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Office of Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation, Advisory Board
Notes from The OPJCC Director

July 12, 2018

Mary of Magdala was a faithful witness and a prophet of her time, yet she has endured centuries of mistaken identity and slander. Thankfully today, many know her as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”
We will be celebrating the Feast Day of St. Mary of Magdala at a prayer service in the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse chapel Sunday, July 22 at 2 p.m. Fellowship and refreshments will follow at 3 p.m. in the Motherhouse dining room. All are welcome!

Mary of Magdala’s heart was afire with compassion, love and faith. If our hearts are open, her fire will continue to burn within each of us. Two very special people received Mary’s fire and led us in celebration of Mary’s feast day for many years. We will be dedicating this prayer service in loving memory of Betty Schmid and S. Louise Akers.

In recent years, this prayer service has included a social action for all who attend. This year we are asking that attendees bring a school supply to donate to St. Boniface School in Northside. This Catholic, inner-city school serves pre-K to 8th grade students. Drop-off boxes will be available the day of the service. If you wish, you may drop off school supplies before the prayer service at the Office of Peace, Justice and Care for Creation (OPJCC), 2nd floor, Motherhouse.

We are also honoring Pope Francis’ request to Share the Journey by standing in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers. We are making an effort to personally invite our migrant neighbors to experience this celebration of Mary of Magdala with us. We hope you will too.

Peace and solidarity,
Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


June 28, 2018

In 1883, while visiting Pike’s Peak in Colorado, Katharine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful.” Her poem became a song and has undergone several revisions and adaptations.

An example of an adaptation of this famous song is Medical Mission Sister Miriam Therese Winter’s stanzas that clearly include all of the Americas.

How beautiful, our spacious skies,
our amber waves of grain.
Our purple mountains as they rise
above the fruited plain.
America! America! God’s gracious gifts abound.
And more and more we’re grateful for
life’s beauty all around.

Indigenous and immigrant,
our daughters and our sons;
Oh, may we never rest content till all are truly one.
America! America! God grant that we may be
a sisterhood and brotherhood
from sea to shining sea.

How beautiful, sincere lament,
the wisdom born of tears.
The courage called for to repent
the bloodshed through the years.
America! America!
God grant that we may be
a nation blessed, with none oppressed,
true land of liberty.

How beautiful, two continents,
and islands in the sea
That dream of peace, non-violence,
all people living free.
Americas! Americas! God grant that we may be
a hemisphere where all people here
all live in harmony.

Words by Miriam Therese Winter, MMS Hymns Re-imagined, 1993

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

June 14, 2018

According to the United Nations, every minute 24 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. There are several types of forcibly displaced persons:

Refugees flee their home and country for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.

Asylum Seekers flee their homes as refugees do, but their claim to refugee status is not yet definitively evaluated in the country to which they fled.

Internally Displaced Persons have not crossed an international border but have moved to a different region than the one they call home within their own country.

Stateless Persons do not have a recognized nationality and do not belong to any country. Statelessness situations are usually caused by discrimination against certain groups. Their lack of identification — a citizenship certificate — can exclude them from access to important government services, including health care, education or employment.

Returnees are former refugees who return to their own countries or regions of origin after time in exile. Returnees need continuous support and reintegration assistance to ensure that they can rebuild their lives at home.

World Refugee Day is held every year on June 20. Let us commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of our refugee sisters and brothers. Let us stand in solidarity with them.

“It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help. If I say I am Christian, but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.” - Pope Francis, 2016

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


May 31, 2018

MCincinnati area Sisters and Associates, you may be interested in attending these two June events:

Laudato Si’ Communities Recognition Prayer Service
Date: Monday, June 18
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Location: Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 8815 E. Kemper Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45249

All are invited to this special prayer service to recognize the recipients of the Archdiocese’s Laudato Si’ Community recognitions. The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati are one of the communities that will be recognized! The service will be followed by a showing of the Archdiocesan Climate Change Task Force’s new promotional video and a social, catered by Venice on Vine (Power Inspires Progress).
RSVP by contacting Catholic Social Action at 513-421-3131, Ext. 2660 or csa@catholiccincinnati.org.

Cincinnati Festival of Faiths
Date: Sunday, June 24
Time: 1-5 p.m.
Location: Cintas Center at Xavier University, 1624 Herald Ave, Cincinnati OH 45207

The first-ever Festival of Faiths will celebrate the religious and cultural diversity of our city. This gathering will bring together people of faith from all the different religious communities in the area. The theme is “Compassion through Action” in recognition of the role that faith communities have historically played – and continue to play – in advancing a civil, social, just and welcoming community for all who live, work and visit Greater Cincinnati. Over 70 diverse religious communities will be present to pray, to reflect, and to collaborate.

For more information: cincifestivaloffaiths.org/program or cincifestivaloffaiths@gmail.com.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


May 17, 2018

May 21 is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialog and Development. The day provides an opportunity to help individuals and communities understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony. It was adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development.

Below are a few things we can do to celebrate World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21 – and every day:

  • Speak up when you hear inappropriate cultural or ethnic jokes or comments. Don’t be a “silent supporter.” Let people know that biased speech is always unacceptable.
  • Volunteer with and/or support an organization working for diversity and inclusion.
  • Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
  • Be culturally sensitive toward our sisters and brothers who have been recently forced to flee their homelands. They may be in culture shock and grieving over the “loss” of their home, language, culture, family and friends. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if I were in their shoes?”

“In societies increasingly made up of people of different cultures and religions, people must learn the art of dialogue and reach out to others with respect and friendship.” - Pope Francis, 2013

Sources:
Catholic News Service
United Nations

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


May 3, 2018

Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith.
- Catholic Social Teachings

Although Earth Day has come and gone, Catholic Climate Covenant is asking us to take action in our families, parishes, schools and communities to reduce our carbon footprint, care for “the least of these” (Mt 25), and raise our voices on behalf of all of creation by:

LEARNING about the causes and moral dimensions of climate change.

ASSESSING how we, as individuals and in our families, parishes and other affiliations, contribute to climate change by our own energy use, consumption, waste, etc.

ACTING to change our choices and behaviors to reduce the ways we contribute to climate change.

ADVOCATING for Catholic principles and priorities in climate change discussions and decisions, especially as they impact those who are vulnerable.

PRAYING for all of God’s creation and for the protection of those who are vulnerable.

The Earth is our environment to protect and our garden to tend to. We must care for the Earth so that it may continue, as God willed, to be a source of life for the entire human family. I exhort everyone to see the world through the eyes of God the Creator. - Pope Francis

Sources:
Catholic Climate Covenant
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Vatican Radio
Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


April 19, 2018

Dear SC family and friends,

Thank you for the outpouring of love and compassion during the Lenten Collection For Our Migrant Neighbors. The donations of culturally appropriate food and personal care items filled my office and our resource room next door!

During Lent, OPJCC partnered with Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio (CCSWO) by collecting donations of specific food items that our migrant sisters and brothers might need.

Our new neighbors enrich our culture and join the long line of German, Irish, Jewish, Polish, Asian and Eastern European migrants who came to Greater Cincinnati looking for a fresh start and a better life. They often have limited access to employment and social services. With our help, CCSWO can make sure that if our neighbors come to them for food assistance, they will receive food that fits their dietary customs.

Caritas International, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, Pope Francis, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have invited us all to Share the Journey by walking with our migrant sisters and brothers in prayer and support. Our Lenten Collection was one way our SC family and friends could participate.

Again, thank you for your generosity during Lent. Our migrant neighbors in the Greater Cincinnati area will appreciate your support.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


April 5, 2018

Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, April 10, 2018. This date symbolizes how far into the year U.S. women must work to earn what U.S. men earned in the previous year. Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color and is found in every state.

Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that aimed to abolish wage disparity based on sex, the gender pay gap persists. Women are typically paid just 80.5 cents for every dollar paid to men - a gap of about 20 percent. That number has barely changed in a decade.

Pay inequality is not just a women’s issue. It is a family issue. Recent research has found that 42 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 are their families’ primary or sole wage earners. Wage discrimination limits women’s choices and has real consequences. It impairs their ability to buy homes, pay for college education and often healthcare. It limits their total lifetime earnings, thereby reducing their retirement savings and benefits. Pay equity is the key to families making ends meet.
Pay equity is evaluating and compensating jobs based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions, and not on the people who hold the jobs. It is a solution to eliminating wage discrimination and closing the wage gap.

National Committee on Pay Equity
The American Association of University Women
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


March 22, 2018

Every person is entitled to human rights without discrimination.

The Catholic Church proclaims that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
The rights to equality and non-discrimination are cornerstones of human rights law. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Yet racism, xenophobia and intolerance are problems prevalent in all countries, and discriminatory practices are widespread, particularly targeting migrants and refugees as well as people of African descent.

The United Nations (UN) is urging all countries to take comprehensive measures to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to promote tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is Wednesday, March 21. Stand up for someone’s rights. Stand up against racial discrimination, but also against all forms of discrimination. Take the UN’s Pledgeto:
• Respect and uphold someone’s rights regardless of whom they are and/or if you disagree with them.
• Stand up when anyone’s rights are denied.
• Raise your voice, take action and use your rights to stand up for another’s rights.

Sources:
United Nations
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


March 8, 2018

March 8 is International Women’s Day

One-hundred eighty-nine governments participated in writing and signing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, and according to UN Women, it is the “most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights. It envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.” This document continues to serve as an influential guide and source of inspiration.

Because of the Declaration and Platform for Action, “more women and girls than at any previous point in time serve in political offices, are protected by laws against gender-based violence, and live under constitutions guaranteeing gender equality.”

However, the Declaration and Platform for Action intended gender equality in all scopes of life, and no country has yet finished this agenda. Worldwide, “women earn less than men and are more likely to work in substandard jobs. A third will suffer physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Gaps in reproductive rights and health care leave hundreds of women dying in childbirth each day.”
Let us move forward by celebrating women’s achievements, recognizing challenges, and focusing attention on gender equality, empowerment of women, and women’s full enjoyment of human rights.

Sources:
United Nations
UN Women

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


February 22, 2018

Seton High School is hosting a speaker – and you won’t want to miss!

Jeannie Opdyke Smith shares the story of her mother, Irene Gut Opdyke, a Polish Catholic woman who risked her life to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The story she tells speaks to the horrors of the Holocaust, but it also brings a message of faith, love, and hope that good can triumph over evil. It proclaims the conviction that one by one, we can say no to hatred, persecution and prejudice.

The story highlights the power of love and leaves the audience with the undeniable truth that, “One person can and does make a difference!” There is no charge for this event.

Event: One Person Can Make A Difference: The Irene Gut Opdyke Story
Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Time: 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Venue: Seton High School Performance Hall, 3901 Glenway Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45205
Cost: Free, but please register at: holocaustandhumanity.org/event/one-person

Co-Sponsors:
Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
Seton High School
Polish American Society
Holocaust and Humanity Center
Brueggeman Center for Dialogue
Bridges of Faith Trialogue
Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


February 8, 2018

Share the Journey … A Lenten Collection for our Migrant Neighbors

Our neighbors live across the street, throughout our country, across oceans and hemispheres. Millions of our migrant neighbors were forced to flee violence, religious or political persecution, and extreme poverty in their homelands.

Caritas International, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, Pope Francis, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops invite us to Share the Journey by walking with our migrant sisters and brothers in prayer and support.

One way the Sisters of Charity family can support our Greater Cincinnati migrant neighbors is through food. OPJCC is partnering with Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio (CCSWO) during Lent by collecting donations of specific food items that our migrant brothers and sisters need. A detailed list can be found at: http://www.srcharitycinti.org/opjcc/images/OPJCC%20Collection%20List%20.pdf.

Our new neighbors enrich our culture and join the long line of German, Irish, Jewish, Polish, Asian and Eastern European migrants who came to Greater Cincinnati looking for a fresh start and a better life. They often have limited access to employment, education, and social services. With our help, CCSWO will make sure that if our neighbors come to them for food assistance, they will receive food that fits their dietary customs.

OPJCC, located in the SC Motherhouse, will be the holding room for your donations of food. If the office is closed, a collection box will be located next to the door and we invite you to leave your donations there.
Thank you for your compassion and generosity during Lent. Our migrant neighbors will appreciate your support and prayers.
Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


January 25, 2018

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was enacted by Congress in 1990. It protects immigrants in the United States (U.S.) who are unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing-armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary conditions. They can legally live and work in the U.S.

Sept. 18, 2017: The administration ended TPS protections for approximately 1,000 Sudanese. They must leave the U.S. by Nov. 2, 2018, or face deportation.

Nov. 6, 2017: The administration ended TPS protections for approximately 2,500 Nicaraguans. They must leave the U.S. by Jan. 5, 2019, or face deportation.

Nov. 20, 2017: The administration ended TPS protections for approximately 45,000 Haitians. They must leave the U.S. by July 22, 2019, or face deportation.

Jan. 8, 2018: The administration ended TPS protections for approximately 200,000 Salvadorans. They must leave the U.S. by Sept. 9, 2019, or face deportation.

The administration is considering ending TPS protections for approximately 50,000 Hondurans. It is expected that the decision will be made by July of this year.

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

NOTE: TPS holders are our neighbors and friends. They have been contributing members of our communities for decades. Rescinding TPS protection for citizens of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, and threatening Hondurans with the same, places us all at risk. Ending their protection will tear families apart, fragment our communities, and disrupt local economies
- Excerpt, Leadership Conference of Women Religious statement, Jan. 11, 2018

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


January 11, 2018

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. And, Jan. 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. These are two powerful reminders that slavery continues to be a moral and human rights issue in the United States.

Keeping in mind that the Sisters of Charity made a Congregational Stand to abolish human trafficking in October 2015, and the Associates supported that stand, consider making a personal commitment in 2018 to take action to end human trafficking. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Visit Polaris to learn more about human trafficking: www.polarisproject.org
  • Learn how you can be a smarter consumer: www.endslaverynow.org/act/buy-slave-free
  • Urge the Senate to stop online human trafficking by passing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act: www.polarisproject.org/action/
  • Pray for those who are trafficked that they might know healing and justice. Pray for traffickers that they will have a conversion of heart. Pray for the coming of the day when all people will be treated, not as commodities, but as unique and radiant images of our Creator God.
  • Report any suspected trafficking, exploitation, or suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline 888-373-7888. If a victim is in urgent need of assistance, please contact law enforcement immediately.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director