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A Voice Reminds  Me

Recently I was at a weekday mass in the chapel of our local Cathedral parish.  There was a woman sitting nearby who has the penchant of speaking in a stage whisper to herself.  At first I wondered whether this would be a distraction during liturgy but alas, it was anything but:  she enhanced the experience for me. 

Before the gospel when the priest said, ‘A reading from the holy gospel according to John’, she whispered ‘Thank you John’.  I thought to myself when was the last time I thought to thank John or God or had an attitude of gratitude for the holy words of Scripture?

During the homily, the celebrant mentioned that we are in the 50 days of Easter.  ‘Fifty days of Easter!’ she exclaimed and later when he mentioned ‘Pentecost’, she also exclaimed in wonder:  ‘Pentecost!’  It caused me to remember that fifty days of Easter and Pentecost are indeed things to be proclaimed and exclaimed rather than listened to passively as I was doing before she spoke.

During the Prayers of the Faithful when the intention was for people who are sick, she whispered ‘That’s me’ and this put a face on those for whom we pray.

I walked out of church that day with an appreciation so much more than usual for the gift of faith.

- Sister Nancy Sullivan, csj


YOU Will Build It - They Will  Come

The rain held off on Thursday, April 18, 2019 as London’s Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) and supporters gathered on YOU’s new 1.1 acre property at 585 Clarke Road, site of the future Housing First Youth Shelter.  Federal Parliamentary Secretary, Adam Vaugh shared the news of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) partnership with YOU and investment in the unique homeless youth housing project.  He made a federal government financial commitment of over 2.96 million for the construction of the YOU Housing First Youth Shelter.

Details about plans for the new thirty bed youth shelter were shared with the assembled crowd by YOU’s tireless Steve Cordes, executive director for over thirty years. Steve explained that the planned shelter will be a safe, secure, inviting place where residents will have private rooms.  They will be off the street in a comfortable environment where they can relax and settle into a routine. Then, the goal of the program will be for the youth to find affordable housing in time, enroll in school, if necessary, and finally attain employment.

Several speakers addressed the assembled group. Kortney, a former homeless woman, now 28 years old and employed in the finance field, spoke of her life experience and her success after becoming involved with YOU.   She emphasized that youth cannot be successful unless they are away from street life and have a safe place to live.  Using herself as an example, she emphasized that the next step must be schooling, finding employment and becoming secure young people helping to make their city and world a better place.

With Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s highly successful track record of over three decades, Londoners can rest assured that the YOU Housing First Youth Shelter will be a model of best practices and a vital component in solving youth homelessness.

Sister Jean Moylan csj


Weekly Pause &  Ponder

We invent nothing, truly.  We borrow and re-create.  We uncover and discover.  All has been given, as the mystics say.  We have only to open our eyes and hearts, to become one with that which is.

- Henry Miller


WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY ~ MAY 3 2019 Theme ~ Media for Democracy: 

Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation

What compels journalists to risk their lives to expose oppression and corruption?  Perhaps we who are called to prophetic mission are closer than we might imagine to journalists committed to truth, democracy, human rights and the environment.

For many global citizens, the journey to democracy is fraught with peril.  For those in democratic countries, troubling trends such as intrusive surveillance highlight the need for ongoing vigilance. 

Though sometimes considered meddlesome and even “dispensable”, journalists and news organizations can play a vital role as guardians, informed commentators and advocates.  Their protection and independence are essential for many other freedoms at the heart of democracies.  

This year in Canada, World Press Freedom Day precedes a fall federal election already marked by competing narratives about truth, trust and vision.  Credible voices also warn about potential international interference in our upcoming election.  In the United States, questions still surround the last federal election, while comments about “fake news” abound. 

The United Nations notes that World Press Freedom Day offers opportunities to:

  • Celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  • Assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  • Defend the media from attacks on their independence, and
  • Pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty (www.un.org).

The observance also highlights Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholding the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.

In both 2018 and 2019, Reporters Without Borders ranked Canada 18th out of 180 countries on its World Press Freedom Index.  Overall, the Paris-based organization pointed to a deterioration of media freedom around the world as the number of countries where journalists can work safely declines (rsf.org).  Earlier, the government of Canada announced it will co-host a conference on media freedom with Britain July 10-11 this year in London.

World Press Freedom Day was inspired by the 1991 UNESCO* seminar held in Windhoek, Namibia.  The Windhoek Declaration focused on promoting a free, independent and pluralistic African press.

This year’s international celebrations are being held May 1-3 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.  Globally, about 100 other events are planned to mark the observance, including a celebration May 2 in Ottawa sponsored by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (www.ccwpf-cclpm.ca).

In his 2019 message for the church’s World Communications Day, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of real -- not only virtual -- human communities.  He highlighted the urgent need for the Internet and social media to be at the service of truth and respectful relationships which foster communion (w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/communications/documents/papa-francesco_20190124_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali.html).

Questions for Reflection

  • How does what we read, see and hear through various forms of media shape our perspectives and choices?  How does what we’re not seeing, or hearing do the same?
  • Highly concentrated ownership of mainline media in Canada can restrict our sources of information.  What alternative sources of news, information and commentary do/might we choose to explore?
  • How might we and our religious/faith communities support and encourage younger media personnel and journalism students?

~ Roma De Robertis, SCIC 

Roma De Robertis is a Sister of Charity of the Immaculate Conception based in Saint John, NB.  She has worked in Catholic journalism and justice and peace ministries.  During her current sabbatical, she has been staying with Sisters of St. Joseph first in North Bay and now in London, ON. 

(*UNESCO is the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization based in Paris, France.)     


The Role of  Journalists

The Importance of Journalists and Publishers

My primary purpose for this blog is to affirm the critical value of journalists.  My second purpose is to call attention to the terrible injustice of trafficking labour in Canada. Reading the individual stories of victims in the April 6 and April 8 editions of the Globe and Mail is heart rending. The abuse of unscrupulous traffickers contained in these editions contain horrendous accounts of the kind of abuse we might expect in places where traffickers force immigrants into leaky boats crossing the Caribbean or lead them across the deserts of southern United States.  In this article I wish to applaud the courage and skill of journalists who investigate and write stories of government neglect or abuse, and of the publishers who dare to publish them. We hear of the imprisonment and murders of journalists in Mexico and other countries. We have seen how journalists of investigated and written accounts about such topics as “unfounded” rape charges, money laundering, insurance fraud, solitary confinement, abusive sales of telecommunication packages or bank services have forced governments, corporations, and institutions to change their practices. 

In a time of instant and unreliable spreading of news on social media, we need more than ever to support our journalists and publishers. Political parties promise transparency of government during election campaigns but once in office they tend to make it very difficult, expensive, and time consuming for journalist to access information needed to keep the public informed. Reading reliable newspapers and magazines, writing letters to editors or members of parliament, and supporting responsible broadcast and television stations are some of the ways in which we can protect freedom of speech and promote democracy in Canada.

Trafficking Foreign Workers

In this paragraph, I am simply quoting some phrases and sentences from the April 6 and April 8 editions of the Globe and Mail.  These two editions contain well investigated accounts of how unscrupulous immigration consultants and international recruiters make millions of dollars by enticing thousands of foreigners seeking sustainable employment in Canada to non-existent jobs, uncertified training in career colleges, virtual enslavement, and horrifying living conditions. The Globe’s four-month investigation identified 45 recruiters and consultants “accused of exploiting at least 2,300 people . . . from countries such as India, the Philippines, Mexico, and Guatemala for their money, their labour or both.” . . . “The Trudeau government is well aware, from being told repeatedly in consultations, that some recruits are ending up in dismal situations. Working under intolerable conditions for meager pay. Crammed into wretched temporary housing. Holding a useless career-college diploma and no work permit.”  . . . . “The number of licensed immigration Consultants has doubled to more than 5,000 in the past five years . . . . . “Enforcement is lacking . . . . . “the number of leads that immigration authorities recorded about employment fraud by agents doubled in the past five years – from 153 to 301 – while, inexplicably, the number of investigations went down to 27 from 38.”

Freedom of the press matters. How can each of us support this in our Country?   How will our Government respond to the Globe and Mail’s  reports of abusive treatment of immigrants?

- Sister Pat McKeon


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Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.