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For more information on any of these news articles contact Angie Connolly, Director of Communications, at 563.588.2351 or by firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nuns on the Bus: Our Town Hall Meeting in Council Bluffs, Iowa
By 9 a.m. on Thursday morning the “Nuns on the Bus” arrived at New Horizon Presbyterian Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. We were greeted warmly by a number of Mercy and Notre Dame Sisters from Omaha, as well as supportive and curious residents of Council Bluffs.
Sister Claudia Robinson, the Director of Interfaith Response, welcomed us. A number of the people present were longtime volunteers for this service agency, whose major goal is to prevent homelessness.
Sister Simone then introduced the Iowa Bus Riders, explaining the reason for this 10-state tour. Those assembled resonated with the focus of our tour . . . that we are about living the Constitution . . . that our bus ride is about “We the People have the Power! We the People have the privilege and responsibility to vote!”
Following Sister Simone’s comments we entered into a Town Hall process. Through honest and at times hesitant sharing those gathered identified the following issues as issues of concern:
- Gap between the rich and the poor
- Violence in society
- Too much government
- Power of big money
- Polarization . . . hence the need to dialogue across party lines
- Lack of communication and openness to those who do not share similar views/values
Our dialogue led us to action. All present were invited to sign the “I am a Voter” pledge cards and in turn, to invite family, members of their faith communities, and neighbors to do the same.
Finally, all present were then invited to “sign the bus” assuring their presence with us through the entire 10-state tour.
- Mary McCauley, BVM
To view pictures from the Nuns on the Bus recent visit to Dubuque, visit our Facebook page: http://goo.gl/30hoxV
BVMs Continue to ‘Welcome the Stranger’
From marching in Washington, D.C., to sending a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, the Sisters of Charity, BVM demonstrate their support and shared vision for comprehensive immigration reform.
Since July 22, 2010, with the enactment of the BVM Senate Affirmation of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (http://www.bvmcong.org/socjust_reform.cfm) BVMs continue to show their solidarity in myriad ways. One of the BVM Constitutions is included in the affirmation, reflecting BVM values: “As women of the Church we are called to give strong public witness against oppression brought about by unjust political and social structures locally, nationally and internationally.”
BVMs partner with 10 other religious sister communities—the Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley—who have called upon the president and congress to enact immigration reform. They invited other people of faith to join them in becoming “Immigrant Welcoming Communities.” Sisters United News (SUN), comprised of communicators from these congregations, supports and promotes the sisters’ efforts. SUN created billboards, taken from the Gospel of Matthew, with Jesus’ words: “I was a stranger an immigrant and you welcomed me.” The billboards were put up in six cities across Iowa and shared with other organizations across the country. An image of the billboard is available; contact BVM Director of Communications Angie Connolly at: email@example.com.
In July, nearly 300 people, including BVMs Rose Mary Meyer and Gwen Farry, participated in an interfaith vigil for broad administrative relief for immigrants in the Kenwood/Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. The candlelight procession ended outside President Obama’s home. The event was sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition/Welcoming Communities. Representing the BVMs and 8th Day Center for Justice, Gwen presented the scripture reading and reflection.
In August, Gwen and Rose Mary boarded one of the “undocumented Illinois buses to D.C.” to join with representatives from many states who gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where the group held a rally before beginning the “Not 1 More Deportation National March.” The march to the Freedom Plaza culminated in a program that featured personal stories from immigrant detainees, music, dance and drama. During discussion on the long bus ride back to Chicago, participants agreed that combined advocacy is key to the issues. “Everyone felt encouraged and emboldened to continue the struggle for compassionate, humane, comprehensive immigration reform,” Gwen shared.
BVM Nancy McCarthy and Associate Sylvia Martinez volunteer at “Marie Joseph House” for men in Cicero, Ill., which houses immigrants released from the detention centers who need a place to stay while awaiting a court date. Nancy relieves weekly staff by serving as a presence at the house on Saturdays, while also instructing the residents in English; Sylvia prepares the residents’ evening meal once a week. Marie Joseph House, which also has an immigrant women’s shelter in a dormitory at Catholic Theological Union (CTU), was named for an immigrant who died while trying to come to the U.S.
Former BVM President Mary Ann Zollmann sent a letter in late July to the editor of the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa. Referencing the sign that greets people entering the state: “The People of Iowa Welcome You,” Mary Ann notes that the governor of Iowa has refused to grant a home to some 130 immigrant children already here in Iowa and is considering their deportation. “Committed to act with a global consciousness,” Mary Ann shares, “I live restlessly in my Iowa home that will not be home to me until our border greeting rings true: ‘The People of Iowa Welcome You.’”
Crossing Borders, a group of Dubuque priests, women religious and lay people, meet regularly to address comprehensive immigration reform. Speaking to the issue, BVM Mary McCauley, who was pastoral administrator at St. Bridget Parish in Postville, Iowa, during the 2008 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid, shares this statement: “In light of the humanitarian crisis at our border, we the members of Crossing Borders—Dubuque stand in solidarity with the children and families who are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. It is our deepest hope that they will be welcomed warmly, that their dignity as persons will be respected, that all will receive the assistance they need to live without fear and that those who have families in the United States will be reunited. This is our opportunity in Iowa to ‘welcome the stranger!’ May we do so with integrity, justice and compassion.” Mary was among those from Crossing Borders who were featured in July on local news station KCRG, asking Iowans to welcome refugee children.
Mary also helped to organize a discussion hour at River Lights bookstore in Dubuque in August, featuring Luz Maria Hernandez, author of Shattered Dreams, depicting the life stories, told in their own words, of some of the workers affected by the 2008 immigration raid at Postville.
And “back at home,” Mount Carmel sisters and staff participated in the “Comfort the Children Project,” collecting over 200 stuffed toys for immigrant children. Three large boxes with colored pens and toys, as well as monetary donations, were sent to agencies working with the children in Texas, Arizona and California. On Aug. 15, Mount Carmel sisters and staff will gather in Loyola Hall to make soft, comforting teddy bears to send to the immigrant children.
BVMs, associates and friends are invited to participate in the upcoming Immigration Immersion experience at the Arizona/Mexico border Oct. 15–20, where participants will gain a deeper awareness of the challenges and reality of migration and its effects. For more information and registration, contact BVM Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator Tricia Lothschutz at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In their hearts, prayers and actions, BVMs continue to find ways to welcome the strangers in our midst, reflecting part of their 2010 Affirmation of Comprehensive Immigration Reform: “You shall treat the stranger who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for that person as for yourself; for you, too, were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Lev. 19:34.)
Sisters of Charity, BVM Invest in Low-Income Communities
The Sisters of Charity, BVM were welcomed during the second quarter of 2014 as member investors for The Leviticus 25:23 Alternative Fund, Inc. The Fund provides flexible capital and financial services for the development of affordable housing, community facilities, and childcare centers.
As part of living out their core values of freedom, education, charity and justice, the sisters want their contributions to reflect social justice and stewardship, focusing on the community development sector and thus helping the marginalized and providing them with resources to better their lives. The BVMs initiated a first investment with Leviticus in 2004.
“The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary have limited funds to contribute. We know that by pooling them in the Leviticus Fund with organizations who share similar values, our ‘widow’s mite’ can make a significant difference in our world,” says Teri Hadro, BVM, president of the congregation. “We are pleased to join the efforts of the Leviticus Fund to provide human and financial resources for low-income communities.”
The Sisters of Charity, BVM are proud to be a part of Leviticus—‘Faith Capital for Building Communities.’
Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth
Too often when we hear the word “house” we only think of a physical building and its rooms. But what if we began to think of Earth as our house—with various rooms—what would we need to do to make this house a true home?
The Sisters of Charity, BVM have joined the Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth in preparing a reflection booklet on the various rooms of a house, placing each room and its activities into the broader context of our Earth-home. The booklet is available as a free download here.
“We are excited to make this publication available in time for Earth Day on April 22,” says Joy Peterson, PBVM, the group’s coordinator. “Our intention is to take a new look at how everything we do, no matter where we are, is interconnected and tied to the well-being of all living things.” The booklet includes suggestions of simple actions for families to take in order to live more sustainably and walk more gently on Earth.
The word ecology has its roots in the Greek words “oikos” meaning house or household and "logos" meaning to gather, count, recount, say, speak. Ecology is understood as the legend or logic of the dwelling place. In its essence it is the story of where we live. This story of the house instructs us and informs our actions in managing this household we call Earth.
Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth is made up of representatives from congregations of women religious from the upper Mississippi Valley in eastern Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin including: Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Davenport, Iowa; School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Pacific Province, St. Louis, Mo.; Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, Sinsinawa, Wis.; Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, Iowa; Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa; Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque; and the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque. The mission of the group states: “Respecting the interdependence of creation, we will promote eco-literacy and influence a just relationship with the environment.”
BVM Sisters Celebrate Jubilees
Ten Sisters of Charity, BVM celebrated 50 years in religious life on Sunday, July 13, 2014, with a liturgy of thanksgiving in the Motherhouse Chapel at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa. The Mass was followed by a celebratory dinner.
Gathered on the steps of the Mount Carmel Motherhouse are golden jubilarians: (back row, l. to r.) Vicki Smurlo, Mary Diane Forster, Mary Anne Hoope, Maria van Werkhooven; (third row, l. to r.) Donna Bebensee, Janice Mary Pertle; (second row, l. to r.) Fran Donnelly, Barbara Brooks; (front row, l. to r.) Ann Marie Dress and Regina M. Qualls.
The “Set of 1964,” was welcomed by BVM President Teri Hadro, who noted that the group is “a set of firsts and lasts.” They were the first group to have a choice of novitiates (Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa, and Guadalupe College in Los Gatos, Calif.). The 50th jubilee celebration was the first time the Set of 1964 gathered together in the same place. They were the last postulants to receive religious names and the last novices to make first vows wearing the religious habit.
BVM Frances Donnelly, who gave the jubilarian reflections at the liturgy, shared, “Even though we began our religious life on the cusp—the ‘first of,’ the ‘last of’—we were grounded in Mary Frances Clarke’s vision and sense of what it meant to live in community and to be of service to God’s people.”
More than 20 members of the Set of 1964, who had followed other paths in life, returned to celebrate with the jubilarians. Teri noted, “. . . those who stayed and those who left are forever part of each other’s formation, of each other’s lives.”
The tumultuous era of the ’60s was also reflected in the changes taking place within the BVM community during those years, and the congregation emerged with a profound sense of listening and responding to the signs of new and complex times.
In their combined 500 years of service, the jubilarians have ministered in 11 U.S. states and five foreign countries and received many awards for excellence in their work. “Let us celebrate these valiant women whose faithfulness to God’s call and attentiveness to God’s people in mission make us proud,” Teri said.
Click here to read about this year's Golden Jubilarians.
RKC Sponsors Presentation by Archbishop Jackels
Archbishop Michael Jackels presented “Pilgrimage to Rome” on May 6 in St. Joseph Hall at Mount Carmel. The event was sponsored by the Roberta Kuhn Center (RKC) class, “Pilgrimages: Life Experiences Shared.”
The class offers first-person presentations from guests with firsthand experiences of pilgrimage travel, offering spiritual insights, practical information and group interaction. BVM sisters, RKC students and guests enjoyed the presentation. Gathered in St. Joseph Hall are (l. to r.) class instructor Dave Vanderah, RKC Director Carolyn Farrell and Archbishop Jackels.
Details of the Archbishop’s pilgrimage experience can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/BVMSisters.
BVM's Address Featured in New Book of LCWR Presidential Addresses
DUBUQUE, Iowa—Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times is a book of 10 addresses delivered over the years by the presidents of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a national organization of the leaders of orders of Catholic sisters in the U.S.
Of the addresses included, one was delivered by Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Helen Maher Garvey, BVM wrote the introduction and was part of the selection committee for the book.
American Catholics discovered LCWR in April of 2012, when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) announced that, after a four-year assessment, the LCWR—whose members represent 80% of the Catholic sisters in the United States—and its pastoral and doctrinal situation presented “a matter of serious concern.”
The international storm that followed included a “60 Minutes” segment as well as tens of thousands of communications to and about LCWR, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Many American Catholics expressed support, finding it difficult to square the CDF’s conclusions with their experience of the sisters as teachers, healers and role models. Indeed the hunger for the type of leadership the LCWR demonstrates was one of the reasons behind the decision to publish the book Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times.
The talks included in Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times are extraordinary in a number of ways: presenting the challenges as well as the joys of leadership, and discerning the meaning and living the reality of religious life on the cusp of two millennia—including the seismic shift from a pre-Vatican II to a post-Vatican II understanding of faith and its impact for Catholics both lay and religious. Prefacing each address is a brief summary of the key events that significantly impacted the world and the Catholic Church at the time the address was delivered at the organization’s annual assembly. The addresses speak to the challenges these events posed to leaders at that time, as well as to the call to exercise leadership that was pastoral, discerning, and at times, exceptionally courageous.
To order the book, visit http://www.orbisbooks.com/spiritual-leadership-for-challeging-times.html, or call Orbis Books at 1-800-258-5838, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST.
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