Returning to El Salvador: Two Sisters of Providence look forward to Romero beatification

Archbishop Óscar Romero was shot to death as he said Mass March 24, 1980 after he exhorted Salvadoran soldiers to disobey their superiors if they were ordered to attack innocent civilians. The Salvadoran civil war would eventually claim some 75,000 lives. More than 250,000 people are expected for Romero’s beatification ceremony on Saturday, May 23, in the Plaza of the Savior of the World in El Salvador’s capital city, San Salvador. Among them will be two Sisters of Providence, Sr. Vilma Franco and Sr. Ana Orellana-Gamero, now living in the United States who are honoring family members they lost during the brutal civil war, as well as Romero.

American nun group questions whether LCWR oversight is truly over

After the Leadership Conference of Women Religious broke its silence Friday regarding the end of the controversial Vatican oversight of the group, some sisters also still have lingering questions. For the National Coalition of American Nuns, a progressive 300-member grassroots organization focused on church and social justice issues, the major question is this: At what price has this resolution been achieved?

"God has filled us with laughter and music."

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Q & A with Sr. Josephine Anna Tran Thi Hien

More than two decades ago, Van Kieu ethnic minority villagers in the Dakrong District of Quang Tri Province, central Vietnam, traditionally buried babies alive together with their dead mothers as they believed the babies could be breastfed in the afterlife. They observed the custom of leaving dead bodies in forests at sunset and then running home for fear that the souls of the dead would follow them and cause more suffering. They also followed the practice of marriage between close kin as “connecting the family line.” Now they have abandoned these outdated customs, thanks to Sr. Josephine Anna Tran Thi Hien of the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Hue, who has saved more than 100 children from these practices.

Nepal authorities try to block Missionaries of Charity delivering aid

Members of the Missionaries of Charity had to spend more than two hours waiting at police headquarters for clearance before they could deliver food, blankets and other promised relief to earthquake victims in a remote mountainous area of Nepal. The group of six sisters, eight brothers and about six volunteers had asked for police accompaniment on their May 16 mission because, on an earlier trip, they had been accosted by looters while carrying aid to people trapped in the mountains overlooking Kathmandu Valley.

Hospitality houses offer works of mercy to immigrants in limbo

The House for Men and a House for Families at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago’s Hyde Park opened May 1, 2014. Each is now home to about a dozen people either waiting for final permission to stay in the United States or who do have permission and are learning how to live here – getting training or going to school, finding jobs and saving money for somewhere to live. They are a ministry of Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants, which was formed in 2007 by two Sisters of Mercy, Sr. JoAnn Persch and Sr. Pat Murphy.

The struggle to ban the bomb

As part of the Loretto Committee for Peace I attended the Peace & Planet people’s mobilization weekend April 24-25 and the first few days of the U.N. Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Since 1978 the Loretto Community, sisters and co-members, has formally opposed the production and use of nuclear weapons – even as deterrence. Our committee is proposing to our Loretto Assembly this summer that we call for the U.S. to unilaterally disarm all nuclear weapons.

Seeding a transformed future

Last month I returned from my first visit to India. I was invited to lead a week's workshop on “Earth Democracy: Defending the Rights of People and Mother Earth” with Dr. Vandana Shiva and her sister Dr. Mira Shiva, a physician and leader in public health. The course took place at the Navdanya Biodiversity Learning Center at Bija Vidapeeth University in Dehradun, India.

LCWR observers see a model for the wider church

It’s been a month since the Vatican quietly ended its controversial oversight of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. With no press conference and little fanfare, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and LCWR issued a joint statement on April 16 announcing the fulfillment of the 2012 mandate for LCWR reform. And then they went silent.
Additional coverage: Q & A with Sr. Sharon Holland; LCWR evaluates end of mandate by GSR LCWR statements about doctrinal assessment, 2009-2015 Timeline of LCWR / CDF interactions 2008-present by NCR

Don't boil the ocean

See for Yourself - The other day I was engaged in an exuberant conversation with a friend. Our topic was how we preserved our shoes. It might as well have been about how a bill becomes a law, as exciting as that probably sounds. She took a relatively brief approach, saying things like she isn't hard on shoes but instead her shoes last forever. 

In person or with radio, Italian nun accompanies South Sudan's displaced

When the shooting stops, it's eerily silent in Malakal. The quarter million people who once lived here have dispersed to other cities or countries, or to the nearby U.N. base where they live behind barbed wire and heavily armed blue-helmeted soldiers, or to simply living in the bush, trying to stay out of the path of the several armed groups ravaging the countryside. Yet amid the silence a small voice once again speaks. The "Voice of Love" radio station is part of the Catholic Radio Network. The Malakal station – which is also heard in the war-torn Nuba Mountains of Sudan – stays on the air because Italian Comboni Sr. Elena Balatti refuses to let it be quieted.