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S P R I N G 2 0 07 Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province Ministries Foundation 1884 Randolph Ave. Saint Paul, MN 55105

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID St. Paul, MN Permit No.1990

POSSUMUS We Can

You Are a Source of All Gracious and Loving Source of All, I strive to be in tune with you this day. Hold me close and speak hopeful and comforting words to me. Dissolve my fears and place within me a peaceful trust in you and in your continued presence and care. Share with me your gifts of gentle love, compassion, and peace. Help me to embrace nonviolence this day, and if I am called upon to confront unjust systems in church and society today, give me the courage to do so.

Community where you least expect it. Take a close up look at the improbable community called Peace House, “the living room of Franklin Avenue.” Cover story; Page 2.

Help me to be wholehearted in pursuing your desires for me. You are my Source, my Gracious and Loving Source.

From: I’m Still Dancing—Praying through Good Days and Bad, By Rose Tillemans, CSJ ©2002, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Published by Twenty-Third Publications

The roots of community. What Sister Kathleen Judge learned about the cultural value of community during her 10 years in Moho, Peru. Page 10.

Please tear off and use this bookmark as a companion in your reading and prayers.

Action gets results. From easy to ambitious, 10 things you can do to cultivate a greater sense of community wherever you are. Page 16.

Visit us on the web at www.csjministriesfoundation.org for updates on previous articles you read in Possumus.

A Publication of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Ministries Foundation


WE CAN:

You Are the God of Mindfulness Today, God of Mindfulness, I want to practice contemplation in the drinking of a glass of water, the taking of a breath, the use of my good legs as I walk, my eyes as I take the bus to work. Let me take nothing for granted and help me to be in awe of the ordinary. As I look upon people today, help me to feel kind to them and close to them in our common human struggle. Lead me to look with benevolence upon those I pass on the street, that my loving energy toward them might help to change the universe. Let me savor the uniqueness of each moment as a precious time of grace. May I be mindful of you today in all the ways you dwell in others.

Move toward a world of hope, reconciliation, and justice for all people.

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he 11th way.

Of course, there is one more way you can help build community. Simply give more power to those people who are out there making a difference everyday. It’s not hard to do. If you’d like to help the Sisters of St. Joseph strengthen their centuries-old commitment to the “dear neighbor,” you can pick up your pen. If you see communities struggling to survive and want a way to fight back, you can get out your wallet. If you’d like to help bring diverse people together one-to-one so they can learn from each other, you can take out your credit card. If you’d like to make a positive change in the daily lives of people here and across the globe, you can open your heart. If you’d like to make your neighborhood, your city, your state, your country and the world a better place for your children to live in, you can give a generous donation to the Sisters of St. Joseph. If you’d like to see all this good work continue, please, help us now.

7. Welcome New Immigrants. You don’t need to be part of a formal program to welcome new people on your block. New neighbors appreciate assistance on where to shop, when to recycle, you name it. Especially if they’ve recently arrived from another country. Sometimes a single act of kindness leads to a lifetime friendship. 8. Bring the Outside In. Many people in our communities, whether they’re in nursing homes, hospitals, or homebound, live isolated and solitary lives. Yet they yearn for a smiling face and a meaningful conversation. Bring cheer to a neighbor or even a stranger. Volunteer and help create community in a local nursing home. Deliver Meals on Wheels. 9. Find an E-Pal.

From: I’m Still Dancing—Praying through Good Days and Bad, By Rose Tillemans, CSJ ©2002, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Published by Twenty-Third Publications

In our high-tech world, the pen pal is now an e-pal. Communicating through e-mail to a citizen of another country and learning what his or her world is like is one step toward fostering worldwide harmony and understanding. It’s also quick and easy.

To make a donation to support the programs of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, please visit www.csjministriesfoundation.org Or send your check to: Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province Ministries Foundation 1884 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

10. Just Be There.

Possumus is Latin for we can. It sums up the drive and willpower that identifies the Sisters of St. Joseph as one of the most influential non-profit organizations working in Minnesota in the past 150 years.

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Be physically present and supportive to someone who has faced a significant loss -- an election, dream, death of a loved one, longtime job, or the effects of a chronic crippling illness. Be the unsung person who is simply there, quietly caring and sustaining. Do good in your world. Set a positive example. Be a saint in our midst.

Remember, you don’t have to be a saint or a hero, or be rich, to do enormous good. You just have to be willing. Thank you.

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Achieve universal primary education. Promote gender equality and empower women. Reduce child mortality. Improve maternal health. Combat HIV/AIDS malaria and other diseases. Ensure environmental sustainability. Develop a global partnership for development. UN Millennium Development Goals

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Ministries Foundation www.csjministriesfoundation.org


POSSUMUS

C

ommunity.

What do we mean when we use that word? How do we live it? Community is never static; it unfolds and changes. It is about real face-to-face settings in which people can learn how to relate to each other -with trust, shared values, responsibility, caring and mutual obligation. We need community because it provides connections for our disconnected neighbors, relationships for those who are unattached, safety for children without loving parents or any parents at all, hope for people who are forgotten, refuge for those without homes, and care for people who are lonely or estranged. This issue of Possumus celebrates our human desire and ability to build community. When we build community, we spread hope. The hope we spread tells people that, in the face of the isolation and violence we see around us, we have what we need to renew our world for ourselves and our neighbors. The stories in these pages show how Sisters of St. Joseph and the friends who work with us build and invest in community. From Minneapolis to Peru and beyond, CSJs believe community is a value that not only is worth preserving but is essential. And as we write on page 16, we can all find ways to build community. At the top of each page, we have highlighted quotations from John Gardner, a true visionary on the subject of community. Gardner served as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1965 to 1968, chaired the National Urban Coalition, and founded Common Cause. Gardner is the author of many books and publications and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. We hope his words, as well as the rest of this issue, will inspire you to join us in the great work of building community. Possumus. We can! Sister Irene O’Neill, CSJ Executive Director Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Ministries Foundation

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F E AT U R E “The future vitality of one’s community depends on the sense of responsibility of its citizens.”

COMFORT IN A COLD WORLD. The building stands alone in the middle of an inner-city block, pressed right up against the sidewalk. Its eastern facade is covered by what appears, from a distance, to be graffiti. It looks like the kind of building you wouldn’t want on your block. You might assume it was abandoned, neglected, no life left in it. A place nobody loves. But this is Peace House, so all your assumptions would be wrong.

was a very tenacious woman and, with the addition of a coffee pot and doughnuts, people soon started dropping in. They liked what they found, and over the years the reputation of Peace House grew. Sister Rose died in 2002 at age 79. Yet everyone in the current community insists her spirit has never left the building. Indeed, all the way down to the molecular level, her energy seems embodied in it. In some very real sense, Rose is still helping to turn on the lights and open the door and welcome the neighborhood to Peace House. Sister Rose is the history this unlikely community shares. But for these people, in this neighborhood, life is all about the here and now. It’s 11:00 a.m. on a Friday. The door has been open for an hour, and the housekeeping chores have already been assigned by drawing names from a hat. In the Peace House “living room” the crowd is gathering for lunch. To say it’s an eclectic group is an understatement. There is always a Sister or two in attendance. There’s also a cadre of coordinators who volunteer their time to keep Peace House functioning. They’ve recruited two men from the neighborhood, Curtis and Maurice, to be an everyday, steady presence in the house. In addition, an assortment of fresh-faced volunteers from colleges, churches and the St. Joseph

Come closer to the building that stands at 520 East Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, and you’ll see that what looked like spray paint from down the street isn’t that at all. It’s a mosaic, put together in one monumental, all-volunteer effort by a neighborhood artist, assisted by “whoever happened by,” says Sister Joanne Turgeon, CSJ, one of the Peace House coordinators. It consists of hundreds of thousands of pieces of multi-colored tile and mirror, some with jagged edges, some softer in shape. The pieces are reflective of their surroundings, giving off frequent flashes of brilliance that can take you by surprise. Whether intentional or not, this mural and the building in which it’s embedded are an appropriate metaphor for the community that gathers daily at Peace House. It was Sister Rose Tillemans who opened the doors for the first time in 1985, having first obtained the approval of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Paul Province, and the financial backing of friends and family. Rose has written that her intention was “to create a community day center for poor and homeless people who wanted to be with others seeking spirituality, friendship and affirmation.” On the first day, Rose sat alone. No one from the neighborhood showed up. But Rose

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F E AT U R E “If we accept the common usage of words, nothing can be more readily disproved than the old saw, ‘You can’t keep a good man down.’ Most human societies of which we have any historical record have been beautifully organized to keep good men and women down.”

Worker program takes turns helping out. You get the impression that these volunteers appreciate the feeling of community they find at Peace House just as much as the people who come in from the street do. And every day they come: people who are poor, homeless, poorly housed, mentally ill, drug and alcohol addicted, prostitutes, lonely, lost. People of all colors, ages and backgrounds. (“The real people,” Sister Rose called them.) For 5 hours a day, every Monday through Friday, all are welcome at Peace House. However, drugs, drunks and guns are never welcome on the premises. “Many of these folks get themselves sober every day,” says Curtis, “just because they want to come in here and visit.” All these people find a seat in the circle. They greet each other as any old friends might, with jokes, laughter, warm hugs, backslapping and small talk: “Did you spend Thanksgiving with your sister?” “Nah, I was in jail. Just got out.” You might sit down next to Brenda. You quickly discover that she lives by herself in a subsidized apartment five blocks away. When she’s lonely and “the walls start closing in,” Brenda comes to Peace House for the company. She says the people who gather at Peace House are “like family,” even though she has real family in the area. Or you might find yourself talking to a rather large man named Earley. He’s pretty much a regular here. He tells you he donated a small red quilt that hangs on the wall. The quilt is covered with names of people from the community, and he’ll invite you to add yours. If you ask, Earley will tell you he comes to Peace House for the “serenity.” At 11:30 a.m., the doors to Peace House are locked, so nothing disturbs that serenity. A gong sounds, and meditation begins. If you’re expecting bowed heads and silent prayers, you’re in for a

surprise. Meditation time at Peace House is all about the community connecting. A different volunteer leads each day’s session. Today the chosen topic is the upcoming Supreme Court decision on integration of schools. Whoever has something to say on the subject is welcome to say it. For people who are largely ignored by the world, this is a rare opportunity to be listened to. The impromptu 45-minute debate includes mention of Thurgood Marshall, racial quotas, the Constitution, trust and distrust, J. C. Watts, the ACLU, the voucher system, forced busing, and the freedom to choose. You and your friends might have the same kind of discussion over dinner.

But meditation varies widely from day to day. It might involve selections from the Peace House songbook, calisthenics, relaxation exercises, news items of interest, spiritual topics, etc. (There’s a great deal of spirituality at Peace House,” says Catherine Mamer, another Peace House coordinator. “But not much religion.”) Meditation always closes with informal prayers. Again, anyone can contribute. Today one man, himself homeless, starts it off with a good word for the people dispossessed by an apartment fire the night before. There’s a soft chorus of amens, then it’s time for a good hot lunch. Besides the daily free lunch, the volunteers serve up comfort to the community in whatever form they can. “We’re not trying to solve the problem of homelessness,” Lila Gilbert, a St. Joseph

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F E AT U R E This dove is a memorial tribute to "Iceman," one of the departed members of the Peace House community.

Worker, explains. “We’re just trying to keep people from being homeless for 5 hours a day.” To that end, they distribute personal hygiene kits and new clothes and blankets when they have them -- generously donated by civic and church groups all over the state. They hold community gatherings and summer picnics in the park. They act as a post office for people with no mailing addresses. They keep the phone numbers of hospitals and jails -- and if someone is missing for too long a time, they call around. They even keep tabs on community members as they pass in and out of drug and alcohol treatment, rooting them on as if they were family. Today a greeting card and a pen are passed around. “Before you leave, please sign this card for Carla. She’s in treatment and she’s been sober for 60 days!” They hold funerals at Peace House, too, for community members who couldn’t survive another day. They’re honored with homemade shrines on the front wall. Their names are remembered there, if nowhere else. It’s quite clear that Peace House provides some measure of love, comfort and stability in lives that have little or none. To coordinator Maurice, Peace House is “like Cheers.” He compares a walk-in shelter run by nuns and volunteers to a famous TV bar, but no one objects to the incongruity. Peace House is indeed a place where everyone knows your name. It’s a place where people who have little or nothing share what they have with each other. A place where you can be yourself, whether you sleep in a four-poster or a cardboard box. This is a place where you can commune, one-on-one, with the kind of people you might only see on the news -- and go back to your own life the richer for it. A place that shows that people do crave community in spite of their surroundings -- and in spite of all the obstacles

the world throws in their way. At Peace House, you realize, there is no textbook definition of community. Here, community isn’t something you dissect and define. It’s something that welcomes you the minute you walk in the door, if you’ll only let it. According to Sister Joanne, community is “what you feel all around you” every day at Peace House. It’s a feeling you’ll not soon forget. ✝

From: Here’s To Peace House (croon to the tune of Oh, Susannah) Each & ev’ry one who comes here wears a rather different hat. Though we might not know where money is, we know where life is at. We’re diversity personified, and know what makes it work. We don’t just drink the coffee here, we help to make it perk…! Here’s to Peace House, the only place on earth where who-knows-who from who-knows-where is worth a world of worth. Mike, a member of the community

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I L L U M I N AT I O N

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ove God and neighbor without distinction.

Jesuit Father Jean Pierre Medaille wrote those words as a radical call to 17th century women to actively serve “in God, for God, and before God” as Sisters of St. Joseph. These women came from different levels of French society, associating with others and ministering “in the streets.” This changed the way women’s religious life had been until then: living cloistered in monastic communities. The original group of Sisters of St Joseph lived in a small house in LePuy, France, and began serving their neighbors from there. They became the first apostolic order of religious women, which differed from monastic orders by focusing on good works in addition to prayer. They brought food to prisoners, helped the sick, and met and encouraged the “dear neighbor” spiritually. They also taught other women to make and sell lace. In those women’s homes, that often meant the difference between supper and none. Meeting the needs of the time in LePuy meant dividing the city, going to the different quarters to discover what needed to be done and doing it. But women in those days did not walk the city streets unaccompanied. To avoid scandal or be taken as prostitutes, the Sisters dressed like widows, wearing long black skirts, sleeves and veils. Moving through hundreds of years of living and loving, their ministry spreading to every continent in the world, the spirit of the original six Sisters and their associates can still be recognized in modern CSJ Sisters, associates, colleagues, and friends. Over the centuries, Sisters of St. Joseph kept the 17th century dress and did not change as the

fashions of the day evolved. Instead of being able to work unnoticed, they eventually stood out in their “habit.” In addition, life in their community became more structured as they began to live in larger groups. In the 1950s, Pope Pius XII asked Sisters worldwide to modernize. When further directives instructed religious orders to research their founding purpose, a group of U.S. Sisters of St. Joseph went to France to study archival documents. They returned to spread the “new” idea of their radical founding. Sisters of St. Joseph in the 21st century are probably closer to their original purpose than they have been since the end of the 17th century. Today, the CSJ mission “to love God and neighbor without distinction” defines who we are and who we are meant to be. It encourages us to connect with those in our broader community who feel called to the same goal. It calls us to be a “living community” that brings us closer to our neighbors and closer to the street. This broader definition of community stems from our 17th century French foundation, where a radical idea was lived out: that women could have a spiritual and practical ministry, that women of all classes of society could live and work in communion, and that the focus could be active work with the “dear neighbor.” Our spirituality rooted in serving others invites all of us --Sisters of St. Joseph, associates, and friends -- into the streets, sharing ourselves in ministries that will most benefit those we call our neighbors. ✝ Cathy Steffens, CSJ

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TURNING POINT

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haring a vision.

I grew up on Summit and Dale in St. Paul, Minnesota, attended Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, and after that St. Olaf College in Northfield, like many of my family members before me. I knew I wanted to commit to a year of service after graduation, something centered on children. I thought I wanted to go back to Africa, where I had lived for a year, but soon realized I didn’t even know what life was like in my own neighborhood. So I decided to look for something in Minnesota. I was walking around the Service Fair at St. Olaf when I came across the St. Joseph Worker booth. At first I was a little hesitant, not being Catholic. But Andrea, the program coordinator, convinced me that wouldn’t matter. The first time I felt the presence of community was at the interview itself. It was let’s-all-share-in-thistogether, not here’s-what-you-should-do. The Sisters were so inclusive, so supportive and open to the gifts each of us applicants could bring. I started my year of service in August 2005. I lived in the Worker house with roommates from different places and backgrounds. Yet we immediately became a community, not just because of the way we lived but because of the vision we shared what we wanted for each other and for the place we lived. We identified what that was right away. It was reflective of the Sisters’ creed: to love God and your neighbor without distinction. But we also wanted to take care of ourselves so we could in turn care for the community we were there to serve.

I spent my year of service at INSTEP, a nonprofit childcare for people who can’t qualify for government-subsidized childcare. That’s almost everyone these days. It’s a large room where children, six months to six years old, all come together while their parents go to work or to take their English classes. They may be from ten different places or cultures and speak different languages, but at INSTEP they all come together in a safe, peaceful place. It’s a place of hope. We caregivers saw the innocence in these kids, and we all wanted what was best for them. That was the third example of community I encountered that year. How things can be and how things should be in any community is being acted out there by the children, their families and those who are caring for them. They had such unexpected strength and resourcefulness. It made me so aware of my own position of white privilege in this world. It also prompted me to choose a specific path for my life: working with children and families. I’m now in graduate school in Oakland, California getting my Masters in Education, hoping someday to direct a program that serves a population where childcare is very difficult to access. I only hope that wherever life takes me, I find the kind of community feeling I had while taking part in the St. Joseph’s Worker program. ✝ Berit Nelson St. Joseph Worker 2005-2006

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PURPOSE “Our tradition of voluntary association is still vital. And its vitality is rooted in good soil–civic pride, compassion, spiritual commitments, a sense of individual responsibility and...a commitment to the great shared effort to improve our life together...”

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he possibility of we.

Sisters Mary Hasbrouck, CSJ and Patrice Neuberger, CSJ moved out of the convent at Ascension School in North Minneapolis more than 34 years ago and into a house in the same neighborhood. As part of this community, they’re living out “dividing the city,” a value espoused by the Sisters of St. Joseph since their inception.

Q

What was the neighborhood like when you moved in?

A SISTER MARY: This was once a well-to-do area of the city. There were some beautiful large homes and the Ascension School was sizeable as well. But the neighborhood was changing. There was a Caucasian migration in progress. New ethnic groups were moving in. Soon there were hundreds of boarded up houses like the one next door to us here, and lots of vandalism and crime.

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SISTER MARY: A few years I suppose. I remember sitting out on the back steps and being nervous every time a black man came down the alley. I was preconditioned, you know.

Q Why did you decide to make such a

SISTER PATRICE: I’ve been around longer than Mary, but I admit I was a little fearful, too. Fortunately, we had good neighbors on both sides. We made a point of getting to know them. Of course now I think it’s a wonderful place to live.

bold move?

A SISTER MARY: That was the beginning of us leaving convents and moving into homes in the heart of the community. That was the goal when our order was founded in 1650: not to be seen as different or apart. And we acted on that. We weren’t the only CSJs who did it.

Q So you feel a part of this community now? A SISTER MARY: Oh absolutely! It’s never felt

Q It must have been scary at first. How

like this in any place I’ve been before.

long did it take you to get over that?

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PURPOSE “What we need is a reasonable balance between the claims of individuality and the claims of community.”

Q Really? In a place an outsider would

SISTER MARY: Yes. Just by being here all the time, having a stable life and home, I think we give some of these more transient people a sense of family.

look at and think there wasn’t much community here?

A SISTER PATRICE: Oh yes!

Q Do you think of what you’re doing here

SISTER MARY: Yes! We’re living in a wonderful neighborhood. We’re part of the Highland neighborhood, and I bet we do more together than most neighborhoods in the city do. We have clean-up once a year. We have house tours so people can come into the North and see that it’s safe. We were one of the tour houses once.

as a mission?

A SISTER MARY: Mission comes from your baptism. This isn’t a mission, this is just life! And I have to say one thing, make one thing clear: we receive more than we give. SISTER PATRICE: Community is both ways: giving and receiving.

SISTER PATRICE: For years and years, after the spring clean-up, we’d have a potluck in our garage. People really got to know each other.

SISTER MARY: I don’t think you can have community if you’re one up on everybody. You have to be even with them. You can befriend somebody, sometimes that’s all you can do, but that’s different than becoming a real community with them.

Q Who instigates these things? A SISTER MARY: The neighborhood council usually. We’re on the Welcoming Committee. There’s a lot of movement in and out so we have a lot to do.

Q

Q Does the community know you’re A SISTER PATRICE: I think most know, and

SISTER MARY: Some do, But you know, it’s usually not for a handout. Not like you think of charity. We’re neighbors. They give us little gifts, too, sometime s--like any grateful neighbor would.

they like it.

SISTER PATRICE: They’re good people.

SISTER MARY: They like the fact that we’re Sisters, but we’re still part of the community. Sometimes we’re called upon to mediate disputes between neighbors. One Somali family on the block was having trouble with their AfricanAmerican neighbors. We got them together, just to talk, and it worked. We didn’t know how much they valued that, but now they call us….well, they say, “You’re our angels.”

Q What purpose do you think it serves

Do people know to come here, to this house, when they need help?

A

Sisters? What do they think of that?

that you live in this community?

A

SISTER MARY: Well, it serves our purpose, that’s for sure! We’re surrounded by wonderful, loving, caring neighbors. I’d hate to say we’re doing this for them. It’s a mutual thing, you know. ✝

SISTER PATRICE: They just kind of trust us. Trust is a big thing.

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SOUL “Civilization is a drama lived in the minds of the people.”

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espect for tradition.

In Peru, on the high plateau of the Andes, about 300 miles east of the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu, there is a large lake called Titicaca. At 12,507 feet above sea level, its brilliant blue is a sharp contrast to the rocky hillsides of the altiplano, or “high plain.” On the northeast shore of that lake is a small pueblo called Moho, where Sister Kathleen Judge, CSJ lived for 10 years of her life. There, she says, she learned the true meaning of community.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a worldwide order with a worldwide mission: to serve God and their neighbors without distinction, no matter where on the globe they find them. The Sisters journey far from home to provide education, social services, and sacraments to poor and indigenous people. In 1994, that mission took Sister Kathleen to Moho, home to 2000 people, where she began her work in the local parish church. Built by Jesuits, the church of San Pedro in Moho dates back to the 1700s. But that is recent history compared to the age of the civilizations that have occupied the Andes. As long ago as 20,000 to 10,000 B.C., there was human settlement in Peru. Classical cultures emerged before 1100 A.D. The Incans established their empire in 1438 A.D. They called Titicaca “The Sacred Lake” and believed that all of Incan civilization had quite literally arisen from its waters. Evidence indicates they built the entire citadel of Machu Picchu all at one time, the way they built all their towns. Incan families lived in close-knit communities, owned the land in common, and practiced mita, or mandatory public service. But in 1532, when the Spanish led by Francisco Pizarro invaded and conquered the Incan empire, they brought a harsh form of Christianity to the native people. A long period

of light, the Incans believed, had been ended by darkness. “The world vision of these people had been to see things in total balance,” Sister Kathleen explains. “Day and night, feminine and masculine, dry and wet, earth and sky, and so on. Their god was the Sun, who was the source of life. He gave them nourishment through the soil of Mother Earth, the producer of life.” This ancient concept of God was not Trinitarian. They believed that all sorts of natural things embodied the spiritual power they called huaca: celestial objects, mountains, lightning, rainbows, rocks. “Of course, this belief was considered pagan by the Spanish,” says Sister Kathleen. As colonizers often did, the Spanish established a feudal economy with themselves as landowners, and substituted the Holy Cross and Christian ritual for the ancient beliefs and symbols. The people of Peru went along with

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SOUL “Community building begins with open communication across boundaries.”

that -- but not entirely. Under Spanish rule, which lasted until 1821, the indigenous people took their ancient belief systems underground. “They would go up into the mountains and have their own ceremonies, but not in the sight of the Spaniards,” says Sister Kathleen. “The Spaniards thought they’d done away with all those practices, but they couldn’t. They’re in the soul of those people.” Even hundreds of years later, when it’s time for the planting in Moho, the townspeople hold a ceremony to open the earth. They apologize to the Mother for cutting into her, make offerings and ask for her blessing on their crops. Sister Kathleen participated in ceremonies like this many times. They were often followed by a Catholic liturgy she herself conducted. “Those were things that were a part of me when I was down there,” Sister Kathleen says. “That duality.” Fortunately, the form of Christianity brought to Peru by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet is not as doctrinaire as the one the Spaniards brought. The first delegation of fourteen Sisters arrived in Peru in 1962. They immediately saw that the country was very poor and, thinking education was the answer, they set to work in

various teaching institutions throughout the country. Sister Kathleen arrived in the country in 1964, at the age of 28, and began to teach. But things soon changed. Following the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s and the Latin American bishops’ conference in Medellin, Columbia in 1968 (which issued strong statements on self-determination and liberation theology), the church no longer viewed native peoples as objects to be baptized, to suffer and to serve. Rather, they were to be seen as dignified people in their own right. “Medellin urges us to look at people as individuals, and the presence of the poor as the face of God,” says Sister Kathleen. This new openness fit quite nicely with the global perspective of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. They left their institution-based mission in Peru and began a pastoral one, living with the people in their communities and becoming a part of their lives and traditions. After 30 years in-country, Sister Kathleen was moved to Moho in 1994, with three other Sisters and a priest. The priest soon departed, and no replacement followed. So, on their own, the Sisters served as ministers, mediators, social workers, care-givers, and friends to the people of the three neighboring parishes, containing 120 small farming communities. Of course, they had help from the local community of the faithful. Over the years, Sister Kathleen trained several of the local men as “faith animators” (like deacons) to be a link between the church and the community. Eventually, she expects the faith animators will be called upon to take over the work of the parish entirely. Some would call this missionary work. But Sister Kathleen doesn’t like the connotation of

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SOUL “Think of humankind’s search for social forms that honor liberty, justice and the worth and dignity of every person as a long, long story.”

eight different administrative areas, such as land, money, social services, culture, legal and policing. “Every year, we’d be called out to the communities to bless the outgoing and incoming leadership,” Sister Kathleen says. So seamlessly have the old and new beliefs blended in Moho that people often consult Sisters and shamans in equal measure. Perhaps that unique blend of Trinitarian and naturebased faith is where these communities get their ability to persevere in spite of all the changes in the world. As far as Sister Kathleen is concerned, there is much we could learn about community from the people of Moho. “Their solidarity is amazing,” she says emphatically. “They taught me what it means to work together as a community. I respected the harmony they had in their lives and in their communities and with their God. More than changing those people when I was there, I felt that I was changed, and I thank God for that.” Believing her work to be complete, Sister Kathleen left Peru in 2004 for a new ministry in El Paso, Texas. ✝

that word. “We are here to teach about Jesus and to call the people to a deeper faith, but we aren’t here to tell them that what they believe in is wrong,” she says. “I prefer the idea of enculturation, meaning bringing our two belief systems together in a positive way that brings out the best in people.” She adds wryly, “It’s a taxing idea. It forces us to give up many of the ideas we’ve had.” With their ecumenical attitude, the Sisters of St. Joseph were free to develop a feeling of mutual respect between the church and the local government. But more importantly, they affirmed the value of -- and worked within -- the centuriesold community structure that was still alive in these pueblos. “In Moho, some of the land is now titled because the government wants to collect taxes,” explains Sister Kathleen. “But the people still work most of the land together, harvest the land together, and celebrate the land together. When someone needs a new house or the pueblo needs a building, they all pitch in and build it. You often see signs on public buildings in Peru that say, ‘The people built this.’” The communities also still employ a type of mita system. In a town of 20 or 30 families, leadership changes every year-- by agreement, not election. Families simply take turns overseeing

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PERSPECTIVES

S

omething in common.

What do a former mayor of St. Paul, a Sister of St. Joseph with a bad back, and a North Minneapolis community organizer have in common? In addition to the fact that they all have interesting opinions about the different worlds they inhabit, it turns out they all believe in a universal humanity, which they all feel is the basis of their work. Here are stories about community building from three different perspectives. But surely all three would agree with the Paul Wellstone quote cited by Jim Scheibel: “We all do better when we all do better.”

Jim Scheibel has tackled the issue of community as a politician, a community activist and a non-profit executive. He’s been a councilmember and mayor, the Director of VISTA under President Clinton, and the CEO of Project for Pride in Living. He is an acknowledged leader when it comes to hunger, homelessness, immigration/ refugee and volunteer service. The problems communities have are huge, but Jim says every community builder has to start somewhere. When I was in high school, my favorite teacher, Father Ed Flahavan, missed classes for a while because he was marching in Selma. That got me to thinking about what that had to do with me here in Minnesota. That was the first time my curiosity was aroused on the subject of community. Trying to make that connection between Selma and St. Paul gave me an awareness that we all have something in common. I believe that’s the first step toward becoming a community builder. Once you acknowledge that shared humanity, you’ll come to see that you’re a part of many different communities -- neighborhood, school, work, church, city, country, the world. And you’ll start asking a lot of questions, challenging the status quo. Why is there hunger in a land of plenty? Why do some people not have shelter or education? What’s it like to live in poverty when others have too much? Take time to reflect on all that. The reflection phase is important. Out of it comes the inspiration to take action; to ask how and where you can serve our community, how you can give back. Jim Scheibel

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PERSPECTIVES

Sister Jean Dummer, CSJ lives in an affordable housing complex in St. Paul. Several other Sisters live in the same building, in which many recent immigrants also reside. Jean lived there for two years, trying all the while to get to know her neighbors, to make a connection with the community right outside her apartment door -- to no avail. They were too distrustful, too busy, or just too private to even say hello. Jean’s back surgery changed all that.

Alice Lynch has been working for the betterment of her community all her life. Since 1985, she has been the Executive Director of Black, Indian, Hispanic and Asian Women In Action (BIHA). She is also an accomplished mediator, working for Restorative Justice by facilitating Talking Circles in her North Minneapolis neighborhood and elsewhere. This expertise has provided her with a practical way to bring people together within a community.

My doctors told me I had to walk for one hour a day if I wanted to recover from surgery. When cold weather came, that put me inside the building, walking my corridor, in both directions, six times each way. As usual, no one even looked at me. But I got bored just walking, so I started saying hello to people I passed. I’d say, ‘Hello, I’m Jean, who are you?’ They were pretty startled at first. It took a lot of patience, but finally someone answered me back, telling me her name and chatting a little. After awhile, I guess they had gotten used to seeing me. So other people started talking to me when they’d see me in the hall. It was quite a breakthrough. We’re getting friendlier all the time. It makes me less afraid, now that we know each other, and I’m sure they’re more comfortable with me, too. I feel like I’m making strides toward community in this building, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Talking circles are simply a process for solving problems within a community. Even though the idea is derived from aboriginal and native traditions, I can apply the process to any group of people who want to resolve conflict -- business, family, judicial settings, social service, any community of people. The circle intentionally creates a sacred space in which people’s voices can be heard, and their thoughts and feelings listened to. Through listening and conversing with respect, we can strengthen relationships and bring communities closer together. I tell people the circle process is “simple but not easy.” It’s not a quick fix. Sometimes it takes many two-hour sessions before any real resolution occurs. But as long as there’s anyone in need, there’s still work to be done. And believe me, all the work you put in will come back to you in a good way. After one session, a participant told me, “I felt finally like we were a part of something… that was so powerful…and it felt like community.”

Sister Jean Dummer, CSJ

Alice Lynch

15


VOIC ES “In the struggle for social justice, impatience is essential.”

You Are the God of Mindfulness Today, God of Mindfulness, I want to practice contemplation in the drinking of a glass of water, ways to build community. the taking of a breath, the use of my good legs as I walk,

10

1. Open Your Neighborhood.

5. Read a Good Book.

Residents of Stillwater, Minnesota’s South Broadway Street paid the rent for a year so a Hurricane Katrina refugee could resettle in their neighborhood. The former New Orleans resident gained a new neighborhood and the neighbors developed relationships with each other that hadn’t existed before.

Not alone, but with others in a reading group. Books inspire conversation, and conversations inspire action. One solid choice is The Great Turning, David Korten’s book on how we might act together in our communities to restore our relationship with others across the globe and with the earth.

2. Work for Justice.

6. Help Others Help Each Other.

Find a local, national, or global issue that stirs your passions -- and do something. The first step is to find a group of people working to make one part of our world a better place. By joining others and making change happen, you become an educated and energetic advocate, learning from others, developing new relationships, and strengthening your community.

The women at Sarah’s…An Oasis for Women, a home for women in transition sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph, nurture each other by creating community among themselves. They make sure no one feels alone in their struggles. While they live under the same roof, they cook and eat together, support each other, and help each other get emotionally strong enough to move out on their own.

3. Discover Hidden Talents. Sister Althea Johns, CSJ works with developmentally challenged adults to design, cut, and paint wooden toys and decorations to sell at a gift shop. In the process, she teaches the workers and us to realize that everyone has something to offer the greater community. 4. Visit Prisoners. Men and women behind bars are easy to overlook, but they need community, too. Just ask the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary who work hard to create community in the women’s prison in Shakopee, Minnesota.

my eyes as I take the bus to work. Let me take nothing for granted and help me to be in awe of the ordinary. 16 As I look upon people today,

Possumus is Latin for we can. It sums up the drive and willpower that identifies the Sisters of St. Joseph as one of the most influential non-profit


WE CAN:

You Are the God of Mindfulness Today, God of Mindfulness, I want to practice contemplation in the drinking of a glass of water, the taking of a breath, the use of my good legs as I walk, my eyes as I take the bus to work. Let me take nothing for granted and help me to be in awe of the ordinary. As I look upon people today, help me to feel kind to them and close to them in our common human struggle. Lead me to look with benevolence upon those I pass on the street, that my loving energy toward them might help to change the universe. Let me savor the uniqueness of each moment as a precious time of grace. May I be mindful of you today in all the ways you dwell in others.

Move toward a world of hope, reconciliation, and justice for all people.

T

he 11th way.

Of course, there is one more way you can help build community. Simply give more power to those people who are out there making a difference everyday. It’s not hard to do. If you’d like to help the Sisters of St. Joseph strengthen their centuries-old commitment to the “dear neighbor,” you can pick up your pen. If you see communities struggling to survive and want a way to fight back, you can get out your wallet. If you’d like to help bring diverse people together one-to-one so they can learn from each other, you can take out your credit card. If you’d like to make a positive change in the daily lives of people here and across the globe, you can open your heart. If you’d like to make your neighborhood, your city, your state, your country and the world a better place for your children to live in, you can give a generous donation to the Sisters of St. Joseph. If you’d like to see all this good work continue, please, help us now.

7. Welcome New Immigrants. You don’t need to be part of a formal program to welcome new people on your block. New neighbors appreciate assistance on where to shop, when to recycle, you name it. Especially if they’ve recently arrived from another country. Sometimes a single act of kindness leads to a lifetime friendship. 8. Bring the Outside In. Many people in our communities, whether they’re in nursing homes, hospitals, or homebound, live isolated and solitary lives. Yet they yearn for a smiling face and a meaningful conversation. Bring cheer to a neighbor or even a stranger. Volunteer and help create community in a local nursing home. Deliver Meals on Wheels. 9. Find an E-Pal.

From: I’m Still Dancing—Praying through Good Days and Bad, By Rose Tillemans, CSJ ©2002, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Published by Twenty-Third Publications

In our high-tech world, the pen pal is now an e-pal. Communicating through e-mail to a citizen of another country and learning what his or her world is like is one step toward fostering worldwide harmony and understanding. It’s also quick and easy.

To make a donation to support the programs of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, please visit www.csjministriesfoundation.org Or send your check to: Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province Ministries Foundation 1884 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

10. Just Be There.

Possumus is Latin for we can. It sums up the drive and willpower that identifies the Sisters of St. Joseph as one of the most influential non-profit organizations working in Minnesota in the past 150 years.

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Be physically present and supportive to someone who has faced a significant loss -- an election, dream, death of a loved one, longtime job, or the effects of a chronic crippling illness. Be the unsung person who is simply there, quietly caring and sustaining. Do good in your world. Set a positive example. Be a saint in our midst.

Remember, you don’t have to be a saint or a hero, or be rich, to do enormous good. You just have to be willing. Thank you.

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Achieve universal primary education. Promote gender equality and empower women. Reduce child mortality. Improve maternal health. Combat HIV/AIDS malaria and other diseases. Ensure environmental sustainability. Develop a global partnership for development. UN Millennium Development Goals

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Ministries Foundation www.csjministriesfoundation.org


S P R I N G 2 0 07 Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Paul Province Ministries Foundation 1884 Randolph Ave. Saint Paul, MN 55105

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID St. Paul, MN Permit No.1990

POSSUMUS We Can

You Are a Source of All Gracious and Loving Source of All, I strive to be in tune with you this day. Hold me close and speak hopeful and comforting words to me. Dissolve my fears and place within me a peaceful trust in you and in your continued presence and care. Share with me your gifts of gentle love, compassion, and peace. Help me to embrace nonviolence this day, and if I am called upon to confront unjust systems in church and society today, give me the courage to do so.

Community where you least expect it. Take a close up look at the improbable community called Peace House, “the living room of Franklin Avenue.” Cover story; Page 2.

Help me to be wholehearted in pursuing your desires for me. You are my Source, my Gracious and Loving Source.

From: I’m Still Dancing—Praying through Good Days and Bad, By Rose Tillemans, CSJ ©2002, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Published by Twenty-Third Publications

The roots of community. What Sister Kathleen Judge learned about the cultural value of community during her 10 years in Moho, Peru. Page 10.

Please tear off and use this bookmark as a companion in your reading and prayers.

Action gets results. From easy to ambitious, 10 things you can do to cultivate a greater sense of community wherever you are. Page 16.

Visit us on the web at www.csjministriesfoundation.org for updates on previous articles you read in Possumus.

A Publication of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Ministries Foundation

Possumus - Spring 2007  

Spring 2007 Community

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