our facilitator.  Sisters Griselda, Justine Senapati (intern and soon to be new Representative at the UN-NGO, Barbara Bozak (Director of Public Information at the UN-NGO) and I have put in countless hours preparing to host this meeting in three languages.

We are grateful to the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet who have loaned us their translation equipment that is facilitating our communication among each other.

The St Louis Province of Carondelet has provided scholarships that allowed us to invite a sister from Madagascar and two sisters from Haiti.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Gathering of the Daughters

Sr Judy Cauley addresses the Gathering
of the Daughters
A gathering was held this weekend in Albany of our newer members and the vocation and formation staffs of congregations.  The speaker was Sr. Judy Cauley, a member of the Congregation of St Joseph.

Sr Melissa Gernon shares the opening
I am pleased to share with you the reflections/introduction to our second day of meeting that was prepared by Sr. Melissa Gernon, a sister in temporary profession with the Sisters of St Joseph of Rochester.

Judy Cannato stated in an April 2011 interview that a body of intentionally spiritual woman can usher in a new paradigm of our evolving story of the universe that will fundamentally alter not only the way we think but will radically change the way we relate to one another.
So, here  we are, called to this place at this time, maybe not even conscious of why you’re here.

Perhaps it is to figure out how to order the house of Earth in the chaos of our time or perhaps it is because you feel called to share in the quest of the perennial questions of the universe.
Maybe you resonate with a quote referenced from Thomas Berry, Rumi, Joanna Macy, Isaiah, or Dorothy Day such as “a revolution within the world must start with each one of us.”

Maybe we were inspired by one of the mantras we sang, or by Colleen’s poem, the story of Judy’s grandmother and the clock.
Where are you right now? What questions are you struggling with, contemplating?  What is your insatiable thirst or deep hunger? What is the meaning of all our new powers that is good? Someone from my table asked the question, how can I be a good steward of my own energy or perhaps like Judy’s grandmother, your question is what matters most?

Melissa created this banner which participants added
to throughout the gathering
Today we will spend time connecting the dots of yesterday to the dots of our charism with our story of evolving Universe.  We will be going on a spiritual adventure.
Judy will continue to help us get to the heart of what matters.

Later in the day we will explore Whole-Making into the world and exploring the question, where do we go from here?
So, let us now experience a little bit more of the unfolding of our story.

Monday, April 14, 2014

You never know who you are going to meet

I am in pretty good space.  I had a great trip to our UN-NGO office on my way to France for the International Center board meeting.  and the planning for our international meeting went well. 

You probably remember me talking about the quote from Ilia Delio from the LCWR last summer, be an open system, slow down- be compassionate and humble, and pay attention to strange attractors.  Well I had two opportunities to pay attention to strange attractors on this trip...remember I am using my own definition of strange attractors not the physics meaning which is too complicated for me to want to pursue...anyhow I only slept about 5 hours on the plane so when I got on the train, I was going to sleep.  A woman ahead of me got up to help me put my suitcase on the rack.. I had to take it right down because I forgot to get something out so she and I spoke and she asked me where I was from.  I said St Louis.  She then introduced the other people that she had acquanted herself with- quite the extrovert.  Anyhow she introduced a young woman who is walking all the way on the St James Compostela trail from Le Puy on a pilgrimage so of course I had to talk with her about my 3 day hike on the Way with Mary Lou and Griselda last summer. Anyhow, I threw my other bag in the
Janneke with Sr. Jeanette
seat next to the young woman, Janneke from the Netherlands and began a long conversation.
 Sleep would have to wait. Jenny and her husband Jackie were frequently in the conversation-   Janneke was going all the way to Le Puy and was staying in a hostel there.  She was getting sicker and sicker with motion sickness.  The bus from Firminy to Le Puy nearly killed her.  It became pretty obvious that she might be too late to get into the hostel so I texted Line at the International Center to see if we could drop her off from the bus the ride went on, I suggested that she was going to be too sick to stay at the hostel and was welcome at the International Center.  She agreed and was most grateful.  The funniest thing was when we got to the IC, she was ok... as soon as she got out of the car she was actually better.  Our conversation about life and our discovery of our path was actually pretty interesting.  There were 3 other sisters at the IC and we all had a light meal and we sent her on her way the next morning.  I think we will be in touch with her as she walks all the way to Santiago in Spain- so this was quite unexpected. 
 Jeanette, Janneke, Line, Sheryl and me

Next day I am doing the filming of the sections I had to reshoot for the walking tour of Le Puy.  I have just about finished and am in the garden of St Gabriel at the bottom of St Michael's.  This woman, Rein, starts talking to me in English and we are talking about her world travels.  She tells me the vaguest version of her life story but it is ultimately about this dream related to volcanoes and how unusual it is that she has ended up in Le Puy.  She ended up her after leaving Brazil, USA and India...she is here to recover her health. I learned that the volcano in Le Puy is connected to the volcano in Iceland- the one that caused all the trouble with airplanes a few years ago. I tell her my sense of the presence of "mystery", the "unity of all things", that I connect with and feel when I am  in Le Puy and have time to connect- the stuff I wrote in my blog last winter.  So here I am sharing stuff that I don't often talk about with people who are complete strangers.  Anyhow, I eventually say it is time to go and she walks me as far as the twisted bridge.

I don't know what to think about these two I put them in context, I understand that previously, my life has been far too full of situations that sapped my time and energy. Travel time was a time to rest and regroup.  So, maybe now I do have time for strangers and maybe they have something to teach me.  I feel like I will be connecting with Jannecke each day as she walks her walk to Santiago and will think of Rein when I see pictures of St Michel.