Volume 23, Issue 2   —   August 2022

Pdf: English (613 KB)

Maria Cruz, Director of AmeriCorps for G3 initiative & co-worker

Maria Cruz, Director of AmeriCorps for G3 initiative & co-worker

Maria Cruz, Director of AmeriCorps for G3 initiative & co-worker

The proud garden tour guide, Aila.

The proud garden tour guide, Aila.

Going Green and Going Clean

By Connie Guerrero, SSND Associate, Guam

Despite the negative messages in the media about the Covid-19 pandemic, Guam experiences the “get-up and go,” “live with it” or “let’s do it together” attitude. As a result, various organizations rose to the challenge. Through the University of Guam (UOG), the Guam Green Growth initiative (G3) and AmeriCorps VETCORPS team answered the call to promote food security, healthy food choices and increased island sustainability through education and community involvement.   The community garden supports Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger; Goal 3, Good Health and Well-being; and Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities. The community works together to promote food sustainability on our island.

We visited the community garden and hydroponic fish tank at our village in Talo’fo’fo’. It is one of the southernmost villages on Guam and is where the School Sisters of Notre Dame Convent and Notre Dame High School are located. There is a newly erected aquaculture system and a set of recycling bins. Planters made out of pallets donated by nearby “Moms & Pops” stores were made possible through collaboration with the G3 and UOG Sea Grant. The garden includes eggplants, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and other local vegetables.

“The persistence of this demonstration of people showing what they care about and doing it peacefully is incredibly powerful. We need to do what we can with our neighbors, friends, and people who can make a difference, who can demonstrate that it’s possible to be positive, to be an example to others. It’s especially nice that we’re here in Talo’fo’fo’ to celebrate an example of persons that show us all how to live as a community. Keep up the peaceful fight for positive change in our environment,” said Vicente Taitague, Talo’fo’fo’ mayor.

“All of the programs are in place. They are ready to serve our constituents. Our future is very promising. We have good people behind us. I have faith in them.” (Source: uog.edu)

After our educational tour, I was more determined to jump in and do my part.  My two-year-old granddaughter, Alaia, joined me in planting green beans, taro, basil, local onions, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, and ghost peppers. Within a month we made pepper flakes and finadine dinanche’ (hot pepper paste) and shared them with our family. Alaia is so proud of our plants. There are only small patches, but now we don’t have to buy imported vegetables.  Amazingly, we make our own compost which gave our plants a boost – miracle grower. Alaia was proud to show our garden.  She’s our future growing green!


A Global Quandary

by Suzanne Moynihan, SSND, Central Pacific Province

As the desire of Jesus that all be one becomes more fully our own, our striving for unity
embraces all humanity and the whole of creation
. (YAS C 9)

Being the creative folks we are, planetary citizens guided by You Are Sent and Laudato Si’, we School Sisters of Notre Dame are actively seeking alternatives to omnipresent plastic.

Plastic waste pollutes the land, flows into rivers, and ends up in oceans. It kills wildlife, damages ecosystems, clogs drainage systems, destabilizes fisheries, and impedes tourism. Plastics even make climate change worse. Oceans are our largest natural depository for greenhouse gases and they help regulate climate. Rising temperatures break down plastics causing them to release greenhouse gases which drive up temperatures.

But why not use plastic? It’s durable, strong, lightweight, versatile, and cost-effective. (Source: custom-pak.com)

Unfortunately, there’s a downside to this convenience. Methods to eliminate plastic waste release gases, dioxins, lead, and mercury into the air, soil, and water. Disintegrating plastic pieces threaten living species that swallow or inhale them. Plastics cause serious health risks at every stage in their production, use, and disposal. (Source: ecowatch.com)

New skills, knowledge, and education can transform the plastics problem by creating waste disposal systems converting plastic into a resource rather than refuse. (Source: worldbank.org) Since “we are educators in all that we are and do” (YAS C 23), let us question manufacturers of single-use plastic. Let us discover what our municipalities are doing. Let us research alternatives. Let us read, write, call, and speak up. Let us model viable practices by eliminating single-use plastic from our own lives.

Shopping at a bulk department cuts out plastic wrapping as at Outpost Natural Foods, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Shopping at a bulk department cuts out plastic wrapping as at Outpost Natural Foods, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“Leaving no one Behind, no one Outside”languages

By Beatriz Martínez-García, SSND, UN-NGO Representative

In May 2013, I was praying the rosary in Spanish with several families in the community of Lester Prairie, Minnesota, USA.

When I finished, I commented that it was admirable to see that children and youth had also joined in praying with the elders. One of the women replied, “Sister, if we stop speaking and teaching Spanish, we lose communication with our children and our traditions.”

I recalled this experience when I read that at least 50 percent of today’s spoken languages will be extinct or seriously endangered by 2100 and that most of these will be indigenous languages.

The General Assembly declared 2022-2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages with the theme “leaving no one behind, no one outside” – by 2032. (For more: unesco.org)

The Global Action Plan states that “It is through languages that people embed their world views, memory, and traditional knowledge, alongside their unique modes of thinking, meaning, and expression. Even more significantly, it is through language that they construct their future.” (Read more: unesdoc.unesco.org)

During the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, civil society organizations discussed how to foster awareness and secure Indigenous Peoples’ rights to use, revitalize, and transmit their languages to future generations.

I may not know how many of us minister with our indigenous sisters and brothers, but certainly we work with many people whose first language is not the language of the majority of the population.

What language(s) do you use daily? Why? As educators, how do we understand “leaving no one behind, no one outside”?

Sr. Sarah Tanjo in the Students’ School Assembly in Sierra Leone, Africa.

Sr. Sarah Tanjo in the Students’ School Assembly in Sierra Leone, Africa.

Human Trafficking, a Sin against the Dignity of Persons

By Sarah Tanjo, SSND, Province of Africa

It is so disheartening and dehumanizing to hear and be aware that such a cankerworm has been practiced in our immediate environments, our various homes, and around the world. Human trafficking may begin locally, but it has affected the peace and prosperity of almost every country across the globe. What a wicked and inhuman act performed by traffickers. These people not only traffic persons for hard labor and sex but sometimes also kill victims to remove their organs for transplantation – organ trafficking. According to AML Challenges, June-August 2018, and the Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) 10% of all organ transplants done around the world are illegal. An estimated 10,000 black-market operations involving purchased human organs occur annually – more than one every hour – according to World Health Organization (Source: pact-ottawa.org). It estimates that organ trafficking accounts for five to 10 percent of all kidney transplants worldwide. What a tragedy! In all of these, what must I or we do to mitigate such evil?

In Sierra Leone, the sisters gathered to talk about ways to live the Africa Shalom Branch Action plan for 2022. In their deliberation they focused on human trafficking and committed to the following actions:

  • Report to authorities who could help victims that we may find around us.
  • Create awareness of human trafficking in our ministry places.
  • Identify some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that work on the issue of human trafficking and collaborate with them.
  • Advocate and raise awareness on human trafficking through the media – radio station.
  • Spread the message on human trafficking among our Shalom groups and the associations we belong to.

On Mondays, at our school, St. Matthew’s Agricultural Secondary School, Bumbuna, Sierra Leone, I usually share with students an aspect of the Shalom goals and current issues related to health, care of the environment, and the value of education. Early this year I raised awareness about the alarming rate of human trafficking in some of our African countries and in our world. Both staff and students present grew in their understanding of what human trafficking is and the causes, and they came up with some ways to stop it. The school community is directly involved and committed to working against this modern slavery.

United States Asylum

By Patricia Ferrick, SSND, Atlantic-Midwest Province

balanceFor the past several years I have been a volunteer in various legal clinics for people who need help with their immigration process. Currently, I am working (via Zoom) at a clinic established by a Jewish congregation in New York that welcomes LGBTQ persons. Each person we work with is referred to as “Friend”.

With counsel from volunteer lawyers, we help our Friend fill out his/her applications and prepare for their day in court. If necessary, we also help our Friend file a change of address or a change of venue request. The change of venue is so that the Friend may have his/her hearing before a judge in some court other than the one originally assigned. As in all immigration cases, it is up to the judge’s discretion to grant or deny any request. So much of the outcome of the process depends on where our Friend has his/her hearing. In New York, only about 10% of the petitioners receive a favorable response. The others may appeal the denial, which is another onerous process.

There are two types of hearings: the first is the Master Hearing. After asking some brief questions, the judge decides whether the applicant may continue the process. If the person is to continue, the judge sets the date for the Individual Hearing. At this hearing, the Friend must defend his/her petition against an ICE prosecutor. Without the presence of a private lawyer to represent him/her, a favorable decision is very unlikely. The system is stacked against the petitioner.

September Calls for Reflection and Action

By Marinez Capra, SSND, International Shalom Network Coordinator

These special days in September are connected to our Shalom objectives and commitments. We are invited to include them in our liturgies, reflections, and actions:

The 2022 Season of Creation theme is a call to reach out, listen and act! A call from a God who sees and is deeply moved! The Season of Creation, September 1 to October 4, is a renewed invitation for us to take off our sandals because wherever we live, we are on holy ground and there we are to listen and respond to the cry of the earth and the poor as God does. (seasonofcreation.org)

September 21, International Day of Peace. The 2022 theme is “End racism. Build peace”. Since 2001, this day has been designated as a 24-hour period of non-violence and cease-fire. But achieving true peace entails much more than laying down arms. It requires the building of societies where all members feel they can flourish. It involves creating a world in which people are treated equally, regardless of their race. (See un.org/observances  and UN resolution)

Sunday, September 25, 2022 will mark the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The theme “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees”, highlights the commitment that we are all called to share in building a future that embraces God’s plan, leaving no one behind. (migrants-refugees.va)

We continue united in prayer, solidarity, and hope for a just and lasting peace
in Ukraine and the other areas of conflict in our world.

Shalom/UN-NGO Newsletter is a 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.