Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sisters of St. Joseph and United Nations

We just received this message from Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ, NGO representative at the United Nations for Sisters of St. Joseph throughout the world. At the end of this post is a little description of Carol and her work at the United Nations.

The U. N. General Assembly has called for a “high level” conference on the world financial crisis from June 1 -3, 2009 at the United Nations. “High Level” means that the meeting is designated for the leaders in the highest positions in their country. It is imperative that President Obama attend this meeting and we are asked to flood the capitol with phone calls, faxes, or email messages urging him to attend and to pass this word on to everyone we can as well as in newspapers, parish bulletins, radio, whatever media attention we can get. There is concern that if President Obama does not attend this conference, that those from the European Union also won’t attend. No matter how many high level leaders from developing countries attend, it won’t be productive if the United States, Canada, Australia, and the European Union are
absent. So please go “all out” to get this word out. This is just one more way we can “be and act as one” for our dear neighbors!

Here is the phone and email to contact President Obama
Switchboard: 202-456-1414;

Comments: 202-456-1111
FAX: 202-456-2461

Due to the present economic crisis it is estimated that 90,000,000 people worldwide will fall victim to poverty by the end of 2009. It is almost impossible now to meet the MDG goals in every area by 2015. In the developing counties maternal health has already been adversely affected and many girls have stopped attending schools. The situation is dire in the developing countries. This will have a great impact on our sisters in developing countries.

For more information follow the link to this article:
General Assembly agrees on terms of UN summit on financial crisis

Carol Zinn, SSJ, represents the Sisters of St. Joseph NGO (non-governmental organization) at the United Nations. Working with the Economic and Social Council, she has participated in efforts to promote human rights and sustainable development; eradicate poverty and environmental devastation; and advance peace, disarmament, education, and health care. She has worked on the United Religions Initiative and the Earth Charter and has served as the education program director for Global Education Associates. One of her tasks – along with sisters from other congregations who are NGO representatives at the UN – is find a way to network and engage 12,000 individual Sisters of St. Joseph world wide in an awareness of what’s going on at the U.N. and pass that information on to those among whom they minister as well as family and friends. In a news interview a few years ago Carol posed this question about her work: “How do you make the U.N. world real to a group of people saturated in real work. How do you find ways to influence some of the conversation at this international think tank and place of hope?”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Soundings Update

Here is our latest newsletter. Just click on the masthead above or the title of this post and you will be linked to the April 29 edition. This week's edition has an article about Gatherining the Daughters which I wrote about last week. Some of it will be familiar. But there are more pictures in the Soundings Update newsletter.

Anyone reading this in the Boston area is also invited to our next Taize Prayer evening. It's next week at our Motherhouse. Details are on page 2 of the update.
On a personal note: The forsithia in this edition was photographed outside our Motherhouse the other day. The two tulips on the second page were in my back yard at home this past weekend. We finally cut them and placed them in a vase for the prayer table in our house.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More on Sisters of St. Joseph: Gathering the Daughters

"Gathering the Daughters" was quite a full meeting. I was going to write more and then received this reflection from Sarah, one of the members in Initial Commitment. That means she has professed "First Vows" and is in a 3-6 year process of moving toward "Perpetual Vows" also sometimes called "Final Vows." Some of my friends and co-workers call all this type of language "nun-speak" so I try to explain terms as I use them. Here are the reflections Sarah sent last evening.

Unable to sleep after blistering my back hunched with Sister Rani and the women in the fields of India; massaging my fingers after a ten hour day of crab picking with Sister Julie in the factories of Philadelphia; slightly triumphant after spending myself with Sister Griselda to expand the minds of children and parents in the cloistered pueblos of Mexico; I return to Ripley both exhausted and renewed. For three days, one hundred directors and newer, younger CSSJs gathered in Skaneateles, NY from across the continent and the globe to share our hearts. We told stories of the world's miseries and the mysteriously awesome way God continues to use our charism to overpower those miseries with love.

For us Daughters of Joseph who have been brought up, formed in the global neighborhood, this bi-annual gathering is a coming home, a place where our assumption of oneness takes concrete expression. It's a place where I hear myself at the table. Here it is not a single voice but a bubbling chorus expressing the desire to minister in direct service with the economically poor, to simplify our living, to live in community sharing our hearts and lives and ministries in a way that honors the energy we have as members in our twenties, thirties, forties, fifties. It is a dream we are dying to live.

As with any such experience, I cannot put into words the impact of such a gathering. I cannot reasonably share the powerful images that brought us from laughter to silent, truthful gasp in two sentence time. I can say that I am excited in my call to be a Sister of St. Joseph, excited to move into the future pleading to be birthed, grateful for the glimpse of oneness in which I walk, oneness beyond my comprehension. We are Sisters and Daughters of Joseph alive for the life of the world.

Sarah has her own blog and you can read her recent post about Gathering the Daughters on her blog called CSJ on Mission . In my previous post I mentioned that two sisters from Peru were unable to obtain tourist visas in order to come to the gathering. Sarah put an album together with a picture and greeting from everyone who was present. The picture above shows Sarah [in red] and others preparing that book.

Friday, April 17, 2009

CSSJ Federation: Gathering the Daughters

This week I'm in Skaneateles, NY at the Stella Maris Retreat and Conference Center for a meeting called "Gathering the Daughters." The picture above is a view of Lake Skaneateles from the porch of the retreat center. Jean-Pierre Medaille, who wrote down our earliest documents back in the mid 17th century, referred to our first sisters as "Daughters of Joseph." I guess that's the background behind the name of this meeting. What this is is a meeting of newer members of the Sisters of St. Joseph mostly from around the United States and Canada as well as more "seasoned" members who are part of vocation and formation teams from the US Federation and the Canadian Federation. There are about 100 of us here. About 60 of our newer members were able to come and the rest who are here are "seasoned" members. We came up with these terms out of a reluctance to label ourselves "younger" or "older" -- very clever.

The energy in the group is wonderful. There is such hope for the future among this group. I said we are mostly from the U.S. and Canada because there are also a few of our sisters from other countries as well -- Mexico, India, Japan, and Vietnam to name a few. There were supposed to be two sisters from Peru but they were denied visas...with no explanation. This was very disappointing for everyone.

We haven't had one keynote speaker presenting input. The input is coming from the experience of the group and that is good. This morning three sisters shared stories about their experience of living our charism [spirit]. The panel is pictured here. The sisters who shared were from India, Mexico, and the U.S. Someone from California presented a powerpoint from the sisters in Peru who were denied visas. They put this together and sent it when they realized they would not be able to travel here. The "input" from all of this was profound. In turn, each participant was invited to share her own story of living our charism in a smaller group at the table.
At the end this we "gathered the graces" of what was in our hearts. Paula, the sister who is facilitating the meeting, keeps reminding us that this is a "gathering of the daughters for the life of the world." Although we are mainly from the U.S. and Canada, this way of framing our time together creates such a spaciousness and a sense of the global reality of who we are as Sisters of St. Joseph throughout the world.
We still have another entire day tomorrow. I realize I'm only scratching the surface of the experience of being here but there is so much to reflect on. My introvert side needs sit with it all in prayerful reflection for a while. More later...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Soundings Update April 15, 2009

This week's edition of Soundings Update can be viewed on our Boston CSJ website. Just click on the masthead above and it will bring you right to the page.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More on our Good Friday Peace Vigil

A number of people gave me pictures from our Good Friday Peace Vigil so I gave them to our "web weaver" and she posted them as a slide show on our website.

View our Website slide show of Good Friday Peace Vigil:

Today I also wrote a press release and sent it to a couple of newspapers. Although the paper edition of The Allston Brighton Tab doesn't come out until Friday they published it almost immediately in thier on-line version of the newspaper.

Read an article about our Peace Vigil in on-line Allston-Brighton Tab

It might sound as if I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this one event. But what was wonderful about it is that not only was it prayerful but there was also a energy and a spirit that seemed to catch on with those who passed by...whether they were in cars, walking by, or riding bikes along the street.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sisters of St. Joseph: Triduum and Peace Vigil

It's been such a busy week preparing for the Paschal Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. It's my favorite time of the Liturgical Year. After our Motherhouse was renovated we renewed the tradition of celebrating the Triduum at our Motherhouse Chapel. I was not usually at the Motherhouse Triduum because for amost 25 years I celebrated the Triduum in a parish where I was very active It was a vibrant student parish in the middle of Boston. But it closed a few years ago.
I love the Triduum and, although I miss celebrating in a parish where there are adult catechumens preparing for Baptism, and enthusiasm of all who gather at our Motherhouse is worth all the work we put into it. I love the fact that the Triduum is one feast that spans three days. There always seems to be an energy that gains momentum as the Three Days flow into one another.
An added plus is that some of our sisters organize a Good Friday Peace Vigil from 12:00-3:00 on the street outside our Motherhouse. The pictures that follow are of today's Peace Vigil. What you can’t see in these pictures is the neighborly spirit that permeated Cambridge Street throughout the Good Friday Peace Vigil. Between 12:00 and 3:00, over seventy sisters, associates, and friends carried posters with messages of peace as those who passed by sounded their horns in solidarity. This show of support came from private vehicles as well as police cars, fire trucks, busses, ambulances, and taxis to name but a few. At one point City Councilor, Mark Ciommo, stopped by to offer support. This vigil began and ended with prayer. Cambridge Street is a busy place so throughout the Peace Vigil there was a feeling that we were reaching out to the Dear Neighbor in a very concrete way.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Soundings Update: A Publication of the Sisters of St. Joseph

You can view the latest issue of Soundings Update on our website at,%202009.pdf

As I explained in an earlier post, this is published online every two weeks. The current issue tells about our St. Joseph Day Liturgy as well as our Corporate Stance against Human Trafficking and a number of places our Congregation was honored during the month of March. You can also go to the home page of our website at a link to our Lenten Reflections.