A set of mysterious petroglyphs lie at the heart of the indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé religion and written language — and those petroglyphs now lie at the bottom of a stagnant, foul-smelling reservoir. The flooding caused by the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project nearly three years ago constitutes an ongoing violation of their religious and cultural rights, say Ngäbe-Buglé leaders, in addition to causing widespread damage to orchards, farmland and fishing that the communities depended on for food and livelihood. Sr. Edia "Tita" López of the Sisters of Mercy agrees.
GSR Today: The United Nations celebrates the International Day of Happiness on March 20 and World Poetry Day on March 21. I recently celebrated both of them a little early.
In case you missed it...
GSR Today - The gathering in Bangkok gave opportunity for female Asian theologians, including 31 sisters, to share with one another theological insights from their studies and to keep alive the vision of the Women of Wisdom and Action initiative.
"Sexual abuse of nuns by clergy has long been a problem in Poland — and it's a very painful matter," Ursuline Sr. Jolanta Olech, secretary-general of the Warsaw-based Conference of Higher Superiors of Female Religious Orders, told Poland's Catholic Information Agency, KAI.
Notes from the Field - Without the experiences I have had so far in this year of service, I would not have this new breadth of knowledge about myself or the world around me.
When 200 girls from local Catholic high schools arrive at Philadelphia's St. John Neumann Center on Feb. 12, they'll be participating in an event that's a tiny bit of history in the making: a one-day seminar marking the first time the (mostly black) Oblate Sisters of Providence and the (mostly white) Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will collaborate on a vocations project.
Recent credible sexual abuse allegations in India and East Timor have underscored the fears of many in the church that clerical sex abuse is rife in South, Southeast and North Asia, which have a collective population of at least 120 million Catholics.
Sisters and other religious are bringing the issue of homelessness to the halls of the United Nations. They are among the 27 members of the NGO Working Group to End Homelessness. The group is pushing the U.N. to formally take up the growing problem as an emerging issue of focus and concern.
The Sister Water Project is just one of dozens of sister-led efforts to bring clean drinking water to those without. But project committee member Sr. Judy Sinnwell said the venture has been as much about changing those involved as it is about changing the lives of those given fresh water. "When we set out to do this, we were thinking of what would happen out there as we met a need," Sinnwell said. "But what happened in the congregation was it impacted all of us."
About a third of people ages 23-38 are "nones," people without a particular religious affiliation. Meanwhile, women religious in the U.S. are experiencing a shift toward most members being older, handing off ministries, reconciling property. Amid this change in consecrated life, what drives the "nones" reminds sisters of their younger selves — a passion for social justice, desire for authentic community, hunger for contemplative practice, and a willingness to devote their lives to a greater purpose. And they are meeting, in person, online and in community, to learn from and inspire each other.
In Part 2 of this series, Global Sisters Report explores the parallels between the unlikely community of women religious and millennial "nones" and their potential for a meaningful collaboration. While the decline in numbers at institutional congregations may be a discouraging trend to some, the union of these two groups may answer who could inherit the charisms that animate religious life today.
While sisters praised Pope Francis' recent acknowledgment of the issue, they called for follow-through by establishing protocols for reporting the physical and sexual abuse of sisters and changing the underlying clerical and power structures.
Emily Kahm is finishing up a fellowship at Augustana College, where she teaches a course in American Catholicism that is centered around the work of women religious. She sends her students out to interview a sister, an assignment that's generated surprising encounters.
You might have seen Sr. Norma Pimentel around: hoping to talk with President Donald Trump when he made his Texas-Mexico border visit in January; speaking at the United Nations; testifying before Congress; being part of an international satellite broadcast in 2015 with Pope Francis just before the pope's U.S. visit. But that's not all.