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

Pope Francis: “The Globalization of Indifference”

How to convey the richness and the hope of this conference simply and succinctly is a real conundrum.  I will carefully choose a few pearls each day for this blog.

Then, as is my practice, when I return to the office,  I will write a report that will be presented to 1) Joänne and Meg 2) Immigration Working Group and the Justice Commission 3) Carondelet Justice and Peace Personnel 4) Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph website 5) Catholic Charities of the Twin Cities Office for Social Justice 6) Jill Underdahl for the CSJ Alliance.

Sponsors of this conference include: University of Notre Dame: Center for Ethics and Culture; Department of Theology; Institute for Church Life; Institute for Educational Initiatives; Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts Henkels Lecture Series; Kellogg Institute for International Studies: UND Student Government Immigration Task Force; Office of the President, Catholic Relief Services, Center for Civil and Human Rights, Center for Social Concerns, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Anonymous Foundation.

A few pearls:

#1 Pope Francis, July 8, 2013:  Used the phrase “globalization of indifference” to describe the horrors migrants face, including death for many, as they traverse human, geographical, climate perils seeking a better life for themselves and their families.  At this conference again we hear that immigration policy in the United States has become inordinately complex and innately inhumane.  Examples of the shooting of unarmed migrants on our border with Mexico, deaths in the desert from lack of food and water, senseless and brutal beatings of migrants, vicious rapes, the concerns of home and landowners near the border for whom a quiet and peaceful life is a distant memory, the highest deportation rates in our history, the privatization of detention centers, the failure to provide due process and adequate health care to those detained, etc. are but a few examples of the “globalization of indifference” to the human rights and dignity of the people of God.

#2 Persons on the move:  This phrase is new to me.  Immigrant, migrant, documented and undocumented are still used.  However, in what appears to be an effort to humanize people who migrate, I find this new phrase exciting.  Interestingly, the term “New American” which was used extensively and encouraged in the New Messaging presentations at the 2012 Justice for Immigrants Conference in Atlanta is absent in the conference lexicon this year.

#3 Immigration, Law and Public Policy: The media portrays the opportunity to pass immigration reform in the near future as dismal.  However, from the perspective of Kevin Appleby, Director, Migration Policy USCCB Migration and Refugee Services, passage is closer than ever.  Will it be what everyone wants regarding enforcement, no.  Will it be what everyone wants regarding a clear path to citizenship, no.  It will be somewhere in the middle, it will be incomplete and, it will be a new beginning which is sorely needed since the last immigration law to pass was 1965.  We are close and we must keep it moving forward!

#4 Catholic Schools and Immigration: Yet one more example of how we see life as we are rather than life as it is!  I went believing that this workshop would be one which would support our office in engaging students at St. Catherine University in working for immigration reform and engaging them in active participation in the upcoming election cycle.  Once again, my perception was light years off the mark!

This workshop, led by Rev. Joe Corpora, C. S. C. University of Notre Dame was all about the reality of the continued diminishment of Catholic Schools, the profound loss of women and men religious as teachers, principals and superintendents and the resulting loss of opportunity for children to receive a Catholic education.  Besides getting a high quality education with high graduation rates and acceptance into college, he said, “no child in Catholic School ever belongs to a gang, that alone is incentive to send them.  Tell this to their grandmothers and she will get them there!”

In addition, he cited that Catholic Schools have historically been immigrant schools who had their roots in the ethnicity of the parish and neighborhood.  The Polish Catholic Church and school; the Italian Catholic Church and school; the Irish Catholic Church and school, each one guided by a superintendent, principal and teachers of that ethnicity.  In addition, the school and classrooms mirrored the homes from which the children came.  The Polish kids as sauerkraut, the Irish kids ate Irish Stew, the German kids enjoyed soup with spatzel. In addition portraits of patron saints hung on the walls and holy cards honored in the home were the same patron saints and holy cards the kids saw and learned about in the Catholic School.

The challenge today is the growing number of Hispanic children whose parents only know private schools from their experience in Latin America where ONLY the richest of the rich send their children.  Therefore, Hispanic parents do not consider Catholic schools as an option.  Even if they did the schools need to be representative of the Catholic home and community from which the children come.

I did not get what I expected from this workshop and I learned a great deal about the challenges Hispanic parents face as well as the recognition that priests need to do a better job of providing information on the option of Catholic Schools for their children and dispel the myth that only the children of the richest of the rich can attend!

During the Q & A, I addressed Fr. Corpora (an Italian) describing my perception of what the workshop would be vs what it was, expressing gratitude for what I learned and my continued need to find resources to engage SCU students and offer materials to our sponsored high school campus ministry departments.  He then told us that there is a summer seminar scheduled in July to do just that!  And guess what, it is full, enrollment is closed and people are still calling in wanting to attend.  No surprise to me.  When I return to St. Paul, I will contact the new SCU Campus Ministry Justice Coordinator to see if he is attending – I also learned yesterday that he is a UND alum!

#5 A woman in the crowd went to the microphone during the Q & A following the opening session yesterday, “Immigrants in America: Past and Present,” to ask about the voices of migrant women in the stories of immigrants past and present particularly since in the present more women migrate to the US to pave the way than men.

Later in the day I approached her to thank her for her question.  I soon learned that she describes herself as an “exited woman.”  She was trafficked as a teenager from Canada to the United States, subjected to violence and drugs for over 10 years; broke free; and because she had no documents, no high school diploma, she supported herself as a “dancer” for another 10 years.  Since then she has climbed over obstacle after obstacle to earn her BS, HS-BCP and serves a social justice coordinator at Victory Noll Center in Huntington, IN.  I told her that the Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in 1650 in LePuy, France and their first ministry was to teach prostituted women lace making so they could provide for themselves and their children.  She wept.  She has questions about the work the Sisters of St. Joseph are doing today regarding trafficking and will contact our office soon for more information.

#6 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” – Ephesians 2:19

Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

UN officials urge concerted action to eradicate modern forms of slavery

The Anti Human Trafficking Working Group of the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates of the St. Paul Province continues their work of educating, advocating and taking action to the trafficking of humans.

October 29, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Congregational leaders joined with ECPAT-USA to prevent the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Here in St. Paul, as part of the Carondelet Congregation and the Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph we are encouraged by the statement the United Nations officials made on December 2, 2013 urging a concerted effort to eradicate modern forms of slavery.

On  International Day for the Abolition of Slavery 2013 top United Nations officials marked the day with a call for concerted action to eradicate the contemporary forms of this heinous practice.  The news article states in part, the International Day marks the date in 1949 of the adoption by the General Assembly of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others. The focus of the day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

The work begun by the United Nations in 1949 intensifies globally in 2013.

Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Investing to Make a Difference

wim cri logo

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

Safe Harbors Law


The Minnesota Legislature Safe Harbor legislation on July 20, 2011.  This public safety bill includes protections for children who are commercially sexually exploited and clarifies that sexually exploited children are crime victims, not criminals.

Six changes were made to how the state protects sexually exploited children. The law:
  • Includes the definition of sexually exploited youth in Minnesota’s child protection code;
  • Excludes sexually exploited children under 16 from the definition of delinquent child;
  • Creates a mandatory first-time diversion from arrest for any 16 or 17 year old who has been exploited in prostitution (where the child meets the criteria);
  • Allows prosecutors to continue diversion or to proceed with Children in Need of Protection (CHIPS) petitions for 16 and 17 year olds coming through the system an additional time;
  • Increases penalties against buyers of sex with adults from $250 to a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $750. The revenue these fees generate will be distributed to law enforcement, prosecutors, and service providers to serve sexually exploited children; and
  • Directs the commissioner of public safety to work with stakeholders to create a victim-centered response for sexually exploited youth. (The Advocates for Human Rights)

On February 15, 2013 – The Advocates released a report analyzing Safe Harbor 2011, including the Safe Harbor Working Group process and the comprehensive approach to Safe Harbor which it developed, entitled Safe Harbor: Fulfilling Minnesota’s Promise to Protect Sexually Exploited Youth.  Read the Report

Thursday, February 21, the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) Day on the Hill was held at the Xcel Energy Center and at the Minnesota State Capitol.  Participants from all 67 Legislative Districts were briefed on four issues including Human Trafficking.  The JRLC Human Trafficking reads in part:   Support the “Safe Harbor—No Wrong Door” bill, SF 384 (Pappas); HF 485 (Allen), appropriating about $13 million over two years to form a network of specialized victim services. The bill also provides that 16 and 17 year old minors who are trafficked be treated as victims, not offenders. (JRLC)

A Member of the Anti-Human Trafficking Working Group of the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates, Ann Redmond, CSJ has been involved in the Minnesota State Task Force, mandated by the Legislature  that includes, advocates, service providers, attorneys, law enforcement and legislators. Sister Ann said, “the Safe Harbors Law is important because people at all levels have been involved in spelling out what is needed to achieve the goal of providing services to trafficked youth.”

Michele Garnett-McKenzie, Director of Advocacy, The Advocates for Human Rights stated that the Minnesota Safe Harbors Law is “at the forefront nationally in protecting exploited youth using a victim centered model.”

Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

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Lead Sponsors: JRLC Day on the Hill

“Change Begins With Us!”

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates are again “Lead Sponsors” of the JRLC (Joint Religious Legislative Coalition) Day on the Hill.  It is a powerful and potent day of  “interfaith advocacy for social justice” that again includes over 800 representatives of all 67 Minnesota Legislative Districts.

Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director, Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America is presenting the keynote speech after which we will hear from Patrice Critchley-Menor, Diocese of Duluth regarding “Building our Coalitions.”

The issue briefings this year are: 

Family Economic Security Act          Human Trafficking

Budget Priorities and Taxes              Homes for All       Impartial Judiciary

At 11:45 the 2013 Lawrence D. Gibson Interfaith Social Justice Award will be presented to Governor Albert H. Quie and the 2013 Interfaith Social Justice Organization Award will be presented to Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness, Minneapolis

This afternoon affords participants the opportunity to meet with their legislators to bring the 2013 issues of the JRLC to their attention, encourage their support and leadership.

Part of being at the JRLC Day on the Hill is the opportunity to network with others, to connect with colleagues, hear from powerful leaders and get energized to continue to work of “collecting the power for mission (CSJ Acts of Chapter 2001).”

Our CSJ Table provided people with a bookmark highlighting our March events, including Breaking the Impasse IV with Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby and Nan Madden, Director, Minnesota Budget Project; 11th Day Prayer for Peace, March 11 “International Women’s Day” which is being planned with St. Catherine University Multi-Cultural and International Programs, Campus Ministry and the Women’s Center; and a list of CSJ ministries with websites.  In addition, CSJ offered gifts of “Hooked by the Spirit,” the life story of Rita Steinhagen, CSJ and “In Search of the Divine: Immigration” (ISD) to visitors our table.

Having immigration as the topic of the newest ISD providing voice to three people who migrated to the United States and are now citizens, is powerful with Immigration Reform having more support than anytime since 1986.  The DVDs are now in the hands of high school students, high school teachers, parish leaders, the Minnesota Council of Churches and United Theological Seminary to name but a few. 

JRLC Day on the Hill is another example of the great non-partisan work that is critical to a healthy democracy.

Posted by:  Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

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