Peace and Social Justice
As Catholics and Franciscan women, we are compelled to support these social principles:
- Respect for Human Dignity and Equality
- Respect for Human Life
- Right of People to shape their lives and societies in which they live
- Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- Commitment to the Common Good
Statement about George Floyd Killing
The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities condemn the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the institutional racism throughout the United States that his murder represents. Mr. Floyd’s death is another link forged in the chain of inhumane and cruel treatment of people of color. Violence and disrespect by individuals who swear to protect and serve all citizens is especially egregious; the Minneapolis officers’ blatant disregard for Mr. Floyd’s horrific suffering causes pain to us all. We mourn for his loss and grieve with his family. Like our founder, St. Francis of Assisi, we believe that all men and women — indeed, all of creation — are our brothers and sisters. It is our mission statement to “serve all with reverence, justice and compassion.” As a community of more than 300 sisters, we acknowledge our role in institutional racism; we ask forgiveness of our sisters and brothers of color; and we pray for our nation’s healing. As we lament the death of George Floyd, we recommit ourselves today to work for an end to systemic racism and to advocate for social justice. We call on our family, friends and supporters to join us in this challenge. We ask God’s blessing on the struggle that lies ahead.
Laudato Sí After Five Years: Hearing the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor
On Friday, May 29, 2020 at 6 AM HI time, the Catholic Climate Covenant offered a webinar on the topic listed in the title. Participants included Cardinal Peter Turkson, Dan Misleh, Kim Wasserman and Christina Zenner, each of whom have intimate connections with the theme. I was especially interested in Bishop Peter Turkson who visited Kalaupapa this past year or so. The exchange was excellent. This link will enable you to view the webinar and experience the whole exchange. Kim Wasserman, founder of The Little Village in SE Chicago, was able to get 95,000 people of opposing ideas to eventually agree [over 10 years] on the negative impact of two coal mines on the community, which eventually shut down. The starting place was not “climate change” but basic needs: safe water to drink, safe air to breathe and food to eat. They present facts and let people make their own decisions. Cardinal Turkson, head of the Dicastery for Human Development in Rome, made many fine points. One was that Christian non-violence and peace means not only stopping the negative actions, but providing the conditions for thriving. Dan Misleh, founder of Catholic Climate Covenant-if we want young people to come back to the Church, we need to address care of creation as a faith community. Christina Zenner, a college professor, learns from her students. Students are able to name reality the way older people are not. They don’t see problems; they see reality. There is so much more in the hour-long sharing. Perhaps Sisters interested in this webinar might want to view it together and discuss ideas that inspired them. It may stimulate some creative thought in our Franciscan approach to relating in a more positive way to all of creation.
Sister Barbara Jean Wajda
The Unconditional Love of Mother Marianne
When St. Marianne Cope served the people of the Sandwich/Hawaiian Islands, she was affectionately known as Mother Marianne, a name still used today by the remaining patients and Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. Mother Marianne’s multiple virtues can all be summed up in one phrase — unconditional love of God and neighbor. The unconditional part is reflected in the particular virtue of inclusion, something sorely needed today as there are so many rifts in relationships at every level.
Simply put, Mother did not push people away nor did she build fences to keep people out. She welcomed, listened to, invited, supported, interacted with and served anyone in need. Her inner eye picked up the subtlety of a person’s need. From her spiritual and character treasury, Mother withdrew the gifts of graciousness so that she could meet those needs without diminishing the integrity and dignity of the individual she served. Even in dealing with troublesome or serious situations, she took care not to fracture the personal self-respect and self-esteem of the other, even if it meant subjecting herself to criticism or diminishment in the eyes of others. She did the right thing without concern about the personal cost to herself. She empowered others but preferred to remain in the background, unnoticed.
In light of all the dissent, protests, frustration and uneasiness that grips our world, I couldn’t help but wonder if unconditional love expressed as respectful inclusion could be a healing antidote to the rage and anger pouring out of so many. Mother Marianne…St. Marianne Cope, intercede for us as we try to become sensitive to the needs of others in these times of upheaval. Help us to empower those who are most vulnerable and have had their voices muffled in the face of power. Give us the insights we need to perceive all as our brothers and sisters, and include them in our circle of love.
Sister Barbara Jean Wajda