Volume 21 Issue 3 December 2020
New International Shalom Coordinator
By Sister Marinez Capra SSND
“We are open in a new way to the initiative of God in our lives.” (YAS C.2) Surprised by the call to serve as the International Shalom Coordinator, I gave my YES confident in God’s grace and in the support of the congregation to carry out this ministry.
My ministry, mainly in the area of education, has offered me many opportunities to sow the seeds of Shalom values and principles whether in working with students, teachers, Shalom clubs or in developing a weekly curriculum program on Human Relationship and the Culture of Peace.
I trust that these experiences will assist me in collaborating with our Shalom network as we work actively “to develop a world vision and a sense of global responsibility” (YAS, C 26) in the complex and painful realities of our world. I approach this new ministry with joy and confidence in God as I continue to listen to the call to be transformed by love that gives everything!
Networking for Life with Passion and Creativity
Brings Hope for the Future
By Sister Judith Kamada SSND
It was a great surprise and joy for all of us to know that Honduras was the 50th country that ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on October 24, 2020. That means TPNW will enter into force on January 22, 2021. It has been a long and suffering path started by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 75 years ago. At the same time, it has been a path of nurturing hope because of the formation of this network for life. The photo to the left was taken at the Hiroshima Peace Park in front of the A-bomb Dome on October 25 when people gathered to celebrate the enforcement of TPNW within three months.
Seven organizations from Hiroshima worked together on this effort including Peace Boat/ICAN. The mayor and government officials of Hiroshima also joined in this joyful gathering. It was a meaningful coincidence that this event happened on the 75th Anniversary of United Nations!
The TPNW took shape because young and old, professionals and ordinary people came together to share their passion, ideas, creativity, professional knowledge and experiences and worked together to make the desire come true that TPNW will soon become part of an international law. Even some would say, if the countries that have nuclear weapons do not join the TPNW, it would be less possible for change in the world. Our history still keeps us hopeful for the future.
SSND Interaction at the United Nations
By Sister Ethel Howley SSND, UN-NGO Representative 1993 – 2002
As School Sisters of Notre Dame, we make every effort to “deepen our consciousness of who we are in relationship with the Triune God, one another, and God’s amazing universe.” (Directional Statement Love Gives Everything) We look to the UN for peace among nations, which was the dream of its initiators. In spite of many wars within countries and between countries since 1945, we have not experienced a world war. We need to come together as brothers and sisters in one global community, rather than as nations competing for one another’s resources. Currently the world is called upon by Pope Francis to look after our common home, planet Earth.
The UN has provided opportunities for dialogue on global anxieties among world leaders in all countries. It has established agencies and commissions to provide research and experts on the environment; human rights for children, women, and indigenous peoples; peace and disarmament; development and its financing. It has also included interactions with people from Civil Society Organizations.
SSND has been a UN-NGO since 1993, but we have been involved with educating young people for 187 years. Our efforts expanded from kindergartens to the universities, from Germany to 30 some countries. In recent years, SSNDs have come with secondary school and university students and teachers from five continents to the UN for the Commission on the Status of Women, Commission on Social Development and other suitable experiences. Each time these participants returned home bringing new insights into global issues, and memories of new friends from other cultures to their schools, families, and neighborhoods. SSNDs continue with renewed motivation to “educate, advocate, and act in collaboration with others for the dignity of life and the care of all creation.” (Directional Statement Love Gives Everything)
The UN at 75 and Beyond
By Sister Ann Scholz SSND, UN-NGO Representative 2002 – 2010
Given the world reality that we are currently experiencing, how would you describe the UN we need?
In a world deeply divided by ideology and the politics of polarization, the United Nations remains one of the few places where national leaders can meet on neutral ground. In a world challenged by a myriad of global dangers, the UN may be the only venue where we can hammer out the global solutions we desperately need.
The UN is far from perfect. It too often reflects the polarization and division its founders hoped to bridge. The very rules and structures which make it possible, often constrain it. Yet it remains our best hope for the future.
One of the many lessons I learned during my years at the UN was that if we hope to address the challenges of this age we must meet our obligations as global citizens. First, we must never shrink from our responsibility to speak truth to power. I believe we have done that most effectively when we have made space for girls, survivors of trafficking and those forced into poverty, to speak in their own voices. Secondly, it is up to us to mobilize the political will necessary to enable the UN to act. Like any organization, the UN can only do what its members permit. It is up to us to demand that our national governments act on behalf of the common good.
The UN at 75
By Sister Eileen Reilly, UN-NGO Representative 2010 – 2019
The opportunity to serve for nine years as the SSND Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Representative to the United Nations was at the same time the most challenging and the most rewarding ministry of a lifetime.
Challenging, because the United Nations we WANT too often fell short of its goals and aspirations. Nepalese Peace Keepers brought cholera to Haiti after the earthquake; the veto power of the Permanent Members of the Security Council often paralyzed the Council in times of crisis.
Rewarding, because the United Nations we NEED sometimes led the way in responding to global crises. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed upon that are far-reaching and comprehensive. UN Women was established as the go-to department to promote gender equality. The Paris Climate Agreement was successfully negotiated to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.
And we SSNDs were there! There with our students at the Commission on the Status of Women as we took small steps forward in promoting the rights of women and girls. There at the Rio Earth Summit where discussions began on the formation of the SDGs and preparations for the Paris Climate Agreement began.
Season of Creation: Jubilee for the Earth
By Sister Marinez Capra SSND, International Shalom Coordinator
Season of Creation: Jubilee for the Earth has certainly made us even more aware of Laudato Si’. “These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. Yet we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness.”(Laudato Si #53)’The new encyclical of Pope Francis Fratelli Tutti presents suggestions of new ways and encourages us to take a new course recognizing that everything created is brothers and sisters among us. We are all
connected and interdependent in our common home. We find a strong call in Francis’ words to ]find ways of collaborating to improve how we have been treating everything created. The present and the future of life is in our hands to be restored in the perspective of Fraternity and Social Friendship.
- How have we directed our actions to the common good?
- What are the graces we need to see all creatures among us with the heart’s eyes of our creator God and as brothers and sisters
- What is the transformative call of Fratelli Tutti that inspires me/us to take a new course in life?
Global Compact on Education: Together To Look Beyond
By Sister Marinez Capra SSND, International Shalom Coordinator
On Thursday October 15, 2020, Pope Francis addressed the theme of education, which is central to his teaching and dialogue with the world. Pope Francis’ message is both a summary and a program to what he has repeatedly said, “to educate is an act of hope”. At the end of the message, Pope Francis suggests that all people of good will join the Global Compact on Education, a pact to encourage change on a global scale, so that education may become a creator of fraternity, peace, and justice. It has become an even more urgent need in this time scarred by the pandemic.
We have four great challenges coming from the Global Compact on Education:
- human dignity and rights
- integral ecology from the point of view of Laudato Si’
- peace and citizenship
- solidarity and development
One of the key elements of the Global Compact on Education is networking in this common mission. How are we SSNDs open and attentive to this call? You can find more information in multiple languages on the Global Education Compact at You can find more information in multiple languages on the Global Education Compact at https://www.educationglobalcompact.org/en/
Shalom/UN-NGO Newsletter is a triannual publication of the School Sisters of Notre Dame: via della Stazione Aurelia 95, 00165 Roma · tel: +39.06.6652.01; fax: +39.06.6652.0234.