News & Views
Check in each week to read interesting articles from Catholic writers, discover what Catholics are talking about in the wider world, find out what's happening in the lives of Catholic leaders, and keep up with the latest news from the Sisters of Bon Secours!

The Reality of Mercy

Vatican Radio – March 15, 2017

Pope: ‘a culture of mercy renews hearts and opens up to a new reality’

Pope Francis has sent a message of encouragement and thanks to members of the International Association for Charity (AIC) as it celebrates the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the first Confraternity of Charity by Saint Vincent de Paul in Châtillon, France.

This very first group has grown into today’s AIC, an international network for fighting against poverty, which now has over 150,000 volunteers in 53 countries.

In his message the Pope notes that true promotion of human dignity cannot take place without the proclamation of the Gospel.

“It is with joy, he writes, that I am spiritually united to you to celebrate this anniversary and I hope that your beautiful work continues its mission of bringing an authentic testimony of God’s mercy to the poorest”.

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Pope Francis Ash Wednesday Homily

Vatican Radio – March 1, 2017

“Return to me with all your heart… return to the Lord” (Jl 2:12, 13).  The prophet Joel makes this plea to the people in the Lord’s name.  No one should feel excluded: “Assemble the aged, gather the children, even infants at the breast, the bridegroom… and the bride” (v. 16).  All the faithful people are summoned to come and worship their God, “for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (v. 13).

We too want to take up this appeal; we want to return to the merciful heart of the Father.  In this season of grace that begins today, we once again turn our eyes to his mercy.  Lent is a path: it leads to the triumph of mercy over all that would crush us or reduce us to something unworthy of our dignity as God’s children.  Lent is the road leading from slavery to freedom, from suffering to joy, from death to life.  The mark of the ashes with which we set out reminds us of our origin: we were taken from the earth, we are made of dust.  True, yet we are dust in the loving hands of God, who has breathed his spirit of life upon each one of us, and still wants to do so.  He wants to keep giving us that breath of life that saves us from every other type of breath: the stifling asphyxia brought on by our selfishness, the stifling asphyxia generated by petty ambition and silent indifference – an asphyxia that smothers the spirit, narrows our horizons and slows the beating of our hearts.  The breath of God’s life saves us from this asphyxia that dampens our faith, cools our charity and strangles every hope. To experience Lent is to yearn for this breath of life that our Father unceasingly offers us amid the mire of our history.

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WORLD WATER WORRIES

 Kari Pohl, February 14, 2017  |  Global Sisters Report

I recently returned to live in the United States after six years in Nicaragua, where I had become accustomed to irregular water service — or rather, the regular stoppages in water service. During the dry season and much of the rainy season, our water would go out in the morning and stay out until sometime in the afternoon. We’d considered ourselves fortunate, though — other barrios in the nation’s capital only had water service for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, in many rural communities, wells had gone completely dry.

I watch what’s happening with Earth’s water, and I alternate between wanting to cry in sorrow and scream in rage. Bolivia lost its second largest lake last year when Lago Poopó completely dried up, taking with it the fish, birds and other wildlife the Uru-Murato people used to depend on for their own survival. What does a traditional fishing culture do when there are no fish, when there’s not even water?

I hear about Flint, Michigan, and Valle de Siria, Honduras, where the water itself — the very thing that it supposed to give life — has become a poison, sickening thousands and causing damage that will reach into the next generation.

I pray with Laudato Sí, and find myself drawn over and over again to paragraph 14, which, in English, states, “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest.”

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Fighting Human Trafficking

Pope Francis, February 8, 2017   |  Vatican Radio

Pope Francis appealed to government leaders to be strong in the fight against the scourge of human trafficking.

Marking Wednesday’s ‘International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking’ marked annually on 8 February, and focusing this year on the trafficking of children and adolescents,  the Pope had words of encouragement for all those who in different ways, help minors who have been enslaved and abused to be freed from this terrible oppression.

“I urge all those in government positions to combat this scourge with firmness, giving voice to our younger brothers and sisters who have been wounded in their dignity. All efforts must be made to eradicate this shameful and intolerable crime” he said.

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Beyond the Women’s Marches

Chris Herlinger and Gail DeGeorge, January 26, 2017   |   Global Sisters Report

Catholic sisters who joined an estimated 3 million people in Women’s Marches in 500 U.S. cities on Jan. 21 said they are heartened by the large turnout, the international scope of the demonstrations, their peaceful nature, and the energy they engendered.

But the sisters said they are aware that the question of “What’s next?” is a serious one and that marches cannot be standalone events. They said there has to be a long-term strategy to fight policies they and others say will prove harmful to women, to the most vulnerable and to the planet itself.

“I just don’t want to go from march to march,” Sr. Eileen Reilly, director of the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s United Nations office, told GSR.

Maryknoll Sr. Theresa Kastner, who, like Reilly, participated in the Women’s March on New York City, agreed.

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Bring Good News

Joshua J. McElwee    |  National Catholic Reporter

Vatican City – Pope Francis is asking news outlets around the globe to remember to focus not only on news of the world’s tragedies or scandals but also on positive solutions to its problems.In his message for World Communications Day, released Tuesday, the pontiff tells media professionals:  “I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on ‘bad news.’”

“This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil,” states the pope.

“Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits,” Francis says.

“I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients,” he continues. “I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news.’”

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Be a Volunteer

Kristen Whitney Daniels, January 16, 2017 | Global Sisters Report

When Tracey Horan started her internship with the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, she had no idea what the next year would have in store. Horan thought that she might even “meet a nice farm boy and settle down.”

Now, Horan is discerning her first vows with the same group of sisters.

Horan, who interned with the sisters at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice as well as with AmeriCorps VISTA, sees her time as a volunteer as critical to her journey to religious life.

She recalls a moment on Valentine’s Day where she was asked to help teach the sisters a dance to raise awareness about violence against women and also realized that she might be called to religious life.

“I just remember being in the front and showing them the moves to this dance and thinking there is nowhere that I’d rather be right now. And that was definitely one of the most memorable Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had – I think that was kind of telling,” joked Horan, who is also a contributor to Global Sisters Report.

Simple moments like these are what many former volunteers who have transitioned to a religious vocation say were crucial to their decision to pursue religious life.

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Pray to End Human Trafficking

REFLECTION & PRAYER TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING
January 11 – February 8, 2017

Saint Josephine Bakhita was born in southern Sudan in 1869. As a young girl, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. She was treated brutally by her captors as she was sold and resold. She did not remember her name; Bakhita, which means “fortunate one,” was the name given to her by her kidnappers.

Daily Prayer

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 Saint 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.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, Forever and ever. Amen

2016 – Year of Mercy

Michael Sean Winters, December 29, 2016 | National Catholic Reporter

In the life of the church, 2016 mostly coincided with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which officially began in late 2015 and concluded on the feast of Christ the King last month.

Pope Francis had the idea to not only open the holy doors in the four patriarchal basilicas in Rome, but asked every diocese in the world to designate a special door at the cathedral, and other significant places, through which pilgrims could pass. Bishops around the globe delivered pastoral letters about mercy, and made it the topic of presbyteral convocations, and published essays on the subject of mercy in their diocesan papers.

Francis had powerful assistance from St. Luke, the evangelist, whose Gospel was read throughout the year. Luke’s Gospel has often been called “the Gospel of mercy” and it includes the three great parables of mercy: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost, or prodigal, son. These parables, especially the last, are a hermeneutical key for understanding Francis’ pontificate: He knows that only by recovering a truly evangelical spirit, with the Gospel of mercy at its heart, can the church find new life.

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Pray to End Gun Violence

The Congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours and Bon Secours Health System Support the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend, December 14-18.

Why observe the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath?

It has been nearly 4 years since an individual armed with multiple weapons entered an elementary school in Newtown, CT, and took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults before taking his own life. In 2016 the terrible toll of gun violence continues to march before us in daily newspaper headlines and television news stories. Yet despite impassioned expressions of outrage and sorrow over needless loss of life, and polarizing political rhetoric, Congress has failed to take meaningful steps to address the escalating cycle of gun violence.

The Sisters of Bon Secours, along with the United States Catholic bishops, support policy and legislative measures that promote mercy and peace-building in our communities by implementing reasonable regulations on firearms such as:

  • Requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases
  • Limiting civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines
  • Making gun trafficking a federal crime
  • Improving access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence
  • Promoting restorative justice by passing legislation to support important reentry programs that help people avoid re-offending
  • Improving access to health care and treatment for those with addiction and mental health needs.

We invite you to place an extra “dinner plate” on your dinner table during the National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend (December 14 -18) and pray for victims of gun violence everywhere.

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