Category Archives: Sister Spirit

Reflection: A Kaleidoscope of Faces for the First Day

Reflection: A Kaleidoscope of Faces for the First Day

Sister Michele Morek, OSU
October 9, 2018

This post originally appeared on the Global Sisters Report website. 

Christine, the pastry chef at Homeboy Industries, helps us bake cookies Oct. 8 (GSR photo / Michele Morek)


Jesuit Fr. Greg Boyle’s “awards wall” does not feature his numerous awards, trophies and citations he has won for his work as founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.

It was really an honor to meet Janet, a former client but now newlywed and a certified social worker at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the Nuns on the Bus’s first site visit of the 2018 tour. (Provided photo)

The wall is full of pictures of his success stories: the men and women who have been saved from a return to a life of crime or jail by his programs, which offer jobs, training, counseling and education.

The visit to Homeboy Industries was one of the site visits the Nuns on the Bus are making to listen to people all across the United States — from Los Angeles to West Pam Beach, Florida — to see how U.S. tax policies are affecting them.

As impressive as the work they are doing is, it is the faces we will remember: Christine, the pastry chef who let us “help” on the afternoon batch of cookies (ours did not meet quality control standards because of size variation, so we had to eat them); George, the former homeboy who in his new role as security guard took pride in showing us around; Janet and Boris, who met and married after successful completion of the program.

Other highlights of the day include the happy faces of the waiting crowds, like the lady wearing an “I’m with the nuns” T-shirt and GSR freelancer Heather Adams, who wrote about the opening event.

George shows us around Fr. Greg Boyle’s office at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles on Oct. 8. (GSR photo / Michele Morek)

Now, would you like a tour of the bus before we get too many days down the road? This bus is a Cadillac that came “wrapped” (with its decoration) from Nashville, Tennessee. Our driver came from Nashville, too; he drove the bus to LA to pick us up. Meet Glenn Childress, driver of celebrities, including many country-music stars, actors and politicians. He has driven buses for Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton and spent six months with Barack Obama.

He’s driving the biggest bus I have ever seen, 45 feet and an imposing presence on the road. Inside, it has a back workroom where most of the sisters hang out, working on blogs and tweets. The staff room is in the front, and both sections have Wi-Fi and electrical connections. In the center, there is a fully equipped kitchen and restroom.

Sisters and staff use the back of the bus as workroom and living area. (GSR photo / Michele Morek)

But here’s what you have been wanting to know: the Nuns on the Bus! We are 10: Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell of Washington, D.C.; Social Service Sr. Chris Machado of Encino, California; Dominican Sr. Quincy Howard of Washington, D.C.; Dominican Sr. Bernadine Karge of Chicago; Dominican Sr. Reg McKillip of Madison, Wisconsin; Dominican Sr. Dusty Farnan of Milwaukee; St. Joseph Sr. Phyllis Tierney of Rochester, N.Y.; St. Joseph Sr. Julie Fertsch of Philadelphia; Daughter of Charity Sr. Mary Ellen Lacy of Washington, D.C.; and me, Ursuline Sr. Michele Morek of Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

We are staffed (assisted, bossed, waited on and shamelessly spoiled) by seven Network staff members on board, some permanent staff, some temporary.

Left: It was fun to meet a fan of Nuns on the Bus at the Santa Monica beachfront at our Oct. 8 kickoff event. Right: Glenn Childress of Nashville, Tennessee, has a lot of miles under his belt and will be our driver all the way to the end of the route at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida. (GSR photos / Michele Morek)

So much to share, so hard to fit in the time to do it! I wrote this at 3:45 a.m. (my body is still in the Central time zone) and am trying to type it on a bouncy bus heading for a 3 p.m. appointment in Las Vegas. This morning, after prayer and breakfast, we also accepted an award from U.S. Rep. Lou Correa from Orange, California, and led a rally outside the local offices of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters. So keep us in your prayers as we carry you with us in our big bus!



[Ursuline Sr. Michele Morek is Global Sisters Report’s liaison to sisters in North America. Her email address is Follow her on Twitter: @MicheleMorek.]

Getting to Know Younger Sisters in Their Own Words

Getting to Know Younger Sisters in Their Own Words

Sister Susan Francois, CSJP and Meg Olson
August, 28 2018

In Our Own Words: Religious Life in a Changing World is a collection of essays written by 13 younger women religious about the issues central to religious life today, ranging from vows and community life to ministries and leadership. The book was written over 4 months, with the authors meeting over video chat, forming a community, and writing on their own. Then, they came together for a week-long retreat where they work-shopped their essays.

I had the opportunity to attend a book reading and panel discussion moderated by one of the editors, Juliet Mousseau, RMCJ, and featuring four of the contributing authors, including a member of our 2016 Nuns on the Bus trip, Susan Rose Francois, CSJP. I was so moved and curious about the writing process that I needed to ask Susan a few more questions!

Meg: Why did you decide to say “yes” to the editors Juliet Mousseau and Sarah Kohles and participate in this writing project?

Susan: For years, I had been saying that it was up to us, the newer generation, to write the next chapter of religious life, literally write it.  So much of recent writing about religious life explores the life in relation to the changes after Vatican II, or as Juliet says, in relation to what it is not.  For those of us born years or even decades after Vatican II, it felt like we needed an updated take on the core issues of our life, such as vows, charism and mission, community, and leadership.  In the end, since I had been encouraging others to write, when Juliet and Sarah invited me to participate, I felt had to say yes.

Meg: Tell us about your chapter, “Religious Life in a Time of Fog.”

Susan: The title was inspired by Sister Nancy Farrell, OSF who spoke at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) assembly a few years ago about our time in history and in religious life.  She talked about this time as one where breakdown and breakthrough tussle with one another and the path forward is hidden in fog.  It certainly feels like that in the civic space these days, but also in religious life.  We keep saying that things will look different in the future, but I want to know how we get there. So, I look at the tremendous needs of the world at this time for things like peace, mercy, charity, and justice.  How are Catholic sisters being called to respond in this time of fog?  I believe that we are being called to de-commission the large-scale structures of religious life, both physical structures, but also how we organize our lives together, and recommission ourselves as critical yeast in a world yearning for our charism, witness, and presence.

Meg: What did you learn about women religious during this project? Did anything surprise you?

Susan: We had a lot of fun together. We shared deeply and found common ground so quickly, even though some of us had never even met.  We love our sisters in community and believe in the future of religious life. If anything surprised me, I guess it was the realization that what we hold in common as women of the Gospel is so much bigger than any differences, whether it be cultural or whether our community members wear a habit. No matter our congregation or leadership conference, we are sisters.

Meg: What is something that the NETWORK community should understand about this new generation of sisters under 50?

Susan: Collaboration and networking come natural to us.  Because there are fewer of us in individual congregations, we have been building peer relationships across congregational lines since the very beginning of our religious lives.  We also build networks outside of religious life, through our ministries, advocacy, and other connections. I think this experience will serve religious life, advocacy work, and the church well into the future.

Order the book at:

Susan Rose Francois is a member of the Congregation Leadership Team for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.  She was a Bernardin scholar at Catholic Theological Union and a Nun on the Bus in 2016.  She has ministered as a justice educator and advocate. Follow her on Twitter at @susanfrancois.

Meg Olson is NETWORK’s Grassroots Mobilization Manager.

Originally published in Connection Magazine. Read the full issue here.

Sister Kathy Flynn: Don’t Assume the Poor and Hungry Aren’t Working

Don’t Assume the Poor and Hungry Aren’t Working

Sister Kathy Flynn
August 19, 2018

I’m a native Iowan and a Catholic Dominican Sister. I minister at Opening Doors, a program in Dubuque that welcomes women who experience homelessness and who seek our help as they rebuild their lives.

We work with them to find employment, pursue educational goals, and develop other life skills.

The women I work with can’t become self-sufficient if access to food is taken away from them and their children. That is why I am urging U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst to reject the House version of the Farm Bill, which cuts access to nutritional food.

In September 2018, the Farm Bill, which funds Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), expires and will need to be reauthorized. Both the House and Senate have created new versions of the Farm Bill, and now they have to reconcile them.

While the partisan House bill hurts families by cutting SNAP, the bipartisan Senate bill keeps SNAP safe and ensures that the women I work with will be able to eat and feed their children.

Sen. Ernst was appointed as one of a small number of Senate conferees on the bill, and she has the power and responsibility to make sure the Senate provisions in the nutrition title are upheld.

I see the “on-the-ground” ramifications of our food policies every day. I see women who desperately want to provide nourishing, healthy meals to their children but often can’t, due to limited resources or other barriers.

I see women without transportation or child care walking a mile to a grocery store and back, or taking an hour-long bus trip with children in tow. Being poor and without resources is simply exhausting!

It is a myth that people in poverty do not work. The vast majority of women who move through transitional housing live at or below the federal poverty threshold and are working — sometimes at two jobs while raising children — consistently trying to overcome barriers that are invisible to many of us.

Low unemployment rates mask the reality that most of the jobs available are low-wage and unpredictable. More than two in five Iowa households receiving SNAP include children. Options for child care and transportation are limited at best. Healing from trauma takes a lot of energy.

Sen. Ernst said the Senate Farm Bill lacked harsh work requirements and “missed an opportunity to help able-bodied SNAP recipients rise up out of poverty.”

Senator, you are wrong.

Most SNAP recipients who can work, already do work. In Iowa, 84 percent of SNAP families have at least one working member. If the 2018 Farm Bill makes it harder for people to eat, it certainly isn’t providing opportunities.

Expanding work requirements and adding unnecessary burdens to access nutrition assistance means more discouraging red tape for millions of Americans already struggling to get by. Insecurity and hardship takes a toll.

These are some of the most resilient people I have been blessed to know, but they deserve help to not go hungry.

The Dominicans are a mendicant order, meaning that for over 800 years we’ve begged — particularly when a just cause is at stake. And so I’m begging Sen. Ernst for a Farm Bill that does not make hunger and poverty worse in this country. Please look to the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill as the right path forward.

The author is a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa, Wis., who is an education/employment case manager at Opening Doors in Dubuque, which ministers to women experiencing homelessness.

Sister Kathy Flynn’s Op-Ed was originally published in the Telegraph Herald. View the original here.

Finding Holiness in the Struggle for Justice

Finding Holiness in the Struggle for Justice

Bearing Witness to the Pain of our Immigrant Family Calls Us to Action

I have shed tears watching the news coverage of ICE raids in work places. I have watched the separation of children, including very young children, from their parents in horror. I have had tears in my eyes as Temporary Protected Status for vulnerable people is ended without regard to the lived realities in these countries. I am shocked as the Republican Party, which always prided itself on being the party of “family values,” sets out with calculated cruelty to tear families apart. In the process, they are tearing the heart out of our nation.

But tears are not enough.

Pope Francis in his recent apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate, challenges us with the insight: “The only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. Can we not realize that this is exactly what Jesus demands of us, when he tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him?” (Paragraph 102).

So how do we stand in the shoes of these immigrants? For some in Chicago it is being part of a prayer ministry for detained immigrants. In New Jersey, just across from New York City, it is providing detained people with basic necessities like stationery, stamps and international phone cards. In southern California, it is in providing parish identification cards and safe havens when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is around. In Minnesota, it is state organizing to provide actual protection for undocumented families. On our southern border, it is leaving water along the paths immigrants travel. In schools, colleges and, universities, it is making education accessible for undocumented children and young adults.

Everyone engaged in these and myriad other ministries is putting themselves in the zapatos (shoes) of the immigrant.

As I don’t spend my time doing this direct work, I sometimes wonder how am I putting myself in these sacred shoes? I am lead once again to the crying need for systemic change in our immigration policy. Our nation is being torn apart. Our values are being trampled. Our people are being hurt.

A couple of weeks ago, a mother told me that her first grade son came home extremely worried. He feared that his parents would not be there for him when he came home from school. He and his pals at school were talking about what had happened to one of their pal’s parents. His anxiety was high as he blurted out in tears: “It isn’t fair!”

I know that primal cry. It resonates in my being. I want to stand up and say STOP! This is my part – and yours. Together we are called as the NETWORK community to lobby Congress to change these unjust laws. But it isn’t just our own members of Congress that need to hear from us. We can get our friends around the country to contact their members of Congress too. We need to be missionaries of the common good for our family members who are suffering.

If we are going to reclaim our country, we must act according to our faith values. We will put ourselves in the shoes of those seeking our help and do all in our power to change these unjust laws. I commit to you that I will not step back from the fray even when my heart is broken and I want to flee. Will you act with me in the face of this mounting horror?

It is in this struggle that we might come to know the holiness that Pope Francis talks about. He tells us that it is marked by perseverance, joy, passion and boldness, community and constant prayer. Let us continue our advocacy, knowing that in our time this is the Gospel path. Let us respond together to the invitation: Come Follow Me!

Originally published in Connection Magazine. Read the full issue here.

Choosing Engagement over Alienation

Choosing Engagement over Alienation

Sister Mary Ellen Lacy
July 6, 2018

The other day, my NETWORK colleagues, sisters and other women of faith attended a prayer vigil in front of the Customs and Border Patrol Building in Washington, D.C.  We were there to pray for a conversion of hearts for those who peel crying children from their mothers in the name of justice, or worse, in the name of God. There were stirring testimonies, prayers and songs sent to heaven on behalf of the little ones. I cannot think about this situation without fighting back my own tears of pain and anger.

When it was over, we decided to take an Uber home. The Uber driver was an affable older man who sported a leather cowboy hat and greeted us with a heartfelt smile. After we were loaded up, we had to wait because the President’s motorcade was driving by. The Uber driver then shared with us that he was a ‘Trump Supporter’ and that children have been taken at the border for 12 years.  He wondered aloud, “why do people blame ‘the poor guy’ [Trump] for everything when he only does the same as all the rest before him?”

In these scary times, people who have opposing opinions may seem evil and perhaps we see them as an enemy to our basic notion of being a Christian or American. Often, out of anger and fear, we marginalize them and deport them from our hearts.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that, in order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self. There may be something within you that arouses a tragic hate response to the other individual. So, we must examine ourselves.  Once we remove the plank from our own eye, as needed, we should remember that even the person who hates us most has some good in him, some of God in him. Thirdly, if we get the opportunity to devour our enemy, we should not take it.

My instinct was to scream when I heard the oft repeated ‘Somebody else did it too’ defense.  Instead, I offered that in the past it was not done for the same reasons or to the degree it is being done today. He seemed a little unnerved and his voice became strained and louder. Clearly, I had struck a chord. He repeatedly told me to ‘check the facts’ as he defended the new policy. I offered my personal experience at the border to counter his impression to no avail. It occurred to me, although we did, indeed, have the facts,  that was not going to change his heart. We did not need to embarrass him or prove him wrong because that was equally unhelpful.  At this point, one of my companions awkwardly tried to change the subject.

We got quiet for a moment. I questioned whether I had unnecessarily provoked the angry response.  However, the need for engagement, speaking up in our daily lives and transformational conversations with those of differing opinions beckoned me to attempt communion with this man. Protests and vigils have impact but real transformation calls us to remain in the uncomfortable conversation. Besides, this was a nice man who merely thought differently than I did. I should be able to talk with him. If we want the suffering of our sisters and brothers to end, we must be able to talk with each other. After all, God made me and God made him. We always have that much in common with another person.

So, allowing for the possibility that he had a piece of the truth, I asked him what he had hoped would happen in this situation? He relaxed his delivery but he still believed that immigrants should ‘go home’ and come back legally. His heart softened as he entered into a dialog with us and released the angry rhetoric he first presented to us. A few minutes into this more humble exchange, he came to admit that separating kids from their parents is a bad thing. By the end of the ride, he shared other political views that we could own, too. He even conceded a tax/budget issue to my companion and said he enjoyed our conversation.

When faced with the opportunity to deport this man from our hearts and devour him with facts, we chose to welcome the God within him and he responded in kind. I was grateful for our conversation because it reinforces to me that, if we can be generous to each other on the ground, and we elect leaders who mirror our values, then we have a chance of changing Congress.

Let us model the community and courageousness we hope to see in the halls of Congress.

Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, DC, is a NETWORK Grassroots Mobilization Fellow.

New Ways Ministry’s Work for LGBTQ Equality

New Ways Ministry’s Work for LGBTQ Equality

Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL
June 28, 2018

NETWORK is thrilled to celebrate Pride Month with New Ways Ministry. In the Catholic world, we often find that members of the LGBTQ+ community are not recognized or affirmed. We know that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities have human dignity and we are called to treat all with love and respect. We applaud New Ways Ministry and their work as a Catholic organization to “promote the acceptance of LGBT people as full and equal members of church and society.”

The Catholic movement for LGBT equality has reached a point I had never dreamed possible when I first became involved with the LGBT community almost 50 years ago.With Pope Francis’s examples of openness and dialogue, and his encouragement of pastoral accompaniment, I have seen many church leaders and institutions willing to welcome LGBT Catholics to their rightful place in the faith community.

New Ways Ministry has been cataloguing the development of LGBT-friendly Catholic parishes for about two decades. In the last year or so, we have seen a significant increase in the number of faith communities who have adopted some form of public affirmation of LGBT people. Some parishes even have full-blown LGBT ministries of education, spiritual development, and personal support.

On Catholic college campuses, the growth in LGBT equality has been even greater. Schools are establishing gender-neutral bathrooms and dorm policies. Courses in LGBT history, theology, and spirituality are increasing. LGBT faculty members are receiving employment benefits for their spouses. Most importantly, young students are leading the way with calls for greater inclusion for LGBT people.

This tremendous growth is certainly a blessing to be treasured, but we mustn’t be swayed to think that all the work has been done. New Ways Ministry has been involved in working to end the terrible scourge of unjust firings of LGBT people who work at Catholic institutions. We are encouraging parishes, schools, and religious congregations to adopt employment non-discrimination policies regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status.

Internationally, we are involved in developing the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics (GNRC), a coalition of Catholic LGBT organizations and ministries from around the world. At the top of the GNRC agenda is raising awareness about many countries around the globe that are adopting laws that criminalize LGBT people, who not only face arrests, imprisonment, and torture at the hands of government officials, but also experience violence and terror from their fellow citizens. New Ways Ministry and the GNRC are trying to get Catholic leaders to speak out against these horrendous human rights abuses.

Within our own church, New Ways Ministry is working to promote support for lesbian nuns and gay priests, brothers, and deacons. We have been sponsoring gatherings for these individuals with leaders of religious communities and with formation/vocation personnel.

Finally, although New Ways Ministry has had the support of thousands of Catholics over the last few decades, there have been none more generous, courageous, and consistent than the communities of women religious. It is not an exaggeration to say that we would not be in existence today if it were not for the support of the nuns.

Yes, the Catholic LGBT movement has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

Jeannine Gramick, SL is a Sister of Loretto and a co-founder of New Ways Ministry.

Arrest a Nun, Not a Dreamer

“Arrest a Nun, Not a Dreamer”

Mary Cunningham
April 25, 2018

Catholic sisters held these signs as they gathered with around 200 other advocates during the National Catholic Day of Action with Dreamers on February 27, 2018. Members of the Catholic community met on Capitol Hill to demand a legislative solution from Congress for the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients who face uncertainty about their legal status in the United States. PICO National Network organized the day of events along with Catholic organizations including: Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., Franciscan Action Network, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Pax Christi USA, and NETWORK.

The event highlighted Dreamers’ precarious position and called on advocates and people of faith to move towards action. Sister Quincy Howard, OP, a Government Relations Fellow at NETWORK, attended and reflected on the way we are treating Dreamers in this country: “I hope that people’s eyes and hearts can be opened to the suffering of these young people who have done nothing wrong. Dreamers are our teachers, our students, and our neighbors, and our government is currently threatening them with exile from the only home they know.”

The day began with a press conference outside the Capitol building with speeches from Sister JoAnn Persch, RSM, Father Tom Reese, SJ, and others. After the speeches, the attendees recited the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary together. The crowd then moved into the Russell Senate Office Building and those who chose to participate in the civil disobedience formed a circle, singing and praying together in the center of the rotunda. After issuing several warnings, Capitol police arrested around 40 Catholic leaders, many of them women religious.

Sisters participated in the act of civil disobedience because they felt it was a moral imperative and a small sacrifice compared to the lived experience of the Dreamers. Sister Diane Roche, RSCJ, Director of the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation at the Stuart Center in Washington, D.C. said “If there is an issue worth getting arrested for, this is it. This is my first time ever, and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do to stand in solidarity. It is a small enough thing compared to what they are going through.”

The action was a stark reminder that although Dreamers and supporters are organizing and advocating tirelessly, Congress has still failed to pass a legislative solution that will protect them from deportation. Each day that goes by, Dreamers face more uncertainty about their future.

As Sister Ann Scholz, SSND,  LCWR Associate Director for Social Mission and NETWORK Board member, said: “Our mission as Christians is to welcome those who are in need as we would welcome Jesus. So really, we can do no other than be here today to stand with Dreamers and ask our elected officials to provide the welcome that is theirs because they are created in the image of God just as we are.

Originally published in Connection Magazine. Read the full issue here.

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Let’s Change Course Starting This Tax Day

Let’s Change Course Starting This Tax Day

Simone Campbell, SSS
April 17, 2018

I’m usually proud to pay my taxes, but this year is different.

Ordinarily I am glad to contribute to the common good. I’m glad that some of my taxes go to fund food programs and housing programs for so many in our nation who have been excluded from economic prosperity. I delight in paying my taxes to fund the education of the next generation. I am glad to pay my taxes to support critical healthcare for so many in our nation. I still criticize the amount of money going to the military for violence in our world, but I do my part even in that.

I am glad to contribute my part to “forming a more perfect Union.” It is part of my Catholic faith to contribute to the common good. In the past, I have delighted in faithfully, patriotically doing my part.

But this year is different. I am haunted by the fact that this year is the last time that our current tax code will be in effect. The Republican-controlled House, Senate, and White House enacted a new tax code in December 2017. This new code increases our national deficit by $3 trillion dollars by shifting yet more money to corporations and those at the very top of the income scale.

This same dramatic decline in federal revenue is also the excuse that some Republicans, like Speaker Paul Ryan, are already using to explain why the government must cut funding for food to feed hungry children or senior citizens. It is the same excuse that politicians are using to claim our nation cannot afford to provide access to quality, affordable, equitable, accessible health care. It is the same excuse that they are using to say that it is all right if our families don’t have a place to live, because we refuse to invest in affordable housing. Our Republican elected officials are saying it is all right if the income and wealth gap in our nation continues to grow and our low-wage working families continue to suffer.

In short, the Republicans in Congress are proud that they are creating even bigger economic divides in our nation through their skewed tax policy.

But I know that their preference-the-rich policy does not faithfully support our people or our national needs. It fails the Pope Francis test when he says, “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies” (Joy of the Gospel, 203). It fails the Jesus test when he instructs us to love our neighbors. It fails the test of the Hebrew Scriptures that call on us to care for the orphan and the widow.

This tax policy fails any faith test. We as a nation will be judged because of it.

But that is not all. In our diverse society, not all of us are people of faith. But what we do share in common is our founding document of the Constitution. The key is found in the preamble where we assert “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…insure domestic Tranquility…promote the general Welfare.”

This profoundly flawed Republican tax law is undermining our Union. It promotes the welfare of the few over the many. It sows the seeds of social discord by preferencing those who already have so much.

This tax law makes me weep for who we have become as a nation. We are failing our people. President Franklin Roosevelt said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

This Tax Day, let us resolve to change course. Let us set our sights on the common good, not individual wealth. Let us as a nation raise reasonable revenue for responsible programs. This is what will make America great again.

Originally published at

Family Reunification is the Heart of Immigration

Family Reunification is the Heart of Immigration

Sister Bernadine Karge, OP
February 22, 2018

May I share the immigration story of the Gomez* Family whom I met more than 13 years ago?

Mr. Gomez* had come to the United States in the early 1980’s to work to support his wife, and children in Mexico. When the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) went into effect in 1987, Mr. Gomez applied for temporary resident status during the one year application time. He successfully proved that he had entered the U.S. without documents, lived here without documents since 1/1/82, had provided for himself, paid taxes and was a person of good moral character. After the required time as a temporary resident, he became a permanent resident in 1992. One aspect of the 1986 law was that there were no derivative beneficiaries. This means a spouse could not bring in his or her spouse and minor unmarried children into the country as permanent residents when she or he recieved a “green card.”

However, as a permanent resident Mr. Gomez could and did file a petition to bring his wife and unmarried children in 1992. So Mr. Gomez was living legally in the U.S. and his wife and three kids were living in Mexico. What would you do? Leave your wife and kids in another country or bring them here? The latter, no doubt, which is what the Gomez family did-reunite the family. The children attended school here in the U.S. and the sons began working with their dad in the factory when they were old enough.

When I first met the family, in 2005, their number in the second preference visa category was not current. They patiently waited in line for a visa number to become available. Two years later in July 2007, their number became available, but the older son was over 21. Would he be able to immigrate with his mother as a derivative along with his younger brother and sister? Each family member, mom and three kids had to file a separate petition, get a medical examination, do fingerprints and a background check. This cost the family about $5000 in application, medical and biometrics fees before fees increased at the end of July 2007!

In November 2007, the family went for an interview at the immigration office in Chicago. Thanks to the Child Status Protection Act and its intricate formula for protecting “child status” the immigration officer agreed with us that the older son was under 21 for immigration purposes. Mr. Gomez’s wife and the three children were granted permanent resident status at the end of 2007 – 20 years after dad first applied!

The daughter graduated from grade school and high school. She became a U.S. citizen when she turned 18 and graduated from college last June. The sons have married, immigrated their wives and are raising their children in Chicago. Family is the chain that binds us. Family reunification is the foundation of U.S. immigration law.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the family

Sister Bernadine Karge is a Sinsinawa Dominican Sister and a former “Nun on the Bus.”

Sisters Advocate for a Faithful Budget

Sisters Advocate for a Faithful Budget

Catherine Gillette
January 17, 2018

Congress is once again struggling to reach a deal on the federal budget in order to avoid a government shut-down.  With so many important programs and the lives of so many people on the line, NETWORK believes that passing a faithful budget is absolutely essential. And we are not alone in that belief.

This past fall, NETWORK collected nearly a thousand letters written by Catholic sisters to House Speaker Paul Ryan about the federal budget. While the sisters come from different congregations, live in different parts of the country, and work on many different issues, the underlying message of their letters was the same: our federal budget must prioritize programs that help our nation’s most vulnerable people.

In December, Sister Erica Jordan, OP and Sister Ruth Brings, SSSF (both Speaker Ryan’s constituents) flew from Wisconsin to Washington, D.C. to meet with Speaker Ryan’s Deputy Chief of Staff and deliver the letters.  Shortly after they already arrived in D.C., their meeting was abruptly canceled.  They flew back to Wisconsin without being able to share their concerns or the collected letters with Speaker Ryan’s office.

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there.

NETWORK is committed to working with Members of Congress and our partners to ensure that these stories are lifted up and the letters, delivered. We call on Speaker Ryan and the rest of Congress to listen to these faithful voices and pass a faithful budget.

Here are just a few of the voices and issues raised up in the letters we received:

“Tax cuts for the wealthy do not serve the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized.  This year, natural catastrophic storms have devastated and impacted thousands of people.  How will your tax cuts rebuild these lives and communities that we know from past storm experience take 5 to 10 years for full recovery? Will these homeless families truly benefit from your budget plans?” –Sister Roberta Feil, SC

“Catholic Social Justice requires all of us to act as our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers.  One way we can meet the needs of our human family is by ensuring all people have access to quality, affordable healthcare.” –Sister Kathleen Quigley, SC

“I have witnessed first-hand the violent and senseless ripping away of parents from their children by ICE.  These are people who are hard-working and contributing members of our church and communities.  Every family deserves stability and security and children in our nation should not have to live with the fear that their parents could be taken from them at any moment.  I urge you to reject additional funding for border enforcement, including but not limited to building a border wall.  As a nation of immigrants, we are called to welcome the stranger and love our neighbor.” –Sister Sharon Costello, CSJ

“I am asking you to promote a federal budget that is a reflection of the values of the nation and the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.  The federal budget is a moral document that reflects the priorities of the nation.  A budget worthy of this nation must prioritize human needs programs, ensure funding to care for the vulnerable members of society, restore economic opportunities, and invest in the common good.” –Sister Colleen Dauerbach, SSJ

Finally, before leaving Washington, Sisters Erica and Ruth took the time to share their message to Speaker Ryan with us at the NETWORK office. Watch the video below: