We join the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, in praying for peace after witnessing the violence and terrorism yesterday in our nation’s Capitol. We are deeply concerned about the state of our country and the future of our democracy. Review the entire statement from the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
We invite our entire CSJ Community and all to join us in a Prayer of Lament for our nation.
January 7th, 2021
When it comes to Christmas, Las Vegas Raiders linebacker, James Onwualu hasn’t forgotten his St. Paul roots. The Cretin-Derham Hall graduate recently worked with the foundation Beyond The Basics, Inc. and others who surprised four local families with up to $800 in Amazon gift cards to help navigate the global pandemic during the holiday season.
“I hope this gift can take some of the pressure off of these parents that have already been working so hard and allow them to really enjoy this holiday season with their families,” said Onwualu.
The families are all patients of St. Paul’s St. Mary’s Health Clinics (SMHC) that provides primary care to uninsured persons who have no other source of healthcare and are not eligible for subsidized healthcare coverage. “The recipients were chosen because they had a very hard year filled with chronic issues including COVID and difficult personal and family situations,” said Christina Flood- Urdangarin, SMHC Outreach manager. “I’d like to thank James and his family for making this happen, for thinking of us, and giving the opportunity to help Latino families. It is a blessing.”
This outreach to four St. Paul families was part of “A December To Remember” initiated by New England Patriots Linebacker Brandon Copeland’s foundation in partnership with Amazon, 19 other current and former NFL players, The NFL Foundation and Zebra Technologies, Beyond The Basics, Inc.
St. Mary’s Health Clinics (SMHC) provide primary care to uninsured persons who have no other source of healthcare and are not eligible for subsidized healthcare coverage. A ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, its model is volunteer based—there are no paid providers and even the medical director is a volunteer; many volunteers are retired from clinical practice. Clinics are held in donated spaces in the community, primarily in schools and churches and with support from the major local health care systems. Many of its patients have chronic health problems including diabetes and hypertension that are typically addressed at Twin Cities-wide in-person SMHC clinics.
Beyond The Basics, Inc., established in 2017 by Brandon and Taylor Copeland, is an award-winning non-profit organization focused on empowering young people to maximize their potential by exposing them to enriching experiences. Beyond The Basics coordinates significant annual community initiatives focused on youth empowerment across the country, such as BTB Youth Football Camp, A December To Remember Holiday Shopping Spree, COVID-19 Food Initiative and Growth Through Golf.
Christina Urdangarin-Flood, SMHC Outreach manager, email@example.com, 651-287-7767
Ann Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-592-3900
December 24th, 2020
On December 21, there was a Town Hall meeting regarding the use of our Provincial House as part of Interfaith Action’s Project Home program. More information, a recording of the meeting and the presentation can be found on the Ramsey County Housing Stability webpage (see the “Project Home at the Provincial House” section).
FAQs regarding the project will be available soon.
December 22nd, 2020
Twin Cities Business recognized our own Susan Gehlsen, Executive Director of St. Mary’s Health Clinics, as one of TCB’s 2020 Notable Heroes in Health Care. The Heroes in Health Care are profiled in the special editorial December/January issue of Twin Cities Business. These individuals are recognized for going above and beyond; serving as role models, driving change and innovation, and developing solutions that improve the lives of those in our community. The Notable series honors the best-of-the-best across a range of industries. The profiled leaders were nominated by their professional and community peers. Congratulations Sue and all at St. Mary’s Health Clinics!
View the issue here (the feature is on page 78, the related congratulations is on page 85).
December 16th, 2020
Ramsey County, Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are exploring an opportunity to use the Provincial House at 1880 Randolph Avenue in Saint Paul (part of the Sisters’ campus, building photo featured to the left) for safe shelter for families with children experiencing homelessness. The building served as offices and a residence for the Sisters for nearly 100 years and has been underutilized since 2010.
The Sisters would lease the site to Interfaith Action, which anticipates it would serve approximately 20 families through its Project Home program. Project Home serves families with minor children, with nearly 90% of children under the age of 12. With support from Ramsey County, Project Home at the Provincial House would help address the significant waiting list for shelter, which is expected to grow when the eviction ban is rescinded.
As a first step in the exploration process, the community will be invited to two town hall meetings from 5 – 6:30 p.m. on December 21 and January 5. Meeting information was just posted on the Ramsey County website.
The Sisters believe this arrangement aligns with our long history of caring for the “dear neighbor” and our pursuit of “moving always toward the profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction.”
“We are very sensitive to the impact this decision may have on those who live and work on our CSJ campus and our dear neighbors whom we deeply value and respect,” said the Sisters’ Leadership Team. “We look forward to working with our neighbors who have been open and supportive of our work serving our dear neighbor here in St. Paul. It seems particularly fitting during this Advent as we recall the Holy Family who was in need of a home.”
Also, see these related articles from the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, and a video from Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul detailing their Project Home Overview 2020.
December 15th, 2020
Forty years after their brutal murders on Dec. 2, 1980, we remember the lives, loving service and tragic deaths of four American churchwomen, Ursuline Sr. Dorothy Kazel, Maryknoll Srs. Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, and lay missioner Jean Donovan, murdered in El Salvador. We encourage you to attend upcoming prayer services, vigils and online events. Resources and more information can be found in this Global Sisters Report article.
November 26th, 2020
From our Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Congregation (also, see this related opportunity from Catholic Mobilizing Network):
With the continued and increased use of the death penalty, we the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are impelled to boldly oppose the use of the death penalty and end “the cycle of violence perpetuated by the death penalty.” In this stance, we look to the way of mercy and forgiveness exemplified by Jesus’ own life, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and our CSJ charism. As a congregation of religious women of the great love of God, we value “respect for the sanctity of human life, the protection of human life,” and the sanctity of all life.
Pope Francis calls the use of the death penalty an attack on the dignity of the person and deems capital punishment “inadmissible” in all cases. These words are reflected in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, which the Vatican updated in 2018.
This issue of capital punishment “challenges our consciences and requires us to act.” Understanding that the death penalty does not provide easy or simple solutions, we continue, as we have for decades, our opposition to the death penalty. Our community, with our partners in mission, has long ministered to and advocated for our siblings on death row including praying, visiting, and writing personal letters.
Enlivened by our charism to move always toward the profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction, we recommit to peace, nonviolence, and upholding the sanctity of all life. As a community, we reaffirm our opposition by committing to action to end the use of the death penalty locally and nationally.
November 6th, 2020
Last month, Justice Associate Ashley Lopez joined the St. Joseph Workers (SJWs) and staff as we embarked on the Minnesota Healing Stories Sacred Sites Tour, led by Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs. A gifted storyteller and member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation, Rev. Jim Bear’s tours shine a light on the brutal hidden history of Minnesota’s journey to statehood.
Although most of us have learned about Minnesota’s history in school, we did not know the true details of the 1862 Dakota Wars and the internment camp at Fort Snelling, or Henry Sibley’s direct involvement in the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Rev. Jim Bear leads groups through Bdote, or “the meeting place of two rivers.” Sitting at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, Bdote is home to many important Dakota ancestral sites, such as St. Peter’s (the oldest Catholic church in Minnesota), Fort Snelling State Park and Pilot Knob Hill.
The most powerful part of the tour took place at Fort Snelling State Park. As we listened to Rev. Jim Bear describe the horrors of the internment camp there during the Dakota Wars, we came to truly understand how the violent legacy of colonialism and genocide lives on today in the form of systemic racism. Yet even in recounting the cruelty and violence of these histories, Rev. Jim Bear never failed to uplift the resiliency and strength of the Dakota people. SJW Sarah Goleman-Mercer described the experience this way: “Rev. Bear told stories of the strength, compassion, bravery, joy, heartbreak, and deep rage of the Dakota peoples; stories that are also held in the earth’s body, in the changing leaves of the trees, the groans of the earth, the flowing waters of the Mississippi.”
Next, we headed east to Pilot Knob Hill to learn about the sacred burial grounds located there. Known in Dakota as Oȟéyawahe, or “the place much visited,” these ancestral Dakota burial grounds sit just across the way from Acacia Park Cemetery. In 2003, local Dakota activists and allies worked to get the site into the National Register of Historical Places, protecting its destruction by luxury real estate developers. How could two different sacred burial sites just across from one another, and be viewed so differently by society?
Finally, Rev. Jim Bear recounted a prophecy held by indigenous tribes across the country, in which a divine woman reveals that she will return in the future to heal the world on the brink of its collapse. “As I leave, so shall I return,” she says as she morphs into a white buffalo calf. Rev. Jim Bear told us that white buffalo have begun popping up more frequently across the country, and encouraged us to think of what we might do to move the work forward.
Engaging with Indigenous people and the history of their ancestral lands is an important part of seeking restorative justice. SJW Lydia Vetsch reflected, “I hope to continually recognize that this land is stolen from Dakota people and be intentional about educating others of what I learned. I also hope to continue to educate myself on Native American history and advocate for their communities.” Currently, the Native American Awareness Working Group of the CSJ Justice Commission is in the process of creating what is known as a “land acknowledgement statement” in partnership with St. Catherine’s University. It is a way for the province and the university to honor the violent occupation of the lands they stand on. Land acknowledgement statements require tremendous research and the input of the Native American community. Learning about the history of the land from people like Rev. Jim Bear helps to inform this work.
Reflecting on her experience, SJW Britta Koenen said “The most meaningful part of the tour was Jim Bear’s storytelling; it held so much pain, loss, and beauty all at the same time. Understanding the straightforward facts of Dakota genocide in Minnesota is one thing, but it is quite another to know the spiritual truth at the core of this history. Jim Bear’s incredible skill for sharing Dakota traditions and stories brought us far beyond a cerebral understanding of historical fact, and it was so powerful to feel that connection at every level of being.” Rev. Jim Bear reminded us of the need to acknowledge that social justice work cannot be done without unity and humility: “Even though the world is broken, we have sacred work to do.” Without recognizing the humanity in each other and working together in community, our work would be that much more difficult to accomplish.
SJW 20-21 Cohort & Staff
CSJ Justice Office
October 30th, 2020
St. Kate’s Food Insecurity Project (a collaboration with the Sisters of St. Joseph) secures two-year collaborative USDA grant for a student fellowship position
A collaborative team from the St. Kate’s Food Insecurity Project (FIP) recently received a two-year grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to hire a student fellow that will work to develop connections between St. Kate’s food insecurity networks and those of similar student-led initiatives at Hamline and Augsburg University. The planning grant will help the Food Insecurity Project at St. Kate’s build and strengthen their work to address immediate food insecurity within and beyond the St. Kate’s community as well as upstream solutions in connection with Twin Cities community food systems and St. Kate’s community-engaged courses. The student fellow will work in collaboration with Community Leader Interns, Celeste’s Dream, The Center for Spirituality and Social Justice and the larger FIP advisory group, as well as with our external partners.
October 29th, 2020
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Saint Paul Province, supports the below statement from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious rejoices over the news of the appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory as a cardinal in the Catholic Church. Over the years we have been grateful to Archbishop Gregory’s leadership within the church where he has not only been a strong pastoral presence, but also a fearless outspoken critic of injustice. His public stances on many critical matters such as the repair of the US immigration system, race relations, climate change, sexual abuse within the church, LGBTQ matters, and much more reveal his deep integrity and courage.
In making this historic appointment of the first African-American cardinal, Pope Francis is clearly giving a message about the importance of assuring racial diversity at all levels of society and within the church. We are pleased that the African-American voice will be represented in this important decision-making body.
As an organization headquartered in the Washington archdiocese, we are especially pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Archbishop Gregory. We look forward to this continuing relationship and congratulate him on this important recognition of his gifts and abilities as an outstanding leader.
October 26th, 2020