Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Soundings and Soundings Update now online

The latest issue of Soundings and Soundings Update are now available online at the following links:
http://www.csjboston.org/SOUNDINGS.htm
The theme of this year's Soundings is all about the Core Values of the Sisters of St. Joseph. This first issue focuses on Gracious Hospitality. It's 20 pages long so may take a bit of time to download. But it's worth the wait.

http://www.csjboston.org/su-Oct-28-2009.pdf
Soundings Update reports on two recent events. Our October 17 Congregation Gathering which I already wrote about and a talk given our Vocation Coordinator and another sister at a local college. The title of the article: Are Brothers Nuns? Unraveling Stereotypes of Religious Life offers a glimpse into the experience.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Climate Change: A Matter of Faith for Sisters of St. Joseph and all Christians

There’s an often quoted prayer that begins "Christ has no hands but our hands, to do His work today, He has no feet but our feet to lead us in His way." Today I’m blogging about Climate Change from the perspective of faith. I’m blogging about this because as a Catholic and as a Sister of St. Joseph, my commitment to the teaching of the Church and to the spirituality of my congregation calls impels me to this. Almost two years ago the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph issued a statement about climate change that in part reads:
As the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph andAssociates, “we live and work that all may be One.” We are concerned for all of God’s creation and our sisters and brothers everywhere. Earth, which reflects God’s glory, is in great peril. We accept scientific evidence that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its February 2007 report states: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.” We accept our responsibility to find solutions to this devastation of Earth, and to act accordingly and immediately.

Pope John Paul II wrote, “Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the Earth as we have in the past . . . a new ecological awareness is beginning to emerge.”(The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility, Dec. 1989)

Climate change is a global issue which affects all creation. The United States alone adds almost six billion tons of carbon dioxide every year to the atmosphere. This seriously contributes to climate change. All creation suffers the consequences.

Our Church reminds us: “The consequences of climate change . . . will impact first and foremost the poorest and weakest who, even if they are among the least responsible for global warming, are the most vulnerable because they have limited resources or live in areas of greater risk.” (Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Vatican Representative to the United Nations, May 10, 2007)

I don’t claim to be an expert on climate change. But this Saturday, October 24 a group called 350.org is coordinating the most widespread day of environmental action in history. Over 4,000 events are planned in 170 countries -- to call for a solution to the climate crisis: reducing the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere
below 350 parts per million. 350.org is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis—the
solutions that science and justice demand. The mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

I’m really just learning the details of this event. The 350.org message--that those
three digits are the most important number on the planet--has spread rapidly
in the 18 months since scientists first published the finding that 350 parts per million (ppm) is the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Now, activists on every continent are preparing for the most widespread day of climate action ever, a global event designed to send a charge into this December's United Nations
Climate Meetings in Copenhagen.

As Sisters of St. Joseph part of our mission is to reach out to the Dear Neighbor without distinction. There are many ways to enflesh “without distinction.” When
a woman in our neighborhood was in the hospital a few months ago, we reached
out by assuring her of our prayers, visiting and sending cards. This is how we
usually think of reaching out to the neighbor. But “without distinction”
means lots of things – being attentive to the marginalized, the underserved, the
outcast is a big part of it. But when we broaden our horizons a bit, our prayer
and action for the Dear Neighbor without distinction becomes the whole Earth and
all that sustains life among us.

It’s out of this understanding that realizing how our consumption of Earth’s resources is affecting the Dear Neighbor without distinction. While the values Jesus taught remain the same, the needs have expanded. Suddenly the whole issue of Climate Change becomes a matter of faith. If Jesus were around to witness what’s going on in terms of Climate change today, I wonder what he’d do.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sisters of St. Joseph Stand Up to End Poverty Now


Each year we have several Congregational Gatherings. All sisters are encouraged to participate. Topics cover a wide range. Sometimes there is a speaker who offers input. Other times we share from our own collective wisdom. In all cases there is time for communal prayer, shared reflection, and Eucharist. One of these gatherings took place last Saturday. Delores Clerico, SSJ, from the Philadelphia congregation shared with us about our Trinitarian spirituality. I took four pages of typed notes and will be merciful in not repeating them in their entirety. I’ll mention a couple of points Delores made:

The Core of Trinitarian Spirituality is that we are people who are seized by, for, with love. The Triune God is the one who seizes us. Delores invited us to reflect on just who is this God who seizes us? Everything we say falls short. We know God through lived experience of God. Images of God come from stories of our lives. As Christians we have a common experience of God centered on the person of Christ Jesus. Jesus welcomed everyone from the margins. He lived what he preached.

Most of her presentation focused on what Jean Pierre Médaille, SJ, in the Règlements, calls “The Goal of the Association.” Médaille encourages us to know ourselves as swept up in movements which bring us into union with the Uncreated Trinity and to be responsive to the attempts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph [the Created Trinity] to make it their own.

Delores concluded her presentation saying: “Our spirituality is very practical and very challenging because it’s lived in the ordinary moments of each day. That’s why I like to call it the work of unioning love. The use of “ing” suggests that it’s always in process; always going on. Love is a choice. We have a choice to either do the work of unioning love or not. And we never know how we’re going to be in the moment. We bring a contemplative stance. We can’t predict how the work of unioning love will happen."
In the afternoon before the business of updates, the 175 sisters present joined over 116 million people throughout the world for the Global Day of Action against extreme poverty sponsored by
sponsored by the ONE Campaign, a grassroots campaign of 2 million people committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases. You can learn more about this campaign to end poverty at you can learn more about this campaign to end poverty at http://www.one.org/us/

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sisters of St. Joseph Retreat Center -- 35 years of prayer by the sea

Our retreat center is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year. It seems like yesterday when this beautiful house with spectacular views of the rocky New England coast transitioned from a vacation house to St. Joseph Retreat Center.
There is an article in the Cohasset Mariner, the local Cohasset newspaper where the retreat center is located, that speaks of the transition and about what's going on at the retreat center now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sisters of St. Joseph Literacy Connection Helps Immigrants Connect

Today's Allston-Brighton Tab has a great article about The Literacy Connection. This is one of the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The title of the article is: Saint Joseph’s Literacy Connection helps immigrants Connect
Just click the link to read the article. I could say more but the article speaks for itself.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Take Action: Tell the U.S. it's Time to Act on Climate Change

For the Sisters of St. Joseph around the world this may be Founders' Day. But believe it or not I just discovered that it's also "Blog Action Day '09 Climate Change" If you have your own blog you can register it at this site. Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. This year's focus is Climate Change. Blog Action Day 2009 will be one of the largest-ever social change events on the web.

This Blog Action Day site explains that more than any other country, action taken by the United States to limit greenhouse gases and build a clean energy economy is needed to achieve a sustainable solution to our global climate crisis. This December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to negotiate a global response to climate change. As a world leader in greenhouse gas pollution as well as clean energy technology, the United States needs to take bold action by implementing comprehensive clean energy policies to curb emissions.

Nobel Peace Prize Winner and President Barack Obama has said that climate change is an urgent threat, and now is the time for him to lead the United States in confronting the climate crisis. This is a chance for people around the world and in the United States to join together in telling President Obama that we want him to lead the United States in taking bold and significant action to reduce greenhouse gasses. Time is running out, and our planet can't afford to wait.

Sisters of St. Joseph speak about reaching out to the Dear Neighbor without distinction. Advocating for a sustainable solution to our global climate crisis really stretches our awareness of the "Dear Neighbor without distinction." The entire planet is our Dear Neighbor. What better way to celebrate Founders' Day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Soundings Update October 14, 2009

Our latest issue of Soundings Update is available on our website at http://www.csjboston.org/su-Oct-14-2009.pdf

I've been told that the links in the pdf file are not active. You can find the sites mentioned in the Casserly House article at the links That follow:

Sisters of St. Joseph Worldwide Celebrate Founders' Day

October 15 is the 359th world-wide anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of St. Joseph. So during the next week, I’m going to try to offer a little about our beginnings.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston share a common origin with over 13,000 Sisters of St. Joseph in over 50 countries throughout the world who trace their roots to LePuy, France in 1650. The Sisters of Saint Joseph were among the first Catholic communities to be founded by ordinary women. They were not cloistered and worked to support themselves especially by making lace, a common trade in that region of France. The community grew and flourished among the people of France.

One of the earliest documents of our Congregation is called The Règlements – that’s French for “Rule.” Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ, the Jesuit priest who was a spiritual guide for our first six sisters wrote The Règlements.

Here’s how it begins: This association is established to provide for many young women or widows not called to the cloister or who have no means to enter it, and who, nevertheless, wish to live chastely in the world.

A bit later The Règlements say: The number in the association [meaning each individual place where sisters live] will ordinarily be thee, it may however increase to six….They will try to have a little house for their association…in places where there will be a number of people called to this new way of life…they may set up diverse houses and associations dependent on one Superior. In keeping with religious moderation, their clothing, dress, and standard of living will be appropriate to their social class and the background from which they come.

There are six virtues that Medaille outlines for the congregation. In 21st century language these are:

The Inclusive Love of God
The Outpouring love of Christ
The Communal Love of the Spirit
The Zeal of Jesus marked by humble self-emptying love [also called anéantissment in our earliest documents]
The Fidelity of Mary
The Cordial Charity of Joseph

All grounded in relationship with God and neighbor without distinction.
These core virtues offer a lifetime of reflection. Do any one of them speak to your heart at this moment in your life?

Sisters of St. Joseph Worldwide Celebrate Founders' day


October 15 is the 359th world-wide anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of St. Joseph. So during the next week, I’m going to try to offer a little about our beginnings.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston share a common origin with over 13,000 Sisters of St. Joseph in over 50 countries throughout the world who trace their roots to LePuy, France in 1650. The Sisters of Saint Joseph were among the first Catholic communities to be founded by ordinary women. They were not cloistered and worked to support themselves especially by making lace, a common trade in that region of France. The community grew and flourished among the people of France.

One of the earliest documents of our Congregation is called The Règlements – that’s French for “Rule.” Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ, the Jesuit priest who was a spiritual guide for our first six sisters wrote The Règlements.

Here’s how begins: This association is established to provide for many young women or widows not called to the cloister or who have no means to enter it, and who, nevertheless, wish to live chastely in the world.

A bit later The Règlements say: The number in the association [meaning each individual place where sisters live] will ordinarily be three, it may however increase to six….They will try to have a little house for their association…in places where there will be a number of people called to this new way of life…they may set up diverse houses and associations dependent on one Superior. In keeping with religious moderation, their clothing, dress, and standard of living will be appropriate to their social class and the background from which they come.

This helps to understand why we do not wear habits and why so many sisters live in smaller convent groupings.

There are six virtues that Medaille outlines for the congregation. In 21st century language these are:

The Inclusive Love of God
The Outpouring love of Christ
The Communal Love of the Spirit
The Zeal of Jesus marked by humble self-emptying love [also called anéantissment in our earliest documents]
The Fidelity of Mary
The Cordial Charity of Joseph All grounded in relationship with God and neighbor without distinction.

These core virtues offer a lifetime of reflection. Do any one of them resonate in your heart at this moment in your life?

Monday, October 12, 2009

H. Res 441 Honors Catholic Sisters in U.S.

I should have posted this resolution over a week ago. In my June 5, 2009, post I mentioned H.Res. 411 and asked that you write to support it. Well, many folks must have done just that! On September 22, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution honoring Catholic Sisters in the United States. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and co-sponsored by 67 members of both parties.

The full text may seem a bit long but reading it really offers a positive message about Catholic Sisters and the Women&Spirit exhibit.

Here is the full text of the US House of Representatives Resolution honoring Catholic Sisters:

Whereas the social, cultural, and political contributions of Catholic sisters have played a vital role in shaping life in the United States

Whereas such women have joined in unique forms of intentional communitarian life dedicated to prayer and service since the very beginnings of our Nation’s history, fearlessly and often sacrificially committing their personal lives to teaching, healing, and social action;

Whereas the first Catholic sisters to live and work in the United States were nine Ursuline Sisters, who journeyed from France to New Orleans in 1727;

Whereas at least nine sisters from the United States have been martyred since 1980 while working for social justice and human rights overseas;

Whereas Maura Clark, MM, Ita Ford, MM, and Dorothy Kazel, OSU were martyred in El Salvador in 1980;

Whereas Joel Kolmer, ASC, Shirley Kolmer, ASC, Kathleen McGuire, ASC, Agnes Mueller, ASC, and Barbara Ann Muttra, ASC were martyred in Liberia in 1992;

Whereas Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN was martyred in Brazil in 2005;

Whereas Catholic sisters established the Nation’s largest private school system and founded more than 110 United States colleges and universities, educating millions of young people in the United States;

Whereas there were approximately 32,000 Catholic sisters in the United States who taught 400,000 children in 2,000 parochial schools by 1880, and there were 180,000 Catholic sisters who taught nearly 4,500,000 children by 1965;

Whereas today, there are approximately 59,000 Catholic sisters in the United States;
Whereas Catholic sisters participated in the opening of the West, traveling vast distances to minister in remote locations, setting up schools and hospitals, and working among native populations on distant reservations;

Whereas more than 600 sisters from 21 different religious communities nursed both Union and Confederate soldiers alike during the Civil War;

Whereas Catholic sisters cared for afflicted populations during the epidemics of cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, smallpox, tuberculosis, and influenza during the 19th and early 20th centuries;

Whereas Catholic sisters built and established hospitals, orphanages, and charitable institutions that have served millions of people, managing organizations long before similar positions were open to women;

Whereas approximately one in six hospital patients in the United States were treated in a Catholic facility;

Whereas Catholic sisters have been among the first to stand with the underprivileged, to work and educate among the poor and underserved, and to facilitate leadership through opportunity and example;

Whereas Catholic sisters continue to provide shelter, food, and basic human needs to the economically or socially disadvantaged and advocate relentlessly for the fair and equal treatment of all persons;

Whereas Catholic sisters work for the eradication of poverty and racism and for the promotion of nonviolence, equality, and democracy in principle and in action;

Whereas the humanitarian work of Catholic sisters with communities in crisis and refuge throughout the world positions them as activists and diplomats of peace and justice for the some of the most at risk populations; and

Whereas the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America Traveling Exhibit is sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in association with Cincinnati Museum Center and will open on May 16, 2009, in Cincinnati, Ohio:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives—honors and commends Catholic sisters for their humble service and courageous sacrifice throughout the history of this Nation; and supports the goals of the Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America Traveling Exhibit, a project sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in association with Cincinnati Museum Center and established to recognize the historical contributions of Catholic sisters in the United States.
Attest Clerk

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NCNWR [Communicators for Women Religious] in San Francisco

I've arrived in San Francisco for the annual conference of the National Communicators Network for Women Religious. The conference starts this afternoon and yesterday we had a chance to visit Muir Woods. It was spectacular. I've posted a couple of picture but they don't do justice to the beauty of the place.


The other scene that captured my attention was the sea lions that gather near Pier 39 on Fisherman's Wharf. Take a look.

Communicators for Sisters of St. Joseph Congregations and other congregations from all over the country are arriving as I write. It's a group where most everyone know each other and we really enjoy getting together. I'll try to write more about the conference as the next few days unfold.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Terry's Walk to Support Melanoma Research

I'm not apt to post on this blog twice in one day. But I want to share some pictures of Terry's Walk to support the Melanoma Foundation of New England. It poured. We were losing hope of it clearing but just before the walk was to begin it cleared enough to do the walk. Here are some pictures I took.

The pictures are as follows:
- Joanne and Judy with Terry's husband Jim
- Kelly and Rayanne, Terry's daughters

- Kelly with Jim and a representative from the New England Melanoma Foundation announcing winners of the raffle prizes. We didn't win!
- Rayanne organizing the walkers prior to the walk.

Probably because of the rain, their were not as many walkers as last year the amount raised was lower. It's still possible to donate online at: http://www.firstgiving.com/joannegallagher
Rain or shine, the need is still as great.













National Communicators Network for Women Religious [NCNWR]

Tomorrow I'm headed to the annual conference of the National Communicators Network for Women Religious [NCNWR]. We are celebrating our 15th anniversary this year. It hardly seems possible. When I joined NCNWR it was about six years old and the 10th anniversary seems like yesterday. I've never been to San Francisco so an leaving a day early and plan to visit Muir Woods, home of the giant redwoods just outside San Francisco, the day before the conference begins.

There is much to do before I leave for California. Today I'll be walking in "Terry's Walk" to benefit the Melanoma Foundation of New England. You can read all about it at this site: http://www.firstgiving.com/joannegallagher . I'm quite happy that I've actually exceeded my fundraising goal for this walk. The family who created this walk were very supportive to Archbishop Williams High School during my time there as Campus Minister. Most of my sponsors are either connected to "Archies" in some way or have been touched by Melanoma in their personal lives. Their generosity is a real tribute to the O'Neill Family. It's pouring out at the moment so I'm praying that this walk does not become a swim or a wade as we gather at the Cape Cod Canal for this walk.

I was Campus Minister at Archbishop Williams High School for 15 years. Brother Bill Drinan, CFX, who hired me to begin the Campus Ministry Department, passed away this week. It was somewhat sudden. He was a man of deep faith, gentle strength, and tireless commitment to the
service of Catholic education. He served on the Board of the Corporation for Sponsored Ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph and our Mount St. Joseph Academy board for many years. Archbishop Williams High School, Xavarian High, and St. John's Prep, the three schools where he spent most of his years in ministry, were well represented at the funeral. The Boston Globe carried an article about him on the day of his funeral. Just click the link. I wish I had a picture of the 1000+ Prep students who formed an honor guard as the funeral procession drove into The Prep. It was impressive.

I have just returned to the Board of Trustees for Fontbonne Academy. This Sunday is Fontbonne's open house. I wish I could be there but will be in the air headed for California. I stopped there the other day to pick up some trustee materials and was delighted at what I saw. It was about 3:30 p.m. and all around the spacious lawns were circles of students. When I asked the Campus Minister what was going on, she explained it was part of the Little Sister/Big Sister program. The life and energy that permeated the picture perfect autumn afternoon was invigorating. As an alumna of Fontbonne, I am proud to be able to serve on the board again.