We are one

by Mary Lou Nolan

Former Editor

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Anniversaries are about asking questions and taking stock.

If it’s a relationship: Are we happy? Are we moving forward? Are there more good times than bad?

If it’s an undertaking: Is it working? Is it sustainable? Is it worth the trouble?

Pretty daunting, this taking stock, especially if it’s Global Sisters Report, which feels to me like an undertaking and a relationship. But today marks GSR’s one-year anniversary, so here we go:

Yes, there are more good times than bad. And, yes, again, GSR is worth the trouble.

But that’s just my perspective, emanating from National Catholic Reporter’s headquarters in Kansas City, where I hope to have birthday cake later today. What about something more concrete?

So we decided to ask you, the readers, about GSR ahead of the anniversary. More than 1,000 of you answered our online survey, and while the results aren’t scientific, I think they are interesting.

Perhaps most heartening to me, your appetite for international news is as strong as your interest in U.S. news. More than 75 percent of you reported being “very interested” in each. Asked specifically about reading stories on what women religious are doing internationally, your interest level only increased, to nearly 85 percent.

(Have to say, I wondered a few times this past year about the interest in – and expense of – our international journalism, such as our sending Melanie Lidman to report on mining in far northern Zambia or dispatching Joachim Pham to the remote Central Highlands in Vietnam. So thank you for the affirmation that those were good decisions. . . .)

I’ll write more in a later post about the survey results, but on to more stock-taking. A one-minute-or-so video showcases some of the work of women religious featured on GSR in its first year. See it here. And we have an eBook, On the Ground, which compiles some of our finest reporting and commentary. Learn more about that here.

The survey results, the video, the e-Book – all great birthday presents for us at GSR. But the best gift for me  so far – and a most inspiring way of taking stock  – was the few hours I spent revisiting the work, and the words, of women religious serving in a needy world.

From that comes this list I call eight quotes about justice from Catholic sisters at globalsistersreport.org:

1. "Justice is not only about healing fistula and caring for victims of typhoons; it is re-visioning the systems that create such vulnerability and then rolling up one’s sleeves."                    

Clare Nolan on confronting inequality with idealism and hard-headed strategies

2. "As I looked into her sparkling black eyes and bent down in front of her precious, smiling daughter, I knew that I would be driving Jesus today."

Tracy Kemme on taking a Guatemalan mother to her immigration hearing in Cleveland

3. "You walk toward trouble, you don’t walk away from it. You walk toward it so you can embrace it and hold it and help people who are suffering."

Simone Campbell on facing issues of economic injustice

4. "Jailing refugees is no way to honor our nation's tradition of protecting those fleeing danger and violence."

Marlene Perrotte on the U.S. policy that holds women and children seeking asylum in detention

5. "To build a vibrant church, in the face of menacing interferences from outside, whether they be religious, commercial or political, the church must reconcile herself to accepting voices of her ‘foot soldiers’ who work the trenches, the religious sisters."

Caroline Mbonu on patriarchy and the African sisterhood

6. "The issue really is, when do you look at the parameters of an institution and when do you say, ‘No matter what, we’re going to cross those lines because we see a need on the other side?' I think that’s what they’ve done."

Elizabeth Seaman on the founders of Operation Breakthrough, which provides daycare and family services in Kansas City’s urban core

7. "I can’t get the image of Pope Francis praying at the wall in Bethlehem out of my head. A simple, yet profound gesture, touching deeply something within me, within us all: a desire for justice, freedom and peace. Written on the wall, just minutes before he arrived, was ‘Pope we need some 1 go speak about justice.'"

Jan Cebula on Pope Francis’s unscheduled stop to pray at the Israeli-built “separation wall” in 2014

8. "I strike the match I was given and it starts a fire that I don’t feel I control."

Agnes Ngure on helping start a new ministry in Kenya

[Mary Lou Nolan is managing editor of Global Sisters Report.]

Word cloud showing top reasons our readers told us in our survey why they read Global Sisters Report. (Sara Wiercinski)
Word cloud showing top reasons our readers told us in our survey why they read Global Sisters Report. (Sara Wiercinski)