Volume 9.03 | March 22, 2021
In this Issue:

Reason for Hope

Easter Cards from SEMS

Update on Tyson Foods Resolution

Book Review: "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents"
Reason for Hope
By: Lucy Cardet OSF
March is celebrated as “Women’s History Month” in the United States. Part of that history are the significant contributions that women religious have made, our own included: remarkable! Following the example of Mother Teresa O’Neil, we have sought to respond to the needs of the people and share what we have. As Franciscan women religious, we witness to God’s goodness and Gospel living by who we are and what we do
 
Historically, many schools and hospitals established by women religious became our legacy to others.  Ministries have been passed on to lay partners and/or other religious; we learned the value of collaboration. It is always a time for ongoing discernment, looking at the needs of the day and asking God’s guidance: “now what?” and “with whom?”. We are lifelong learners with a long history of trusting in the goodness of God. The God that sustained us before is the same God that is the source of our hope now. 
 
“Focus on Hope” was the theme of 2020 Convocation of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) in October. Participation in this virtual convocation was a blessing. The presentations and witness stories of numerous religious can be viewed on YouTube. Among the topics were reconciliation (a ministry of hope) and extending hope in difficult times. Read more about the NRVC.
 
“Reason for our Hope: a Testimony to our Life, Death, and Resurrection in Christ Jesus” by Sr. Addie Lorraine Walker, SSND was especially uplifting. Listen to Sr. Addie tell her story:
 

 
In this time of such uncertainty, we can trust that God has a vision. We are being used to fulfill that vision. And we are not alone.  We are called to keep hope alive: hope in God, hope in each other, hope in a future.
Franciscan Sisters 'ready to sing the hallelujahs' after challenges of pandemic
From Kate Day Sager, Olean Times Herald
In the past year, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany have endured quarantines and all of the challenges that accompanied COVID-19 illnesses at St. Elizabeth Motherhouse.

Through it all, however, they continued to pray for others in the community and the world.

Earlier this week, Sister Mary Lou Lafferty, local minister for the congregation, provided an update on the Sisters and programs they have conducted to help others.

“We really think it’s time that (the community) knows that we’re still up on the hill here, and we’re doing well,” Lafferty said during comments at the Motherhouse, located on a hill above East Main Street. “I just think it’s time to let people know we’ve gone through everything, we’re on the other side and we’re ready to sing the hallelujahs.We miss the interaction with the people and local community.”

Easter Card Ministry at St. Elizabeth Mission Society
By: Courtney Walters, Communications Coordinator, St. Elizabeth Mission Society
Send your special prayer blessings to friends or loved ones this Easter with special Mass enrollment cards from St. Elizabeth Mission Society. As members of the Mission Society, their intentions will be remembered at Easter Sunday Mass and in other Masses celebrated throughout the Easter season and the year in the Motherhouse Chapel. They will also share in the prayers and good works of our Sisters in Brazil, Bolivia, Jamaica, Mozambique, and the United States.
 
All Sisters will have received an order form in the mail the first week of March or simply click HERE to access and review the available cards.
 
As a sponsored ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, the St. Elizabeth Mission Society shares in its spiritual aims, one of which is to advance the awareness of God's love. Donations given for the cards are used to support the ministries of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany and their partners in ministry who work to educate, heal, clothe and feed those who are desperately poor in Jamaica, Bolivia, Brazil and the United States.
 
Easter as well as various other enrollment cards may be ordered online at www.FranciscanHope.org. Others may wish to call the St. Elizabeth Mission Society office at (716) 373-1130 or e-mail the staff at StEliz.Publications@FSAllegany.org for more information about ordering the enrollment cards.
Update on Resolution filed with Tyson Foods
Submitted by: Gloria Oehl OSF
The Tyson Human Rights Due Diligence proposal co-filed by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY received 81 percent support from independent investors at the annual meeting (AGM), including support from Blackrock and Vanguard. A representative of Arkansas poultry workers delivered a moving speech at the AGM to introduce the proposal. The votes come amid intense scrutiny of Tyson’s health and safety practices and broader governance after COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on its operations, infecting more than 12,500 workers and causing 39 deaths.

For more detail, refer to IASJ website and press release dated February 19, 2021.
Book Review: "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents"
By: Margaret Magee OSF
Maya Angelou was an American poet, civil rights activist and a woman of wisdom. As I began reading Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, the following words of Maya Angelou came to mind, “Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before you learned it.”

As I began reading Caste I realized that I was stepping into a world and the stories of people’s lives that were not written or recorded in the history books that I read or learned from in school. Typically, hearing the word “caste” conjures thoughts and images of India and other Asian countries. Certainly not part of our American culture.

A caste system is a hierarchical social structure that people are born into which identifies their standing within the culture. Caste distinctions are based on the differences of inherited rank or privilege, wealth, profession or race and has clear social constructs sanctioned by custom, law, or religion. The system of caste pre-determines what is acceptable and customary in social interactions and allows for the oppression and exclusion of those in the lower ranks by those of the higher caste.

Interestingly, some caste definitions that I found on websites included the following statement. America prides itself on not having a caste system, because people can “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” and janitors can go to Harvard. After reading Caste this statement is an example of the lessons that I need to keep learning and that we, white, Caucasian, North Americans of European origin need to address if we ever hope to uncover and deal with the roots of systemic racism in our country.
According to Wilkerson, caste is the basis of every other “ism”, belief, doctrine or cause upheld by a particular group that is often oppressive and discriminatory toward others. Often these unspoken cultural norms relegate people to lower and subordinate groups, jobs and education.

Wilkerson writes about the unspoken caste system in America making clear comparisons to the caste system in India as well as the experience of Nazi Germany in its discrimination and annihilation, the genocide, of six million of Jewish men, women, and children, as well as gypsies and homosexuals in its death camps. The mentality of caste was embedded in our history of the U.S. economy built on slavery, indentured servitude and the Jim Crowe laws which determined who was worthy and how some were labeled as sub-human or of no value what-so-ever. Our American caste system has deep roots in the unjust and deplorable treatment of African Americans as well as groups, such as the Native Americans, Muslims, those of Asian descent and people of other sexual orientations to name a few.

Given the recent experiences of police brutality and protests by Black Lives Matter and other groups throughout the country, this look into the depths of American systemic racism is likely to make for an uncomfortable journey for many Americans who feel we have moved well beyond racial bias and prejudice in this country. Reading Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent will definitely not be light and comfortable experience for many people, however if you are concerned about racial justice and equity, especially in the United States, it is a book that people should read.

Remember the words of Maya Angelou, “Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before you learned it.” Reading Caste will challenge us to change and to work for racial justice so that we do not recreate our past sins and mistakes.