The Catholic church in Vietnam has both survived persecution and grown in faith during the past four decades, since the fall of the Saigon government, on April 30, 1975. After the North communist army captured Saigon, the capital of a U.S.-backed South Vietnam, and reunified the country, the Hanoi government confiscated and shut down religious facilities – including schools, hospitals, churches and other properties – and began a program aimed at strictly controlling all religious activities. Since then, slowly, the Hanoi communist-led government has continued to open to the needs of local religious, and formation activities are becoming stronger.
GSR Today - Young people get a lot of flak for being obsessed with their phones, and there’s certainly some merit in that. There are a lot of unhealthy device-driven behaviors. What we can’t forget is that carrying instantaneous access to the world in the palm of your hand is powerful and can do a lot of good. Think about the international organizations that have already been mobilized in Nepal, or the people who were able to “check in” and quickly get news of their conditions to anxious family and friends.
The month-long Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons opens at the United Nations April 27. Sr. Mary Ann McGivern, a member of the Sisters of Loretto who served on her order's Committee for Peace, joined a delegation with Pax Christi in the days leading to the conference. McGivern told CNS her community has proposed that the U.S. enact a unilateral nuclear weapons ban. "We're saying that no matter what the rest of the world does, it's time for the United States to set aside our nuclear weapons," she explained. While it is unlikely that any proposal for quick action on a ban will find its way into the U.N. conference's final report, McGivern said she hopes the idea will begin to percolate among the delegates.
As Global Sisters Report celebrates our one-year anniversary, we are also celebrating the connections we have made with sisters in Africa. While in Kenya in January, I ran two writing workshops for more than 100 sisters. Here is an insightful reflection from one of the sisters who participated. You can read more of sisters' work from these sessions here at the Writing Workshop series page.
From A Nun's Life podcasts - In this Random Nun Clip, we offer advice on how to act like a nun to a college student who is preparing for a role in the play Sister Act; looking into what sisters do – social justice work, life based in Scripture, living in a community – can apply to anyone wanting to understand religious life more.
In my March 12 column, I promised to revisit the creative gender policy approved by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI). This 2010 document has the ambitious goal of integrating gender justice into societal structures at every level of the Indian church, from the parish to the bishops' conference itself. An important objective is "to stimulate reflection in the Church on its mission to form a discipleship of equals," with "the ultimate goal [being] to achieve gender equality."
Global Sisters Report has been online for a year, and we've put together a short video about some of the stories that have been featured on our site. It's a nice summary of the work sisters do. Please feel free to share "Catholic Sisters in Service" with your friends.
Some 183 women and children seeking asylum are held at the Karnes County Residential Center, one of two family detention centers in south Texas operated by companies under contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their plight is drawing increasing attention, fueled on the inside by a hunger strike and fast, and, on the outside, by legal jockeying and a recent visit by the head of ICE. At the heart of the matter are complaints of lengthy stays in prison-like conditions, as well as a question repeatedly posed by activists, attorneys and faith-based organizations.
Benedictine Sr. Angela Hoffman thinks there’s a chance plants and fungi could provide a natural cure for cancer. She hasn’t found anything yet, but as a biochemist and professor at Portland University, she – along with her research students – continues to log hours in the lab looking. Earlier this month, the 2014 Oregon Academy of Science award winner for outstanding higher education in science and mathematics spoke to Global Sisters Report about her work.
Three Stats and a Map - Earlier this month, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication took data it had gathered between 2008 and 2014 and released an interactive map that allows you to see what people in the United States think about climate change. You can sort data by specific opinions (e.g., Will climate change harm me personally? Will global warming harm future generations?) And you can sort the data by U.S. states, congressional districts and counties.
GSR Today - Anniversaries are about asking questions and taking stock. If it’s a relationship: Are we happy? Are we moving forward? Are there more good times than bad? If it’s an undertaking: Is it working? Is it sustainable? Is it worth the trouble? Pretty daunting, this taking stock, especially if it’s Global Sisters Report, which feels to me like an undertaking and a relationship. But today marks GSR’s one-year anniversary.
I was so excited to read an interview in the spring issue of YES! magazine between Ralph Nader and Daniel McCarthy by Sarah van Gelder. When I finished I felt this is an example of exercising contemplative power. Although no spiritual practice was mentioned during the interview, what I read resonated with me. The interview became a container creating a safe space for Nader and McCarthy to explore their differences and their commonalities. These two men behaved in ways that invited something new to emerge.
See for Yourself - Live theater is exciting. Although viewing a play on a movie screen or on TV is entertaining, live theater brings the show to life in a way that can't be captured on film. Recently I had the privilege to be in the pit orchestra for a community production of "Peter Pan." This was the famous 1954 Mary Martin Broadway version.
GSR Today - Migrants are being held hostage by kidnappers at the U.S.-Mexico border; Appalacian coal mining affects all of us in advance of Pope Francis's upcoming encyclical on the environment; and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is taking steps to become active – not just academic – especially in the prevention of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.