CSA is pleased to welcome Kathy Koepsell (pictured at right) as the Assistant Director of Associate Relationship. Kathy has been actively involved in the associate relationship in Fond du Lac and brings a compassionate presence and collaborative spirit to the position. Her responsibilities include assisting Carol Braun in some of the daily operations of the associate office including oversight of specific programs, events and maintaining files. Kathy was an elementary education teacher for 45 years and since retiring enjoys being out in nature walking her dog and working during the garden season at Haentze Floral. She volunteers in prison ministry, at assisted living homes, and at Loaves and Fishes. Kathy is very close to her daughter, Lisa, spending time together sharing life values.
The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, along with more than 600 utility-justice, environmental, racial justice, labor, and faith groups, delivered a letter today to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris urging their administration to halt utility shutoffs nationwide to protect public health.
The No Shutoffs Coalition, which has advocated for a federal moratorium on utility shutoffs since the COVID-19 crisis began, presented Biden with a draft Executive Order that would instruct the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use her authority under the Public Health Service Act to enact a national moratorium on residential disconnections of all water, electricity, broadband, heat and other necessary utility services for nonpayment.
The proposed order, which would also mandate safe restoration to previously disconnected homes, would last the full duration of the COVID national emergency and at least 12 months following its end.
This letter follows the October call from the House Oversight’s Subcommittee on Environment Chair Harley Rouda and Vice Chair Tlaib to outgoing CDC Director Robert Redfield to issue a national water shutoff moratorium. Director Redfield sent a letter to organizations to advise people who experience water shutoffs to use hand sanitizer or dirty water for handwashing. Rep. Tlaib has been advocating for a national shutoff moratorium since March and was lead sponsor of the Emergency Water Is a Human Right Act to create a $1.5 billion low-income water assistance fund with a moratorium on water and power shutoffs. Senator Merkley introduced the Senate version of the legislation and last April led a 113 Congress member letter in support of a nationwide shutoff moratorium.
The push for executive action comes after Congress’s failure to enact a moratorium in the COVID relief bill passed in December, despite its inclusion in the House of Representatives’ HEROES Act and broad support from Senate Democrats. While Congress did allot $6 billion in additional funding toward electricity bill relief, that funding does not meet the scale of the crisis. The late December omnibus spending bill included $638 million for a new low-income water assistance program -- far short of need.
Due to COVID-19 and record unemployment, utility shutoffs remain a severe crisis impacting millions of working American families. Black, Indigenous, and Latinx families are disproportionately impacted.
Federal action is necessary in the absence of state protections. More than half of the U.S. population is not protected from water shutoffs. Due to the lack of comprehensive data on shutoffs, we still do not know how many households have lost water service during the pandemic. Last year, more than 600,000 customers were officially at risk of service termination or behind on their water bills in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina. Between September and November, the country’s largest private water utility, American Water, disconnected over 12,000 households, affecting an estimated 32,000 people, in just three states. Providers in Florida shut off tens of thousands of households over the summer.
Nearly 80 million people in the U.S. do not have adequate broadband at home, and poor families and communities of color are disproportionately affected by this digital divide. Moreover, 30 percent of low-income people of color report missing an internet payment in the early months of the pandemic, while roughly half are worried about paying for upcoming internet and phone bills.
Only five states retain a moratorium on electricity shutoffs. In November last year alone, nearly 30,000 households in North Carolina had their power shut off by electricity giants Duke Energy and Dominion Energy. Similarly, nearly 40,000 households in Georgia and 35,000 households in Indiana were disconnected in the immediate aftermath of state moratia expiration.
Stopping utility shutoffs would have clear public health benefits: A study from Duke in June found that water and utility shutoff moratoria reduced the average growth rate of COVID by 2.6%.
On August 26, 2020, CSA was awarded a Proclamation by Fond du Lac City Council president, Brian Kolstad. The Proclamation marked the 150th anniversary of the move of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes to Fond du Lac Sister Cyndi Nienhaus (pictured right) is holding the Proclamation. Quoting from the CSA Statement of Mission, President Kolstad publicly acknowledged CSA’s longstanding dedication and contribution to the city of Fond du Lac.
In her remarks, Sister Rhea Emmer(pictured left) enumerated some of the ways in which CSA and the people and city of Fond du Lac have partnered historically to meet the educational and healthcare needs of the local community and surrounding rural areas as well as some of the efforts of the partnership in the 80s and 90s to address unmet social needs such as serving victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, supporting houses for recovery from addiction for women and men and establishing the first Hospice program in the city. Sister Rhea concluded with the acknowledgment that the work of the partnership is not done and that we can work together to address issues of systemic racism, care of earth, and homelessness, especially among youth in Fond du Lac. The congregation’s call to minister to those whose faith life and human dignity is threatened remains dynamic and relevant in our day.
January is the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and this coming Monday, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day aimed at increasing understanding of the prevalence of this crime throughout the US and the world.
Representing more than 650,000 women, the International Union Superiors General (UISG) recently launched the campaign #YouAreMySister to raise awareness of how COVID-19 has exacerbated human trafficking and hunger issues throughout the world. You can follow along with this campaign on Twitter and catch up on all the videos of their work in India, Cambodia, Kenya, Brazil, and around the world by visiting their website.
As the Church prepares to celebrate the Day of Prayer for St. Josephine Bakhita on February 8th, we invite you to take the opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and educate yourself on this form of human suffering so that we can be better positioned to eradicate this terrible crime.
from National Human Trafficking Awareness Day to the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita using this calendar from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.
Mark Your Calendar for These Virtual Events
JANUARY 19, 2021 | 3:00 PM EST
Witness and Grace: A Conversation on Anti-Human Trafficking
Global Sisters Report
JANUARY 25, 2021 | 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM EST
A Victim Centered Approach to Health Care for Survivors of Human Trafficking
The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy, St. Thomas University
FEBRUARY 8, 2021 | 10:00 AM - 1:45 PM EST
Prayer Service, Survivors Panel, and Mass Honoring the International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking
The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy & the Coalition of Catholic Organizations against Human Trafficking
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) joins with the world in praying for peace after witnessing the violence and lawlessness yesterday in our nation’s capital. We are deeply concerned about the state of our country and the future of our democracy. Our hearts ached as we watched these despicable actions that threaten not only to destroy the seat of our government but to rend the bonds that unite us. We commend and thank the members of Congress who courageously continued their service to the nation last night even amid the chaos.
In our increasingly divided nation, we renew our commitment to the common good and pledge to take up the challenge to use our energy to repair our democracy and contribute to the work of building a more perfect union. We invite all people of good will to join us and we call on our elected leaders to point the way.
Over the past 45 years, the CSA Associates have served as companions to the Sisters of St. Agnes and to one another in their search for self, for wisdom, and for God. The CSA associate relationship began in 1975 based on the theology of common call as religious and laity to Christian discipleship. The Sisters of St. Agnes welcomed the first Nicaraguan associates from the city of Belén in 1989.
Mutuality in the relationship between the associates and the congregation became a cornerstone when an associate was named as co-director of the relationship the next year. Jan Parker, reflecting on her 29 years as a member of the associate community, said, “I appreciate the opportunities offered in the relationship to gather for sharing of faith and the opportunities to work together to make the world a better place.”
Caroline Coughlin Lampereur, an associate for 12 years, entered the associate relationship as it continued its emphasis on leadership development with educational and spiritual formation. She appreciates the growth that comes from working with others; “Associates are on a spiritual walk that can be done alone but walking together as a community offers so much more. Living out the mission and charism as associates sends ripples into our communities.”
Now in its 45th year, the Associate Community carries on the healing mission of Jesus, being people of hope and love. Kelly Robe, an associate since 1994, sums up the relationship in this way, "This is a wonderful community of spiritual beings who model love in action, presence, and being." Associates carry on Mother Agnes Hazotte’s commitment to serve where needed, incarnating the CSA charism and mission in their own lives and times.
In 1945, Mother Angeline Kamp and her council agreed to send sisters to minister to the Miskito who lived along the Río Coco in northern Nicaragua. Of the many sisters who volunteered, four were selected - (pictured left to right) Sisters Mary Agnes Dickof, Francis Borgia Dreiling, Pauletta Scheck, and Agnes Rita Fisette. They spent ten days with the Sisters of Charity in New Orleans, where they spent time learning about tropical diseases, and then the pioneer sisters embarked on their missionary journey to Nicaragua on September 22, 1945.
After three long months in the city of Managua, on December 20, 1945, the four sisters were welcomed by nearly 500 Miskito people as they arrived in the village of Waspam on the Río Coco.
Sister Zorelia Chavarria, CSA, was born and raised in Nicaragua. She writes, “Our Nicaraguan Church, the people of God, has been enriched by the CSA Charism for the past 75 years. The Sisters of St. Agnes, with their blessings, walked together with a people rooted deep in faith and intelligence, beginning in Waspam, Río Coco. By the grace and will of God, leaders were formed and emerged, such as: directors, teachers, medical doctors, nurses, lawyers, catechists, priests, writers, poets, homemakers, and families with solid homes; today they are the protagonists of their own stories that enrich both their families and their own people and communities. We would need an entire book to write all their testimonies.”
While Nicaraguans have countless testimonies of the impact of the sisters, the relationship is one of mutual inspiration and education. Sister Anne Jude Van Lanen, CSA, reflects on her many years in Nicaragua as an opportunity to learn from those around her. “When I felt vulnerable and overwhelmed in a foreign land, my Sisters in Nicaragua taught me: how to celebrate in the midst of oppression, pain and war; how to value relationships beyond borders; how to live by deep faith in God when faced with unsurmountable odds; and how to walk with one another through the tragic death of three of our Sisters resulting from war. I have yet to reap the fullness of what that missionary experience has meant to me and to the Sisters of St. Agnes.”
Sister Zorelia speaks to the grace of God impacting both Latin and North American Sisters over the last 75 years: “Our sisters were also transformed and many of their lives changed, not only by speaking the language or living the culture, but by the deep faith and intelligence professed by our peoples. They learned and let themselves be guided.
After these 75 years, we continue to respond with the zeal and courage of our founders--by the missionary zeal of Father Caspar Rehrl, the courageous initiatives of Mother Agnes Hazotte and the spiritual influence of Father Francis Haas--we continue to walk with our people, in the midst of their sufferings and joys of our Nicaraguan Church.”