World AIDS Day, December 1, 2011

Julie Del Cour, Associate Editor of the Tulsa World wrote,“‘A human issue’ AIDS affecting a totally new generation.” She takes the reader on a 30 year journey through the challenges of AIDS including the ongoing challenge of committing money to fund research and to begin addressing the continuing impact of AIDS globally.
She writes, “In 1984, activist Roger Gail Lyon testified before Congress about a serial killer – AIDS – that had received a muted public outcry, an appauling lack of research funding and precious little action from government leaders” and she quotes Lyon’s testimony “This is not a political issue. This is a health issue. This is not a gay issue. This is a human issue. And I do not intend to be defeated by it. I came here today in the hope that my epitaph would not read that I died of red tape.” She goes on to note that Mr. Lyon passed away less than a year late.
World AIDS Day website offers current information, exposes myths and provides an opportunites for action and asks readers to answer the question “What will you do this World Aids Day?”

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

As the title suggest, November 23rd is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, sponsored by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

This is an annual celebration to shed light on the problems of violence against women around the globe, and to take action to eliminate such violence. The focus this year is youth leadership in preventing and ending violence against women and girls, in line with efforts to engage youth in the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, and with the recent International Youth Year.

This day is a kick-off to 16 days of activism against gender violence, and the UN Women has created a 16 Step Policy Agenda aimed at ending gender violence. This, along with the UNiTE to End Violence campaign demonstrates a collaborative, cross-field approach to ending violence around the globe. I challenge each of us to read the 16 Step agenda and find at least one step that we can take action on.

For more information check out the Virtual Knowledge Center, provided by UN Women. I would also suggest the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as a source of global experiences of women.

-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern

Veterans for Peace Bus Leaves for Fort Benning, Georgia

Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 (VFP) has been going to the School of the Americas Vigil since 1993. In 1994 they began chartering busses and inviting others to join them in working peacefully and non-violently to close the School of the Americas (http://www.soawatch.org/).

In the early years VFP chartered a school bus. Today (November 18, 2011) a Minnesota Coaches bus with room for 48 riders pulled up to the St. Stephen’s school parking lot in Minneapolis at 7:15 a.m. to begin the 2011 SOA Vigil trip.

I have been participating in the “send off the bus” activities for about seven years. This year was very different! Jim Steinhagen, VFP told me that there would be 46 people going on the bus. That four St. Joseph Workers (pictured l-r: Sheila Otto; Catholic Charities, Opportunity Center Branch III; Norzin Waleag, SCU Center for Work and Learning; Donna Bonicatto, St. Stephen Human Services, Street Outreach; Elizabeth Ihde, Learning in Style) are again participating is no surprise, the St. Joseph Worker Program has a long-standing committment to the SOA Vigil. The wonderful shift is that this year 11 students from the College of St. Benedict, Collegeville are participating and the bus will stop in Rochester to pick up another 13 students from St. Mary’s University in Winona!

As I watched the young women arrive with their pillows and comfy clothes, I was aware that things are very different this year. More than half of the participants on the bus this year are young adults. This kind of involvement is reminiscent of the engagement and activism I witnessed in the 1960’s. And it is VERY exciting to see it happening again today!

Brigid McDonald, CSJ, Kate McDonald, CSJ, Rita Foster, CSJ, Joan Wittman, Consociate, Joanne Tromiczak-Neid, Justice Coordinator and Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate were among the crowd sending them off. Brigid led the group in a song followed by a time of silence. Joanne gave each person present a prayer folder and I led the prayer:

Who is fit to hold power

and worthy to act in God’s place?

Those with a passion for truth,

who are horrified by injustice,

who act with mercy to the poor

and take up the cause of the helpless,

who have let go of selfish concerns

and see the whole earth is sacred,

refusing to exploit her creatures

or to foul her waters and lands.

Their strength is in their compassion;

God’s light shines through their hearts.

Their children’s children will bless them,

and the work of their hands will endure.

Based on Psalm 24 (version by Stephen Mitchell) from Prayers for the Earth Benetvision

We invite you to join us in praying this prayer, November 18 – 20, when people of all ages from across the United States, including a bus of students from St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas, are traveling to Fort Benning, Georgia to participate in the 2011 Vigil. CLOSE THE SOA!

Posted by: Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

National Hunger and Homelessness Week: November 13-18

St. Stephen’s Human Services ending homelessness, zAmya Theater is presenting The Reality Roadshow: Who Wants to be a Homeless Millionaire this week at various locations in Minneapolis. The play bill describes this play as, A reality game show with a million dollar prize! With humor, drama and a song and a dance or two, we’re cracking open the conversation that starts with real stories from homeless folks, but also speaks to how the current economy affects all of us.

The Justice Office attended this excellent production on Wednesday, November 16 at 10:00 a.m.. at Catholic Charities Opportunity Center. Two more performances remain in this series:

Wednesday, November 17, 7:30 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 101 East Grant Street, Minneapolis (ASL Interpretation) and Friday, November 18, 7:30 at Pillsbury House Theatre, 3501 Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis.

Some quotes from the play:

1/3 of homeless are under age 12

My daughter is seven and she has never had her own bed much less a bedroom

Lack of jobs and lack of transportation and lack of health care = homelessness

Marginalized, institutionalized, streetified, victimized

How can I be homeless if I never had a home to lose?

Hey, are you really faking being homeless?

The voice of addiction states it is only ME keeping YOU from being ALL alone

I’m not homeless. I am residentially displaced.

Winter is the hardest. People really freeze to death.

The system is everything about profits!

My mom passed through foster homes. She put me in foster homes. I got no mom

The American dream is just slippin’ away, everyone is afraid of being homeless

Closing theme: We need to change the rules, we need to unify, realize, mobilize… … …

For more information http://www.ststephensmpls.org/ and click on 2011 zAmya Reality Road Show to read more about this incredible experience that is told in the stories of the homeless by actors, singers some of whom have been or are homeless.

Erika Hiller’s 11/11 May Peace Prevail on Earth Canvases at Carondelet Center

The six paintings in Erika Hillers “11/11 May Peace Prevail on Earth” series are on disply in the Carondelet Center Main Parlor the week of November 13 – 20, 2011 during business hours.

Stop by to experience these works of art born in Erika’s life-long love of painting and her experiences as a US Army Veteran, Desert Storm. She will provide a brief description which will also be available in the Main Parlor throughout the week.

November 11 Prayer for Peace

“Acknowledge” by Erika Hiller

11th Day Prayer for Peace: Armistice Day 11/11/11 May Peace Prevail on Earth
Presentation of our Lady Chapel, 1890 Randolph Ave, St. Paul
Friday, November 11 at 6:30pm

Ringing of the Bells by Veterans for Peace Chapter 27
Reflection: Erika Hiller, US Army, Desert Storm

Premiere Showing of 11/11/11 Canvases of Erika Hiller
Arrive early to experience her canvases

Prepared by Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 and the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates

Food Week’s a Success…Now what?

Well Food Week was quite the success at St. Catherine’s University.

Two students fostered an initiative that resulted in almost 30 events in a five day period. The first few events may have left the steering committee a little nervous…but the ferver built to include a large section of the campus. Remember this was a hard start to a year-long campaign for food justice at St. Kate’s!

The week culminated in a pot luck celebration on Friday where a “Food Justice Recipe” was proclaimed to the SCU body, administration and food & dining services. The organizing team of students based this recipe off of surveys collected from the student body, panel discussions, open sessions, tabling, and coffee hours in order to ensure it represents the full body of students, staff and faculty at SCU.

Now that a phenomenal week has demonstrated that food justice is important to the community of St. Catherine’s, and that this priority is supported by the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province–what’s next? The “Food Justice Recipe” does outline “ingredients” of how to make this recipe come out just right, but the details of these actions have yet to be defined. They will be hosting a meeting on Thursday from 12-1:15 to explore and fill-in the details, please join in and contribute your ideas! (Email me for details on the meeting).

This week is a beautiful example of young adults making a difference. The passion and enthusiasm for food justice I witnessed over this past week has been incredible. Join in on these efforts to witness it for yourself.

-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern