“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

“We can make something good out of this:” A call to Resurrection

Tragedy provokes us. It lifts us from the places where we no longer can sit within complacency; it forces us to reassess our direction in life. We have heard, a million times, that tragedy brings people together. From my writing research, trying to resolve conflicts between characters, I have learned this togetherness often comes with the recognition of a common enemy, one which is greater than previous divisions. Now, in the light of the violence this past Holy week, I would like to ask: who is the ‘common enemy,’ and how should we respond to them?

Christians are called to live out these instructions in Heb. 13:1-3:

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you are also in the body.

There are no stipulations on this reading. Paul does not say “remember those who are imprisoned unjustly,” or “only show hospitality to those strangers who look and act like you and cause you no discomfort.” This is a difficult reading in theory, and it is even more difficult in practice. How can we truly love our enemies? On a global scale, is it possible to despise the systems that encourage radicalization without despising radical groups and individuals? More simply put, can we hate terrorism without hating terrorists? How can we love God and the dear neighbor without distinction when others seem determined to do the distinguishing for us?

I have to admit that I raise these questions without having a single answer to them – except, maybe, to have faith. By this I do not mean to prescribe inaction, or the assumption that God will take care of things so that we do not have to. On the contrary, it is only through us that God can work. One of the beautiful things about God is that God is the ultimate spin doctor. I think we can pretty well agree that not everything that happens in this world is good. And it is pretty well established in theological studies that God does not simply cause bad things to happen as a part of some ineffable plan to punish the wicked and save the righteous (Job, anyone?)  Not everything happens for a reason. But we can trust that God will create reason for everything that happens.

A small scale example: A few years ago I lost my job. Now, I absolutely do not believe that God caused me to lose my job, or that losing my job was part of some divine plan to put me on a different track. Similarly, I do not believe that God causes death and destruction in order to bring about some greater glory. But after the fact, God can be found in the midst of the mess, tools in hand, saying “we can make something good out of this.” God’s agency is known when we move from the point of tragedy, no matter how large or small, to trust that something good can be made from the ashes of what was.

We are an Easter people, a people of resurrection.  By the reality of our rising, all divisions between us cease. A common enemy brings us together only long enough to define who is “us” and who is “them.” God brings us together when our common factor is love, not hate. Together, we can make all things new.

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Written by Elea Ingman, SJW
Program Assistant in the Justice Office

SDG #10: Reducing Inequality, Dismantling Racial Injustice

By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. –SDG Goal #10

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals highlight the unmet needs of our time, and the steps to take in achieving them. In Minnesota and in the United States as a whole, I am greatly motivated to reduce inequality (Goal #10).

Over the course of 19 days Black Lives Matter has peacefully occupied the 4th Precinct in Minneapolis in response to the November 19th shooting of Jamar Clark (whom witnesses say was handcuffed when fatally shot). The encampment ended yesterday morning when the police cleared protestors from the site. Nearly twelve hours later, a march to City Hall later further asserted the protestors’ request for the release of the police tapes without a grand jury.

On their Facebook page Black Lives Matter posted the following:

Over 300 of us took over City Hall 12 hours after a military style raid by over 100 police bulldozed the ‪#‎4thPrecinctShutDown, destroying the physical community we built together and arresting 8. Thank you to the thousands who have stood with us through an armed white supremacist terror attack, mace, batons, less lethal bullets, and freezing temperatures in the past 19 days since Jamar Clark was murdered by Minneapolis Police. Our work is not over, it has just begun.

The Minneapolis protests, vigils and occupations amongst many currently happening in our country are a blaring example of the social exclusion of black people in America. The lack of unfettered access to social power and resources are a product of an inherently racist design of systemic injustice, and is largely being acted out in our criminal justice system.

Michelle Alexander, author of the riveting book The New Jim Crow, wrote:

In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. So we don’t. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color ‘criminals’ and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.

To support the Black Lives Matter community the Justice Office offered direct action items such as firewood, 20151204_103940_resizedfood, and hand warmers for the protesters during the encampment. The Justice Office and Ritual and Liturgy Services offered a Prayer Vigil in Our Lady of The Presentation Chapel on Thursday and Friday December 3rd and 4th.  Elea Ingman, SJW, Justice Program Assistant made cards especially for the vigil, which will now be available in the ad center. We invite everyone to stop by to write a message of encouragement, a prayer, and/or a statement of support.

Please join us as we stand in solidarity with our Black Lives Matter family.

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This post was written by Megan Bender, Justice Associate

11th Day Prayer for Peace

July 11, 6:30 p.m.

Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel, 1890 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul

Preparing for the Commemoration of the 67th Anniversary of the Bombing of Nagasaki

and the Installation of the Vision of Peace

in the Nagasaki Peace Park and Pipe Ceremony 

Global Harmony Labyrinth

Sponsored by Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet & Consociates

Native American Awareness Task Group

St. Paul Rotarians # 10

FFI:  651.690.7079 

Interfaith Prayers for People of Tibet and for Religious Freedom Everywhere

Sunday, July 1, 2:00 p.m.                        INTERFAITH TIBET

St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 South 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis

Featuring:   Robert Robertson (vocalist) Larry Long (musician) Ven. Palden Gyatso (former political prisoner for 33 years) Nirmala Rajaseker, Indian Sitar (musician), Sacred Chant by Gyutoe Monks

With Tibetan Cultural performance & American Indian Drum

Event Sponsors:  St. Joan of Arc Catholic Parish, Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates, gyuto Wheel of Dharma Monastery, and the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress and Regional Tibetan Women’s Association.

Blessings by Worldwide Faith Organizations:  Catholic,Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Native American, United Methodist, Benedictine Sisters of St. Paul’s Monastery, Cambodian Buddhist Monks, Interfaith Ministers, Minneapolis Council of Churches, TibetanBuddhist Monks and more …

For further info about Tibet, visit www.TAFM.org       For event info, call Heart of Tibet at 612-926-8723

Holy Creation

The snap peas in our garden are reaching toward the sky–a constant reminder of the miracle of life. Every morning as I pass our backyard garden, I am reminded of the few days I spent at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) with the St. Joseph Worker Program.

Seven of us packed the green mini-van to full capacity and headed to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. We knew we would see Alpacas, we heard there were two rocking CSJs there, but beyond that we were left to wonder and wait. A few naps and several car games later, we arrived in Indiana and were greeted by Sister Mo and a loaf of pumpkin bread from Sister P.B.

The next morning, Alyssa and I had the task of weeding the potato field and covering the seedlings in hay to reduce the amount of weeds over the season. It frosted the evening before, and we witnessed resiliency and strength from the tiniest of sprouts. Some had lost their fight with the frost, but an overwhelming number had survived and were showing a healthy green stem under a brown-spotted leaf. A miracle. Awe-inspiring still were the rutabaga roots that had populated the same plot last year and survived the winter. These little plants had not been fostered by the gardeners, yet they grew–with support from the soil, rain, themselves and God they were actively growing. I couldn’t help being continually amazed as we worked.

Throughout the weekend, all seven of us had the chance to garden and to work with the Alpacas. Observing the great reverence the WVC staff has for the land, plants and animals under their care is incredible. Sister P.B. told me of illnesses that have befallen the Alpacas, and the compassion and empathy for the animals was palpable. Sister Mo when showing us the compost had great pride and admiration for the created dirt–the beautiful, black pile of dirt that would foster the growth of many more plants.

This is the beauty of the White Violet Center, and the lesson I have brought back with me–the created world is to be revered, loved, and protected, after all…this too is our dear neighbor.

To learn more about the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, visit their website.

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

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