Benedictines for Peace and Social Justice
Sisters and Oblates of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, rooted in the spirituality of Saint Benedict, actively live our social justice commitment.
Walk to Defeat ALS
The 2022 St. Cloud Walk to Defeat ALS took place Saturday, September 17. We were unable to participate this day since we were celebrating Oblate Renewal Day with our oblate community. However, not wanting to miss a chance to honor Sister Theresa Schumacher, who died of ALS in 2019, Sister Ann Marie Biermaier arranged with The ALS Association’s Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota Chapter the opportunity to walk the next weekend and count those miles toward the Walk’s final total.
Pictured are Karen Brever and Sisters Ann Marie Biermaier, Mary Catherine Holicky, Eunice Antony and Karen Rose (left to right), a few of the walkers on Theresa’s Team. We had a few others join us at a distance by walking where they are located.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me.” – Matthew 25:35–36
Execution dates have been set for 25 men on death row in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary beginning August 25, 2022. The plan is to execute one prisoner each month. An effort led by Sister Katherine Kraft invites sisters to “adopt a prisoner” and pray for him and write to him once a month, if desired. You are invited to join us in prayer.
Pray for Ukraine
Ukrainian flags have been placed around Saint Benedict’s Monastery and distributed to each living group to serve as a visual reminder to keep praying and supporting the people of Ukraine however we are able.
You are invited to join us in praying the rosary for the people of Ukraine and the end of the aggression in Russia. We pray daily at 4:15 p.m. in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. If you have never been in this sacred space, stop by the reception desk in the Gathering Place and our receptionist can point you in the right direction.
“Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament”
We recently observed the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6. We wish to call attention to a pastoral letter titled “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament.” In this letter, Archbishop John C. Wester of the Archdiocese of Sante Fe, New Mexico, emphasizes the urgent need for nuclear disarmament and encourages other bishops to join this conversation. The Justice, Peace and Integrity Committee of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict of St. Joseph, Minn., and the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Little Falls, Minn., pledge our prayerful support.
Pope Francis established September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, encouraging Catholics from around the world to pray for our common home. This prayer day also marked the beginning of the Season of Creation, which runs until October 4, 2022. The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development states: “This is an ecumenical season dedicated to prayer for the protection of creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles.”
There are many ways to respond to this call. We suggest taking a nature walk or spending some time in the garden. If you don’t have a place to visit or only have a few extra minutes, please use these pictures from around Saint Benedict’s Monastery and Saint Scholastica Convent to pray and care for God’s beautiful creations.
Humility and patience are seemingly as common as prudence is in the vocabulary of many. Witnessed or referenced in the dictionary to clarify a sense of understanding if lacking in experience, these might actually be good benchmarks for our welcoming renewed concepts and situations into the awareness of ourselves and each other. A defensive sense of self will seldom realize that humility and patience are signs of strength that receives another’s opinions and experiences as valued. Actualizing the motivations of the choices we are making impacts ourselves and each other. Prudent choices can be empowering.
As people of faith, we are reminded that each person, one’s self included, is a member of the human family, depending on the giftedness of each other to live as a community of peace. Are our households, our local communities, a reflection of our commitment to multiple faith traditions? In 1964, Pope Paul VI began the challenge of the laity to, “in their diversity, witness to the wonderful unity of the Body of Christ. This very diversity of graces, ministries and works gathers the children of God into one, because ‘all these things are the work of one and the same Spirit.’” Generations have followed since the publication of Lumen Gentium, Light of the Nations, a living document of the Church. The Pope’s teachings actively reference authority, identity and the mission of the church in tangible ways that can continue to guide humanity today and into the future.
The challenging realization of our attitudes and beliefs in the midst of conversations are being brought to light as time is taken to listen to ourselves, and in turn listen to each other. Often unaware of the depths of our biases, we are now being confronted with racial, social and societal accountability. Humility, patience and choices that include an understanding of compromising empowerment lead communities into the ongoing process of peaceable living.
The Spirituality Center•Studium, a ministry of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, along with individual sisters extend virtual invitations to read during these “pandemic months” that can continue into suggested themes of reflection into conversation and ongoing involvement. Layla Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” can become an interactive experience, offering time to discuss topics including white privilege, anti-blackness, stereotypes and white apathy in a group setting or read as an individual experience of information and awareness. Sister Bernadette Weber recently shared insights after reading Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman, reflecting on our common sharing of a sense of mutual worth and value. The thoughtful process of realizing and living one’s beliefs will be enriched, if not challenged, into awareness’ choices as reading into discussion evolves.
The Spirit of God rests upon me. A profoundly simple, humbling thought that we share in common with the prophet Isaiah, with each other. St. Benedict directs us, “Listen carefully, my son [daughter], to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart,” as we embrace the Spirit’s rooted presence in our lives.
In our own ways, we profoundly welcome, or choose to resist, the Holy Spirit’s direction throughout each day. The diversity of a mother’s embrace in the midst of a frustrated teenager’s grappling with changing relationships; a couple’s struggle to pay bills as they look towards their present and future needs; protests for justice’s sake on streets throughout the world; and the invitation of a mentor’s challenge to follow a dream all nurture the invitation to grapple with the presence of the Holy Spirit on our journeys as a community of faithful people.
Frustration, passion, an endless stream of emotions can and often are the determining direction to be part of positive change, the energizing challenge to consciously respond. It calls us beyond a self-centered direction, leading us into harmonious action. Be it within a family structure, faith community, or civil society, our beliefs and involvement reflect the essence of ourselves; an inner stillness discovered and nurtured.
Dorothy Day (1897–1980), a complex woman that often referenced scriptures and the Eucharist as her source of strength and direction throughout life, gave witness to a communal sense of responsibility as she lived her understanding of social change born out of struggle and despair. Day’s life can be noted as reflecting our present realities: a global pandemic; social injustice across the nation; governmental and political turmoil; deplorable prison conditions; and through the efforts of many, the empowering presence of grassroot people, offering practical relief for families finding themselves homeless and unemployed.
Be it a parent listening to their children’s search for security and understanding or Dorothy Day, OblSB, acknowledged as a “Servant of God” by the Catholic Church, we can each be assured, the Spirit of God rests upon us, inviting us to listen prayerfully as Isaiah and Saint Benedict have so humbly witnessed through lives intentionally lived.
The need for air, water, nourishment, unifying systems of ecological rhythms and structures within nurturing spaces that impact each other are commonalities of all of creation, including the 7.8 billion people inhabiting the earth today. All We Can Save (edited by Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson and Dr. Auyana Elizabeth Johnson, published in 2020 by One World) addresses our shared climate crisis in a thought-provoking anthology of eclectic blends of topics and fields of expertise expressed in essays, poems and art. The work, authored by 50+ professional women that create a tapestry of awareness, thought, discussion and challenge embraces our common future. As Indigenous youth activist Xiye Bastida puts it in her “Calling In” essay, “A vibrant, fair, and regenerative future is possible–not when thousands of people do climate justice activism perfectly but when millions of people do the best they can.” The inclusiveness of the book is growing into conversation/action through All We Can Save Project website’s invitation welcoming humanity to virtually gather for discussion, rebirthing into nature’s responsible cycles of life.
Catholic Social Teachings
Drawn from this rich scriptural tradition, Catholic theology has always promoted an ethic that is rooted in natural law and God’s revelation. As Catholic social teaching on migration developed, five fundamental principles have emerged to help guide the thinking of Catholics on migration:
I. Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland.
All persons have the right to find in their own countries the economic, political and social opportunities to live in dignity and achieve a full life through the use of their God-given gifts. In this context, work that provides a just, living wage is a basic human need.
II. Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.
The Church recognizes that all the goods of the earth belong to all people. When persons cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves and their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere to survive. Sovereign nations should provide ways to accommodate this right.
When war, natural disaster, famine or crushing poverty causes mass migration, the lands that receive these displaced people may feel threatened, with the citizens of the host nation fearing that newcomers will take scarce jobs, land and resources. As the Gospels make clear, it is God’s will that the abundance of the earth be shared in love by all of His people, reflecting on this spiritual imperative.
III. Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.
The Church recognizes the right of sovereign nations to control their territories but rejects such control when it is exerted merely for acquiring additional wealth. More powerful economic nations, which can protect and feed their residents, have a stronger obligation to accommodate migration flows.
IV. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.
Those who flee wars and persecution should be protected by the global community. This requires, at a minimum, that migrants have a right to claim refugee status without incarceration and to have their claims fully considered by a competent authority.
V. The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.
Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity that should be respected. Often, they are subject to punitive laws and harsh treatment from enforcement officers from both receiving and transit countries. Government policies that respect the basic human rights of the undocumented are necessary.
America, The Jesuit Review
Catholic Charities USA
Catholic News Agency
Central Minnesota Adult Basic Education
Federation of Saint Benedict
Georgetown University, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs
Global Sisters Report
Joint Religious Legislation Coalition
Jubilee, USA Network
Justice for Immigrants
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
League of Women Voters of Minnesota
Minnesota Catholic Conference, Human Trafficking
Moms Demand Action
National Catholic Reporter
National Human Trafficking Hotline, Minnesota
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Pax Christi International
The United Nations Refugee Agency/USA
United We Dream
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
U.S. Government – Voting and Elections
World Peace International
350 – Build a Clean Energy Future for ALL
Benedictines in White Earth
We acknowledge the injustice done through our community’s participation in the federal government Assimilation Policy to educate Native American youth at St. Benedict’s Mission boarding school on the White Earth Reservation (1878–1945), St. Mary’s Mission on the Red Lake Reservation (1888–1940s), and the Industrial Boarding School (1884–1896) on the monastery campus.
Within the past two years, the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict have been working in collaboration with the White Earth community and its Tribal Historical Preservation Office and the College of Saint Benedict to strengthen the bonds that continue to move toward healing, reconciliation, and peace with our Native American sisters and brothers.
Susan Rudolph, OSB
PBS NewsHour Segment
The Forced Assimilation Program, which forcibly removed Native American children from their families in the last century, caused great suffering. A collaboration between the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, the College of Saint Benedict and the people of the White Earth Nation, which is intended to address some of those wrongs, was the subject of a PBS NewsHour segment.
Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minnesota, stands on land which was the ancestral homeland of the Dakhóta and Anishinaabe peoples. The sisters acknowledge with reverence and respect the Indigenous Peoples who dwelt here.