Monday, August 26, 2019

Reflections on Accompaniment

By: Sr. Kathleen Crowley

My heart goes out to the many immigrants fleeing violence in their home countries that I see on TV or read about in the newspapers or the NCR. My community, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has sent sisters to the border in El Paso and San Diego; we’ve donated a van to Annunciation House in El Paso, as well as many other ways of being helpful. I have now found a new way to continue my support.

In St. Louis, we are fortunate to have an organization called IFCLA, Interfaith Committee on Latin America.  Because of the current political environment, many asylum seekers expressed a real fear of going to ICE alone for their monthly check-ins and requested someone to accompany them to these meetings.  Hence, began the ICE Accompaniment Program.

Teams of 3-4 people are present with the immigrant as s/he checks in or petitions for the removal of an ankle monitor at the ICE office or the private subcontractor who administers ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP).  he goal of the accompaniment program is to alleviate some of the anxiety the immigrant has when they have to interact with the immigration system.

This accompaniment is a way for us to provide comfort, solidarity, and connection with the asylum seeker as well as witnessing for fair treatment of them. Having the opportunity to talk with the immigrant also is a schooling in what it means to be an asylum seeker for the lengthy time of numerous years the process takes. For example, it came as a real surprise to me that one person I met has to check-in MONTHLY with ISAP which involves missing a day of work each month. Then someone from ISAP comes to her home WEEKLY, to make sure she is actually living in her stated address. Thus, more time off from work is needed. I asked another asylum seeker how his employer reacted to him having to be absent so much from work. He replied that a lot of people try to seek out work in the evenings and at night, but this often provides a problem if they have children. Often many people simply get fired! 

I am grateful for this accompaniment program which helps to put a face on the most heart-wrenching issue of immigration while giving us Sisters of St. Joseph another opportunity to stand by our dear neighbor from whom we do not separate ourselves.

Editor's Note: To learn more about accompaniment, please visit our website.

[Sr. Kathleen Crowley is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet- St. Louis]

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sr. Carol Zinn's Reflection from the July Catholic Day of Action

[Note: Below is the transcript of the reflection Sr. Carol Zinn gave at the Catholic Day of Action on July 18, 2019. Sr. Carol is both a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The next Catholic Day of Action for Immigrant Children will be held on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. If you are interested in attending and would like to join the CSSJ U.S. Federation contingency — or would like additional information — please fill out this form.]

LCWR Reflections at the Catholic Presence at the Capital
Thursday 18 July 2019

Members of the CSSJ Federation at the July Catholic Day of
Action in Washington, DC.
Thank you for being here as people of faith. Thank you for inviting us to share in this important gathering.

I am Sister Carol Zinn, a Sister of Saint Joseph and the Executive Director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). We represent 300+ religious congregations of women out of the 400+ here in the United States. Our members represent 80-85 percent of the Catholic Sisters living and ministering in our homeland.

The Catholic community around the world heard the familiar parable of the Good Samaritan at the celebration of the Eucharist recently. "Who is my neighbor?" was the question posed by the scholar of the Law. And the answer is as clear today as it was when the answer was given: "the person who treated the one in need with mercy and compassion." The person who did the good regardless of the cost. The person who did the good regardless of the inconvenience. The person who did the good regardless if it was popular or not. The Good Samaritan, the Golden Rule, the countless stories where the Gospel message and the sacred texts of other world religions provide the way in which we are to live as sisters and brother to each other are so clear: tend the widows; care for the orphans, and make sure no one is in need!

Historians remind every civilization that they will not be judged by their nation's Gross National Product nor the success measured by Wall Street nor the strength of their economy, military or politics. No, civilizations and cultures are and will be judged by the way they treat the most vulnerable, marginalized, poor and oppressed among them.

Sr. Carol Zinn addressing the press and
the crowd during Catholic Day of Action.
We are here today because of our faith. The Gospel message compels us to act now. The values of our own homeland, the United States of America, demand that we act now. The long history Catholic Sisters have had as immigrant communities themselves to this country and the 2 centuries of presence and ministry to the most vulnerable of God's People prompt us to act now — to stand here and stay here until our faith and our values are respected and reverenced.

We have seen the pain, suffering, fear, and trauma of our sisters and brothers at our southern border firsthand. In these recent months, as the humanitarian crisis has escalated, we've joined hundreds of thousands of our citizens who are outraged as the horrific treatment of families and, especially, children come into our living rooms and media screens. The inhumane treatment of children, being done in our name, must STOP.

STOP the pain.
STOP the suffering.
STOP the oppression.
STOP the traumatizing.
STOP the isolation.
STOP the detention of children.
In the name of the values of this country — STOP.
In the name of the good, the compassionate, the merciful, the kind, the just One — STOP.
In the name of the future generations in this country and in the countries, who are our neighbors —STOP.
STOP the inhumanity.
STOP the detention of children.

We are here not only to demand that these actions STOP. We are here to demand that new actions START.

START placing children with members of their families in this country, with sponsors who are available all across this country, with community-based case management programs where they can stay until they are able to appear in immigration court.

Sr. Mary Beth Hamm (Philadelphia) at the
Catholic Day of Action. 
START listening to the stories of those who journey to our southern border. Who of us would leave everything behind and undertake the perilous journey these families choose to make? Who would do that? Only people who are desperate and in great need and fear for their lives and the lives of their families. LISTEN to them.

START addressing the systemic reasons why people choose to leave their homeland.
START addressing the policies from 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago implemented by our own government that have created the situation in countries from which people are fleeing.
START addressing our own need for humility and vulnerability to own our complicity in creating the situations from which these people are escaping with their lives.

The Catholic women religious of LCWR continue to serve the needs of the most vulnerable. In the past few months over 1000 Catholic Sisters have spent time ministering to those in need who come to our southern border. Even as we stand here today our Sisters and their Associates, Partners in Mission, volunteers in ministry are present along the border. And we have donated over $1 Million to help support the needed care of the human family seeking safety, security and a better life for their families. We will continue to minister to their needs and advocate for the systemic policy changes so that just immigration procedures will be enacted.

Who is my neighbor? The one who is in need! Who was neighbor to the one in need? The one who did the GOOD. How do we live the message found in the Gospel: "As long as you did it to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me." Five simple words: You did it to me. We have the entire Gospel on the tips of our fingers. The same fingers that send emails and texts and phone calls to our congressional representatives. The same fingers that we will use to vote. You did it to me!

May we stand as one in our faith, in the love of the values of our homeland and in compassionate service to the most vulnerable wherever we see them. Amen.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Discerning Civil Disobedience When Cruelty Is the Point

By: Sr. Susan Wilcox

Sr. Karen Burke, Sr. Susan Wilcox, Brooklyn Vetter,
and Kristen Whitney Daniels at the Catholic Day of Action
in Washington, D.C. on July 18, 2019.
Last October, Atlantic writer Adam Serwer wrote an article titled, The Cruelty Is the Point about why there seems to be rejoicing in the suffering of others by some in our communities. Might we recall Attorney General Jeff Sessions gleefully announcing the family separation policy and the border agents mocking the sounds of terrorized children? Mr. Serwer refers to a history of this phenomenon in the lynching photos of the past in which white men delight in heinous acts posing for posterity. So, for any who think that we resolved that level of overt cruelty during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, clearly, we did not. That impulse to exhibit the holding of power, privilege, and control of others in a socially justifiable way merely went covert. Again fully unleashed, we cannot deny that the power of which I am referring is a structure of internalized white privilege. And our church is not immune.

As a long-time student of conscious evolution, this cruelty that we see towards humans who are only doing what we would do if we were in their circumstances (fleeing violence; protecting our daughters from ownership by a gang; reuniting with family in the U.S.; etc.) is a resurgence of that latent instinct to preserve privilege against a paradigm of equality. For Catholics, this equality is not just written into our federal constitution, but in our religious social teaching preserving the dignity of every human person. Every human person, no exceptions.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood Karen
Burke and Susan Wilcox can be seen
participating in nonviolent civil
disobedience at the Russell Senate
Building in Washington, D.C.
So for this reason, I chose to participate in the recent Catholic Day of Action at the U.S. Capitol in which Catholics gathered to demand an end to migrant child detention and inhumane immigration policies. Christianity is an embodied religion, what better way to hold authorities to account than by risking our bodies? At our day of action, 70 Catholics were arrested, out of that 23 were participating in nonviolent civil disobedience for the first time — that’s nearly a third. Nonviolent civil disobedience became ingrained in Catholic social justice efforts with leadership from Dorothy Day, César Chávez, Dan and Phil Berrigan, and the work of Pax Christi, the Catholic peace and justice movement, to name a few. Nonviolent civil disobedience is about standing up publicly and for the record among those who say no to injustice and yes to equal dignity. Equal. Dignity. For. All. 

I hope all who read this will begin a discernment of nonviolent civil disobedience. It’s a personal discernment but a communal action. You will not be alone. And the world needs you, now. The world needs us now. The world needs Catholics who are living their faith, publicly and for the record.  

[Sr. Susan Wilcox is a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood and the congregation's JPIC Coordinator]

Thursday, April 18, 2019

New Things Are Happening in Le Puy

The red arrow shows you right where you are

Le Puy and the whole Rhone/Alps region is undergoing some big changes.

These little buses run all over town
The local transportation system has greatly improved with more buses going to more near-by places of interest and a little shuttle bus that takes you around town.  So, if you just don’t think you can trudge up one more hill, perhaps a shuttle can take you where you want to go.  Click here to learn more about the bus system.

The bus stops have
clear schedules

A new museum has opened in Le Puy called the Musée Crozatier. It is a large museum with an impressive collection of articles of historic significance, fine art, a science gallery, and a display of local artistry including lace-making.  My favorite was in the historic section where they had blocks of the wall from the Cathedral that have interesting designs carved into them. They frequently have special shows.  The entrance fee is 6 euros.  Although the most detailed descriptions of the exhibits are only available in French, throughout the museum there are frequent explanations in English.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and recommend it.

It has a historic gallery. 


A Fine Arts Gallery

A Science Gallery

and the Galerie Du Velay that features religious art and lace making