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.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

An update from Ann Scholz . . .

Dear Friends,

Once again, an update from Ann Scholz, Associate Director for Social Mission, Leadership Conference of Women Religious and action regarding Dreamers. 

1.. Dreamers have not given up and neither will we! Protect Dreamers by supporting the USA Act of 2017 and the DREAM Act of 2017. It’s time to ask our U.S. Representatives to Support HR 4796: The USA Act of 2017, and HR 3440: The DREAM Act of 2017 and to demand a vote in the House—NOW!  Without a legislative solution, Dreamers' futures remain uncertain and they live in constant fear of deportation. Congress should take action to protect these extraordinary young people--NOW. H.R. 4796, the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2017 was introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) in the House of Representatives and has more than 50 bipartisan co-sponsors. The USA Act would protect and provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship as long as they satisfy residency, age and education, military or employment requirements. Additionally, H.R. 4796 augments border security with the use of new technology rather than a wall; seeks to address root causes of migration from Central America; and increases staffing resources for immigration courts to carry out their work.

H.R. 3440, the Dream Act of 2017 was introduced by Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL). The bill would allow permanent residence  and a path to citizenship  for children of undocumented immigrants if they came to this country as children, get a high school degree or GED, pass a background check and English proficiency test, and have no criminal record.

The U.S. Bishops support both the Dream Act and the USA Act.  The Dream Act remains the ideal legislative solution. And while the USA Act can still be improved upon, as written it is a compromise bill that provides a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers and offers proportionate border security measures. We are urging the House of Representatives to urgently move forward these pieces of legislation. 

Send your letter in support for the USA Act and the Dream Act and urge legislative action today! 

2. Second notice from Ann Scholz, Associate Director for Social Mission Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  Please take some time to read them and to take action.
The House Agriculture Committee has passed a farm bill that could force a million people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). SNAP helps more than 40 million people put food on the table and prevent hunger.

Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask her or him to oppose the House Farm Bill, H.R. 2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to your Representative. 

The House farm bill makes existing work requirements for SNAP even harsher. Individuals would have just a month to find a job or enter a qualified job training program before they lose SNAP benefits. And every month they must prove they are working the required amount.  Work is important, but SNAP is not a jobs program. It is an anti-hunger program, and it is extremely effective.

If Congress is serious about getting more people into the workforce, raising wages, and creating jobs, then it should look to invest in existing workforce programs, programs Congress has been cutting for years. Instead, this bill creates a huge new bureaucracy that states must implement with woefully insufficient funding. 

Individuals hit hardest by this bill are people with disabilities, low-income working parents, seniors, and individuals with serious barriers to employment. We believe all are created in the image of God and that each person has the right to live a life of dignity with access to basic necessities. 

The bill will next go to the floor for a vote before the full House of Representatives. Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask her or him to oppose the House Farm Bill, H.R. 2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to your Representative. 

We urge you to make your voice heard and fill out this send a message that lets the House know of your support for the USA Act and the Dream Act and the for need legislative action NOW.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Hosts Third Annual Earth Fair Day

The Sisters of St. Agnes hosted the Third Annual Earth Fair Day at the motherhouse last April 22, 2018 . The presenters include LWQIA, Fair Trade Tpws USA, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light, Open Circle Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Wisconsin Green Muslims, St. Mary's Springs Academy, Fond du Lac Wastewater Treatment and Resource Recovery Facility, SSM-Agnesian Healthcare, and Farm2Table Co-op and Cafe. John and Jean McDowell brought their electric bike. The event was graced with a raffle, a schedule of trips to the CSA woods and presentations on water and solar energy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CSA Celebrates Earth Day

Earth Day Podcast
In observance of International Earth Day, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes will host their third annual Earth Day Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, in Founders Hall, at 320 County Road K, in Fond du Lac. 

Nationally, the theme is “End Plastic Pollution”; however, there will be a variety of Earth friendly topics presented in booths and tours. Wisconsin Green Muslims will provide information on their new initiative, "Faithful Rainwater Harvesting” and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will have a booth for the first time featuring their bio digester. New this year an electric bike will be on display.

Once again tours of CSA’s solar panels will be offered as well as easy walks through the convent grounds’ woods and prairie land that include the Niagara Escarpment. Invasive species have been removed from the woods and hard woods native to the area are being planted.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Meet the New Adelante Mujer Doctors

These nine remarkable woman graduated from URACCAN University on Feb. 24, 2018. We now have a total of thirty-one doctors who were supported by your donations and are now working as doctors in that region. These doctors received your support, through Adelante Mujer, between one to four years during their studies. All nine have now begun their internships at the local hospital and clinics.

One of the students received funding every semester since 2014. That means she was able to maintain an 80% GPA. 

As I’ve often said, life is difficult there. Each of these women has faced her own unique and difficult challenges. These are just a couple of the difficulties they faced: One student was forced to withdraw from the program for a couple semesters while she recovered from heart problems. She returned and is now a doctor. 

One applied to Adelante Mujer several times, but her grades always disqualified her. When she finally got a small cellphone to use for study, she earned the required GPA and became an Adelante Mujer student who is now an Adelante Mujer doctor. 

Thank you once again fellow donors. Your donations are making a huge difference in the lives of many people on the east coast of Nicaragua.

                                                                                Rita Thomas ~ Board Member ~ April 2018

Friday, April 6, 2018

Act Now to Protect SNAP recipients. Comments by MONDAY, April 9
If the government can give a huge tax break to the top 1%, then it must protect benefits for those most in need. 

You may know that SNAP is America’s largest and most effective food assistance program. 

But the Trump administration wants to weaken it. They’re considering a rule that would impose even stricter limits on the amount of time childless adults – i.e., adults not raising minor children – can receive SNAP benefits. These limits could result in an end to food assistance for hundreds of thousands of Americans. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the agency considering a new rule to make it harder for states to exempt these adults from a stringent time limit – only three months of benefits in three years – if they cannot show they are working enough hours. It is accepting comments from the public for four more days – the deadline for submitting comments is Monday, April 9. 

With the help of our friends over at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Feeding America, and the Food Research & Action Center, we’ve put together a page on our website tailored to help you take action. This page contains very simple and straightforward instructions for submitting your comments to the USDA. You’ll find a variety of template texts you can personalize. It’s easy - and very much needed. 

As recently as 2016, SNAP lifted 3.6 million Americans out of poverty. We need to tell the Trump administration, and those who won’t stand up to him, that food assistance matters. There’s no place for hunger in our America.

Please. Take action now. 

Thank you for all that you do.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Shareholders Committed to the Rights of Immigrants

ICCR and SGI: Shareholders Committed to the Rights of Immigrants

Four SGI members participated in ICCR‘s Spring Conference: Sister Ruth Battaglia, C.S.A., Chris Cox, Frank Sherman, and Friar Robert Wotypka, O.F.M., Cap. This post from Sr. Ruth is another report of what we heard and learned at the conference.
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes has a strong connection to immigrant communities and their needs. The congregation was founded in 1885 in response to the faith needs of German immigrants in Wisconsin. When Hmong, who were allies of the United States in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and later stages of the Laotian Civil War, started seeking asylum as political refugees after the communist takeover in both nations in 1975, the Sisters of St. Agnes were instrumental in welcoming them and helping them resettle in Fond du Lac, WI. Today, sisters in Arizona provide legal aid and other forms of assistance to the immigrant population along the Naco border with Mexico. Recently the congregation has been advocating on behalf of Dreamers and for a just US immigration policy. They are pleased to join ICCR’s effort to invite companies to look at their policies and practices around immigration.
ICCR believes that just and equitable immigration policies are critical to a stable and prosperous business environment and will promote sustainable communities. At its recent conference in New York, an ICCR session was devoted to the topic of immigration. While some companies claim that immigration does not affect them, they need only look down their supply chain to discover how immigration impacts them. They also will discover that immigrants are very vulnerable to injustices.
In engagement with companies on immigration investors must ask:
  • Who is responsible for corporate risk oversight on labor/immigration issues?
  • What risks face immigrant workers? Are all workers covered by company policies on worker health and safety, fair wages, benefits? Do workers have a way to report grievances without fear of retaliation?
  • How does the company assess engagement with the community when it hires immigrant labor, addressing fears, reducing tensions? How does it relate to ICE? If the number of immigrants decline, where will the company look for qualified employees?
  • What are the company’s public policy positions on immigration? Does it publicly support comprehensive immigration reform? Is it supportive of the “Agricultural Worker Program Act” which was introduced in Congress to provide a path to lawful permanent residency for agricultural workers?
One breakout group grappled with guidelines for companies that rely on immigrants in the workforce (beauty, agriculture, textiles, farm-workers) asking them to prohibit passport retention, exactment of fees, harassment and discrimination. Also, the group suggested asking companies to provide contracts and to grant the right to assemble and to bargain collectively. Another group asked, “What is the role of investors in tech companies and airlines who are involved in immigrant surveillance?” And another dealt with the question “Who finances the harm?” Can the financial sector engage in pro-immigrant practices?
It was evident that this newer area of endeavor for ICCR, while complex and involving hard work, was well received by conference attendees ready to accept the challenge of engagement with companies on behalf of immigrants. In accord with a strong theme of the conference, it would be a collaborative effort with immigrants whose voices and experience would shape the efforts.
In February Seventh Generation hosted a very informative webinar, Immigration and the Shareholder. Check it out.
Sister Ruth Battaglia is the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Coordinator for the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes.