Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving Report from the Border

SC Federation First Professed

I'm spending my graduate school Thanksgiving break at the border, a place dear to my heart and central to my vocation. Our Sisters have been ministering here, truly on the margins, for almost thirty years.  They're currently collaborating with hundreds of people of goodwill to welcome migrants who are released from detention centers daily in huge numbers.  Annunciation House coordinates the network of hospitality shelters throughout El Paso.

I came to volunteer in one of the shelters with the little time I have right now, and I wish I could stay so much longer.  The beautiful people I am meeting are Christ among us: hungry, thirsty, sick, desperately in need of clothing, shelter, and welcome (Matt 25:31-46).  Below, I offer you a snapshot of one beautiful and heartbreaking encounter.   There is much more to tell, but for now, a glimpse into the current border reality:


The midday El Paso sun sears into my forehead.  I shield my eyes and look up at Pedro, sitting on a cement block next to me.  His 8-year-old son, Juanito, and a few friends kick around a deflated basketball in the gravel lot, the first time they’ve played freely since they left Honduras one month ago.

Pedro’s eyes are tired as he tells me about their journey. For three weeks, he was on the road with his son and other migrants they met along the way.  For three weeks, they slept and ate only intermittently.  When Juanito cried, Pedro held him tight and reminded him that he would get to see his mom in the United States.

Once they finally arrived to the U.S-Mexico border, Pedro and Juanito spent four days in detention.

“When we first got there, they lined us up in the hallway, and we stood for four hours until they could take our information.  Then, they gave us each an aluminum blanket and shuffled us into a small room with other dads and kids, with barely enough space for us to crawl up on the floor to sleep. It was freezing – the air conditioner blasted day and night.  There was one toilet in our room.  Twice a day, they brought a bean burrito, still quite frozen, for each of us, and a small juice for the kids.  We couldn’t go outside, except one day they took us to a bigger detention center to finish processing us, and they let us take a shower.”

It was the first chance they’d had to bathe in weeks.  That evening, immigration agents crammed forty fathers and children into an even smaller room and told them they could sleep standing since it would be their last night in detention.  The dads worked together to get their children accommodated on the floor, and then they did what they could to rest.  Some sat on the small floor of the bathroom; others just stood and leaned against the wall all night.

Yesterday, they were brought in a bus with fifty-eight other Central American migrants to this center, one of several run by Annunciation House and staffed by volunteers.  Here, they are given good meals, clothes, toiletries, showers, cots, pillows, blankets, and a warm welcome that honors their God-given dignity, before they continue their journeys to relatives and friends elsewhere in the United States.

“It’s been difficult,” he says quietly.  “I can deal with it. I’m an adult, you know?  But my little guy…” He trails off as he beholds his only son with misty eyes.  “I brought him because I want him to grow up safe, and I want to be able to feed him every day.  I never dreamed it would come to this.”

I’m in awe at his resilience and simultaneously overcome with sorrow.  “You’re an amazing father.  You know that?  You’re so brave.”

“I hope so,” he sighs.  “Everything I do, I do for my beautiful boy.”

The duo will board a bus later tonight for the final leg (for now) of their exodus.  Tomorrow, they’ll arrive to the city where Juanito’s mom lives.  She will be able to embrace her son for the first time in five years.  Pedro and Juanito will report to court in early December to begin asylum proceedings – which rarely end favorably.  But this is no time to be hopeless.

“It’s an honor to meet you, Pedro,” I tell him, and it's true.  My heart is bursting with admiration.  I feel like I'm in the presence of a saint.  “I don’t know how you do it.  You have been through so much, and you’re still going strong.”

“Gracias a Dios,” he asserts, gesturing to the sky, strength in his cheekbones.  “Everything is all thanks to God.  We’re alive.  We made it.  I can never stop thanking my God.”


**Please support Annunciation House 
and our beloved migrant sisters and brothers 
by donating HERE.**

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Fall Gathering in NOLA

This past weekend, eight members of the Future of Charity and one discerner gathered at the House of Charity in New Orleans for fellowship and faith-sharing. Guiding our prayer and conversations was the theme of self-awareness and identity. As we listened to Jesus ask his disciples, Who do people say that I am? and Who do you say that I am? (Mk 8:27-30) we asked ourselves: Who do I say I am? and Who do we say we are?

Utilizing a template of George Ella Lyon's I Am From poem, we reflected on our lives and how our unique backgrounds have helped form us into the women we are today. Then, we each selected two lines from these poems to compile the following We Are From poem...

We Are From…
We are from cardboard tubes,
From playing sports and building forts.
We are from the monster bush,
      a secret fortress in the yard.
We are from the forest and oceans.
We are from the Pearl of the Orient,
      from brown skin, white rice and coconut milk.
We are from rotini and peanut butter-tomato sandwiches,
From the selfless giving of my father,
      coaching our teams, caravanning kids, and filling up gas tanks.
We are from Sr. Armella and faithful Sunday­ Worship.
We are from St. John's and Catholic school,
      God the Father of light bless this Advent candle.
We are from a sharp contrast between independence and interdependence.
We are from my Aunt who took me shopping for school clothes
      and strong faith.
We are from a house without borders.
We are from the woods,
      from untamed, fascinating freedom.
We are from the Mt. Giri that manifests the sublime beauty of nature,
      quietly surrendering me to its great power.­
We are from the peach tree in the backyard,
      whose canopy of leaves made the perfect place for singing.
We are from wise stewardship and peaceful encounters,
      though sensitive strings were rarely touched.
From keeping one another accountable
      yet embracing one another's faults.
We are from the love that is stronger than the wounds.
We are from the Charity charism and all its founders,
      From the women and men on whose shoulders we stand.
We are from the vision of sisters
      who not too long ago dreamed of a future together.

In another exercise, we each wrote five answers to the question Who are you? and put together our favorite responses to create somewhat of a mantra for ourselves as the Future of Charity. It reads...

We are women of courage.
We are generative co-creators.
We are bridge-builders and seekers of peace.
We are Sisters of Charity in a global world.
We are women held, formed, and challenged in community.
We are able to see the light in the darkness.
We are women vowed to God.
We are human.
We are love.

Thank you to everyone who kept us in their prayers during our time together!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Real Presence

By Sr. Annie Klapheke, SC Federation Temporary Professed

      Click HERE to learn more about Annie

The door was slightly ajar.  I knocked lightly and softly called into the room, not wanting to disturb her if she was resting.  “Who is it?” she asked.  I entered fully into the room, but knowing that her poor eye sight would prevent her from recognizing me, I announced my identity, “It’s Annie.”  “Oh Annie!” she exclaimed, as she threw her head back and the widest smile spread across her face.  “I am so happy it’s you!”

This describes the opening scene of any (of my many) visits to S. Annina Morgan, a beloved Sister of Charity who went home to God earlier this year after 102 years of faithful discipleship on this earth.  The visit would continue with S. Annina inquiring about everything happening in my life, and the two of us delighting in each other’s presence.  I always felt like I was someone special after a visit with Annina.  After her death, many stories were shared, and it turns out my experience of Annina was not unique.  She had a way of making everyone who encountered her feel like someone special.  How did she do it?  I believe Annina knew what it meant to be real presence.   
My memories of S. Annina re-surfaced in my heart recently after returning home from my annual retreat; a week of sacred solitude in the peaceful woods of Nerinx, Kentucky.  I can best describe my week as an experience of, and a call to be, real presence.  Although I was physically alone most of the time, I was very aware of the Trinity as my divine retreat companions.  At times I imaged three distinct persons with physical features; and at other times I imaged more of a vibe or energy – like the way it feels when you are in a bustling kitchen with family or friends preparing for a special meal.  The sound of chatter, laughter and clinking glasses; the aroma of delicious food; and the feeling of joy and belonging while experiencing table fellowship.  I find it fitting that Andrei Rublev’s icon The Trinity depicts the divine community as gathered around a table – real presence to each another.

The Trinity is one of my favorite images of God – God’s very existence is community.  The power of community is that the whole is greater than the sum of its’ parts.  That is because something more is creating between the individual parts: relationship.  It is one thing (and an important thing) to recognize Christ in everyone we meet; but when our presence to the other is real, we help to create a fuller image of God by the relationship between us.  As Catholics, we proclaim and embrace the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  When we commit to becoming what we receive, it means more than just being Christ alone in the world; rather it is a commitment to being Christ in relationship to others, to become real presence in the world.

I live with three other Sisters of Charity in the neighborhood of East Price Hill on the west side of Cincinnati.  It is a neighborhood both rich in diversity, and in need of a little extra love and care.  We were thrilled to move into the neighborhood, but after a few months we began to ask ourselves, ‘How can we be a more positive presence in this neighborhood?’ – after my retreat experience I think I would re-word the question, ‘How can we be a more real presence in this neighborhood?’  Inspired by the concept of the Little Free Library, we decided to install a House of Prayer at the base of our driveway.  With the construction skills of my dad, and the wood burning artistry of one of our sisters, we have a beautiful little house along our heavily-traveled sidewalk where folks are invited to write their prayer requests.  After its installation, we waited and wondered, would anyone write?  Within the first 24 hours the first request came, ‘please pray for my grandma’.  Every day since, the prayers have continued, ranging from prayers of gratitude, to pleas of desperation for freedom from drug addiction.  We continue to be awed by the willingness of our neighbors to be vulnerable and to share their most intimate prayers with us.  Each day we collect the little slips of paper out of the pray house and read them aloud during our community morning prayer.  It has helped us to become more aware of the real presence of real people in our neighborhood.  We hope that our neighbors are more aware of the real presence of our prayers for them. 

God is more than the Spirit dwelling within us; God is also the relationship that we create between us.  May we be Real Presence in the world.

"The Trinity" by Andrei Rublev

Me with S. Annina after I professed my first vows

Visitation House Community after installation of our prayer house

Prayer requests from our neighbors

Thursday, October 11, 2018


By Sr. Meg Kymes, SC Federation Under 10 Years Vocation

      Click HERE to learn more about Meg

      Click HERE to learn more about the SC Federation

In last Monday’s Gospel (Luke 10:25-37) a lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ response told the parable of the Good Samaritan then asked the lawyer about who was neighbor to the man who was beaten. The lawyer replied, “The one who treated him with mercy." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." 

My parish’s pastor gave the homily, explaining that during Jesus’ time a neighbor was thought of as anyone who lived in your faith community. Father proceeded to explain that what Jesus was calling his followers to, and now us to today, was a broader idea of neighbor as including Gentiles (non-Jewish people). For today’s interpretation this would include non-Christians: Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, etc. Today in a world that is so divided along so many lines this call to “Go and do likewise” is more needed than ever. We are called to look beyond labels and see our neighbor no matter what and respond in mercy.

For me that call does not just apply to my ministry to people coming home from jail or prison but to my own Sisters as well. At times I only see the little foibles that annoy or anger me and not my Sister or neighbor who is worthy of mercy and love. However as a follower of Christ I am called to see all of his loved ones as he does. When these times of shortcomings occur, I beg for our Lord’s’ mercy through prayer and the Sacraments. Praise God for the gift of our Faith!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Builders

By Sr. Whitney Schieltz, SC Federation Apostolic Novice

      Click HERE to learn more about Whitney

      Click HERE to learn more about the SC Federation

Throughout my whole life I've had an affinity for buildings. I love to study them, photograph them, design them. Even as a child I would spend hours on end with my building blocks, sketch books, and eventually computer drafting programs. I can't remember ever wanting to be anything but an architect when I grew up. When I was in college I realized that I was more interested in working with existing buildings and decided to pursue a career in historic preservation. Years later, I am still discerning what ministry will fulfill my passion for buildings and my desire to serve others.

The building I am in charge of renovating.
Now in my apostolic (second) year of novitiate, I have returned to one of the organizations where I previously volunteered (Working In Neighborhoods) to continue exploring a ministry in housing and community development. My main project is the renovation of an empty century-old building that will hopefully provide affordable housing in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cincinnati. While it is a rather daunting task for me, I am also extremely excited for the opportunity to work hands-on in a field that I have been journeying toward my entire life.

Recently when I was reflecting upon and praying with all this, I came across a poem entitled "The Builders" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In addition to its obvious architectural imagery, I think it has a beautiful message about how we live our lives. Since I believe the beauty of poetry is its openness to interpretation, I will let you read it for yourself and receive whatever message the Spirit offers you.

The Builders
- by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All are architects of Fate,
  Working in these walls of Time;
Some with massive deeds and great,
  Some with ornaments of rhyme.

Nothing useless is, or low;
  Each thing in its place is best;
And what seems but idle show
  Strengthens and supports the rest.

For the structure that we raise,
  Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
  Are the blocks with which we build.

Truly shape and fashion these;
  Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
  Such things will remain unseen.

In the elder days of Art,
  Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
  For the Gods see everywhere.

Let us do our work as well,
  Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
  Beautiful, entire, and clean.

Else our lives are incomplete,
  Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
  Stumble as they seek to climb.

Build to-day, then, strong and sure,
  With a firm and ample base;
And ascending and secure
  Shall to-morrow find its place.

Thus alone can we attain
  To those turrets, where the eye
Sees the world as one vast plain,
  And one boundless reach of sky.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Throwing Words into the Fire

By Sr. Laura Coughlin, Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill (Perpetually Professed)
Then Aaron said to Moses, “They gave me words, I threw them into the fire, and out came this paper!”

Ex 32:24 [Revised Late-Night Standard Student Version - RLNSSV]

Right now I have a headache, my brain hurts, my eyeballs have filed a complaint with OSHA, and I’ve been talking to myself for two hours.  I like to communicate with myself out loud when proofreading a paper or trying to pull a lecture together.  Sometimes I do it to refine arguments.  Over and over and over I throw my ideas into a raging fire and some “product” comes out.  For reasons I don’t understand, my golden calf often (almost always) moos better when I’m alone than it does when I give it to others.  How it saddens me that I can only be brilliant when I’m by myself!  It’s a strange cross. 
Yet if I’ve learned anything in the last five years of graduate school, it’s that interpretation matters.  So why not imagine that if our God is a jealous God then it may be that he wants to keep my brilliance all to himself!  Or perhaps he’s teaching me not to cling tightly to marvelous arguments.  Or maybe he’s saying, “give those words to me and I’ll know where and when to plant them.” 
Tomorrow I will teach college students Augustine’s Tractate 122 – an exegesis of John’s big fish story. 
Lord, teach me how to throw my words into the fire and offer them up to you as a sacrifice which pleases.    

The message of the cross is…the power of God.  For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the learning of the learned I will set aside.”

1 Cor 1:18-19 [NAB]

In Memoriam

As a final word, I’d like to share with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati my joy at having gotten to know one of your sisters, Terry Deri, over the course of this last year.  Terry passed away peacefully on Tuesday at Mount St. Joseph, the Cincinnati motherhouse.  Although having known her for only a short time, I will really miss her.  Terry was a sharp conversationalist, had a great sense of humor, and was a truly interesting woman.  She lived for a number of years in Peru and many of her favorite stories were from this exciting time in her life.  She worked as a counselor when she returned to the United States, and she had keen insights from this work into human motivations. 
Terry’s last sickness was painful and hard, but she was never without the aid of one of my own sisters, Cory, with whom Terry lived.  My recollection of Terry will hardly linger on her last illness, but on her wry smile, her sharp wit, and her insightful observations at particular points in a conversation.  Both sisters in their relationship of caring for one another, and in their extension of friendship to me in a time of hardship, have shown me firsthand how to carry a cross with joy.
Above is a picture of Terry superimposed over the thesis she presented to Loyola University in 1986.  This paper was one of Terry’s “products.”  She spoke of it occasionally as a moment of personal triumph.  As is evident in the picture, God took the ideas Terry had refined in the fire of her heart and moved them powerfully into the hearts of her examiners.  Then he moved those ideas through Terry’s life out into the world where they assisted others.  May she rest in peace forever. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Seeds of Regeneration, Seeds of Hope

By Sr. Kara Davis, Daughter of Charity Under 10 Years Vocation

The media has been flooded with articles, posts, videos, and letters concerning the recent unveiling of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church.  First, there was outrage over the news of former Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual misconduct, abuse of power, and promotion within Church hierarchy.  Then there was deep heartbreak and shock with the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, describing heinous crimes of sexual abuse against thousands of children by over 300 Catholic clergy, and the cover-up by Church officials.  Most recently, confusion and questions over “who knew” erupted from the letter issued by former apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Viganò, calling Pope Francis to resign from the papacy. 

It is hard to believe this is real life, and not just a terrible nightmare that will be over in the morning.  I consider myself a glass-half-full kind of person, always trying to find the silver lining, focusing on the positive, and maintaining an optimistic view throughout the most despairing circumstances.  As a Daughter of Charity committed to serving Christ in persons who are poor, sometimes I feel like noticing the ray of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation as my full-time job.  But these days, it is difficult to find the sunshine, as this ferocious storm of scandal and secrets wreaks havoc on the Church I love so dearly and devote myself to as a Catholic Sister.  People have asked me, “So what do you think about all this?”  Well, this reflection is an attempt to articulate the fruits of much prayer and discernment, what has helped me process the emotion, and continue my journey with God rooted in faith and unwavering hope.

The quote from St. Augustine (pictured above) reminds us that seeds of hope come forth from righteous anger and courageous action.  We should be outraged by the disturbing truths surfacing about the Church.  Yet, what fruit do we bear from that anger?  Does it fester and turn sour, or does this beautiful anger lead to action and new life?  During these troubling times, celebrating the Eucharist and meditating with scripture and the saints has helped me transform anger (with sister courage) into hope.  The daily readings at Mass provided wisdom and encouragement in unexpected ways and with impeccable timing.  The lives of the saints (those canonized and not) who responded to the evils plaguing the Church in their time inspired perseverance and a sense of communion.  Sure, I’m still heartbroken and angry, but now able to recognize that God is with us in the struggle.
The Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a Wednesday, my regular day to lector at mass.  Earlier that morning, I read through the first reading to make sure there were no big words I would get up there and butcher.  As I skimmed through the passage from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (34:1-11), I immediately felt a connection between God’s message to the shepherds of Israel, and what I had been holding in my heart over the past couple weeks.  I felt as though Ezekiel had taken the words right out of my mouth, giving voice to the anger, disappointment, and frustration I had buried deep inside me.  Fear and sadness gripped me as I trembled at the thought of sharing these words out loud (remember, I prefer the sunshine and try to avoid hard feelings like this).

As I sat in the pew before mass, the familiar knot creeped into my stomach, my heart sunk into my chest, and a stubborn lump settled in my throat.  I sat there desperately trying to hold the pieces of my brokenness together.  Why do we have this reading on my day to lector?  How am I supposed to proclaim the Word of God when I can barely catch my breath?  I stood at the ambo in front of the assembly, praying for a miracle.  With hands shaking and heart racing, I took a deep breath and began to read:

Thus says the Lord God:  Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves!
How dare you, shepherds of the Church who have looked after yourselves!

Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?  You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured.
Aren’t priests and bishops supposed to serve the People of God, especially those who are most vulnerable among us?  You have silenced survivors, protected predators, and covered up crimes, but the children you have failed to safe-guard.

You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured.  You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally… 
You did not empower the victimized, nor hear the hurt, nor acknowledge the injustice.  You did not bring back those marginalized, nor seek those rejected, but you turned a blind eye, quietly and secretly.

…because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:  Thus says the Lord God:  I swear I am coming against these shepherds.  I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves.  I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths.
Because of this, evildoers, remember God’s promise:  I am coming against these false shepherds.  I am claiming my daughters and sons, holding them close to my heart.  My children shall be safe, no longer prey for wild beasts.

For thus says the Lord God:  I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
The goodness of God will look after and tend the Church.  Goodness abounds within and among us, showering seeds of hope.  May this Divine Goodness deliver us from evil, and lead us along the pathway of peace, justice, and fidelity to our call of service.                                      
"Good Shepherd" Artist: St. Louise de Marillac; Retrieved HERE 
My conscious experience of the Catholic Church, and perhaps for other millennials too, has always been shadowed by the association with child sex abuse scandals.  I say conscious experience because I was in sixth grade when the investigation of the Archdiocese of Boston was made public in 2002, and the bishops gathered in Dallas to establish the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  I understood that there were bad priests in the Church who were harming children, so we had classes at school to learn about “safe touches” and physical boundaries, and then what to do if we felt unsafe with an adult.  However, the reality of child sex abuse by clergy was not the only hard lesson I learned in sixth grade. 

Earlier in the school year, on September 11, 2001, I added the word terrorism to my vocabulary.  I was completely shocked that people would fly airplanes into buildings on purpose.  I had trouble accepting that humans were capable of such intentional destruction and harm to other humans (…and then we learned about the Nazi concentration camps in history class).  During that critical “coming of age” time of my life, I lost my childlike innocence and learned that evil was something very real and alive in our world.  I had no clue that philosophers had been writing about the problem of evil for centuries, grappling with the same questions my teenage brain couldn’t understand:  If God is so loving and powerful, why do such bad things happen in the world?  I know, I should have just stuck to listening to the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears on my portable CD player.

At thirteen years old, I already understood that the Church was flawed, wounded, and in need of recovery.  Priests and bishops were never presented to me as demi-gods incapable of sin or human error.  I believed most clergy were good, holy men doing their best to live their vocation with fidelity, but I was not naïve to that fact that some clergy were the very opposite and capable of grave evil.  I was blessed with extremely positive experiences of Church throughout my life, while participating in youth ministry as a teenager and getting involved at my Catholic Newman Center in college.  I felt God calling me to serve the Church, and the more I asked God "how," the more I discovered my vocation as a Daughter of Charity.  I have been “Sister Kara” for two years now, and through the ups and downs of initial formation, I have stayed firm in that commitment to the community and the Church.  So now I find myself posed with questions like, “How can you serve such a corrupt Church?  How can you belong to such a dishonest institution?”  My first answer is Jesus, but I respond, “Because Christ has called me.”  But when that doesn’t seem to satisfy the inquirer, I add, “And the Church I serve and belong to is so much more than the worst actions of some of its members.”

If the Church was simply a human institution, then sure, why would I dedicate my life to an organization with an extensive history of child sex abuse and cover-up?  But the Church is so much more than a non-profit charity, NGO, devotional hub, or religious club.  Instituted by Christ, the Church is a living, breathing, at times like this wounded body, comprised of very human humans striving for sainthood.
Dorothy Day had a deep understanding of the role of saints, especially during times of confusion and frustration within the Church.  There were times priests and bishops challenged her way of radically living the Works of Mercy, her stand for social justice, and her position of non-violence and peace activism.  Two quotes from letters responding to friends questioning her affiliation and devotion to the Catholic Church come to mind:

“No matter how corrupt the Church may become, it carries within it the seeds of its own regeneration.  To read the lives of the Saints has always helped me.”  
(Dorothy Day to Karl Meyer, August 3, 1971)

“As a convert, I never expected much of the bishops.  In all history, popes and bishops and father abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy.  I never expected leadership from them.  It is the saints that keep appearing all through history who keep things going.”  (Dorothy Day to Gordon Zahn, October 29, 1968)

"Vincent de Paul teaches his priests"
Artist: Maurice Denis; Retrieved HERE
Dorothy placed great emphasis on the examples of the saints, and how they responded to challenges and lived in fidelity during great times of trial and persecution, maintaining the fire and keeping the Church alive.  She is critical of clergy, even somewhat dismissive of their role and leadership, but let us remember that many popes, bishops, priests, and abbots are also among the saints.  In the 17th century, Saint Vincent de Paul helped reform priestly formation and establish seminaries in France after the Council of Trent.  In the 14th century, Saint Catherine of Siena urged Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome, thus ending the Avignon papacy.  Look up a Saint who took action when the Church was wounded throughout history.  Is there someone who inspires you and brings you hope in the challenges we face today?

To use a phrase I’ve found in several reflections, saints don’t leave, they lead.  Saints do what is right and stand for what is true, merely because it is right and true.  Saints bear the seeds of hope planted throughout the history of the Church, and will continue to bear the seeds of regeneration in our day.  Together, we the Church -lay, religious, clergy- can nurture the seeds of hope around us, and live in fidelity to our reality as the Body of Christ.

So, who are the saints we need among us as we face the challenges of our day? Courageous men and women dedicated to a wounded Church, willing to be vulnerable and invest in recovery.  They are survivors coming forward to share their stories no longer silenced.  They are true shepherds of the Church welcoming States’ attorneys to review diocesan records.  They are teams of laity and clergy creating new systems and protocols for reporting abuse.  They are the faithful holding all these intentions in prayer with great hope for the future.  Saints are men and women who humbly trust in the Goodness of God, the Divine Goodness that dwells within and among us, and who cooperate with that grace.
"The Great Love of the Good Shepherd"
Artist: Rebecca Brogan; Retrieved HERE

Ever since that morning with the Prophet Ezekiel, daily scripture has offered the glimmer of light I need to face the storm each day.  I am reminded that God is with us in the struggle, just as he was with the saints as they responded to all the storms scattered throughout history.  The wounded hands of the Good Shepherd are holding us closely to the heart of God.  It is from this intimate space that I have discovered the Divine Goodness active and alive in our Church today.  Good versus evil is a theme present throughout salvation history (might I also include Star Wars and Harry Potter?).  Christ, the head of the body, the Church (Col 1:18) the new Adam (1 Cor 15:45) reveals that goodness triumphs over evil, new life is born from death.  So, will we ever overcome the evil that has infiltrated the Church?  Hope tells me YES!  Hope tells me that with daughters Anger and Courage, we the Church, together, can heal this wounded Body of Christ.  The Goodness of God has planted the seeds of our regeneration.  In time, we will reap the fruits of the harvest, but for now, let’s help them grow.

Click HERE to view the Leadership Conference of Women Religious statement on Sexual Abuse by Clergy

Click HERE to learn more about Sr. Kara

Click HERE to learn more about the Daughters of Charity