2013 U. S. Federation: Sisters of St. Joseph Justice and Peace Annual Meeting

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In March 1836 the first Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in the United States from France.  They migrated here in response to the needs of the time.  One can only imagine what it was like for them, as for other migrants, to leave family, home, culture, all that was known and step into life in a foreign land.

177 years later, the Sisters of St. Joseph are ministering across the United States continuing to attend to the unmet needs of the times, work for systemic change on the local, national and global levels.

Our meeting opened tonight with sisters, associates and partners in mission from across the United States.  The opening prayer focused us on Psalm 72 which begins:  Bring justice to the peoples, O Beloved, and your mercy to all generations!  May the people be known for mercy, rendering justice to the poor.  Let their spirits soar as the eagle; let joy abide in every heart! May You heed the cry of the poor ! the young and the old, setting free all those in need, melting the hearts of the oppressors!

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Next Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK, a Catholic Social Justice Lobby introduced the plan for tomorrow and Friday.  She said, “rooted in your mission and vision, there will be time to pray, have conversation, listen deeply, be quiet, and integrate your contemplative selves with your active selves.”

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Patty Johnson, CSJ, Executive Director, CSSJ Federation, provided her report reiterating the importance for each one of us to play a role in crafting corporate statements, discussing our work with our leadership including our interest in being on the planning team for the Federation 2016 Event in Florida.  Having just concluded her second year as Executive Director, Patty noted the importance of the Federation website, the need for the Justice and Peace Personnel to be contribute content and photos for the website highlighting justice issues.  The use of technology continues to expand and will soon include live streaming of events across the Federation.  We can expect to hear more about this in the coming months.

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Marianne Sennick and Griselda Martinez-Morelos

The evening concluded with reports from Marianne Sennick and Griselda Martinez-Morelos, who represent the Congregations of St. Joseph at the United Nations.

Marianne Sennick serves as Alternate ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Counsel) Representative.  She reported on: UN Commission on the Status of Women, Model United Nations, Permanent Forum on Indigenous People, and CEDAW (Convention to End All forms of Discrimination against Women).  She concluded saying: RIO + 20 “in its outcome document ‘The Future We Want” states that three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, economic, and social must be integrated into the UN system post 2015 and create sustainable development goals.  The ECOSOC High level forum and the UN Development Cooperation Forum, held in July 2014 will focus on providing additional resources, public and private, domestic and international to achieve the goals of poverty eradication and the challenges of climate change and other global concerns.”

Griselda Marinez-Morelos, CSSJ Federation NGO (Non-Governmental) Representative to the United Nations concluded the evening by providing a glimpse into her global work during the past 12 months:  A tremendous highlight was hosting eight young women students from Mexico for the  UN Women’s Conference.  She also: attended the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Conference in Bolivia, which included 21 congregations and 27 nationalities; met with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in South America shared with them that the critical message that education as a springboard for justice globally.

 Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

World Food Day: October 16, 2013

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This morning, Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie,  spoke to the residents of Carondelet Village about his journey from Georgia where his birth family lives to Minnesota, from working for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich to his election as Minnesota Secretary of State (2007), to his new role as the chair of the Advisory Council for Minnesota’s bid for the 2023 World’s Fair.

In addition to describing the work of the Office of the Secretary of State, he described his father as a US Marine who served in the II World War.  During his tour in the South Pacific, he saw first-hand the ravages of hunger and starvation.  As a child, Ritchie remembers his father occasionally showing the family small black and white photos of starving people.  His father spent his life committed to ending world hunger.

Ritchie’s biography states, in the 1980s, Ritchie served in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture working to address the economic crisis threatening family farms and rural communities. He served as the president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy from 1988 to 2006.  He indeed followed in his father’s footsteps!

After his presentation, I began looking at information about World Food Day which is a global movement and is observed annually on October 16.  This website invites everyone to join the global movement to end hunger. Be a part of the solution and take action in our community and around the world. We can end hunger. It will take all of us!

A Week of Groceries in Different Countries, is a website that uses photographs to show how a  week’s worth of groceries is vastly different, depending on the the nation where one lives.

Where do the Sisters of St. Joseph fit into this story?  The Earth Partners Working Group of the Justice Commission and Celeste’s Dream, Young Adult Ministry, collaborate with the Food Justice Team at St. Catherine University providing opportunities for education, advocacy and action.    Celeste’s Dream hosts the “Community Garden.   The goals of the garden are to learn organic growing methods, to enjoy healthy heirloom produce, to build community with Earth and other gardeners, to participate in a local food system, and to share the harvest!

And what does Pope Francis have to say about World Food Day? He decries the modern day scandal of hunger and malnutrition!

Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Investing to Make a Difference

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Last night, Joänne Tromiczak-Neid, Justice Coordinator and I attended the 40th Anniversary of wim cri: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota Coalition for Responsible Investment at the Marquette University Alumni Memorial Union in Milwaukee.  While Joänne has been working with wim-cri for over 20 years, my role the past six years has been more peripheral.  I came knowing I had a lot to learn!

First of all the event was hosted by the Marquette University Center for Supply Chain Management.  I did some research before the event to ground me in their work.  As I read about the complexity of supply chains, I soon realized that my first exposure was in the late 1970s when the toy company I worked for sent raw materials, equipment and technical design patterns to a factory in Haiti where some of our products were being “assembled.”  Before I went on a quality control trip to this factory in Haiti, I was enthused by our work there.  Upon arrival, my perception changed immediately when I recognized that we were literally using the Haitian people (almost exclusively women) to further our needs by reducing our costs and therefore our prices, giving our products an edge in the marketplace. At that time we did not have the language of supply chain management, I only knew I did not like what we were doing!

In 1973 while the Vietnam War was being waged and a surge in the manufacture of nuclear weapons was underway, several Capuchin Friars from the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph in Milwaukee went to Washington D. C. seeking a more peaceful world.  While there they came to the realization that business and the economy were central to their quest.  The outcome of that trip was the formation of the Corporate Responsibility Action Group (CRAG), the precursor to wim-cri.   Founding members were:  Michael H. Crosby, OFM Cap, Charlita Foxhaven, SSSF and Alphonsa Puls, SSSF (School Sisters of St. Francis).  They set to the work of inviting other religious communities to join them in their quest and connected with the recently formed Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Saint Paul Province have been active leaders in wim-cri for over 20 years during which shareholder resolutions have been filed on tobacco, worker’s rights, health care, corporate transparency, affordable prescription medications and ongoing successful dialog with Xcel Energy. 

Founders Awards honoring their vision and commitment to mission were presented to Mike Crosby, OFM Cap, Clarita Foxhoven, SSSF and posthumously to Alphonsa Puls, SSSF.

Tim Dewane, Shalom – Justice, Peace, & Integrity of Creation, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Pacific Province moderated a panel dialog that included Terry Nadeau, Global Vice President of Procurement, Johnson Controls, Inc.; Robin Jaffin, Director of Global Supply Programs Verité; Rev. David Schilling, Project Director, ICCR and Dr. Douglas Fisher, Director, Center for Supply Chain Management, Marquette University delving into the complexities of supply chain sustainability and sourcing responsibility.

Tim concluded with this reflection:

From A Reflection on the Vocation of the Business Leader (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace)

Good business decisions are those rooted in principles at the foundational level, such as respect for human dignity and service to the common good, and a vision of a business as a community of persons. Principles on the practical level keep the business leader focused on:

  • producing goods and services that meet genuine human needs while taking responsibility for the social and environmental costs of production, of the supply chain and distribution chain (serving the common good, and watching for opportunities to serve the poor);
  • organizing productive and meaningful work recognizing the human dignity of employees and their right and duty to flourish in their work, (“work is for man” rather than “man for work”) and structuring workplaces with subsidiarity that designs, equips and trusts employees to do their best work; and
  • using resources wisely to create both profit and well-being, to produce sustainable wealth and to distribute it justly (a just wage for employees, just prices for customers and suppliers, just taxes for the community, and just returns for owners).

Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Catholic and other faith leaders speak out on the government shutdown

The government shutdown has the people of the United States and the world talking, and many people suffering needlessly.  Of course, there are divided opinions on whose fault it is and who can really open the government back up so it can put people whose lives are seriously impacted back to work serving the people.

Television, radio, newspapers, magazines are full of opinions on all sides of the spectrum.  Today I choose to post just one. The article is reporting on a press conference held by  faith leaders on September 30.  The article begins, “Anticipating the worst, religious leaders gathered the day before the federal government shut down to denounce what they called “political brinkmanship.”    Rev. Beckmann, Lutheran minister and president of Bread for the World is quoted, “faith leaders have been careful not to side with any one party, but ‘in fact, the ‘tea party caucus’ is mainly responsible for our political dysfunction.”

The letter signed by the faith leaders reads in part, “The federal budget,” the letter added, “belongs to every American. This common fund formed of our combined tax revenues is designed to support the shared infrastructure, well-being, and long-term ethical values of our society. As people of faith we find it morally irresponsible to blockade the process by which we provide for our nation’s shared needs in a bid to force any individual legislative priority.”

I will not wax on any further.  This article from Catholic News Service provides a glimpse into the moral and ethical position of the these interfaith leaders, including Sister Simone Campbell, (NETWORK), Janet Monk, CSJ (LCWR), Lester A. Myers, (Center of Concern).

Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate