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"the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." - MLK 

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Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the authors' and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members. On August 5, 2021, we archived old blog posts. You can find the archive by clicking here.


Archive for the "Peace/Nonviolence" Category

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (9/26)

September 21, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations, and one of the most difficult.

Today, around 12,512 nuclear weapons remain worldwide. You are invited to reflect on these thoughtful and challenging words from two U.S. and two Japanese Bishops who, this summer, agreed to “create a new initiative to promote the realization of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Consider taking this illuminating online quiz on nuclear weapons put together by our friends, the Sisters of St. Francis. The answers may surprise you!

ACTION: Explore ways you can support nuclear disarmament

Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Catholic Nonviolence Days of Action

September 21, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Image of words "Blessed are the feet of htose who bring nonviolence"September 21 (International Day of Peace) through October 2 (International Day of Nonviolence and Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday) marks Catholic Nonviolence Days of Action, and Pax Christi International invites us to promote and celebrate peace and nonviolence..

This year’s theme is “Blessed are the feet of those who bring nonviolence.” It calls for embracing the work of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative and Vow of Nonviolence. Click here for more information.

Watch this video and pray with Pope Francis for a non-violent culture.

Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Block U.S. Support to Saudi Arabia

September 07, 2023
By Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action

Some days, a story about violence somewhere in the world is so horrific, I almost can’t bear to finish the article. I want to turn away. Do you ever feel that way? 

There were gut-wrenching reports yesterday from Human Rights Watch about Saudi border guards massacring hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers. It’s expected that the shootings may continue to this day.[1]

Once again, it is the avalanche of military largesse the US offers to Saudi Arabia that is underpinning human rights crimes. President Biden once promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah”[2], now the administration is in negotiations to offer this reckless and brutal government formal security guarantees.[3]   

Can you contact Congress today and ask your Senators to speak out on the egregious violation of human rights and to cosponsor legislation to force the administration to address Saudi’s human rights violations?

We can’t turn away. It’s our arms and our policies that help fuel Saudi aggressions like the war in Yemen, these anti-migrant killings, and Saudi Arabia’s other well-documented oppressions towards women, the LGBTQIA+ community, journalists and many others. 

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) had already introduced legislation to force the administration to report on Saudi human rights violations. This legislation, invokes section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act to force examination of U.S. aid. By debating this on the Senate floor and forcing the administration to respond, Congress can help reevaluate the US/Saudi relationship. That can – and should – lead to cutting off “security assistance” to that country. U.S. law bans the provision of U.S. military aid to any government that “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

If Saudi Arabia does not fall under this standard, what country ever would? It’s time to enforce these laws so that our arms and other aid do not continue to be used to kill civilians in Yemen, shoot down Ethiopian migrants, and oppress Saudi citizens. 

Ask your Senators to support Senator Murphy’s  S. Res. 109 to require the administration to report on Saudi human rights abuses, and to speak out against the brutal killings of Ethiopian migrants as well. 


[1]Saudi Arabia: Mass Killings of Migrants at Yemen Border, Human Rights Watch, August 21 2023
[2]Biden to Travel to Saudi Arabia, Ending Its ‘Pariah’ Status, New York Times, June 2, 2022
[3]Biden Should Not Extend Security Guarantees to Saudi Arabia, National Interest, July 25. 2023

Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Nuns Against Gun Violence issues a Statement

September 07, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

CSA stands in solidarity with the Black community following a deadly racist shooting in Jacksonville, FL on August 26.

The following statement was made by Nuns Against Gun Violence, a coalition of over 60 congregations of Catholic sisters, including CSA, who affirm the value of human life through prayer, education, and advocacy for common sense, evidence-based, gun violence prevention. Supporters and advocates are invited to take action:

Last weekend, three people were murdered in yet another racially motivated shooting, this time in Jacksonville, Florida. Angela Michelle Carr, Anolt Joseph Laguerre, and Jarrald De’Shawn Gallion were killed at a Dollar General store by a gunman brandishing a swastika covered AR-15 assault-style rifle and a Glock handgun after he tried and failed to enter a nearby historically black college, Edward Waters University.

Nuns Against Gun Violence, a coalition of over 60 congregations of Catholic sisters, stands in solidarity with the Black community in Jacksonville. We pray for the families and friends of those so senselessly murdered. White supremacy and systemic racism lie at the heart of this hate crime. We must continue to advocate to keep firearms out of the hands of violent extremists.

Our mission of prayer, education, and advocacy calls us in this moment to lament the loss of life, inviting all to continue to pray our Novena Against Gun Violence. We hope to educate about the relationship of systemic racism and gun violence. According to Everytown USA, in an average year, more than 25,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a gun – 69 per day. Half of these race-based hate crimes target the Black community in particular, calling us to do more to dismantle structural racism. This call to advocacy also means continued pressure on Congress to act on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023.

It is outrageous that while mass shootings continue – 479 in 2023 alone - Congress does nothing. We invite supporters and advocates to take three actions:

  1. Contact Senator Dick Durbin–IL, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and demand he mark up the bill for the committee to vote. There have been enough cosponsor votes to pass the Assault Weapons Ban out of committee for months, and it is long past time for action.
  2. Contact Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer-NY and demand a floor vote on the Assault Weapons Ban. The public deserves to know exactly who is voting no on such crucial legislation that will save lives.
  3. Contact anyone you know that lives in Illinois or New York, and ask them as constituents of Senators Durbin and Schumer to put the pressure on their elected officials to take action against senseless gun violence.

We must continue to pray for an end to white supremacy and gun violence as well as work for common sense gun laws that keep weapons of war off the streets and protect all human life, especially those our society has marginalized.


Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Pacem in Terris

August 17, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

This year is the 60th anniversary of the seminal Catholic social tradition encyclical promulgated by Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, as well as the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Catholic Bishops peace pastoral, The Challenge of Peace.

To commemorate the anniversary year and approach the feast of Pope St. John XXIII on October 11, Pax Christi USA partners with Bergamo Center for Lifelong Learning and the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative.You are invited to “Called to be Peacemakers: A Virtual Retreat inspired by Pope John XXIII and Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Pacem Terris” on Saturday, October 7, 9 AM-1 PM CT.

The cost is $10. After registering, you will receive the Zoom link and materials for this retreat the week before the event.

Scholarships are available - please mail for information.

Click here to learn more and to register for the Virtual Retreat.


Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Ask Congress to Invest in Peace

August 03, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Every member of Congress is back in their home state this month; pay them a visit and discuss issues important to you, like investing in peaceful resolutions to war.

On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion immediately killed an estimated 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.”

Today, the world faces more active armed conflicts than at any point since the end of World War II. Yet, the U.S. government spends only one dollar on peacebuilding for every $200 we spend on war.

As Congress negotiates funding levels for Fiscal Year 2024, lawmakers can make a meaningful impact in fostering sustainable peace and preventing violent conflict around the world by ensuring robust funding for three essential accounts: Atrocities Prevention, the Complex Crises Fund, and Reconciliation Programs. Visit your congressional leaders this month and/or take action here.

Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Study Aims to Shed Light on Young People’s Attitudes Surrounding Guns and Gun Violence in the U.S.

August 03, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Everytown for Gun Safety team up with Polarization & Extremism Research & Innovation Lab (PERIL) to present their July 2023 report, which is a multi-phase project utilizing a variety of research methods and reflecting a range of expertise to analyze youth attitudes towards guns.

Guns have been the leading cause of death for American children and teens since 2020, and a record number of young people were shot and killed in 2021 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). Gun violence permeates the lives of American youth in many ways—whether they experience daily gun violence in their neighborhoods, live with an armed abuser, are injured in an unintentional shooting, attempt suicide with a gun or survive a mass shooting at their school, sporting event, mall, church or other gathering place. Four out of five young people agree gun violence in the United States is a problem. Read the full “U.S. Youth Attitudes on Guns” report here


Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Say NO to Cluster Bombs

July 20, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The United States has made the decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine. Cluster bombs carry canisters of explosives designed to detonate on hard surfaces, but do not always detonate on contact. There are fragments of cluster bombs used in Vietnam still killing and harming people. More than 120 countries have banned them. The US, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey did not. They have been widely used in the war in Ukraine by both sides. Our citizenry needs to decide where we stand. Read one story here.

Consider using the SSND Voter Voice Tool to urge President Biden and Congress to refrain from sending cluster bombs to Ukraine. You may also add your voice by visiting this website.


Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Remembering Highland Park One Year Later

July 06, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Mass shootings are what we hear about most often in the news. Every day, more than 120 Americans are shot and killed and hundreds more are shot and wounded. Guns surpassed cars to become the leading cause of death in the US for kids and teens. Have we grown numb to the suffering behind these stories and numbers? We are not helpless in the fight against gun violence. States can take action to reduce fatalities and injuries by limiting access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, like Illinois has. 

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and Moms Demand Action’s executive director argue an assault weapons ban can rid ourselves of this preventable plague once and for all. They report that there is broad public support for bold action to curb gun violence. While the passage or Red Flag laws, background checks, and secure firearms storage requirements are critical to addressing the gun violence crisis, we must also reinstate a federal assault weapons ban. Action is needed. We can and must do more. Read their July 3rd article in its entirety here and then contact your politicians!

Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Peace organizations offer a global 24-Hour Peace Wave, July 8-9, 2023

July 06, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

From 8 am CDT on Saturday, July 8, until 8 am on Sunday, July 9, you can log in to join a virtual 24-hour Peace Wave, organized by Peace Action Wisconsin and World Beyond War. See video clips from last year’s event here:

For those able to take a more active role in the Peace Wave, you’re invited to join the “World Abolish War Teach-In” at Reynolds Park in Madison, WI, (click for directions) facing Breese Stevens Field on Saturday, July 8 from 10 - 11 am. You are invited to research or choose concepts/sentences/quotes, etc. that you want to speak about, related to war abolition. You can also hold posters and take turns sharing your concepts in an open mic forum. The goal would also be for each person there to be able to debate their issue with people who stop by and engage. For questions or to RSVP, email Stefania and Janet at

Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Women Religious Gather in Solidarity and Pray for an End to Gun Violence

June 01, 2023
By Tracy Abler, featuring Guest Contributors

Friday, June 2, is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. A week prior, a first of its kind Gun Violence Summit was held in Milwaukee, WI.

Eight members of the CSA community attended the EMERGENCY Gun Violence Summit in Milwaukee, WI on May 25, 2023. The event was sponsored by over 20 organizations, including the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes.The summit had a long list of impressive speakers and breakout session leaders to include Stephanie Feldman, Sr. Adviser to President Biden; Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader, Rep. Greta Neubauer, Milwaukee Mayor, Cavalier Johnson, bishops and clergy from multiple faith groups, leaders from action groups and organizations, gun violence survivors, and more.

The summit was said to be the first of its kind in Milwaukee, WI - a city plagued with gun violence and a murder rate of 16.41 per 100,000 people. Wisconsin averages almost two deaths per day from firearms. It was reported that 40% of the people in attendance at the summit said this was the first time they had ever done any kind of gun violence work, which was a fair representation of those of us who attended from CSA.

Another number that stood out to me was “80%.” That is the percentage of Americans (Republicans and Democrats) who are in favor of some kind of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), otherwise known as red flag laws. These laws vary state by state and can include things like: Universal background checks, the requirement of gun safes or secure lock-ups, but most notably, the removal of guns from folks going through a mental health crisis. Only 19 states have red flag laws.

The breakout sessions were very insightful, but the one that stuck with me the most was one featuring a panel of high school and college students.Their perspectives touched my heart and refueled my passion for this work.They reiterated that as an adult, I do not have the same experiences as this generation of youth. Today’s youth have to perform lock-down drills several times a year and be trained what to do in an active-shooter situation.They enter their schools through metal detectors, study behind locked doors, and are expected to learn in an environment where many fear they may be next. Third graders are learning to tie tourniquets even before they can tie their own shoes. Some have received email advertisements for bullet-proof backpacks?! Ya, this last one really got me!

One girl said she “felt like people are just saying gun violence is inevitable so we cover it with band-aids, like the drills, rather than fixing the issue of gun access and violence.” Indeed, it seems Americans have been good at reactionary work, but have failed in proactive work - like common sense gun laws. What if, instead of teaching kids how to protect themselves in an active shooter situation, we teach politicians how to stand up to the gun lobby? We are the only developed country that allows our politicians to put guns before children.

Patricia Weidman, CSA,  expressed, “There needs to be a national moral outrage about the easy access to high powered firearms. Our nation needs to be freed from the addiction to weapons. Our society needs to love and protect our children, not kill them” and believes “men who have been convicted of domestic violence should be prohibited from buying firearms.” Sister Trish was especially touched by the final session of the summit, which included remembrances from the survivors, including parents of children who were killed by gun violence.

Sister Clare Lawlor, CSA,  attended. As a Clinical Psychologist, she appreciated the emphasis noting that gun violence survivors need their own specialized approach to care as they will have an increase in stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD symptoms. She shared the following reflection from the day: 

During the gun violence conference, I felt myself navigating towards a breakout session hosted by six high school students. I was hesitant to attend this session because I could feel my heart breaking in anticipation of  meeting face-to-face with students whom I had seen only in horrendous shooting incidents televised on an almost daily basis. 

As I entered, the students were sitting in a horizontal row at the front of the room. The room,  crowded with social service workers and additional students, quickly quieted as the students began to speak.

Student 1: I was shot three times.

Student 2: My best friend was shot and killed right in front of me.

Student 3: I have never known  school without shooting drills.

Student 4: We hide under our desks. At first we laugh and then we are afraid.

Student 5: We don’t know if it is a drill or real.

Student 6: My parents have never know a day like our days at school.

In my mind, simultaneously I am catapulted back to memories of my years as an elementary school educator. I see laughing students in the halls freely going in and out of the school doors.  My mind moves to  current experiences of going to a local school to visit my Little Sister(I am a member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters). Every door is locked. One cannot enter without the school secretary seeing you on her camera and “buzzing” the front door to open. Once in, there is a sign-in list and another door to unlock to get into school and yet another locked door to enter the office. My picture is taken and imprinted on a badge to wear while I am in the school.  I wait to meet my little sister in the office. I notice that hallways and classrooms  are filled with large glass windows with a courtyard in the center of the building. A person with an automatic weapon could blast children in multiple rooms from this courtyard. “How”, I wonder, “can any of these children focus on education when they are surrounded with potential and actual violence on a daily basis?”.

Post conference, I am left with the pictures and memories of these young men and women who are growing up in a society that seems not to care enough to rise up against the gun lobbies. We need political and societal action to create venues where we can respond to the killing of our children. Yes, our children are being murdered on a daily basis. Politicians are talking about mental health concerns. I am all in for mental health services. `However, that is a ruse to cover up the real causes of violence. Gun manufacturers and politicians supported by these manufacturers need to be held accountable for the results of their capitalistic motives. We need to step up and step out, WAY OUT, in protest!

The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, along with numerous other congregations of women religious, invite readers to pray the novena below for nine days, starting on June 2, in solidarity with those around the country praying for peace and an end to gun violence. 

The date of June 2 was chosen because it is the birthday of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl from Chicago who was playing in a park with her friends when she was tragically shot and killed, just one week after performing at President Obama's inauguration in 2013. Supporters are asked to wear orange, a color traditionally used by hunters to alert others not to shoot.

If you wear orange or wish to post any photos supporting this movement, please include the #NunsAgainstGunViolence


Continue to call on your elected officials to act by signing any one or more of these 200+ petitions

 Also learn how you can support the DC Capitol Sit-In June 6-12 with your attendance, prayers, and donations. To learn more and consider donations for food and other essential items for the sit-in, please visit:

If you are interested in attending the sit-in, please fill out this Google form:


Posted in Peace/Nonviolence
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Participate in National Gun Violence Awareness Day

May 18, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

June 2 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day.  The recently formed collaborative group Nuns Against Gun Violence is preparing materials for religious Congregations to use on that day. This new group consists of justice promoters from congregations across the country and is supported by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

More details will be shared from the CSA JPIC Office, but for now, please mark your calendars and plan to participate in some way. Here are some suggestions:

  • Place a light or candle in your window as a sign of your commitment to bringing this issue to light.
  • Wear Orange to honor survivors of gun violence. Learn more about the Wear Orange movement here:
  • Take a picture of your candle or yourself in orange and post to social media. Flood social media with your light amidst the darkness of violence and a call for action to end gun violence. Email your photos to, if you are willing to be featured on CSA social media sites. 
  • Read the recently released FACT SHEET where President Biden announces 13 New Action to Reduce Gun Violence.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Honoring the 75th Anniversary of International Day of UN Peacekeepers

May 18, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Peacekeepers help to prevent conflict, protect civilians, advance political solutions, and support democratic processes. They promote human rights, build capacity of state institutions, and ensure that women and youth lead and participate in peace processes and nation-building. Today, UN peacekeepers work in increasingly dangerous contexts and are targeted with violence.

The theme for this year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers is "Peace Begins with Me". Since 1948, more than 2 million men and women have served in 72 peacekeeping operations. Read more about the 75th Anniversary.

Read about the important role that women play in peacekeeping. 

Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

Red Dress Day, May 5th

May 04, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The REDress Project by Jaime Black is a public art installation that was created in response to the missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) epidemic in Canada and in the United States. The on-going project began in 2010 and the color red was chosen as indigenous believe red is the only color the spirits can see. The dresses are empty, so they evoke the missing women who should be wearing them. Watch this powerful short video from the Ontario Provincial Police. 

This is a human rights crisis of gender-based and racialized violence. In Canada, 4,000 Indigenous women, girls and members of the 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) have gone missing or were murdered between 1980 and 2012. The Final Report from the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, released 2019, concluded that the staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls amounts to race-based genocide.

In 2021, Wisconsin Attorney General, Josh Kaul created a MMIW Task Force to study the problem as he believes jurisdictional issues, human trafficking and drugs may play a role in the issue. Read more here and see how other states are addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Raise Awareness! You may also be interested in showing support by attending events such as Wisconsin’s 2nd Annual “Wrap the Capitol Red” Day on Friday, May 5th, 12-2 pm.



Posted in Peace/Nonviolence

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