Thursday, May 17, 2012

Holy Creation

The snap peas in our garden are reaching toward the sky--a constant reminder of the miracle of life. Every morning as I pass our backyard garden, I am reminded of the few days I spent at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) with the St. Joseph Worker Program.

Seven of us packed the green mini-van to full capacity and headed to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. We knew we would see Alpacas, we heard there were two rocking CSJs there, but beyond that we were left to wonder and wait. A few naps and several car games later, we arrived in Indiana and were greeted by Sister Mo and a loaf of pumpkin bread from Sister P.B.

The next morning, Alyssa and I had the task of weeding the potato field and covering the seedlings in hay to reduce the amount of weeds over the season. It frosted the evening before, and we witnessed resiliency and strength from the tiniest of sprouts. Some had lost their fight with the frost, but an overwhelming number had survived and were showing a healthy green stem under a brown-spotted leaf. A miracle. Awe-inspiring still were the rutabaga roots that had populated the same plot last year and survived the winter. These little plants had not been fostered by the gardeners, yet they grew--with support from the soil, rain, themselves and God they were actively growing. I couldn't help being continually amazed as we worked.

Throughout the weekend, all seven of us had the chance to garden and to work with the Alpacas. Observing the great reverence the WVC staff has for the land, plants and animals under their care is incredible. Sister P.B. told me of illnesses that have befallen the Alpacas, and the compassion and empathy for the animals was palpable. Sister Mo when showing us the compost had great pride and admiration for the created dirt--the beautiful, black pile of dirt that would foster the growth of many more plants.

This is the beauty of the White Violet Center, and the lesson I have brought back with me--the created world is to be revered, loved, and protected, after all...this too is our dear neighbor.

To learn more about the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, visit their website.

--Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

LCWR Justice and Peace Alert: May 17 ACTION

Greetings great people  of justice: 

We received this Justice and Peace Action Alert from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and encourage you to take action as you are able on behalf of the "rights of immigrants who continue to suffer from Congress and President Obama's lack of Action."
LCWR Justice and Peace Alert
We are asking you for 5-10 minutes of your time on Thursday, May 17, to contact President Obama and Speaker Boehner about the rights of immigrants which is part of our congregation's corporate stance.
The United We Dream network is calling for a day of action with events across the country to secure rights for all immigrants because they continue to suffer from Congress and President Obama's lack of action.
Please contact President Obama and  Speaker Boehner and tell them to honor the dreams of immigrant youth!
President Barack Obama
John Boehner, Speaker of House
Phone 2020-465-1111
Phone: 202-225-0600
Letter/post card:
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20500
Letter/post card:
Office of the Speaker
H-232 The Capital
Washington DC 20515

Possible comments for President Obama and Speaker Boehner:  
                              Support the DREAM Act
Our Immigrant youth have the right to live without fear.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to live with their families.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to move freely.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to be educated.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to give back to the community.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to build a strong sustainable economy.
Our Immigrant youth have the right to build their dreams.
An Immigrant's Prayer
O holy God, Heart of heaven and earth, praised be your holy name.
Your daughters and sons, from all peoples of the world,
regardless of boarders, praise you.

We praise you and give you thanks
because you have placed in our hands the immigrant pilgrims
who make the earth flourish and produce,
to bring food to the table of the rich and poor alike.

We praise you and give you thanks because you walk always
with those who cross borders in search of wellbeing,
doing their part in building the world you entrusted to us.
On our way, we are mindful of your Presence
in the promise to Abraham and in the liberation of your people, Israel.

We praise you and give you thanks for your blessings on all immigrants,
on those who cross all the borders in the United States.

And you, O lady of Guadalupe, empress of the Americas,
be always our protector and intercessor for reconciliation
and the building of equality and peace. Amen.

 Ann Scholz, SSND, PhD
Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
8808 Cameron St.
Silver Spring MD, 20910
301-588-4955 (W)
443-570-2606 (M)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Food Justice at St. Catherine University

In September, the Justice Commission agreed to co-sponsor the first St. Kate's Food Week. This quickly planned collaboration resulted in over 30 events in one week all focusing on the injustices that surround food. That week spurred into a Food Justice movement on campus and has now been formalized into the Food Justice Coalition.

Two student organizers have led the charge at St. Catherine University in hopes of creating a greater sense of community on campus, engaging community members in action for justice, and producing a more socially just campus.  Cirien Saadeh and Liesl Wolf have poured time and energy into this effort, along with being busy students as well! On May 8th they had the chance to celebrate the progress of this year and publicly announce the Food Justice Coalition.

The Food Justice Coalition will serve as an organizing force of the Food Justice Movement. Individuals and groups will work in committees focused on key issues (currently they are Awareness & Outreach, Dining Services: Relations & Contract and a Community Garden). A Leadership Board will hold the big picture of the movement and coordinate the efforts of the task groups. The Food Justice Coalition is opened to "anyone and everyone committed to food justice at St. Catherine University." I am impressed with the commitment to fostering student leadership within the Food Justice Coalition and the commitment to the values of St. Kate's and the CSJ community. I am very excited to see how this will move forward.

If you are interested in learning more about the Food Justice Coalition at St. Catherine University, please contact Liesl Wolf at or me at

-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Program Assistant

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Immigration is Abuzz in the Headlines

The United States Supreme Court is set to review the legality of Arizona SB1070, the contentious immigration law that was passed a few years ago. According to BBC, the Supreme Court will review four provisions that were blocked by a lower appeals court:

· requiring officials to check the immigration status of anyone arrested and allowing police to stop anyone suspected of bein an undocumented immigrant
· making it a state crime to reside in Arizona without legal documentation
· banning all undocumented immigrants from working in the state or applying for a job
· allowing police to arrest a person believed to have committed a crime that could lead to deportation, even if the crime occurred in another state
See this BBC article for further details on the Supreme Court case.

While the Supreme Court prepares to hear this case, the Catholic Church in the United States has been doing some prep work of their own.

NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, along with approximately 50 other civil rights, faith and community organizations filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging the court to affirm the blockage of the four provisions. The fifty page report argues that SB1070 will harm U.S. Citizens, misapprehends the federal immigration scheme and cannot be implemented constituionally. For further information click here.

The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) released news that they, along with other faith leaders, called upon the President and Congress to reassert authority on immigration law. As the Supreme Court is working to review state authority of immigration, the USCCB called upon the President and Congress to enact immigration reform legislation "as soon as possible" in order to secure federal power over immigration policy. For further information click here.

Great examples of putting feet to the Gospel message and a glimpse of the Kindom.
-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Women's History Month Reflection

As we move into the first week of April, I am called to reflect on March – Women’s History Month.

A single experience of March that comes to mind is the 11th Day Prayer for Peace – Celebrating Women—hosted by the St. Joseph Worker Program. The time spent with friends and in front of the computer for the planning of this event is memorable, and yet what that time provided is what resonates: to learn more about women who have laid the path for me, especially those from the CSJ community.

During the service, we recalled the lineage of women leadership that has come before all of us. Women who fought for the rights we enjoy today, who infuse society with love and passion that we carry in our hearts, and who opened the societal perceptions of women. In the narrative of this lineage, our hope was to name the unnamed sheroes that make up so much of this lineage, especially members of the CSJ Community who have gone uncelebrated and unnamed despite the large contributions provided.
With the help of Jill Underdahl, Mary Kaye Medinger and Mary Kraft, we were able to name and more fully understand three Sisters of St. Joseph from our lineage. Sister Jackie Slater (1934-1984) who integrated her values and relationships within her community as she served three terms on City Council representing the diverse Sixth Ward of Minneapolis. Sister St. Mark Wirtz (1904-1962) who had a deep passion for all of creation and carried this passion into her many positions at the College of St. Catherine as an Ornithologist. Finally, Sister Rita Steinhagen (1928-2006) who’s actions are often recognized within the great lineage of social justice leadership, but we chose to highlight the motivation for her work which was steeped in her experiences and relationships with people.

Several weeks after that beautiful service in the Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel, I still have a burning curiosity for the fullness and depth of the lineage of women which leads to my heart, mind and feet. I encourage everyone to learn a bit more about one woman who has inspired you as a leader-- with the caution that once you learn a little you will be captivated.

--Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Nobel Peace Prize Forum is an annual event bringing together Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, civic leaders, and scholars together with students and other citizens in an effort to engage peacemaking efforts around the world. The 2012 Forum used a variety of mediums and topics, ranging from “The Ethics of Hip Hop” to an address by Nobel Laureate F.W. de Klerk.

I attended the “Business Day” of the forum at the beginning of this month and was pleasantly surprised by the continual emphasis on the need for the private sector to be involved if peace can prevail on earth. The day was filled with a variety of interests from the private sector epresenting the large field it is-- renewable energy, microenterprise and entrepreneurs, agriculture and food industry, chambers of commerce, economics, etc.

I greatly appreciated all the presentations I attended throughout the day, but the final keynote speaker was astonishing. Saki Macozoma served time on Robben Island during Nelson Mandela's imprisonment and was a business leader throughout the ending of apartheid. He spoke of the South African private sector's collective involvement that kept the debating factions at the table during the ending of apartheid, and the business community’s involvement presently to help decrease unemployment. The key to his presentation was that the South African business community recognizes the benefits from social reform and high quality of life. This is a revolutionary concept. If the worldwide business community supported and understood this we could have a radically different world--one where corporate power could be a term of social change, not greed and corruption.
May peacemaking prevail on earth, and may all of us play a role,
Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern
For a schedule of the Business Day click here.
Please click here for the video archive of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Call to Action Conference

The Marriage Amendment: Can Faithful Catholics Vote "No"?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Registration 9:00; Conference 9:30 (lunch and snacks provided)

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
700 Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55116
Sponsored by Call to Action

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?" Can Faithful Catholics vote "no"?

"Call to Action acknowledges that people of faith have differences on this issue and offers conference participants an opportunity to consider this issue from a variety of perspectives."
(CTA event brochure)

Conference Music: Donna Pena, composer and performer resding in Inver Grove Heights

Conference Presenters
Lucian "Mickey" Martinez, attorney who drafted a bried on behalf of a national civil rights organization in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America on the matter of the U. S. Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy. His topic: "A Holy, Civil Matter"

Patricia Beattie Jung, editor of the discussion text, God, Sex, Science and Gender and Professor of Christian Ethics and Health and Welfare Ministries at Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, Missouri. Her topic: "Marriage Equality and Catholicism"

Project 515 Players, directed by Bryan Gerber, performs vignettes based on the real-life discrimination facted by same-sex couples and their families in Minnesota and highlights many of the 515 discriminatory laws through theatrical presentation and song.


Before March 31: $35 per person

After March 31: $45 per person

Young Adults (under 30) $10 per person

Adults traveling two hours or more $20 per person

PLEASE REGISTER EARLY to help with food count

Please make checks payable to CTA-MN, P. O. Box 19406, Minneapolis, MN 55419

Conference Contact Person

Art Stoeberl 651.278.6630