Nonviolence . . . Human trafficking . . . Women . . . . The elderly . . . Immigrants' rights . . . Housing. . . Children . . . Prisoners' rights . . . Health care . . . World Hunger . . . Globalization, as it affects Latin America . . . Care of the earth . . . Seamless ethic of life

Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author's and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Nonviolent Social Change For Racial Justice – Engage 3.5% of Population

Sister Sue Seeby, Sybil Teehan and Sister Sally Ann Brickner, from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, traveled to Madison on Saturday, May 21st, for a workshop on racial justice presented by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. The skilled leadership team engaged over 100 persons at the James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church in activities about racial disparity in Wisconsin. The team described Wisconsin’s ranking as the worst state in the nation to raise black children, its high incarceration rate for people of color, the achievement gap between white and black children, etc. WNPJ seeks to transform racial injustice in WI by engaging 3.5% of Wisconsin's population (about 200,000 people) in active and sustained participation to end racism.

Why 3.5%?  Erica Chenoweth, who studied movements of social change over the last two centuries (listen to her Ted Talk), found that if 3.5% of a population engaged in civil resistance political change was inevitable. 3.5% turned out to be a “tipping point” for social transformation. Hence WNPJ has chosen to name its campaign for racial justice in Wisconsin as Racial Justice Tipping Point. 

Fond du Lac’s population in 2016 stands at 43,000 (90% White; 10% People of Color). If 1,230 persons in Fond du Lac were to join WNPJ’s campaign for racial justice, an inevitable and positive change for people of color in Fond du Lac could occur. I believe that this “tipping point” can easily be achieved locally because groups like Ebony Vision, United for Diversity, and the Humanity Project are already committed at some level.

In its statement on Peace and Nonviolence (2002) the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes embraced diversity and committed to eliminate prejudice and discrimination both locally and globally. Therefore, CSA’s Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation will collaborate with WNPJ to reach the 3.5% “tipping point” in WI and thereby create an irreversible movement toward racial justice in Wisconsin. You are welcome to join the Campaign!

Friday, May 20, 2016


When the evening news comes on, hundreds of thousands of people all over the earth are watching it on their TV screens or listening to it on their radios. Disasters and scandals, scientific breakthroughs and crimes of passion, perpetual wars and the perpetual search for peace-people sit there by the millions half dazed by the things that go to create each particular day. Maybe they even try to make some kind of sense of it or, if they're not up to that, at least try to come to some sort of terms with it, try to figure out how it's apt to affect them for good or ill.

There is also, of course, the news that rarely if ever gets into the media at all, and that is the news of each particular day of each particular one of us. That is the news we're so busy making that we seldom get around to sitting down and thinking it over. If it takes some extraordinary turn we might, but the unextraordinary, commonplace events of each day as they come along we tend to let slip by almost unnoticed. That is, to put it mildly, a pity. What we are letting slip by almost unnoticed are the only lives on this planet we're presumably ever going to get.

We're all of us caught up in our own small wars, both hot and cold. We have our crimes and passions, our failures and successes. We make our occasional breakthroughs. God knows we are searching for peace. It's all apt to happen so quietly and on so small a scale we hardly realize it's happening. Only an unanswered letter. A phone conversation. A tone of voice. A chance meeting at the post office. An unexpected lump in the throat. Laughing till we cry. But these things are what it's all about. These things are what we are all about.

 Maybe there's nothing on earth more important for us to do than sit down every evening or so and think it over, try to figure it out if we can, at least try to come to terms with it. The news of our day. Where it is taking us. Where it is taking the people we love. It is, if nothing else, a way of saying our prayers.
                                                       ~originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words

Monday, May 16, 2016

Upgrade - your flight, your technological devices, your auto. Why not your mission?

Dear Sally Ann Brickner, OSF,

Fire was seen by the ancients as one of the four elements – but they were wrong. Fire is not an element – it is a process. Just like wind. Air, oxygen, is an element but wind is a process, a movement.

There is a lot of movement in our lives. Sometimes, though, we need to step back and notice how things have changed. I did that recently when I realized my old smartphone just could not handle the new apps being developed. I had to upgrade my phone.

Within 24 hours of getting a new phone, I explored its new possibilities, had a conversation on engaging young adults in mission, went to a meeting about REPAM – the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network working for the human rights of the indigenous people and the well-being of the Amazon eco-system – and joined a conference call with the Third Wave for Mission Institute.

All of that made me think about Pentecost and mission. Perhaps it is time to let the Spirit blow away – and maybe even burn away – our baggage. Pope Francis certainly stressed the changes in mission – less a place and more of a time.

Isn’t it time to let go of:
  • the shame of colonization;
  • our sins from the second wave and our failure to respond to the call of the Third Wave of Mission;
  • and our criticism of young adults introduced to mission through short term trips?
Recently, Pope Francis called us “heroes of evangelization.” I think of Sr. Dorothy Stang, SND de N. She died advocating for the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest and the global need for this eco-system. Today, the church in Latin American has created a network defined, not by political boundaries, but by an eco-system. The church, the missionary church, is hearing the cry of the poor – both human and environmental. In the words of John Henry Cardinal Newman, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.” Now is the time to:
  • build networks that link sponsored missions with short-term mission trips;
  • engage young people in the social and economic development of indigenous peoples;
  • and welcome the hard questions to make mission more just and more humane.
St. John tells us in today’s Gospel that God will make his “dwelling” in us. Just like the first apostles, we have been given the power and the possibility of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is time for us to upgrade our own sense of mission. The promise of USCMA is that we can do this together. 

Together in Mission, 

Dr. Donald R. McCrabb
Executive Director

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Practicing Sustainability


During the last several months the Congregation has been pondering a corporate stance proposal on Care for Earth. It seems appropriate to offer some suggestions for personal actions that would manifest a commitment to sustainable living. Which of the actions are you already doing? What additional action(s) might you take in your local setting?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Laudato Si’ and evolutionary consciousness

Maryknoll Sister Ann Braudis writes about the aspects of the encyclical of Pope Francis that are in harmony with evolutionary consciousness. Sister Ann holds a doctorate in Applied Cosmic Anthropology from the Asian Social Institute, Philippines, and a Master’s degree in Creation Spirituality from Naropa University, Colorado. The following article was published in the May-June 2016 issue of NewsNotes.

Most of the commentary on Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’  is from the standpoint of its subtitle “Care for our Common Home” and the timeliness of its publication, just weeks before the Paris Climate Talks. Beyond climate change, Laudato Si’ is comprehensive in its description of the environmental breakdown facing the planet. It is honest and transparent in its exhortations and has been hailed as a watershed document. Moreover, it is of highest importance that one of the world’s most significant religious figures stepped before humanity in the exercise of moral leadership on behalf of the entire community of life in this time of undeniable peril.  Click here to read more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Love is the foundation of peace.

Peace has come to mean the time when there aren't any wars or even when there aren't any major wars. Beggars can't be choosers; we'd most of us settle for that. But in Hebrew peace, shalom, means fullness, means having everything you need to be wholly and happily yourself.

One of the titles by which Jesus is known is Prince of Peace, and he used the word himself in what seem at first glance to be two radically contradictory utterances. On one occasion he said to the disciples, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). And later on, the last time they ate together, he said to them, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (John 14:27).

The contradiction is resolved when you realize that, for Jesus, peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle, but the presence of love.
~originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Special Memorial Issue: Daniel Berrigan, S.J.

Consistent Life is sad to report the death of Dan Berrigan April 30, just days before his 95th birthday, from natural causes. At the same time, we celebrate the long life of this effective consistent-life advocate. Most famous for his long-lasting anti-war activism and many books and poetry on peace and social justice, we always knew him as a dear friend. 

Berrigan in the News as a Consistent-Life Advocate 

The historic newspaper article “Retreat Links Activism Against War, Abortion,”  from May 25, 1989, relates how he was arrested in civil disobedience at a military center and then at a hospital performing abortions as part of the same action.

From an article by the National Catholic Reporter on the occasion of Dan turning 89: “Dan's contemplative rhythm of listening and going public puts him in the tradition of the towering prophets . . . who notwithstanding the vast distance in time, have become Dan's mentors and models. Like them, he denounces war, weapons, arms races, corrupt regimes, miscarriages of justice, assaults on human rights, and threats to widows and orphans, the unborn and prisoners.” 

Berrigan Remembrances Include his Consistent Stand        

A lengthy obituary in the National Catholic Reporter says:

"Berrigan received criticism from the political left for his pro-life views. He was a longtime endorser of the 'consistent life ethic,' and he served on the advisory board of Consistent Life, an organization that describes itself as 'committed to the protection of life, which is threatened in today's world by war, abortion, poverty, racism, capital punishment and euthanasia.'
"I have always made it clear," Berrigan said in the America interview, "that I am against everything from war to abortion to euthanasia."

In their obituary on May 1, Crux magazine noted: “Despite his image as a radical lefist, Berrigan was also an outspoken opponent of abortion. During a 1984 talk at a Catholic parish in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Berrigan denounced what he called a ‘theory of allowable murder’ in contemporary society. Christians should have no part in ‘abortion, war, paying taxes for war, or disposing of people on death row or warehousing the aged,’ Berrigan said on that occasion.” 

Crux followed up the next day in a May 2 Crux article on how he embodied the “cultural revolution” of Pope Francis says: “nowhere does Berrigan write his theology more clearly than in the area of the consistent ethic of life. Through his activism and writing, Berrigan was abundantly clear that this consistency meant opposing the 'culture of death' universally on a range of issues as diverse as war, the death penalty, euthanasia, poverty, and abortion. Why? Precisely because he didn’t consider those to be diverse issues at all. They all dealt with killing God’s creatures. That, Berrigan said in the bluntest way possible, is a sin.” 

Quotations from Daniel Berrigan  

Reflections (Amherst, Mass.), vol. 2, no. 4 (Fall 1979), 1-2.

I come to the abortion question by way of a long, long experience with the military and the mainline violence of the culture, expressed in war
. . . So I go from the Pentagon and being arrested there, to the cancer hospital, and then I think of abortion clinics, and I see an "interlocking directorate" of death that binds the whole culture. That is, an unspoken agreement that we will solve our problems by killing people in various ways; a declaration that certain people are expendable, outside the pale. . .  A decent society should no more have an abortion clinic than the Pentagon.” 

Signing an online petition in opposition to Amnesty International’s move to endorse abortion as a “right” in 2007: 

My moral conviction on abortion and the rights of the unborn are more serious than “a point of view" . . .  It's as close to my conscience as war and the death penalty.
From: Consistent Life  

Monday, May 2, 2016

In Memoriam – Rev. Daniel Berrigan, SJ

The world rejoices in the life and witness of Fr. Dan Berrigan, SJ, who demonstrated in word and deed Jesus’ Gospel message of peace and nonviolence. Fr. Berrigan was also a poet, and we lift up now his poem in which he reflected on the moment when the book of his life would be closed. May he rest in peace and may his legacy live on in us.

A Dark Word
As I walk patiently through life
poems follow close –
blind, dumb, agile, my own shadow;
the mind’s dark overflow, the spill of vein
we thought red once but now know, no.

The poem called death
is unwritten yet. Some day will show
the violent last line,
the shadow rise,
a bird of omen

snatch me for its ghost.
And a hand somewhere, purposeful as God’s,
close like two eyes, this book.