“Lord, make me a means of your peace.”

A statement from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul, regarding the Orlando shooting:

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province, express deep sadness at the news of the killings of so many individuals during the tragic shooting in the Orlando nightclub.

We join Pope Francis, President Obama and church and civil leaders worldwide in expressing “the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred.” (Vatican Spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi)

We extend prayers and heartfelt sorrow to the families of all those who were killed and injured as well as to all involved first responders and medical personnel and to the people of Orlando.

We weep with you and mourn with you and join the network of those praying with and for you around our country and world. We realize ever more deeply the need to acknowledge the need for stricter gun control and the need to confront bigotry in any form among the people of God.

May the God of love, mercy and grace comfort all who mourn and grieve. May our faith strengthen us and our hope give us new resolve to work untiringly to bring the justice, peace, freedom, equality and non-violence for which our Redeemer died.

“Lord, make me a means of your peace.”

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
St. Paul Province

Knowing that Jesus Welcomed Everyone to the Table – from June 2015

Joint Religioius Legislative Coalition (JRLC) Day on the Hill 2014

Once again the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates are among the four Lead Sponsors for the JRLC Day on the Hill.  JRLC and the Sisters of St. Joseph have long collaborated on a variety of issues that affect the marginalized among us. Once again the Justice Office is hosting the Sisters of St. Joseph display table with information available representing a variety of departments, including a our Justice Commission 2014 Upcoming Events and websites bookmark which remains the number one take-away from our table.

Many also come to hear about how a sister is now doing, ask if we know a sister, and so on.  So here are a few of the JRLC Pearls so far this morning:

~~ I just wanted to stop by and congratulate the sisters on National Catholic Sisters Week

~~ How do you say that any way, is it Carondelet (let) or Carondelet (lay).  Will I ever remember it is Carondelet (let)?

~~ Will Sister Gina be here today?

~~I hope Sister John Christine will be here. ~~ I just had to stop and say that Sister Mary Heinen was from my district.  I can hardly believe she has passed.  She was such a knowledgeable and inspiring woman.  I especially miss her here today!

~~ Do you offer social justice retreats?

~~ Do you happen to now where Anika Walz is now?

~~ I don’t suppose you know Sister Althea? I know her from retreats and workshops we have shared.

~~ Did you ever know Sister Carmella who started the school patrol?  I am her nephew.

~~ Wisdom Ways is fabulous.  I have been attending their offerings for years.  Their retreats, events and offerings are always fabulous.

~~ I feel so hopeful after hearing about what you are doing on so many fronts.  I could go home right now and the day would be a success.

All this by the time I started writing this blog at 9:30!
As the morning continues…
~~ A woman just dashed up … grabbed the bookmark and enthusiastically said, “I JUST LOVE THE SISTERS!!”
~~I mentioned to a Rochester Franciscan how thrilled I am that they are hosting Rev. Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C. Director of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame in April. She said she was not signed up and asked if she should be. I suggested it would be very worth her while and important for the passage of immigration reform. She said “I will when I get back today!”
~~ “How is Sister Char Madigan? We traveled the state educating people on the reality of domestic violence. She was the Catholic and I was the Lutheran! Will you please greet her for me?”


Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

The more I know … the more I know I don’t know!

I grew up in rural southeastern Minnesota immersed in the rich “country” colloquialisms that permeated our conversations in the 1950s and 1960s.  It seemed to me as a child that one stood out and was used far too often!  It incessantly showed up when someone spoke in absolute certainties or thought they were “so smart,” the colloquialism was often directed towards a teenager!  In that moment, I knew I was going to hear AGAIN, “Mama always said if you don’t learn something new today, you might as well stay in bed!”

Early in the New Millennium, I was introduced to Kay Mill’s book, This Little Light of Mine: the Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, which examines the life of MS Hamer, a powerful African American woman from Mississippi, who was a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), in 1964 she helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which strongly influenced the 1968 Democratic Convention, was active in civil disobedience (and as a result savagely raped beaten for her commitment) and registered countless people to vote.  “This Little Light of Mine” opened my eyes to the powerful ways strong, powerful African American women leaders were central figures in the Civil Rights Movement and made me want to know more!

In 2011, Joänne Tromiczak-Neid, Justice Coordinator and I went to Alabama to participate in the 40th Anniversary celebration of the Southern Poverty Law Center and to take a self-guided Civil Rights tour while we were there.  All along the way, in Birmingham and in Selma, I kept looking for more about the history of women in the Civil Rights Movement.  I was really simply looking to find more about Fannie Lou Hamer. Each time I came away disappointed. Nothing on Fannie Lou Hamer, though there was some information about Rosa Parks.

As I drove over the Edmund Pettus Bridge to return to Montgomery for the opening of the 40th Anniversary celebration on that quiet sunny mid-April morning, I found I could not drive the speed limit, “we both felt the power of the march and the marchers” as we left Selma.  We pulled over several times to reflect on the experience.  Halfway back to Montgomery we found the Lowndes Interpretive Center which opened earlier that year to tell the story of the March on Montgomery and the Loundes County Tent City which for two years became home to many Black Americans and sharecroppers who were evicted because they had exercised their constitutional right as citizens to register and to vote.

There on the counter I discovered Hands on the Freedom Plow, an unprecedented women’s history of the Civil Rights Movement, from sit-ins to Black Power prominently displayed.  It is now in the Justice Resource Room Library and powerfully tells the stories of women who worked, more often than not, behind the scenes keeping the wheels Civil Rights Movement moving forward!  Though Fannie Lou Hamer died March 17, 1977, her story is included and told by the powerful women leaders who worked alongside of her.

Well, here I am on August 27, 2013, reading the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  My eye was drawn to the William P. Jones opinion piece titled “Content, coverage, effect:  5 Myths about the March on Washington.”  The intriguing title drew me in immediately.

Jones, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the author of The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights, this morning opened my eyes and changed my perceptions on several fronts.

As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington tomorrow, Jones writes “The National Council of Negro Women also supported the march,” but the male leaders “refused to include its president, Dorothy Height, in the official leadership.  Despite vigorous protest from black women, they insisted that women could be represented by men.”

As we commemorate the March on Washington, federal laws protecting the right of all citizens to vote, I encourage you to take the time to read Jones column, and the other resources I have linked to in this blog post.

Once again, “mama” was right! There are lots of great reasons to get out of bed, including but not limited to, learning more about the world, changing my perceptions and being reminded again and again that “the more I know, the more I know I don’t know!”

Posted by: Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates, Saint Paul Province

Women’s History Month Reflection

As we move into the first week of April, I am called to reflect on March – Women’s History Month.
A single experience of March that comes to mind is the 11th Day Prayer for Peace – Celebrating Women—hosted by the St. Joseph Worker Program. The time spent with friends and in front of the computer for the planning of this event is memorable, and yet what that time provided is what resonates: to learn more about women who have laid the path for me, especially those from the CSJ community.
During the service, we recalled the lineage of women leadership that has come before all of us. Women who fought for the rights we enjoy today, who infuse society with love and passion that we carry in our hearts, and who opened the societal perceptions of women. In the narrative of this lineage, our hope was to name the unnamed sheroes that make up so much of this lineage, especially members of the CSJ Community who have gone uncelebrated and unnamed despite the large contributions provided.
With the help of Jill Underdahl, Mary Kaye Medinger and Mary Kraft, we were able to name and more fully understand three Sisters of St. Joseph from our lineage. Sister Jackie Slater (1934-1984) who integrated her values and relationships within her community as she served three terms on City Council representing the diverse Sixth Ward of Minneapolis. Sister St. Mark Wirtz (1904-1962) who had a deep passion for all of creation and carried this passion into her many positions at the College of St. Catherine as an Ornithologist. Finally, Sister Rita Steinhagen (1928-2006) who’s actions are often recognized within the great lineage of social justice leadership, but we chose to highlight the motivation for her work which was steeped in her experiences and relationships with people.
Several weeks after that beautiful service in the Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel, I still have a burning curiosity for the fullness and depth of the lineage of women which leads to my heart, mind and feet. I encourage everyone to learn a bit more about one woman who has inspired you as a leader– with the caution that once you learn a little you will be captivated.
–Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern

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