Category Archives: Sister Karen Donahue

When Will We Ever Learn? A Reflection on the Bombings in Sri Lanka

April 28, 2019

By Sister Karen Donahue

Like many, I woke up on Easter Sunday morning to the horrendous news from Sri Lanka. At that point, close to 200 people had been killed in a series of bombings at churches and luxury hotels in and around the capital city of Colombo. Over the next few days, the death toll would rise to more than 350. Thankfully that number has been revised down to 253.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
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¿Cuándo aprenderemos? Una reflexión sobre el bombardeo de Sri Lanka

April 28, 2019

Por Hermana Karen Donahue

Como muchos, me desperté el domingo de Pascua con las noticias horribles de Sri Lanka. En ese momento, cerca de 200 personas fueron asesinadas en una serie de bombardeos en las iglesias y hoteles de lujo dentro y fuera de la ciudad capital de Colombo. En los próximos días, el número de muertos aumentaría a más de 350 personas. Afortunadamente ese número ha sido revisado y bajó a 253.

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Open Wide Our Hearts — What I Wish the Bishops Would Have Said

January 21, 2019

By Sister Karen M. Donahue

Given the racial climate in the United States today, like many, I was happy to hear that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a new pastoral letter on racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, at their November 2018 meeting in Baltimore. The bishops have made statements before (Discrimination and Christian Conscience, 1958, and Brothers and Sisters to Us, 1979), but these teachings never seemed to find their way to the people in the pews. Will it be different this time?

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Abramos nuestros corazones — Lo que desearía que los obispos hubieran dicho

January 21, 2019

Por Hermana Karen M. Donahue

Dado el clima racial en los Estados Unidos hoy, como muchos, me alegró escuchar que la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos aprobó una nueva carta pastoral sobre el racismo, Open Wide Our Hearts [Abramos nuestros corazones], en su reunión de noviembre de 2018 en Baltimore. Los obispos han hecho declaraciones antes (Discrimination and Christian Conscience [Discriminación y conciencia cristiana], 1958 y Brothers and Sisters to Us [Hermanos y hermanas para nosotros], 1979), pero estas enseñanzas nunca parecieron llegar a los católicos practicantes. ¿Será diferente esta vez?

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Looking Back: Reflecting on an Act of Civil Disobedience

April 19, 2018

By Sister Karen Donahue

On February 27, 42 faith leaders were arrested in the Rotunda of the Russell Senate Building after refusing to disperse by request of the Capitol police. They stood in solidarity with Dreamers, young people protected from deportation by President Obama’s 2012 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program who now face deportation under the Trump administration.

Sister Karen Donahue

Sister Karen Donahue (right) stands with other Catholic women religious for justice for immigrants.

It is not every day that one receives a call extending an invitation to engage in an act of civil disobedience. Yet this is what happened to me early in February 2018.

The caller was Sister JoAnn Persch who has been deeply involved in the struggle for compassionate and humane immigration reform for many years. Faith in Public Life, a Washington, D.C.-based organization working to change the narrative about the role of faith in politics, had contacted Sister JoAnn and Pat Murphy to consider the possibility of having a group of Catholic women religious engage in a nonviolent civil disobedience. The act would take place on Capitol Hill in solidarity with the Dreamers.

I have to admit that I did not have a moment’s hesitation in responding affirmatively to JoAnn’s request. I have taken part in several civil disobedience actions over the years and know that it is not something to be taken lightly. Civil disobedience is something to which one is called and our Chapter commitment to stand in solidarity with immigrants seeking fullness of life was calling me to move beyond the vigils, visitation of immigrants held in detention and the political advocacy in which I am already engaged.   Read More »

A Tale of Two Buses

March 8, 2016

By Sister Karen Donahue

Group photo of travelers to Central America. Sister Karen is standing, fourth from the left.

Group photo of travelers to Central America. Sister Karen is standing, fourth from the left.

Every so often a commonplace experience can be a source of insight into profound reality. This happened to me on a recent trip to Central America where several bus rides became a metaphor for the gross inequalities that characterize our world.

In El Salvador, we made several long trips (two hours plus) and numerous short trips on a quintessential yellow school bus. This bus was a cast-off from a school district in Florida. The seats were so close together that preschoolers would have been hard-pressed to squeeze in. Of course there was no air-conditioning, so we had to open the windows to get relief from the heat.   Read More »

Una historia de dos autobuses

March 8, 2016

Por la Hermana Karen Donahue

Group photo of travelers to Central America. Sister Karen is standing, fourth from the left.

Foto del grupo de las viajeras a Centroamérica. La Hermana Karen está de pie, es la cuarta desde la izquierda.

De vez en cuando, una experiencia diaria nos permite entender una realidad profunda. Esto mismo me ocurrió a mí en un viaje reciente a Centroamérica – varios viajes en autobús se convirtieron en una metáfora de las desigualdades tremendas que caracterizan nuestro mundo.

En El Salvador, hicimos varios viajes de más de dos horas y muchos viajes cortos en un autobús escolar amarillo. Este autobús en particular era de un distrito escolar en Florida. Los asientos estaban tan pegados que los niños de jardín de la infancia tendrían dificultad para acomodarse. Claro que no había aire acondicionado y tuvimos que abrir las ventanas para aliviar el calor agobiante. Read More »

Racism: The Word that Does Not Appear in Laudato Si’

November 16, 2015

By Sister Karen Donahue

Sisters Cora Marie and Georgine discuss strategies for dismantling racism at a recent anti-racism workshop.

Sisters Cora Marie and Georgine discuss strategies for dismantling racism at a recent anti-racism workshop.

The word “racism” does not appear in Laudato Si’. At first glance this appears to be a serious oversight. However, I believe that Pope Francis is calling us to the deeper conversion that is essential if we are to dismantle racism.

As a woman of white, I have had to face my internalized racial superiority and deepen my realization of how economic, political and cultural systems work to benefit me and other people of white.   Read More »

Racismo: La palabra que no aparece en Laudato Si’

November 16, 2015

Por la Hermana Sister Karen Donahue, RSM

Sisters Cora Marie and Rose Marie discuss strategies for dismantling racism at a recent anti-racism workshop.

La palabra «racismo» no aparece en «Laudato Si’». A primera vista esto parece ser una omisión grave. Sin embargo, creo que el Papa Francisco nos llama a una conversión más profunda y esencial si vamos a desmantelar el racismo.

Como mujer blanca, he tenido que enfrentar mi superioridad racial interiorizada y profundizar mi comprensión de cómo los sistemas económicos, políticos y culturales funcionan para mi beneficio y el de otras personas blancas.   Read More »

The Declaration of Independence: A Dream Deferred for Many

July 3, 2014

By Sister Karen D., member of Mercy’s anti-racism team

cc license (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo shared by John Dalton

cc license (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo shared by John Dalton

Makeshift tents are popping up at intersections offering a full range of fireworks. Red, white and blue-frosted cupcakes grace supermarket shelves. The sound of firecrackers can be heard echoing in the distance. For Americans these are all unambiguous signs that the Fourth of July, the annual celebration of freedom commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, is just around the corner.

Like many, I have taken pride in those noble words of the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

However, my experiences as a member of the Sisters of Mercy’s Anti-Racism Team has made me aware of the structural racism that is embedded in the very foundations of our country, prompting me to look at the Declaration with new eyes.   Read More »