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Edition No. 131 — July 22, 2020 
Saint Joseph Villa
Zoom— The Spirit Moves Among Us 
July 12 and July 19, 2020
Julie Gabell, SSJ Associate
The Spirit was among us these past two weeks when Zoomers gathered to discuss Systemic Racism and the inequities that abound among the poor—two “hot buttons” in the Poor Peoples Campaign. Referring to a document preempted from the Declaration of Fundamental Rights and Moral Agenda, the Zoomers had ample material for thoughtful discourse.

We first zeroed in on discrimination that we ourselves had witnessed and/or personally experienced. Though much progress has been made in this area, we recognize that many issues have yet to be resolved. Racial discrimination wears many faces and dons an array of robes. At its heart is distrust and misunderstanding. 

Ultimately, Zoomers acknowledged that we, as members of our Villa Community, are among the “people of privilege.” A much larger population faces an uphill climb out of generational poverty. Their problems come in many guises, at the forefront of which is the basic right to vote. Problems such as redistricting and preempted or nullified voting rights are direct attacks on our democracy that strip the poor and disadvantaged of legitimate privileges. 

Our Founders penned a Constitution that promised to “…promote the general Welfare and secure the blessings of Liberty” for all Americans. Despite this, many citizens of today lag far behind in the realization of this promise. Issues such as a living wage commensurate with the economy and equal pay for equal work claimed our attention as we zeroed in on some of the realities that face the working poor. 

How then can we, Zoomers at the Villa, enter this dialogue in a meaningful way?  What can we do to help? The Poor People’s Campaign demands that we step up and secure an end to such injustices.



Several practical ideas merged as we discussed the issues of systematic racism, poverty, and inequality: 

  • Establish integrated conversational groups to strengthen mutual respect and understanding, discuss racial problems, and form possible solutions.
  • Sign and mail/call in the petition for Mail-in Voting distributed with our meeting materials. 
  • Recognize the Villa as a voting power structure and promote interest in voting.
  • Support the SSJ Welcome Center in their effort to prepare immigrants for citizenship. Stress the value of their right to vote. Designate use of donations for a specific social justice cause.
  • Contact PA senator and representatives and urge them to vote for the minimum wage bill.
Though we have resolved to come up with practical suggestions in the coming weeks, the ongoing inequities in our society will not be solved until people begin to know and trust one another. In the Spirit we strive toward this end.
Sisters and Associates Share How They Are Living
and Working During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Margot Zuccarello, SSJ Associate in Mission
It all started when I read an  article by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times  early in June. He spoke of the Covid-19 outbreak among the many people in the Navajo Nation which is a huge reservation in parts of four states out West. They were having many cases and had few resources. Food shortages, small homes and 30 or 40% of which had no running water were some of the challenges that they faced. What seemed to be annoyances to us were major problems to them. 

I asked  Sister Peg Oravez SSJ,  who has worked closely with the Lakota tribes in South Dakota, if she had any connections with the Navajos. She said that she didn't but to give her some time to think about it. She soon emailed me that Sister Diane Wolf SSJ knew of some work that the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament were doing with them. Sister Peg contacted Sister Jane Nesmith, SBS in Bensalem and she said that she would be glad for our help. 

Sister Jane was collecting money as well as masks, sanitizer, and food to send on to the Navajo Nation. I then emailed our SSJ Associates group at the Villa and asked for their help. They responded as they always do, with enthusiasm and generosity! I also mentioned our project to my friend at the SSJ Welcome Center,  Sister Marian Behrle SSJ , and she did the same thing! In fact Sister Marian also got us a grant from the community to help us along.

We sent over $600 to the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for which Sister Jane thanked us and said that it would go to buy food for many of our Navajo brothers and sisters! She said that our group was "small abut mighty" and she is so right! God has blest us with so much and we are so grateful to be a part of this amazing group of women, the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
SSJ Welcome Center
Reaching Out to St Francis Inn, Kensington
‘Eggcellent’ work by the SSJ Welcome Center staff, volunteers and donors for making 93 egg salad sandwiches for the St. Francis Inn in Kensington.

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"With the help of God's grace and in fidelity to our founder's expressed wish, we live and work lovingly among all persons with a special preference for those who are poor, which calls us wherever we are to be in union with them."
                                        — SSJ Constitutions #21
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | cpollock@ssjphila.org | http://ssjphila.org/home/