facebook icon twitter icon

Sisters of St Joseph mark International Day of  Peace

September 21st is the UN’s International Day of Peace.  The theme this year is “Climate Action for Peace.” 

The link between climate action and peace may not be immediately obvious but, as the UN explains, there are many critical links between climate action and the key justice and peace issues of our day:  “Natural disasters displace three times as many people as conflicts, forcing millions to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. The salinization of water and crops is endangering food security, and the impact on public health is escalating. The growing tensions over resources and mass movements of people are affecting every country on every continent.”

The main weakness of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is the voluntary nature of the promised emissions cuts.  Not surprisingly, global emissions have continued to increase since 2015.  If humanity maintains our current trends, earth’s temperature will rise by 3 – 5 degrees centigrade.  This data prompted the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change to warn that such a rise in temperature would be enough to devastate communities and bio-regions all over the world, destroying habitats, wiping out species and leaving millions of people, particularly in the low-income countries, to face deeper poverty, hunger and death.  The scientists insisted that the world needs to slash emissions by 45% by 2030 in order to hit the target of no more than a 1.5 degree rise in temperature. 

This year’s Climate Action Day of Peace will be followed two days later by the UN Climate Action Summit.  At this meeting, it once again will become clear that the necessary cuts to greenhouse gas emissions will require a profound transformation of the global economy, with initial focus on the energy, forestry, agriculture and transportation sectors.  We no longer have time for a slow and steady transition.  We must move with tremendous speed and scale. 

So far, the proposed Green New Deal is the clearest framework which has risen to meet this challenge.  It can help countries take the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and fashion them into a coherent national plan.  As such, it has become a pathway to peace and justice.  It will be up to civil society to insist that our governments around the world pick up this plan and begin implementation.

To mark the UN Climate Action Day of Peace and the UN Climate Action Summit, our congregation is taking additional climate action by committing to an energy audit with follow-up action, financial support for Indigenous-led conservation, and financial support for girls’ education in the Global South.  We will use our actions to hold our governments accountable for effective climate action.

Sue Wilson, CSJ

Office for Systemic Justice

Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada



News from Chincha,  Peru


I watched from the sidelines after having entered the double doors with a huge colourful BIENVENIDOS sign.  In an oversized gymnasium like structure with a cement floor, cement block walls and a bamboo roof sat children in circle groups of 10 or 12 with an adult keenly observing. 

These 350 children were preparing to make their First Communion.

The wall behind the stage was colourfully decorated with one foot high letters spelling EUCHARIST and taking center place was a childish like image of Santa Rosa de Lima.

A young man who has had years of experience with Catechesis Familiar held his microphone firmly as he engaged the children in the first presentation of the morning.    In my conversation with him later he spoke highly of Sister Nora who began Catechesis Familiar in this parish.

The children were instructed to arrive with a pen, coloured pencils and excitement to be present.  

The overall theme for the day was the Eucharist and the use of the Bible was reviewed as the children searched for the location of each Biblical Reading.

A short break in the morning offered the opportunity for the children to get a quick bite to eat and or drink as well as a wild run through the cemented space that also served as the playground for games during recess time at Collegio San Jose, (the school opened by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Pembroke over 50 years ago). At 9:30 all the children, their parents and group animators attended the Mass celebrated in the church.  After Mass, a return to the huge auditorium to continue with the final themes.

Each circle has an adult accompanying the small group. They are referred to animadores and throughout the year they gather the children in their neighbourhood who wish to make their first communion.  Weekly meetings are held of children with their animators and the parents with their “guides”.  The theme for the week is reviewed.   Parents are guided to present it to the children, as well as the animators who review it with a different focus with their group of neighbourhood children.

During the snack break I spoke to a few of the animators and asked them about their involvement and if it has affected their personal lives.  Immediately one animator responded with her history.

“I participated in the program when I was going to make my own First Communion.  After my Confirmation the opportunity was given to us to get involved as an animator with the First Communion program.  Belonging to the animators’ group and encouraged by some adults, I decided my profession as a teacher and am very happy teaching children”.

“I know that I am richer spiritually.  I also know that it has helped us as a family”. 

“In school, as a teacher, I use much that I have learned from being an animator in my religions classes.” 

“I feel comfortable talking about my faith in a way that children and friends understand”. 

My day was enriched with my experience and I gave thanks to la Hermana Nora Kelly for her wisdom in selecting this type of program that has endured over all these years assisting children, their families and their neighbourhoods.... and Gracias a las Hermana’s Gloria y Maria as they have continued it throughout their years of pastoral presence in the Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Fatima ........   La Catequesis Familiar

- by Sister Mabel St. Louis, csj with contributions by Sisters Maria and Gloria


Weekly Pause &  Ponder

This Saturday, September 21st marks the International day of peace. Today we remember the words of Nelson Mandela,

No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin or his background, or religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

-Nelson Mandela


Election  2019

Knock, Knock!

An apparent chill

On Capital Hill

Nothing to do about weather.


Breezes are blowing

Rhetoric is flowing

Pray, get things together.


- Sr. Eileen Foran


Anna’s Sacred  Space

Their attraction grew into trust, and love led to commitment.  A young couple began planning life together that included a child. How excited they were when they found out that they were to be parents. They kept this precious secret to themselves as they savored the nine months ahead. Too soon their joy turned into fear as they learned that their precious baby had serious health problems. Sick at heart they were shocked and in turn angry, scared, tempted to terminate the pregnancy.  Communication between them that had been open and honest, became secretive and protective, each trying to sort out their feelings of fear, blame and shame. He became busier spending hours away from home.  She was confused and protective of the life growing inside her wondering what the future held for them as parents and their helpless and sick baby.  Would she be up to loving and caring for this baby with multiple and demanding health needs. What would the baby look like? She wanted this child no matter; he was fearful, his manhood on trial, he kept a tight hold on his emotions.

Anna arrive one bright December morning, weak and compromised, and was rushed to the neonatal ICU. Then began the day to day constant care to keep her alive.  She spent every waking hour in the hospital just being present to Anna who was hooked up to machines and tubes, looking on this mite of a baby with complicated nursing needs. She was fearful to even hold the baby with a nurse present. He didn’t want to visit at all. Soon her mothering instincts couldn’t be contained as Anna clutched her finger and looked into her eyes as she struggled to breathe.  Over the door she wrote “Welcome to Anna’s Sacred Space”.  Even the doctors responded to this invitation.  Five months later, and well prepped, they took Anna home.  They took turns caring for this beautiful child with countless health needs.  He grew in respect and love for his daughter who underwent painful procedures and tests utterly relying on these two adults for protection and love.  She took pride in introducing her Anna to her grandparents. Four months later on a routine visit to the hospital to reinsert a dislodged tube, Anna spiked a temperature, her heart started racing, and in spite of all medical interventions Anna died. Her stunned and disbelieving parents became steeped in grief.

As I stood at the bedside in the ICU unit holding hands with Anna’s faith-filled and grieving parents, they shared the beauty and meaning of Anna’s life for them as they understood it at this time. He said my life is changed forever; although she never spoke a word she taught me about trust, love and endurance. She spoke about the gift and privilege it was of caring for someone, their baby, who trusted that she would be there for her at all times. Their quiet grief was painful to watch, the only answer was presence.

The funeral two days later was a testament of their fidelity as they walked behind the little white casket down the aisle of the church hand-in-hand as they gave their daughter back to the creator who had gifted them with this precious angel for nine months.

- Sister Ann Marshall, csj


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