Monday, April 26, 2010

Maxim Monday & Anti-Trafficking Symposium at Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse

When you are fortunate enough to possess the presence of grace and the desirable effects of God's love, remember that this great good is something lent rather than belonging to you, it belongs to the Savior Jesus, from whose merits this good comes, more than it belongs to you... Maxims of the Little Institute, # 96 first part

This past weekend the Anti-Trafficking Coalition of the Boston Unit of LCWR offered another symposium on the topic of human trafficking. Each time we offer one of these symposia, we’re amazed and humbled at the positive response. Maxim 96 is about this – the reality that the success of a gathering like this can only be the energy of God working through all who gathered.

Over 175 participants gathered at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse. They represented over a dozen religious congregations in the Greater Boston area, social service professionals, college students and faculty, as well as a women from various chapters of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. There was definitely a presence of grace as we listened to presenters who spoke with passion about how human trafficking exists right here; right now in our own neighborhoods.

While the whole reality of human trafficking is overwhelming, the zeal of so many committed to stopping this crime is, as Maxim 96 suggests, the work of God. Not only were the speakers compelling and inspiring, there was also a group from Catholic Daughters of the Americas [CDA] who have made a commitment to partnering with the Boston Anti-Trafficking Coalition [ATC]. One of our sisters is the spiritual advisor for CDA and has introduced them to the work of the ATC. After learning of the reality of Human Trafficking from Sister Ann, one CDA member who designs quilts offered chances on two quilts during the past few months. Proceeds for these chances went to the work of the ATC.

The woman who designed the quilt pictured at the right explained to me that The Catholic Daughters "strive to embrace the principle of faith working through love in the promotion of justice, equality and the advancement of human rights and human dignity for all. As role models and mothers we encourage spirituality for our families & friends and try to live a life as Mary, Our Mother would live. Our Motto is UNITY & CHARITY.” What a perfect partnership for our Anti-Trafficking Coalition. What a fitting extension of living Maxim 96.

A reporter from the Allston-Brighton Tab came to cover the event. I'll post the link when it is available. You can also follow the Anti-Trafficking Coalition of Boston LCWR on Twitter:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph - Soundings and Soundings Update

The latest issue of Soundings Update is available on our Boston CSJ website. The feature article is about our Associates Annual Retreat at our Retreat Center in Cohasset. The facilitator of the retreat was Sister Lorry Villemarie, SSJ, a Sister of St. Joseph of Springfield, MA, who wrote a book titled, The Labyrinth Experience: An Educator's Resource 

This issue of Soundings Update also has information about our Volunteers in Mission opportunity that is happening this summer. All the details about Volunteers in Mission are also available at our website.
The program is from June 12-19, 2010 and is a wonderful opportunity for for women, college age and older, who desire an experience of ministry, community living, and prayer.

In addition, the Spring 2010 issue of Soundings is also available online. The focus of this issue is our CSJ Core Value, peaceful resolution of conflict. The graphic at the left accompanies one of the articles.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Maxim Monday: Earth Day... Contradictions... Maxim 97

When you meet contradictions, strengthen yourself against human fears, continuing to hope when everything seems to throw you into hopelessness regarding the success of your undertakings. Maxim of the Little Institute, 97
This week we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. In preparation for this anniversary our Justice and Peace Director sent an email to all our sisters and associates with prayers for earth day. Her message began with these words:
April 22nd marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day -Forty years after the first Earth Day, the world is in greater peril than ever. While climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, it also presents the greatest opportunity – an unprecedented opportunity to build a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future--Adapted from Earth Day Network. There are also dozens of excellent resources at the “Earth Watch” page on our Boston CSJ website.

I selected Maxim 97 for this week because it alludes to the challenges and opportunities – the contradictions, if you wil – that we witness in terms of climate shifts in today’s world. Since the first news of the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, it seems that every couple of weeks there is another – a second big one in Haiti, then onto Chili, China, and smaller quakes in California and elsewhere. These have been accompanied by several volcanoes in other parts of the world – the most recent being that in Iceland which is still crippling world-wide air travel and commerce. I was not the least bit surprised when I googled “connection between earthquakes and volcanoes” and found dozens of references. Add to these, unprecedented snow falls in Washington, DC,  record cold temperatures in Florida coupled with unseasonably warm temperatures in the Northeast these past months, and contradictions abound.

Yesterday’s New York Times reported that the earthquake in China "killed at least 1,900 people… With hundreds of people still buried under rubble, the toll is expected to rise.” Yet we seem to hear a whole lot more in the media about how the volcanic ash from Iceland is crippling commerce and international travel during school vacation week in the Boston area. I don’t mean to minimize the effects of this volcano on our travel plans and on the economy, but can’t help but wonder if we’re becoming almost numb to toll on human life caused by one more earth quake – another contradiction.

It is with all this in mind that I pray Maxim 97. As we celebrate the 40th Earth Day in the midst of news reports that have the potential for throwing us into hopelessness, may we continue to hope that our actions on behalf of the earth still have the potential to heal the planet.

Yet there is hope...there is a lot going on throughout our world. A simple google search yields hundreds of sites where you can learn more and become involved. I offer two:
The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change The home page of this site begins:
What are the moral implications of climate change? Who is most impacted? What should the Catholic community do? The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change was launched in 2006 to help the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Catholic community address these issues.

Change for Global Change
is a fund-raising project to address the ecological crisis — especially the global problem of water scarcity —by providing grants  for sustainability projects in areas where the Sisters of Saint Joseph and our Associates minister.

Change for Global Change connects neighbor-to-neighbor across the street and around the world – in the spirit of the Sisters of Saint Joseph – working together to make life-sustaining changes in areas of greatest need.

Exploring these...acting on their suggestions is one small step toward healing the contradictions we witness as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Maxim Monday: ZEAL to Embrace the Whole World & Soundings Update

In the manifestation of zeal characteristic of your very humble vocation, imitate the fervor of the most zealous and embrace in desire the salvation and perfection of a whole world in a spirit replete with a true humility and a generous courage. This will bring you to wish to do everything, to suffer everything, and to undertake everything for the advancement of the glory of God and the salvation of the dear neighbor. Maxims of the Little Institute, #7
As we move into these weeks of the Easter Season, I'm mindful that Easter is a feast of 50 days. We spend 40 days living the season of Lent but the zeal we read of in the Acts of the Apostles during these 50 days is not unlike the zeal described in Maxim 7. It was just over a month ago that I reflected on this maxim so I hesitated to use it again. However the more I think about it, the more I realize that it's the nature of zeal to keep on keeping keep on expanding. It's just one more example of the timely message and rich spirituality of this and so many of the Maxims of the Little Institute.

Our scripture readings during this Easter Season tell of the zeal of the first disciples. Imagine the zeal of the earliest Sisters of St. Joseph as they reached out to the needs of the people of LePuy in mid-seventeenth century France -- an era of severe famine, social inequality, and civil unrest. Imagine the zeal and fidelity to God's call that brought Mother St. John Fontbonne and her companions through the challenges of the French Revolution.

There are countless stories of how the Sisters of St. Joseph -- this "Little Design" of Jean-Pierre Medaille -- eventually spread across France and across the world and today is alive in over 50 countries. These examples are just the beginning of all the stories of zeal evoked by Maxim 7.

As I look at the latest issue of Soundings Update, I realize how plentiful today's stories of zeal continue to be. In this issue alone you can read about one of our associates who is in India at this moment. You can view pictures of those who participated in Tenebrae and the liturgical enactment of Jesus' Passion as well as our Good Friday Peace Prayer Vigil. This is just one little issue of Soundings Update. How many other stories are there in the global "Joseph family?"  Many can tell stories of the zeal of sisters, associates, and partners in ministry, and those we serve now in 2010. Can you share a story of zeal as descibed in Maxim 7?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Walking to create a world free of MS

Today was the MS Walk in Cambridge. I joined with Team Erika, organized by a former student whose family has recently been affected by MS. It was good to reconnect with friends whom I haven't seen in a while while also feeling as if we were making a difference in the lives of those with MS. As Kaitlin, our team captain, keeps saying, "I want to do something positive." I am so grateful to the Sisters of St. Joseph, associates, and other friends whose sponsorship supported me personally and Team Erika in general. I invite you to view my personal MS Walk page.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph - Anti-Trafficking efforts

It was a little over a year ago that the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston made a corporate stand against human trafficking. Yesterday, Sister Carole Lombard, CSJ, our Justice and Peace Director, was interviewed on Boston Catholic Television and spoke about the work being done to put an end to human trafficking. The program, "This is the Day," is a weekly series. The episodes are archived on the BCTV website. You can view Sister Carole's interview at this link: . Her interview is about half way through the half-hour episode.

There is a wealth of information and links to Anti-trafficking resources on our website at: .

You are also invited to participate in a symposium titled: The Human Face of Trafficking - Right Here, Right Now. The symposium is on April 24 but you need to register by Friday, April 9, 2010. A downloadable brochure and details on how to register are also available on our webiste at:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Maxim Monday: Put on the new!

"Put aside your old self" "so that you can put on the new," (Eph. 4:22-24) and accordingly lead a life dead to the world and to self-love, full of gentleness, humiIity of heart, true sincerity, modesty, interior and exterior peace, and of charity toward the neighbor; in a word, (a life) completely modeled on the holiness and the pleasing virtues of Jesus which you should develop in yourself. Thus you can by grace draw many people who will profit by your example and your conversations. Maxims of the Little Institute, #6

This maxim describes the Resurrected Jesus, the Jesus of Easter. Imagine a world in which people live full of gentleness, humility of heart, etc..., Imagine a world where people live a life completely modeled on the life and virtues of Jesus. But isn't this what the message of Easter calls us to?

Consider the women, first witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus. They ran from the empty tomb both overjoyed and terrified. Although there are variations in each gospel account, there is consistency in the fact that they quickly ran back to "the eleven" to announce what they had witnessed.

In the days ahead, as we read and pray with the post-resurrection stories, one thing is certain: their lives -- and ours -- are made new by Jesus' Resurrection.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter from a Sister of St. Joseph


Feast of light and life…
Celebration of our cosmos.
All creation radiates resurrection!
Christ has died!
Christ is alive…
Among us…
Within us.
The light of Christ surrounds us.
The love of Christ enfolds us.
We are One...we are Oned
in the mystery of this feast...
May we be at Peace.
May our world be at Peace.

Happy Easter!
photo: Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse, Orange, CA, June 2009
prayer: Joanne Gallagher, CSJ, based on Easter Proclamation