OVERVIEW Following successful Almsgiving last year in partnership with Catholic Extension, the Saint Anne Catholic Community, committed to direct its 2017 Lenten Almsgiving to another of the Extensions Society’s efforts—this one in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The project involves building a simple structure that will provide respite, spiritual development and “invigoration” for an order of Dominican sisters, Hermanas Dominicas. The structure will be called Casa de Salud or House of Health; its mission is to nurture and prepare religious women for their journeys into mission dioceses throughout Puerto Rico and the United States. Their work amongst the poor and migrant communities promotes deeper understanding amongst peoples and the sharing of not only faith, but of culture and the challenges of daily living.
The Casa de Salud in Ponce, Puerto Rico
Catholic Extension has been active in Puerto Rico for more than 100 years, and its assistance to the island’s six dioceses has totaled more than $100 million. There are great things happening in the Church in Puerto Rico. In fact, in 2016 Catholic Extension presented its highest hono,r the Lumen Christi Award, to a Puerto Rican lay woman, Melva Arbelo, who directs a home for abused and neglected children.
Unfortunately, Puerto Rico is experiencing a deep economic crisis, triggered by massive public debt and an eroding tax base, which has affected all sectors of society, including religious institutions. Currently, the island is in great distress and there is an overwhelming need for support for Puerto Rico’s churches and institutions which serve the poor. Approximately 60% of children under the age of 16 live under the poverty level, and 150 public schools have shut their doors, due to lack of funding.
The support of Catholic Extension, through the generosity of its donors, is critical at this time. The Catholic Church continues to be a voice on behalf of the most vulnerable and poor who are the most impacted by the current economic situation.
In the heart of these poor communities we find the presence of many women religious, including the Hermanas Dominicas—an international congregation—who were founded and are headquartered near Ponce, Puerto Rico. The charism of the Hermanas Dominicas is “to bring Christ to the family and the family to Christ.” They visit the sick, attend to the poor, evangelize children, and minister in love to youth and adults alike.
Congregations like these continue to serve on the “frontlines” in poor Puerto Rican communities. They work tirelessly to form relationships with local families, establish small networks among neighbors, lead catechesis and faith formation, start RCIA groups, visit the sick in hospitals and their homes, provide counseling for young women, and serve as a general catalyst for Spanish-speaking outreach in the community.
In addition to their work inside Puerto Rico, the Hermanas Dominicas work in mission dioceses in the United States through Catholic Extension’s cutting-edge program called the U.S. Latin American Sisters Exchange. (Below is more information about the U.S.-L.A. Sisters Exchange Program.)
Hermanas Dominicas are doing phenomenal work, and would be incredibly grateful for the support of St. Anne Catholic Community, in helping them construct Casa de Salud.
Our goal is $25,000
With our Lenten Almsgiving Project directed to the Hermanas Dominicas, the St. Anne Catholic Community makes a life-changing investment in the lives of these amazing religious sisters. Donations will be a source of encouragement, allowing the Hermanas to continue serving “the least of these” in their homeland, in American society, and beyond.
Catholic Extension will make arrangements for a member of the order to speak at Masses. (Dates to be determined. Bill Myatt from Extension will communicate with August Link.) Faithjustice will make arrangements to provide for a stay overnight.
As in previous years, details of the project will be placed on tags and hung with envelopes on bare branches in the Gathering Space starting Ash Wednesday. Alms may be returned beginning March 12 to the Gathering Space or to the Parish Office.
Women Religious and the “Latino Moment”
In areas as diverse as education, science, philosophy, sports, music, and human rights, religious women have changed the landscape of history. This is particularly true in America, where mission-committed sisters have spread the hope of the gospel by providing vital human services for marginalized people since the early 1800s.
Today, the humanitarian role of religious women in America is no less vital. Religious sisters are uniquely qualified to lead the way during a moment that has been appropriately called “Latino.” In contrast to the claims that the Catholic Church is dying in America, the number of Spanish-speaking Catholics is growing at historic rates.
For these dedicated Catholics, most of whom come from Latin American countries, life is hard. Each day, families are faced with challenges of survival, as they work together through la lucha – the struggle – in a world where hope is often hard to find.
But the members of these communities find hope in their faith, and the leaders of the Catholic Church have been urged by Pope Francis himself to work in solidarity with these communities, ministering to them with the love of the gospel, as they work together through la lucha – the struggle for survival – in a world where hope is hard to fine.
Through a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Catholic Extension has taken the Pope’s call seriously. After extensive research and conversations with over 140 different stakeholders, Catholic Extension has initiated a project that will fund and facilitate long-term, American mission projects held by Latin American women religious. In groups of three or four, sisters from Latin American congregations including Hermanas Dominicas commit to serve in a United States mission diocese during a five-year period, working alongside church leaders in areas with high concentrations of Spanish-speaking communities.
Since beginning the program in 2014, Catholic Extension has placed 34 religious sisters in 11 mission dioceses, and is currently funding education for a cohort of sisters in a twelfth diocese. Already, diocesan leaders have reported phenomenal growth and a renewed sense of enthusiasm among Spanish-speaking parishioners. And the long-term impact of this growth will extend much farther beyond the walls of a church. Families are being united, women are being empowered, children are finding their “inner sparks,” young adults are enjoying a renewed sense of energy, and entire communities are being transformed in significant ways.
Dioceses participating in the U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program
- Bismarck, North Dakota
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Little Rock, Arkansas
- Monterey, California
- Richmond, Virginia
- San Angelo, Texas
- San Bernardino, California
- Tyler, Texas
- Yakima, Washington
- Portland, Maine (training only)
According to our research, the Catholic Extension U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program is one-of-a-kind. There are no other agencies that invite international sisters to work in the United States while also providing cutting-edge educational opportunities. In short no program makes a similar impact on Spanish-speaking families while also providing hands-on training, formation, education, and a rich-cross cultural experience for women religious in developing countries.
It is no wonder, then, that after a phenomenal first two years, twenty new mission dioceses have expressed interest in Catholic Extension’s U.S.-Latin American Sister Exchange Program. Securing funding for these dioceses would ensure that thousands of new Spanish-speaking Catholics would know that – although society may have forgotten them – their church will not forget them. And three beautiful religious sisters would experience the life-changing opportunity of completing their formation in the United States. One never knows, but one of these cohorts may be blessed with the next Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PARTNERSHIP IN MINISTRY!!
The mission of Faithjustice is to promote awareness, advocacy and action within the parish around justice issues that are impacting people locally, nationally and internationally. Moreover, we are called to be public witnesses within the larger community to the Church’s commitment to human life and dignity with a special preference to those who are voiceless and poor.
The Committee is comprised of Saint Anne parishioners. We collaborate with the Parish Staff and various ministries participation on the Human Concerns Commission. We participate with the justice committees of other parishes in our deanery, with the Archdiocesan efforts through the Peace & Justice Office, and with Catholic Relief Services.
Parishioners are welcome to participate in one or more issue oriented sub-committees without the need to attend the monthly general meetings.
Contact: Paul & Adrienne Kalmes, 847/382-3626 (evenings), email@example.com.
Poverty and Vulnerability
Faithjustice advocates via letters and lobbying for the poorest and most vulnerable locally, nationally and internationally. Educates and raises awareness on issues.
Develops a Lenten Almsgiving project for the parish each year focused on an area of the developing world. Coordinates with other parish ministries on the selected project.
Efforts are directed at beginning an on-going discussion with members of other religious communities in the NW suburban area. Participate in local activities which promote understanding of the religious issues and concerns in a pluralistic society.
Support policy directions which address the root causes of migration, such as economic development, so that migrants can remain in their home countries to support themselves and their families. Advocate for reform of the U.S. legal immigration system and restoration of due process protections for immigrants to allow them to have “their day in court,” consistent with American values and directives of the US Council of Catholic Bishops.
Raise awareness about the justice issues regarding the environment and our world’s resources. Develop conservation and protection activities within the parish.
Quarterly, bring fair trade products and projects to the parish, creating awareness of the justice issues surrounding labor and trade between people living in this country and those living in the developing world. When possible, sponsor collections of used goods that can be put to use in areas where poverty and resource vulnerability make these goods difficult; e.g. cell phones for domestic violence victims, shoes for Haiti.