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

March 16, 2017

According to the United Nations (UN) racial and ethnic profiling is defined as “a reliance by law enforcement, security and border control personnel on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin as a basis for subjecting persons to detailed searches, identity checks and investigations, or for determining whether an individual is engaged in criminal activity.” Refugees and migrants are particular targets of racial profiling and incitement to hatred.

In September 2016, UN Member States strongly condemned acts and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance against refugees and migrants, and committed to a range of steps to counter such attitudes and behaviors, particularly regarding hate crimes, hate speech and racial violence.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is Wednesday, March 21. Stand up for someone’s rights – for racial discrimination, but also for all forms of discrimination. Take the UN’s Pledge to:

  • • 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.

In an October 2013 address, Pope Francis said, “I wish to emphasize that the problem of intolerance must be confronted in all its forms: wherever any minority is persecuted and marginalized because of its religious convictions or ethnic identity, the wellbeing of society as a whole is endangered and each one of us must feel affected. Let us join forces to promote a culture of encounter, respect, understanding and mutual forgiveness.” Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rome

United Nations

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

March 2, 2017

I will close Black History Month and begin Women’s History Month honoring one of only three orders of predominantly black nuns in the U.S.

The Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary were founded in Georgia in 1916 after a state law was proposed to bar whites from teaching black children. It was under these circumstances that S. Mary Theodore Williams, an African-American nun, cofounded the Handmaids.

The Handmaids were intended to be an order of teachers in parochial and public schools to teach black children should the bill become law. The proposal never passed, so black and white nuns taught side by side in Georgia’s schools.

However, the Handmaids lived according to the South’s social order where blacks and whites, even those in communities of shared faith, lived apart. The nuns worshiped separately, and black nuns often endured ridicule from white Catholics who did not think them worthy of wearing habits.

In 1924, the Handmaids moved to New York City to open a day nursery for working families in Harlem. The St. Benedict Day Nursery continues to be the order’s primary charity.

Today, the Handmaids also operate a food pantry on Staten Island. They promote Catholic social justice teaching, advocate for victims of social in-justice, and work toward education for all - especially for the most vulnerable.

The Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary was founded as a Black congregation but today they are a multicultural congregation that welcomes women from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Happy 101 years of service, Sisters!

Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary
U.S. Catholic

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

February 16, 2017

February is Black History Month. We remember and celebrate the following three people:

Servant of God Mary Lange (1784-1882) was an immigrant and educator who cofounded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a religious congregation established in Baltimore, Maryland, to allow African-American women to enter religious life in the Catholic Church; the first in the U.S. The order sought to evangelize the black community through Catholic education. In addition to schools, the Sisters later conducted night classes for women, vocational and career training, and established homes for widows and orphans.

Venerable Henriette Delille (1813-1862) was a Creole nun whose great-great-grandmother was brought from Africa as a slave. S. Henriette founded the Roman Catholic order of the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans, which was composed of free women of color. The order provided nursing care and a home for orphans. They also established schools and opened the first Catholic home for the elderly in the U.S.

Activist, lecturer and author Daniel Rudd (1854-1933) was born a slave on a Kentucky plantation owned by a Catholic man. Rudd embraced his master’s religion and in 1886 established a weekly newspaper in Cincinnati to advocate Catholicism as the path to social equality for African-Americans. The newspaper was the American Catholic Tribune. Rudd described the newspaper as “the only Catholic journal owned and published by colored men.” It was one of the most successful black newspapers in the country.

A Cry for Justice: Daniel Rudd and His Life in Black
Oblate Sisters of Providence
Sisters of the Holy Family

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

February 2, 2017

Wednesday, Feb. 8 is International Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Human Trafficking. It is also the Feast Day of St. Josephine Bakhita who was kidnapped and forced into several years of slavery. Once Josephine was freed, she dedicated her life to sharing her testament of deliverance from slavery and comforting those who were suffering and living in poverty.

Catholics all over the world are encouraged to pray for the emotional, physical, and spiritual healing of those that have been trafficked, and make a personal commitment to work against human trafficking.
We offer this prayer from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, California: God of hope and peace, touch our hearts and energize our ongoing efforts in abolishing this crime against humanity so that every victim is freed and every survivor’s life rekindled. You blessed St. Josephine Bakhita of Sudan with mercy and resilience. May her prayers comfort and strengthen the women, men and children who are in search of freedom.

We ask for transformation of heart for those who inflict pain, anguish and grief on our sisters and brothers. Give them compassion, generosity and the courage to stand in solidarity with others so that together we heal the hearts and lives of all your people. Amen.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, California
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

January 19, 2017

World Interfaith Harmony Week, Feb. 1-7, is a United Nations week of observance founded on the recognition that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. The need for dialogue among different faiths and religions is needed to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

Based on two common fundamental religious Commandments, Love of God and Love of the Neighbor, ‘Love of the Good’ was added to the spirit of this week to include all people of goodwill. This addition invites everyone and excludes no one.

It is hoped that this annual week of observance provides a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide peace and harmony to their communities.

If you are interested in learning about an inter-religious nonprofit, visit the United Religions Initiative: uri.orgThis organization promotes interfaith cooperation to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for Earth and all living beings.

United Nations
United Religions Initiative

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

January 5, 2017

Jan. 8–14, 2017, is National Migration Week. The Catholic Church in the United States encourages us to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for National Migration Week 2017, Creating a Culture of Encounter, draws attention to Pope Francis’ call to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us.

Migration Week in the U.S. precedes the World Day for Migrants and Refugees on Jan. 15, 2017. Pope Francis has chosen the theme: Child migrants, the vulnerable and the voiceless. He is focusing our attention on migrant children because they “are the first among those to pay the heavy toll of migration, almost always caused by violence, poverty, environmental conditions, as well as the negative aspects of globalization. The unrestrained competition for quick and easy profit brings with it the cultivation of perverse scourges such as child trafficking …”

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Notice that the word “trafficking” is used in the above two paragraphs. According to End Slavery Now, “The most vulnerable people of human trafficking in our world today are refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons.” They are often forced out of their homes with no identification documents and often travel to countries where they do not know the language. Human traffickers are known to wait for desperate and vulnerable migrants at the destination country and then exploit them upon arrival.

In his message for the 2017 World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis states that it is “absolutely necessary” for all of us to understand, and work to end, the root causes of forced migration and human trafficking.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

December 22, 2016

People in our communities have died without a home this year.

National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is Dec. 21. It is a day to remember our sisters and brothers who have died without secure housing and to commit to work for changes in our communities so that no others will die without a home.

The face of homelessness in the U.S. is changing. Though veterans, people with disabilities, and single parent families have always been at high-risk for homelessness, today many of our country’s working poor are at risk too. People recently released from prison, victims of human trafficking, immigrants – specifically unaccompanied migrant youth, victims of domestic violence, young people identifying as LGBTQ, and young adults who have recently been emancipated from the foster care system are also at increased risk of homelessness. In many states the fastest growing homeless population is women and children.

People experiencing homelessness have certain shared basic needs including affordable housing, adequate incomes, and health care. Some may need additional services such as mental health or drug/alcohol treatment in order to remain securely housed. All of these needs must be met to prevent and to end homelessness.

Please take time to remember those who have died homeless. Several of our SC Sisters and Associates mourn the loss of these children of God whom they knew and served.
Pray for those who are at risk of homelessness and learn more about this complex and tragic social issue. Their dignity and basic human rights are at risk.

Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

December 8, 2016

Last month, Associates Maggi Yocis, Jim Weber and I had an opportunity to visit the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The administration office happens to be on the grounds of our late S. Paula González’s childhood home. Her house is now enveloped in adobe-style additions where Fr. Richard Rohr and the rest of the CAC staff work.

S. Paula told Maggi and I about this house when she companioned us in our journeys to become Associates. In particular, S. Paula lovingly talked about a tree in her backyard that she frequently climbed as a child. She loved that cottonwood tree.

That old cottonwood is still in S. Paula’s childhood backyard. It would take four or five people, open-armed, to circle the trunk! Half of the leaves were brown and falling to the ground and the other half were still brilliant golden yellow, waiting for their turn to dance in the air as they fall to the ground.

This reminded me of S. Paula’s enthusiasm about the wondrous cycle of decomposition and decay. Those brown leaves on her cottonwood tree were not ugly compared to the yellow ones. They were quite beautiful as they fell to the ground because they will decompose with the help of critters that will convert them to beneficial chemicals and minerals that the old cottonwood will absorb. Nature recycling at its best!

Each of us laid hands on the “Paula tree” and we connected with the old cottonwood, all of creation, and with our S. Paula.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

November 24, 2016

December 2, 2016, is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as forced labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, sex trafficking, child soldiering and organ trafficking.

Despite sustained anti-trafficking efforts, millions of individuals are bound by mental, physical, and financial coercion and manipulation by traffickers who exploit their vulnerabilities for profit.

On its website, U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking writes: Poverty is one of several factors that make individuals vulnerable to human trafficking. While trafficking victims come from a range of backgrounds, including economically privileged families, human trafficking is linked inextricably with people lacking resources, notably job opportunities.

Ending trafficking requires addressing the demand for sex and cheap labor, which contributes to the enormous profit for the trafficker. It entails ending the poverty that makes human beings vulnerable to trafficking. Becoming educated on the root causes of poverty, including the effects of our trade agreements on workers living in other countries and the human cost behind our cheap consumer goods, will help us understand what we can do to decrease global poverty and thus the trafficking of human beings.

For action opportunities and more information, go to the Bakhita Initiative website, a sister site of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking: bakhitainitiative.com.

International Labour Organization
United Nations
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

November 10, 2016

To raise awareness and trigger action to end this global pandemic, the United Nations observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women every Nov. 25. The date marks the brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal Sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic. The murders were ordered by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

Living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls suffer disproportionately from violence both in peace and in war, at the hands of the state, in the home, and community. According to the World Health Organization, 35 percent of women worldwide have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetime. Some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner.

  • Violence against women is a human rights violation.
  • Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women.
  • Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security.
  • Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential.

United Nations
World Health Organization
Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

October 25, 2016

Xavier University’s Institute for Spirituality and Social Justice (ISSJ) is presenting a public lecture, workshop and artistic exhibit entitled: “Out of the Shadows: Women’s Roles in Early Christianity.”

With evidence from the catacombs and other early Christian sites as a backdrop, those in the Greater Cincinnati area are invited to a conversation about women in the earliest Christian communities.

On Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, international scholar S. Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ, will be the keynote speaker. She will talk about the discoveries of catacomb excavations and earliest Christian sites in Rome. A reception will follow. The talk will be held from 7-9 p.m. in the Conaton Board Room at Xavier University. It is free and open to the public.

Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, a workshop will be held on textual and material evidence for early Christian women with
S. Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ, S. Christine Schenk, CSJ and Professor Anna Miller from Xavier University. The workshop will be held from 9 a.m.–noon in the Kennedy Auditorium at Xavier University. The fee for this workshop is $35. Scholarships are available. Register at www.xavier.edu/ISSJ.

In addition to the Oct. 28 and 29 events, a photographic exhibit of frescoes and sarcophagi from Roman catacombs will accompany this project in November and December 2016. The exhibit is open to the public and will be held on the second and third floors of the Gallagher Student Center at Xavier University.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of October 13, 2016

“Politics is one of the highest forms of love, because it is in the service of the common good … a good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of one’s self so that those who govern can govern well.” Pope Francis

Catholic Social Teaching tells us that responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in the political process is a moral obligation. A well-formed conscience directs us to love interpersonally and socially, striving to secure a common good.

Catholics may choose different ways to respond to compelling social problems, but we cannot differ on our moral obligation to help build a more just and peaceful world through morally acceptable means, so that our vulnerable sisters and brothers are protected and human rights and dignity are defended.

Below are several websites you may wish to explore to help you vote conscientiously:

A Revolution of Tenderness, a 2016 Election Pope Francis Voter Guide: franciscanaction.org/sites/default/files/2016_Revolution_of_Tenderness.pdf

Faith, Values and the 2016 Election: Toward A Politics of the Golden Rule:

Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (Cincinnati), Voter’s Guide for Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky: http://ijpccincinnati.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Voters-Guide.pdf

League of Women Voters - Voter Guide: www.vote411.org/

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Candidate Side-by-Sides: networklobby.org/election2016/sidebysides

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship:

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of September 29, 2016

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time set aside to remember those who are affected by domestic violence and abuse. It is also a time to consider advocating for the basic human right of our sisters and brothers to be free from violence and abuse.

Domestic violence is a worldwide epidemic that affects individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. United States statistics show that one in three women have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It does not look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partners.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

To learn more and to take action, explore the following sources:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: ncadv.org
Stop Abuse For Everyone, A Human Rights Agency: stopabuseforeveryone.org
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: thehotline.org

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of September 15, 2016

International Day of Peace

September 21 is the International Day of Peace (Peace Day). The United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. It is a day of non-violence and ceasefire.

Ceasefire can be personal or political. Consider taking this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as to impact the larger conflicts of our time.

One example of ceasefire would be to join the Civilize It movement during this election season. Civilize It is a non-partisan movement and a call for all of us to help change the tone, follow our faith, and quiet the quarrels in our day-to-day lives. It is about making room in your heart and speaking peacefully with those with whom you disagree.

This election season, take the Civilize It Pledge:

I Pledge:

Civility: To reflect respect, to throw no stones, and to rise above it.

Clarity: To align my political point of view with my formed conscience.

Compassion: To encounter others with a tone and posture that says “I see dignity and goodness in you.”

Imagine what would happen if aggressiveness were transformed into openness and confrontations were turned into thoughtful conversations. Imagine what a whole day of ceasefire would mean to humankind.

United Nations

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of September 1, 2016

Pope Francis declared Sept. 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, as the Orthodox Church has done since 1989. According to the pope, this day “offers to individual believers, and to the community, a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation.”

In his encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home, Pope Francis offers the following prayer:

A Prayer for Our Earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the
whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united with every
creatureas we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.


Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of August 18, 2016

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day. The date was selected to commemorate the certification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution granting U.S. women the right to vote in 1920. The following is an excerpt from the National Women’s History Project:

With little financial, legal or political power of their own, and working against a well-financed and entrenched opposition, women organized for their rights of citizenship, the right to vote. When they first organized to gain political power, women were a virtually powerless, disenfranchised class.

Yet without firing a shot, throwing a rock, or issuing a personal threat, women won for themselves the kind of political power that revolutionaries elsewhere have launched violent rebellions to achieve.

To win the right to vote, women circulated countless suffrage petitions and gave speeches in churches, convention halls, meeting houses and on street corners. They published newspapers, pamphlets, and magazines.
They were frequently harassed and sometimes attacked by mobs and police. Some women were thrown in jail, and when they protested the injustice they were treated brutally. Still they persevered. Finally, on Aug. 26, 1920, their goal was achieved. Women had won the right to vote and to hold elective office.

As you observe Women’s Equality Day, reflect on that peaceful movement that led to the passage of the 19th amendment. Pray for women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Exercise your right to vote.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of August 4, 2016

There are more than 370 million self-identified indigenous and tribal peoples and ethnic minorities in some 70 countries. They are among the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. An estimated 70 percent live in Asia and the Pacific region. In Latin America alone there are more than 400 different indigenous peoples, each with a distinct language and culture.

Practicing unique traditions, indigenous peoples retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their diversity, indigenous peoples are facing similar problems: discrimination, poverty, poor health, unemployment, and high rates of imprisonment. Through ‘development,’ their land and resources are often expropriated or destroyed by activities such as deforestation, mining, dam and irrigation projects, and road construction. Many indigenous peoples experience forced assimilation by being forced to give up their mother tongue, religion and cultural ways.
Despite their long histories of struggle, indigenous peoples continue to weave their stories, songs, rituals and ceremonies into rich, colorful and textured tapestries that represent their indigenous experience.

August 9, 2016 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. On this day, let us recognize and honor the strength, resilience, dignity, and pride of indigenous peoples around the world. 

United Nations

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of July 21, 2016

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – July 30

Human trafficking is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. Men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers in every country, including the United States. It is a crime under state, federal and international law. It is currently the second largest type of criminal activity, exceeded only by the illegal drug trade.

Here’s what Pope Francis has to say about human trafficking: “Many people think that slavery is a thing of the past, but this social plague remains all too real in today’s world with child labor, forced prostitution, trafficking for organs and a variety of forms of forced labor.

“Trafficking, which generates huge amounts of income for organized crime, threatens peace because it is based on a lack of recognition of the fundamental human dignity of its victims.”

The pope has commended the recent approval of Agenda 2030, with the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDG include the adoption of immediate and effective means for eradicating forced labor, putting an end to modern forms of slavery and human trafficking and ensuring the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including the recruitment and deployment of child soldiers.

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking suggests that ending slavery is everyone’s work. If you wish to learn more or to take action to end human trafficking, visit their website at: www.sistersagainsttrafficking.org.

National Catholic Reporter
United Nations
U.S. Sisters Against Human Trafficking
Vatican Radio

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of July 7, 2016

Thank you to all who made the Welcome Baskets and Bins a success!

For the first six months of our Year of Mercy, the SC family generously donated bedroom baskets, home baskets and cleaning bins with much needed items for our new refugee neighbors.

Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio (CCSWO) collected two and a half truckloads of these items! Since CCSWO will be resettling approximately 300 refugee families in Cincinnati this year, these items were greatly appreciated.

OPJCC was the holding area for the donations. Forty-four overflowing baskets and bins full of bedding, cleaning supplies and household items were received. Additional items included a plethora of pillows, blankets, and personal hygiene items, as well as storage bins, lamps, tables, chairs, cookware of all types, a cot, a TV, a dinette set, and a desk.

Monetary donations were also made and were sent to CCSWO’s Refugee Resettlement Services to buy any items needed to complete the set-up of households for incoming refugee families.

Again, thank you to all who donated. Your generosity has already touched the lives of our sisters and brothers who now call Cincinnati their home.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of June 23, 2016

Every June, human rights and faith organizations join together to mark Torture Awareness Month, for on June 26, 1987, the nations of the world took a major step against the immoral and abhorrent practice of torture.
The UN has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings. Yet it continues to be practiced, even in the United States.

According to Amnesty International, 141 countries still use torture by prohibiting it in law, but facilitating it in practice. The secretive nature of torture means the true number of countries that practice torture is likely to be higher.

In June 2014 Pope Francis said, “Torturing people is a mortal sin. It’s a very serious sin. I repeat the firm condemnation of every form of torture and invite all Christians to engage and collaborate in abolishing torture and to support victims and their families.”

Last year the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote, “In Catholic teaching, torture is an intrinsic evil that cannot be justified under any circumstances as it violates the dignity of the human person, both victim and perpetrator, and degrades any society that tolerates it.”

What can we do?

  • Educate ourselves and then talk about what we have learned with friends and/or co-workers.
  • Write letters to the editors of our local newspapers.
  • Hold the administration accountable by
    • calling the White House: 202-456-1111
    • emailing our comments: www.whitehouse.gov/contact
    • writing letters: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.
    • “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of June 9, 2016

On World Refugee Day (June 20) let us remember our sisters and brothers who are refugees. War, human rights violations, underdevelopment, climate change and natural disasters are leading more people to leave their homes than at any time since reliable data has been collected.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated: “Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.”

On May 9, 2016, Ban Ki-moon introduced a new “global compact on responsibility-sharing” to create a more predictable and equitable way of responding to large movements of refugees.

Wealthy states and the international community as a whole have failed to equitably share responsibility for managing the ongoing global refugee crisis. Almost 90 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries, which struggle to meet the challenge. Eight countries host more than half the world’s refugees. Only 10 countries provide 75 percent of the UN’s budget to support refugees.

“With equitable responsibility sharing, there would be no crisis for host countries,” Ki-moon said.
In addition, Ki-moon proposes to do more to combat smugglers and traffickers, to rescue and protect people en route, and to ensure their safety and dignity at borders. He looks to give greater attention to addressing the drivers of forced displacement. “This is a time to build bridges, not walls, between people,” Ki-moon said.

Amnesty International
United Nations

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of May 26, 2016

End child labor in supply chains - it’s everyone’s business!

The focus of the 2016 World Day Against Child Labor (June 12) is on child labor and supply chains. Supply chains are the sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of a product. With globalization, supply chains have become increasingly complex.

Where complexity lies, so does the risk. Child labor occurs largely in the rural and informal economy, in areas where trade unions and employers’ organizations are often weak or absent, and in areas that may be beyond the capacity of labor inspectors to reach. This also holds true for child labor in supply chains, where the work may be done in small workshops or homes, and often goes undetected by firms at the top of the chain.

Below are a few organizations that work to end child labor. Consider picking one and visit the website to gain more knowledge. Then commit to taking one action to help end brutal labor practices involving children.

Free2Work provides information on forced and child labor for the brands and products consumers love. free2work.org Global March Against Child Labor works to eliminate and prevent all forms of child labor and to ensure access by all children to free, meaningful and good quality public education. globalmarch.org

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility calls on companies to adopt human rights policies banning human trafficking (including child labor), and to make these policies a key part of core business policies. iccr.org/iccrs-issues/human-rights Slave Free Chocolate supplies a list of child labor-free chocolates. slavefreechocolate.org

The Child Labor Coalition pursues an end to child labor exploitation and promotes health, safety, education and wellbeing for working minors. stopchildlabor.org

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

Week of May 12, 2016

Mother’s Day began as a call to action to improve the lives of families through health and peace.
During the Civil War, Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker, organized women to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides of the war through what she called Mother’s Work Days. In the postwar years, she organized Mother’s Friendship Day events as pacifist strategies to unite former foes.

Julia Ward Howe, who is known for writing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” was influenced by the work of Ann Jarvis. Distressed by her experience of the realities of war, Julia Ward Howe called for women to rise up and oppose war in all its forms. She urged women to come together across national lines and to commit to finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts. She was unsuccessful in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace.

Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Jarvis, continued the work of these two women by establishing a Mother’s Day to honor mothers, living and dead. In 1908 the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in the United States. For the rest of her life, Anna Jarvis worked to preserve the goals of the original holiday.

Let us remember those two mothers, and so many more, who loved and served not only their own families, but also individuals and families affected by war.

“… [L]et women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace ...” Julia Ward Howe, 1870

Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

National Geographic
The Peace Alliance
West Virginia University

Week of April 28, 2016

Children who are living in poverty can be found all over the world, even in the United States. According to the 2014 U.S. Census, nearly 16 million children (21.9 percent) in the U.S. live below the poverty level. Families USA states that the combined income for a family of four must be $24,300 in order to be considered at the poverty level in the U.S.

Unfortunately, Ohio’s percentage of children living in poverty is worse than our national percentage. The 2014 U.S. Census shows that in Ohio, 23.1 percent of all children live below the poverty level.

The City of Cincinnati’s children who live below the poverty level is double the national percentage! Nearly half (47.2 percent) of the children who live in the City of Cincinnati live below the poverty level.

In the City of Cincinnati, over half (54.1 percent) of children living in a household received some sort of government supplemental services, such as Supplemental Security Income, cash public assistance income, or Food Stamp/SNAP benefits.

I believe that with ample funding of educational programs along with transportation and family support programs, we can reduce the percentage of our nation’s children who live in poverty. Organizations such as Children’s Defense Fund, Cradle Cincinnati and National Center for Children in Poverty agree there are multiple factors that contribute to child poverty. These include mental illness, domestic abuse, drugs and alcohol in the home, and the lack of access to social services.

Please make sure you vote for issues that support our nation’s children. Thank you!

Katelyn Buckler
Mount St. Joseph University
Service Learning Student with OPJCC

Week of April 14, 2016

Earlier this year the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) reported the following:

In January 2016, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted immigration raids in North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas. The 121 people they picked up for deportation were women and children who came to the U.S. fleeing violence in Central America. The Department of Homeland Security has said that these ICE deportation actions will continue, targeting those who entered the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2014.

Our Cincinnati area immigrant families live in fear that raids will happen here, particularly because of ICE presence in Price Hill in February 2016.

Often our immigrant sisters and brothers are not aware that they have constitutional rights. The Office of Peace, Justice and Care for Creation (OPJCC) is helping to supply them with information about their constitutional rights and what to do if ICE knocks on their door. In collaboration with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Immigration Task Force, Holy Family Parish, IJPC, Santa Maria Community Services and Su Casa, Spanish-speaking immigrant families will receive Red Cards.

Red Cards, on one side, provide information in Spanish about constitutional rights for citizens and noncitizens along with the local Catholic Charities hotline number. The other side provides, in English, an explanation for ICE agents that the individuals know their constitutional rights and that ICE cannot enter their home without a warrant signed by a magistrate.

What can you do? Here are a few suggestions from IJPC:

  • Call the White House at 866-961-4293 and urge the president to immediately stop plans to deport Central American children and families.
  • Pray with us for a spirit of welcome toward the immigrants in our midst and for just immigration reform.
    Debbie Weber, OPJCC Director

Week of March 31, 2016

Sisters in the Motherhouse and Mother Margaret Hall live the mission of caring for all creation, every day. And employees support that mission every day too!

EarthConnection, OPJCC and the Spirituality Center present the Green Spot Initiative in honor of our Sisters and staff, who demonstrate their love and concern for our Earth.

A Green Spot is a Motherhouse or Mother Margaret Hall office, department, work area, or Sisters’ living area that practices at least three “acts of green.” These green areas will receive a Green Spot certificate to proudly display.

Becoming a Green Spot area is as simple as one, two, three!

  1. Departments and Sisters’ living areas will receive a checklist form within the first two weeks of April. If you and/or your department or common living area for Sisters wish to be a Green Spot area, check off at least three things you do to make your space “green.”
  2. Return the form to OPJCC.
  3. Proudly display your Green Spot certificate. You will receive it by Earth Day, April 22, 2016.

The Green Spot Initiative will continue throughout the year. You may pick up a checklist form from EarthConnection, OPJCC or the Spirituality Center. Return it to OPJCC and you will receive your Green Spot certificate.

For more information, contact Debbie Weber at debbie.weber@srcharitycinti.org

Debbie Weber, OPJCC Director

Week of March 17, 2016

World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year. It is a day to celebrate water. And it is a day to remember our nearly 750 million sisters and brothers who suffer from unsafe drinking water (UNICEF, 2015).
OPJCC introduced Water With Blessings (WWB) in April 2013. A nonprofit co-founded by an Ursuline
Sister, WWB helps families where access to clean water is challenging. The women participating in this project make a sacred commitment as “Water Women” to a ministry of compassionate love for neighbor, a ministry that brings clean water to their family and to their communities.

Each “Water Woman” the SC family has sponsored received a reliable and easy-to-use home-based filter system
and training to use it well. In addition, she received clean water education. Trained “Water Women” then filter water for at least three other households and educate the women of those families about clean water habits. A ministry model that draws forth women builds community. And clean water improves the health, economy and social well-being of that community.

Thanks to the generosity and compassion of the SC family and friends as well as partnerships with SC Federation
congregations, we have sponsored “Water Women” in Mexico, Belize, Haiti, Nepal, Philippines and Guatemala. If all 175 “Water Women” that we have sponsored were able to filter water for three other families, that would represent 700 families having access to clean water! March 22 may be the official World Water Day, but it
seems clear to me that the SC family believes every day of the year is a Water Day.

Debbie Weber, OPJCC Director

Week of March 3, 2016

March is National Women’s History Month and this year the National Women’s History Project is honoring women who have shaped U.S. history and its future through their public service and government leadership. Each of these richly diverse women succeeded against great odds. The honorees are:

S. Mary Madonna Ashton, CSJ
(1923-present) Public health leader, Minnesota Commissioner of Health

Daisy Bates
(1912-1999) Civil rights organizer, leader of Little Rock school integration

Sonia Pressman Fuentes
(1928-present) First woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Isabel Gonzalez
(1882-1971) Champion of Puerto Ricans securing U.S. citizenship

Ella Grasso
(1919-1981) First woman elected Governor (Connecticut) in the U.S.

Suzan Shown Harjo
(1945-present) Native American public policy advocate, journalist

Judy Hart
(1941-present) Founding superintendent of Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park and Women’s Rights National Historical Park

Oveta Culp Hobby
(1905-1995) World War II Director of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

Barbara Mikulski
(1936-present) Longest serving woman in the U.S. Congress

Inez Milholland
(1886-1916) Woman suffrage leader, martyr

Karen Narasaki
(1958-present) Civil and human rights leader

Nancy Grace Roman
(1925-present) Chief of Astronomy at NASA

Bernice Sandler
(1928-present) Women’s rights activist, “Godmother of Title IX”

Nadine Smith
(1965-present) LGBT civil rights activist, executive director of Equality Florida

Dorothy C. Stratton
(1899-2006) World War II Director of the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, executive director of Girl Scouts USA

Betty Mae Tiger Jumper
(1923-2001) First woman chairman of the Seminole Tribe, presidential adviser

Debbie Weber, OPJCC Director

Week of February 18, 2016

The United Nations (UN) World Day of Social Justice is Feb. 20. According to the National Association of Social Workers, social justice is “the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.” The UN states, “When gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants are promoted, the principles of social justice are being upheld. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.”

The UN General Assembly recognizes that “social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of peace and security or in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

What can we do to promote social justice?

READ about the social issues facing us in the world today and SPREAD THE WORD about these issues. Examples: climate change, the wealth gap, human trafficking, immigration, the death penalty.

Be good STEWARDS of all our natural resources and of our planet that God has given us.

GET INVOLVED in our communities. Start or join a volunteer voter registration group, a food pantry, a neighborhood watch program, a group in your parish that studies the issues of the community and/or world.

ADVOCATE by working for changes that decrease barriers for those who are most disadvantaged politically, economically, and socially. Write a letter to the editor, join a peaceful rally, call, write or email your elected officials and let them know how you feel.

PRAY for those who are homeless, are in abusive situations, lack health care, lack access to clean water, or are facing the death penalty.

UN Source: un.org/en/events/socialjusticeday/background.shtml
Debbie Weber, OPJCC Director

Week of February 4, 2016

“Welcoming others is welcoming God in person!”
- Pope Francis, Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us: The Response of the Gospel of Mercy

Starting on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (Jan. 17), and continuing through June 2016, OPJCC is partnering with Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio to provide area refugee families with Welcome Baskets.
In this Year of Mercy, Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio will be assisting numerous refugee families resettle in our area. These families will come to the United States through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Our refugee sisters and brothers faced violence, religious and political persecution, natural disaster and/or extreme poverty in their homelands.

In this Year of Mercy, consider welcoming a refugee family with much needed items. Your small group, work area, prayer community, household, MH living area, parish, school, club, etc. could assemble a Welcome Basket together. Welcoming families with a “Bedroom Basket,” a “Cleaning Bin,” a “Home Basket” or miscellaneous items such as storage bins with lids or a rice cooker is a wonderful way we can stand in solidarity with our neighbors.
For a flier with details of the baskets, bin and miscellaneous items, click here.

These fliers will be available on the table near the OPJCC office and in the Motherhouse Community Room.
For more information about the Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio Resettlement Program, go online to: ccswoh.org/services/refugees/.

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35