No surprise: Sisters are everywhere doing all kinds of work

The breadth and depth of the work women religious do to address social issues comes as little surprise to the staff members of Global Sisters Report.

"There's no issue that I've started to write about that sisters haven't been involved in," says Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, GSR staff writer and author of the four-part series on America's prisons that we are publishing this week.

Dawn, who is one of GSR's first staffers, explains that she used to get her story ideas from sisters and their ministries. While that is still fertile ground for story ideas, she's started to approach stories from the opposite tactic, linking broader themes by focusing on an issue and finding sisters involved with it.

This week, in her four-part series, she tackles the U.S. prison system, mass incarceration and the racism behind it. She found sisters involved in every aspect of prison ministry: sisters who meet with legislators to advocate for policy changes, sisters who work with inmates to assure them of their worth as human beings (today's installment), sisters who work with inmates who have just been released to help them avoid returning to prison (Part 3, to be published Wednesday) and those hopeful that the system can improve (Part 4, to be published Thursday).

The difference that sisters make in the lives of so many also is highlighted in a recent Kansas City, Missouri, Star article "The sisters of Troost." Throughout the area — indeed, the world — sisters work with the poor, the marginalized, the imprisoned. After the Second Vatican Council, "the new mission was to go into the larger world and find the impoverished and oppressed of all faiths or no faith. Serve the poor, feed the hungry, work for social justice."

To answer that call, the article notes, sisters have marched in protests, established food pantries, and worked in prison ministries and transition programs like Journey to New Life. Through programs like The Justice Project, they reach out to help women who would otherwise be marginalized and stigmatized.

And another recent story by Catholic News Service highlighted a program, Ministry on the Margins, founded by a sister in North Dakota to help those recently released from prison, struggling with addiction or other crises.

We applaud the attention these articles give to women religious and the work they do. For more of that coverage, come back to Global Sisters Report every day.

[Gail DeGeorge is editor of Global Sisters Report. Her email address is gdegeorge@ncronline.org.]

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