Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM
As I write this Christmas message, the United States government prepares for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq and our church struggles for gospel faithfulness upon which its life depends. The question is inescapable: “How do we sing God’s song in a strange land?”
Staying with the question draws me back to the first Christmas and to the place of original hope: the life and spirit of Mary. Mary, too, found herself in a strange land. In a world oppressed by Roman rule and religious legalism, she was invited to bring forth life in an unconventional way. A census, activated by political rulers’ need to count those within their control, initiated the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, a foreign land for Mary. It was in this strange spiritual and geographical land that she gave birth to the life of Jesus, a life that eluded the census count, broke through unjust political and religious boundaries, and dismantled structures that threatened life in its fullness. In the strange land that was hers, Mary found and sang her song, “My soul proclaims the goodness of God.” Her song, resistant to containment, sang justice and peace to birth in her political and religious world.
In the spirit of Mary, we women religious are invited to bring forth life in unconventional ways. We sit in spaces of contemplative prayer, trusting that in this place of communion with all in God, we may be led toward right relationships within our church, with our sisters and brothers all over the world, and with our earth. We initiate and participate in healing circles wherein lay persons, clergy, bishops, women and men religious speak their truth and attend to the truth of every other person at the table. We give voice to our stand. In the strange land that is ours, we are finding and singing our song, “My soul proclaims the goodness of God.” Our song, resistant to containment, sings justice and peace to birth in our political and religious world.
In companionship with our sister Mary and in sisterhood with one another, may we move toward Christmas singing our song with hope, gratitude, and genuine joy.
LCWR Members Report Actions on 2000 Resolution on Welfare
In their table conversations at the 2002 Assembly LCWR members reported on their efforts to implement the 2000 Assembly Resolution to “advocate for legislation to move people out of poverty in the re-authorization of the 1996 welfare act.” These actions are a strong expression of LCWR’s goal to use our corporate voice in solidarity with people who experience poverty.
76 tables reported a variety of advocacy efforts, chief among them lobbying through writing campaigns, faxes, emails and phone calls to influence legislation. 16 tables noted keeping congregational members involved through action alerts. 6 tables mentioned visiting and working with state and federal legislators to promote change.
Initiated/Supported Advocacy Groups
39 tables reported initiating and/or supporting groups that engaged in advocacy, e.g., NETWORK, Project I.R.E.N.E.
54 tables reported educating their congregations and their various publics through motivational presentations, articles, newsletters, websites and witness accounts.
84 tables reported involvement of their congregational members in direct assistance to persons on welfare, e.g. accompanying women through the welfare system, providing Spanish language interpreters, working in literacy programs and job training.
NACPA 2002 Convocation Addresses Management Issues in Times of Change
The annual convocation of the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators (NACPA) took place November 7-9, 2002, in Orlando, FL. Approximately 300 participants listened to human resource, legal and pastoral professionals speak to the theme of “Sandcastles, Changing Tides and Building a Firmer Foundation”.
NACPA offered 15 workshop sessions for motherhouse administrators, diocesan officers and priest personnel departments. The topics ranged from practical parish level strategies, pre-employment screening and compensation systems to stress management and continuing education for clerical and lay employees.
As well, three plenary session speakers presented challenging addresses: Pittsburgh, PA Auxiliary Bishop/Vicar General David A. Zubik (“Learning Through Changing Tides”); Disney Institute’s Chris Caracci (“The Disney approach to Leadership Excellence”) and Kathy Green, RSM (“Living with Balance”). Audio and videotapes of the keynote addresses are available through Veranda Communications, 1-800-473-8273.
Associate Director Eleanor Granger, OSF, NACPA liaison, represented LCWR at the NACPA convocation.
Spaces Still Available for New Leader Workshop
Registation is still possible for the 2003 New Leader Workshop. For additional information, please contact Suzanne Delaney, IHM, at the National Office, email@example.com. All registrations must be postmarked no later than December 31, 2002.
Think Tank VI on Systemic Change
Register now for the sixth annual Think Tank on Systemic Change, February 9 (5:30 p.m.) through February 11, 2003 (noon) in Tampa, Florida. Facilitator Carol Zinn, CSJ, will focus on issues in peacemaking. To register, please use the form in this UPDATE mailing. Final registration deadline is January 6, 2003.
School of the Americas 2002: A Personal Reflection
Editor's notes: LCWR President Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM, attended the November SOA protest and comments below on that experience.
People have been coming to Fort Benning by the thousands for thirteen years to speak and act for peace. In that respect this year was no different. And yet, each year has a distinctive “feel” about it depending on what is going on in our larger world. This year, the SOA occurred in the context of a pending war in Iraq, overwhelming affirmation for the Bush Administration evidenced in the recent mid-term elections, and unanimous support for the UN Security Council resolution. Many of us went because we needed more than ever to speak publicly our voices for peace muted by the current political agenda. And we went because we ached for the company of others who continue to hope that global peace is possible.
Perhaps it was because the “being with” was so essential, but this year it seemed that our presence as women religious was significant in an unusual way both for us and for those with whom we stood. On Saturday night we women religious gathered for a peace vigil in a local Methodist Church. We prayed and sang together, listened to testimonies from women religious who had served and are serving prison sentences for their courage in crossing the line, and blessed those who would cross the next day. Yet, the truest experience of all could not be captured in words: It was just good to be there together.
On Sunday, we walked in procession behind congregational banners. College students present in greater numbers than ever before snapped photos and thanked us for being there, noting that our presence was an inspiration to them. On Monday the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer carried a full-page story under the headline, “At Least Seven Nuns among Those Arrested.” On the next page of the same paper, the headline reads, “Senators Foresee War with Iraq.” Because we were at SOA together as women religious and as sisters with all who act for peace, we hold onto the hope that the college students present there will graduate into a world where there are no more arrests in the cause of peace because war is no more.
Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM
LCWR Days of Contemplation 2002 Monthly Reflection:
Dorothy Jean Beyer,OSB
From the Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict:
“Listen carefully, my daughter, to my instructions, and attend to them
with the ear of your heart.”
“Let peace be your quest and aim.” (Ps. 34)
From Chapter 4:
“Speak the truth with heart and tongue.”
“Never lose hope in God’s mercy.”
Listen! Peace! Truth! Hope! Mercy!
The November issue of Resolutions to Action, “Creating a Culture of Nonviolence,” contained an error; the correct URL for the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between Peoples is http://www.rapprochement.org. This group does excellent work with dialogues and non-violent resistance programs. Information about Israeli soldiers who will defend Israel but refuse to defend Israeli settlers in the Palestinian territories can be found at http://www.yesh-gvul.org/english.html.
For Your Information
Religious Formation Conference Congress 2003 50th Jubilee - A Movement In Hope: A Conversation on the Theology of Religious Life, to be held November 4-9, 2003 at the Sheraton Westport Plaza Chalet, St. Louis , MO. Also RFC workshop - Formative Communities: Discerning And Welcoming New Members with Gerald Arbuckel, SM, May 22-24, 2003, at the Bergamo Center, Dayton, OH. Contact: Religious Formation Conference, 8820 Cameron Street, Silver Spring, MD 20910-4152, 301-588-4938, Fax: 301-585-7649, firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Center for Concern's Education for Justice website provides resources and materials for teachers, social action directors, parish members, campus ministers and others in leadership roles to use with their groups/classes in order to deepen their understanding of Catholic Social Teaching and social justice. Members who subscribe to the web site also have the opportunity to share, dialogue and connect with colleagues across the nation. For imore information, visit www.educationforjustice.org.
The LCWR National Office will close for the Christmas holidays. We will reopen on January 2, 2003.
May the Emmanuel Star illuminate your path as
on that first Christmas day...
Blessings at Christmas
and best wishes for the New Year
from the National Office and National Board of LCWR