October 23, 2014

By Dawn Cherie Araujo, staff writer, Global Sisters Report

Sister Marlene Perrotte

Sister Marlene Perrotte

Sister of Mercy Marlene Perrotte is all too familiar with violence causing thousands of Central Americans to flee their countries: in the ‘80s when guerilla groups like the Sendero Luminoso were terrorizing Peru, she was there serving as a Maryknoll associate. She’s also worked with the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, providing legal services to unaccompanied minors on the Mexico-U.S. border.

Today, she’s working with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to provide legal aid for the hundreds of Central American women and children being detained in Artesia, New Mexico. She preps detainees for their credible fear interviews – interviews with a judge to determine if an immigrant reasonably faces torture if they’re returned to their country – and she helps them fill out asylum applications. Although the Central American refugee crisis has largely fallen off the media map, Sister Marlene says we still need to pay attention.

Q: What initially drew you to Artesia?

It was knowing that these women were not part of a criminal movement, but that they truly are refugees. They are fleeing violence that cannot be controlled in their country and protecting their rights and especially protecting the lives of their children, but they don’t have any due process. I felt a very moral and ethical responsibility to do what I can, especially since my government has been so ruthless in the face of the extreme violence that they were fleeing. Read More »

October 21, 2014

By Sister Donna Marie Vaillancourt, co-director, Well of Mercy

Well of Mercy is a retreat facility for individuals in Hamptonville, North Carolina, that provides quiet sanctuary for adults seeking right relationship with self, others, God and creation.

A reflective spot to enjoy nature at Well of Mercy.

A reflective spot to enjoy nature at Well of Mercy.

Imagine that you are sitting in a quiet spot at Well of Mercy. The fall season has just arrived for a visit. What gifts does she bring? The air provides a fresh coolness. The water in the stream is clearer. You see a beautiful array of colors in the trees and you are able to see deeper into the woods as the trees drop their leaves. Flowers are fading and setting seeds for future growth. Even birds appear different as they begin migrating toward warmer weather.

The reality is that many of us won’t even notice what God, through creation, is saying to us both literally and symbolically. In our lack of awareness we may be missing the messages nature is presenting. This is the sad consequence of busy, noisy, cluttered and demanding lives. Who has time to sit still? Who desires to be alone in the woods? Who wants to still their minds and enter into the quiet? My answer is: people who are too overwhelmed and weary to do one more thing.   Read More »

October 21, 2014

Por la Hermana Donna Marie Vaillancourt, co-directora, Pozo de Misericordia

Pozo de Misericordia es un centro de retiro para individuos en Hamptonville, Carolina del Norte que brinda un santuario tranquilo para adultos que buscan la relación correcta consigo, con otros, con Dios y con la creación. 

Un lugar de reflexión para disfrutar de la naturaleza en el Pozo de Misericordia.

Un lugar de reflexión para disfrutar de la naturaleza en el Pozo de Misericordia.

Imagínese que está sentada/o en un lugar tranquilo en el Pozo de Misericordia. La temporada de otoño acaba de llegar de nuevo. ¿Qué obsequio trae? El aire proporciona un aire fresco. El agua en el arroyo es más clara. Observe la hermosa gama de colores en los árboles y puede ver más profundamente en el bosque cuando los árboles dejan caer sus hojas. Las flores se marchitan y fijan las semillas para el crecimiento futuro. Hasta los pájaros parecen diferentes mientras empiezan a migrar hacia un clima más cálido.

La realidad es que muchas/os de nosotras/os ni siquiera nos damos cuenta lo que Dios, a través de la creación, nos dice literal y simbólicamente. En nuestra falta de conciencia podemos estar desaprovechando los mensajes que la naturaleza está presentando. Ésta es la triste consecuencia de las vidas ocupadas, ruidosas, saturadas y exigentes. ¿Quién tiene tiempo para quedarse quieta/o? ¿Quién quiere estar sola/o en el bosque? ¿Quién desea silenciar su mente y entrar en la tranquilidad? Mi respuesta es: las personas que están demasiado atosigadas y cansadas para hacer una cosa más. Read More »

October 17, 2014

By Sister Pat K.

A sketch of Sister Joan in her referee’s uniform. Her veil is clearly not in the way!

A sketch of Sister Joan in her referee’s uniform. Her veil is clearly not in the way!

In the 1940s and 1950s, seeing sisters in full religious habit pitching baseballs on the playground or coaching the girls’ basketball team from the sidelines was not uncommon. But in the 1960s, when traditional habits evolved to modified versions and Vatican II encouraged religious to be more involved with the people they served, a few sisters became coaches, referees and umpires in girls’ sports. One, Sister Joan, whose skills and passion for sports were legendary, took every referee and umpire test she could, passed with flying colors and was promptly assigned to “cover” girls’ games almost every day.

There were two problems. First, as a high school teacher, her school day ended at 3:00 p.m. Games typically began at 3:30 or 4:00; most were played at some distance and getting to the site on time required a readily available car. Second, appropriate attire in the classroom—that is, her modified habit and veil—was not appropriate or even permissible on the basketball court. How to get from homeroom to a car, through a bus-clogged parking lot, down the highway to the site on time, dressed in an official’s striped shirt and shorts?   Read More »

October 16, 2014

By Kathleen Brennan, mathematics chair at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, New Jersey

Kathleen has been a math and economics teacher at Mount Saint Mary Academy since 1999.

Kathleen has been a math and economics teacher at Mount Saint Mary Academy since 1999.

It goes without saying that today’s females have career opportunities that weren’t available to them a century ago. The statistics are impressive—according to the U.S. Bureau of Census, females make up 60 percent of college graduates and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that labor participation rates of females have increased from 32 percent in 1950 to about 57 percent in 2012. Women have come a long way.

The good news is that women have made great strides in breaking the glass ceiling and closing the pay gap; the bad news is that they still lag well behind men in terms of financial literacy. Ignorance in financial matters is particularly concerning since women have unique financial challenges—while many women rely on their husbands “to handle the money,” the reality is that 90 percent of women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives due to the death of a spouse or divorce (via Financial Finesse). Clearly, a man cannot be a “financial plan.”   Read More »

October 14, 2014

By Donna Meyer, Ph.D., director of shareholder advocacy, Mercy Investment Services

In this world of plenty, 805 million people—or one in nine worldwide—live with chronic hunger and regularly do not have enough food to live an active life. More than 70 percent of food insecure people live in rural areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East. This number rises when including people who face seasonal food shortages or who do not eat a varied diet that includes protein, vitamins and minerals. The numbers grow increasingly alarming when considering the impact on women and children:

  • 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women.
  • An estimated 26 percent of the world’s children are stunted due to malnutrition.
  • Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.

Faith communities around the world believe that access to food is a very basic human right, and every human being has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and to have access to adequate food.   Read More »

October 9, 2014

By Sister Socorro L.

Sister Socorro L.

Sister Socorro L.

In the Philippines, two provinces in Northern Mindanao—Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental, located at the sides of Panguil Bay and Iligan Bay—as well as neighboring places have been threatened by the construction of coal-fired power plants. Sisters of Mercy work in those areas and our commitment to persons who are poor and to Earth compel us to speak out. Coal-fired power plants are sources of one of the most awful and dangerous “killer gases,” carbon dioxide. Black coal (carbon) is a dirty source of energy which already has been banned by European countries like England and Germany. Long ago, it was reported that the gases of these power plants killed thousands and caused debilitating effects, not only to people but also to freshwater fish and other varieties of marine life.

Now these big corporations of doom are pushing this industry to the most vulnerable countries like the Philippines, where most people are still unaware of the present situation. The corporations are not considering the poor residents and are only concerned about their own big profits.   Read More »

October 7, 2014

By Sister Ana S.

The beautiful Andes Mountains in Argentina. The clean water they supply to the country is being threatened by fracking.  cc license (BY NC ND 2.0) flickr photo shared by Márcio Cabral de Moura

The beautiful Andes Mountains in Argentina. The clean water they supply to the country is being threatened by fracking. cc license (BY NC ND 2.0) flickr photo shared by Márcio Cabral de Moura

In the south of Argentina, about three years ago, hydraulic fracking began to be promoted to extract unconventional oil and gas, as a new sort of wishful thinking that will resolve all of the energy, economic and labor problems of the area where I live: a beautiful valley that has produced fruits and vegetables for more than 100 years, which also has a large river with a large basin, which fills from the snows of the Andes mountains.

Don Carlos, a farmer who lets us use his house to hold meetings about this environmental issue, told us very angrily, “The bad smell is terrible and the air is un-breathable. They’re going to kill the river and everything… .” He was referring to the effects that the fracking wells are having on nearby fields, which are watered by a beautiful river.   Read More »

October 7, 2014

Por la Sister Ana S.

Las bellas montañas de los Andes en Argentina. El agua limpia que éstas proporcionan al país se ve amenazada por la hidrofractura.

Las bellas montañas de los Andes en Argentina. El agua limpia que éstas proporcionan al país se ve amenazada por la hidrofractura. cc license (BY NC ND 2.0) flickr photo shared by Márcio Cabral de Moura

En el sur argentino, hace aproximadamente 3 años, comenzó a promoverse la Hidrofractura o Fracking para extraer petróleo y gas no convencionales, como nuevo espejismo que resolverá todos los problemas energéticos, económicos y laborales de la zona en la cual vivo: un hermoso valle productor de frutas y verduras desde hace más de 100 años y recorrido por un caudaloso río que integra una cuenca nacida en las nieves de la cordillera de los Andes.

Don Carlos, un campesino que presta su casa para nuestras reuniones sobre este asunto medioambiental, nos dijo muy enojado: “el mal olor es terrible y el aire es irrespirable; van a matar el río y todo…”. Se refería a los efectos que están provocando los pozos de Fracking en los campos de alrededor regados por un hermoso río. Read More »

October 7, 2014

For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. —Matthew 25:35

Sisters Betty, Mary and Holly are proud to be able to support families in need each month by donating freshly grown produce to the local food pantry.

Sisters Betty, Mary and Holly are proud to be able to support families in need each month by donating freshly grown produce to the local food pantry.

Sadly, one in six families across the United States does not always know where they will find their next meal. And while Benson, Vermont, a rural town of about a thousand people, is no exception, a few dedicated Sisters of Mercy are working to change that.

Like much of Vermont, Benson has seen increases in poverty during the recession. Nearly a quarter (22.3 percent) of families with children lives below the poverty line and 14.5 percent of the population has received food stamps in the last year. For female heads-of-household with children under 18, the poverty level has increased to 45 percent (U.S. Census Bureau FactFinder).These statistics mean that rural Vermonters not only need help feeding themselves or their families, but that they also have limited or no access to nutritious foods, leaving them with few options except inexpensive, processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt.   Read More »