“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by human beings for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison people because they are different from others.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
United in the struggle to end all forms of systemic injustice, we the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the National Black Sisters' Conference, issue this joint statement calling for the protection of voting rights for all Americans. As women of faith and faithful Americans, we are committed to protecting the God-given dignity and rights of all people.
On this national holiday honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we underscore Dr. King’s premise that all people have the right to dignity and the duty to participate fully in our democracy, no matter their race, background, or zip code. Most precious among these rights and duties is the sacred right to vote. Today, that right is threatened by those who seek to make voting more difficult and elected officials less accountable. The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act will ensure that voters can safely and freely cast their ballots, protect against election sabotage, stop partisan gerrymandering, and limit the influence of dark money in politics.
Many Americans have non-violently fought for and some sacrificed their lives to secure the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The promissory note that Dr. King spoke about in his “I Have a Dream” speech has yet to be fully redeemed. As Catholic sisters committed to serving the common good and building a more perfect union, we call on the Senate to do everything within its power to strengthen our democracy and protect every person’s sacred right to vote. Pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States The conference has nearly 1300 members, who represent more than 38,800 women religious. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.
Established in August 1968, the National Black Sisters' Conference is an inclusive Catholic organization of vowed Black Women Religious and Associates. We study, speak and act on issues that impact the social, educational, economic, and religious milieu of the United States and the world community believing that through the power of the Spirit working in and through us we can be witnesses of Jesus Christ in the communities where we live and serve.
CSA is one of 22 women religious communities who are coalition partners in UNANIMA. Together, they keep women and children, especially those living in extreme poverty, central to our mission and everything we do. As CSA's liaison to UNANIMA, Sister Sue Seeby, invites all to read the inspiring End of Year Report for 2021 in English and Spanish. (The files are large and are may take a while to load.)
On page 6 of the report, there is a special request: "UNANIMA is looking for the voices and testimonies of women and children willing to share their stories/experiences of displacement on video, written pieces, or multimedia of any form to share in future advocacy materials. We would like University Students, Schools, Teachers, Families, Singers, Dancers, Musicians, Politicians, Royalty, Churches, Religious, etc., to send us their messages related to the four current areas of focus for UNANIMA International:"
This is particularly important to the team in New York, as it supports the advocacy work at the United Nations. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you or someone you know would be willing to share their stories/experiences of displacement on video.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has teamed up with UNANIMA for the Fall 2021 issue of LCWR Resolutions to Action. As a member of both organizations, CSA is grateful to Jean Quinn, DW, executive director of UNANIMA for her thoughtfully written piece: “The Global Housing Crisis: Too Long Ignored by Too Many,”
We invite you to
See the details of the housing crisis
Reflect on your response physically and mentally when confronting the housing crisis
Act with intention toward solving this ongoing problem.
Associate Joyce Gau was given a lot of Christmas fabric and with great ingenuity, a project of Bags for the Homeless was born.
Joyce donated and cut the fabric and Associate Kathy Koepsell sewed the material into gift bags. Fond du Lac area associates donated warm gloves and socks, and nonperishable food items to fill the bags. Associates Carol Pizon, Mary Ketterhagen, Carol Braun, and Kathy Koepsell filled each bag with a warm pair of gloves, two pairs of socks, lip balm, lotion, and food items. Carol and Kathy delivered the items to Holy Family Outreach Center at St. Mary Church, the Salvation Army Warming Shelter, and Solutions Center Family Shelter.
"The associate community vision statement states that we express love in action and this collection is one of many Love In Action activities that the associate community has done. This activity is one of the ways we participate in the mission, and is a response to the values identified in the corporate stances that were recently affirmed and deemed important to the associate community," said Carol Braun, Director of Associate Relationship.
In total, they filled 35 colorful bags and two additional boxes containing 40 pairs of socks and many food items for distribution at St. Mary Church and the Warming Shelter. Gift wrapped clothing items (socks and underwear) for 6 adults and 9 children were also delivered to the Solutions Center for the families currently staying there.
¡La Concepción de María!
This call and response refrain called "La Gritería" is annually heard throughout Nicaragua on the evening of December 7 in advance of the sacred events on December 8 - the Immaculate Conception. La Purísima is a uniquely Nicaraguan celebration.
This year, three American sisters with long-lasting ties to Nicaragua brought a little bit of the celebration to Fond du Lac and made WhatsApp calls to their friends and sisters in Nicaragua.
Each year in Nicaragua, the sisters prepare beautiful and elaborate altars with statues of Mary, celebrating the conception of the Christ and the purity of Mary. Bags full of treats, including oranges, sweet lemons, caña (a piece of sugar cane stalk), and cajeta (a macaroon style bar baked with freshly grated coconut) are prepared for distribution. Special Nicaraguan treats - gofio and chicha - that are only made during La Purísima are created in the kitchen.
This year in Fond du Lac, the three sisters prepared bags of treats, created a small altar over the dining room fireplace, and translated traditional Nicaragua songs and prayers into English.
On the night of December 7, the streets of Nicaragua are filled with dancing and singing as celebrants move from house to house shouting their "Gritería" call-and-response. The "carolers" sing loudly and, upon arriving at each home, shout "¿Quién Causa Tanta Alegría?" ("What is the cause of so much happiness?") The family members in the house respond, "¡La Concepción de María!" (Mary's Conception!) and hand out the bags of treats.
In Fond du Lac, treat bags were distributed to retired sisters at Nazareth Court & Center, to the congregational leadership team, and to the residents of the motherhouse. While there was no wandering from house-to-house, the celebration in the dining room included prayers and traditional songs like Tu Gloria, Pues Concebida, and Dulces Himnos accompanied by a ukulele!
Today, December 8, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is celebrated with traditional Masses in both Nicaragua and the US.
Leadership Conference of Women Religious – Region 9
Statement in Response to the Rittenhouse Trial
Date: Dec 3, 2021
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (Region 9 - Wisconsin) continues to be deeply saddened by factors related to the recent Rittenhouse trial. LCWR 9 is comprised of the elected leaders of 17 congregations of Catholic Sisters based in Wisconsin. Approximately 1,000 Catholic Sisters live and serve in Wisconsin. Over the decades, many Sisters have served in Kenosha and have a long relationship with people in that community. Therefore, we join with others to pray for healing and peace in the Kenosha community during these difficult days.
We are not presuming to offer a position on the verdict in this trial. We are, however, concerned that it is legal in Wisconsin for an underage individual to carry an assault-style rifle into a public demonstration. This has major ramifications on our rights to peaceably assemble, exercise free speech, and protest for redress of grievances.
What happened in Kenosha is indicative of what is happening in our society today. Our polarization has exacerbated an environment of fear and fears have led to violence and vigilantism. Gun purchases are at record high levels. Firearm-related homicides have spiked in cities throughout the country.
We, members of LCWR 9, call for responsible gun ownership in the U.S. We urge stricter licensing, educational requirements, and a national background check for gun ownership. We believe this will help reduce the number of deaths and injuries from guns and secure the right to personal safety.
We believe that laws assuring responsible gun ownership have not been adopted and enforced in our country. We urge our elected officials in Wisconsin to adopt such legislation before another situation like Kenosha erupts.
Each year as darkness shortens daylight hours, the Sisters of St. Agnes light a Peace Tree at their Motherhouse to display during the Advent and Christmas seasons.
The Peace Tree is a 31-year-old CSA tradition, initiated by Sister Marie Scott, during the Gulf War known as Desert Storm. The war lasted from August 1990 – February 1991. Unfortunately, since that time war has continued almost unabated, often with United States involvement. Our ongoing commitment to peace in our world is needed now as much as ever.
Advent brings us closer to Christ who is with us. We are reminded that no one is beyond the reach of God’s love. We are called to reach out with love to our sisters and brothers in need, sharing our hope for a world transformed.
This year, the Peace Tree ceremony was held on Monday, November 29, 2021 at the motherhouse in Fond du Lac. Many of those in attendance brought along personal items that help them find hope and shared the stories of their items. You are invited to have your own personal Peace Tree ceremony using the resources found on our Peace & Nonviolence page.
The Milwaukee Catholic Herald recently published a story highlighting CSA's upcoming Pray with a Sister program, which will take place weekly on Wednesday afternoons during Advent. Sister Jean Steffes, general superior of the congregation, and Sister Janet Ahler, one of the sisters who has participated in the past, offered their thoughts on the value of the program and the connection it provides during the Advent season.
The Pray with a Sister program provides time when individuals may call and request a prayer companion. The general public is invited to call 920-907-2300 from 1-4 p.m. Central Time on Wednesdays during Advent to join with a sister in prayer. Upon calling, your name and number will be collected, and a sister will call you back momentarily to pray with you privately. In 2021, Advent begins on November 28 and ends on Friday, December 24.
Prayer requests of all varieties, large and small, are welcome and personal information will be kept confidential.