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Sisters' Stories

Christian Brother writes in support of sisters

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Brother William Brynda, of the De La Salle Christian Brothers in Glencoe, Miss., has sent NCR the following letter for publication, in support of Catholic sisters the Vatican criticizes in a recent report. Brynda said he also sent a copy to Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, who has been appointed to oversee the Leadership Conference of Women Religious going forward.

Brynda writes:

When will the patriarchal hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church come to recognize and affirm the dignity and giftedness of women, especially the U.S. sisters, who through their charisms, gifts and talents have stimulated the development of the spirit, teachings and practices of the Second Vatican Council during the past 50 years? These consecrated religious, through their lived experiences, have chosen to live the gospel of the good news by caring and providing for the poor, the marginalized and the dispossessed. They have a commitment and dedication to the building of the kingdom though their care and concern for the people of God, which is the church as defined in the Second Vatican Council.

Sister reflects on recent Vatican actions

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The following piece, titled "Just Thinking," was sent to the National Catholic Reporter, for publication, by Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word Sr. Joan Holden, of St. Louis:

I was just thinking about the latest mandate, fresh out of Rome, concerning the religious sisters in the United States. I wondered, “What would the founder of my religious congregation, Bishop Claude Dubuis (1869), have to say? What counsel would he give? Would he echo the words of a funny video, now traveling the Internet – “Sit down! Sit down!” Or would his first call be one of prayer – calling us to pray and to reflect upon the words of sacred scripture, especially Matthew 5:1-12, which sums up all of Christ’s teachings in the beatitudes.

Catholic teaching claims there are four marks of the church – the church is one, holy, Catholic and apostolic. Dare I add a fifth, for it is also persecuted! From the very beginning of Christianity, the church, meaning all of the people of God, has been severely persecuted, but mostly from outside the structure.

Former nuns write open letter to the USCCB

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The following letter was sent to the National Catholic Reporter by a former Sister of Mercy, and it is signed by 14 other women who were once members of religious communities. In a cover letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Helen Urbain-Majzler writes: "We would be grateful if you shared the contents of our letter with other member bishops."

The "Open letter to the U.S. Catholic Bishops" letter reads:

The Vatican crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) sends this message for religious women and average Catholics: there is no room for dissent; no opportunity for differing perspectives; no way to engage in dialogue about traditional, often narrowly-held, Catholic views. In a word, women religious leaders need to keep their ideas to themselves and simply follow the dictates and directions of Rome. Anything less than this position will be met with censure, public embarrassment, heavy-handedness, and even potential expulsion.

Protester at D.C. "Support the Sisters" vigil: "I'm angry, and this is the first protest I've ever been to"

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Late Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., about 75 protesters gathered in front of the sign that marked the entrance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops building, as part of a nationwide effort led by the Nun Justice Project. However, Kate Conmy, the organizer of the event in D.C., said the USCCB sign that was to be a landmark had been covered with a black tarp.

Conmy, who works for the Women's Ordination Conference, said most people learned about the vigil by visiting www.change.org, the website that hosts a petition started by the Nun Justice Project to support the sisters. She remembers one woman at the vigil saying: “I’m angry, and this is the first protest I’ve ever been to.”

The vigils will take place every Tuesday in May, and are expected to expand to more cities.

If you attended the vigil in Washington, D.C., or know someone who attended, please leave a comment.

In San Juan, Texas, 15 gather to pray for sisters

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Al Dabrowski, Call To Action member and organizer for the Nun Justice Project in the Rio Grande Valley area, said the stormy evening weather likely kept some people home Tuesday, when a group of 15 gathered for a prayer vigil to support Catholic nuns at the Basilica of our Lady of San Juan del Valle in San Juan.

The prayer vigils, planned in select cities every Tuesday in May, are part of a nationwide effort launched by The Nun Justice Project and supported by local Catholic groups.

If you attended the vigil in San Juan, Texas, or know someone who attended, please leave a comment.

President-elect of LCWR profiled in Milwaukee newspaper

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Franciscan Sr. Florence Deacon, of St. Francis, Wis., talks with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about entering the St. Francis of Assisi convent at the age of 16, changes that came with Vatican II and the work sisters have been doing for the past few decades.

But Deacon, who will lead the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), would not comment on the Vatican document criticizing nuns until the organization has "drafted a formal response."

Prayer vigils to support nuns planned in major cities

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The Nun Justice Project, a group of Catholic justice organizations working to support the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), is planning a series of weekly candlelight prayer vigils across the country this month, with confirmed events so far starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Boston.

The weekly vigils, most of which will take place in front of the local cathedral, will be held every Tuesday, leading up to the LCWR’s first meeting May 29.

Jim FitzGerald, a spokesman for the Nun Justice Project, said the objective for the vigils is twofold: to show the wide support for women religious in this country, and to inspire the Vatican to rescind its statement criticizing the U.S. nuns.

FitzGerald, who is executive director of Call To Action, one of the organizations working on The Nun Justice Project, said his own view of the church was shaped by a nun who was the campus minister at his college.

Priest writes in support of Catholic nuns

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In a statement emailed to NCR, a California priest praises the work of Catholic nuns:

 

 
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales Fr. John Kasper*
Pastor of St. Perpetua Parish
Lafayette, Calif.
Printed in the parish bulletin for April 29, 2012

 

Dear Friends,

Two weeks ago on a Friday, I went to the California Museum in Sacramento to view a traveling exhibition of special interest to us Catholics. “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America” is an exhibit sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). It tells the story of a small group of innovative American women who helped shape the nation’s social and cultural landscape.

The wide-ranging exhibit follows the history of women religious in the United States, from the arrival of the first order (Ursuline Sisters who came to New Orleans in 1727), through their history as outstanding educators, to their involvement in more contemporary issues such as the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the care of patients with HIV/AIDS, and the environment. Part of the exhibit highlights the California history of women religious.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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