International Solidarity Reflections
Read the most recent Shalom / UN-NGO Newsletter with dispatches from SSND Sisters throughout the world.
As a principle of the Catholic Social Teaching, solidarity is about recognizing our interconnectedness with all that God created and actively working together and taking action for the common good. It is a moral virtue and a social attitude that emerges from personal and communal ecological conversion in our shared humanity; we strive to build right relationships in a spirit of unity among peoples, nations and organizations.
Just peace is the mutual commitment to and pursuit of social cohesion and equity. It works to prevent or stop violence and builds lasting and sustainable peace. Just peace principles include protecting human life; dignity, and the common good; right intention; inclusive political participation; restoration; right relationship; reconciliation; and sustainability. Nonviolence is the personal practice of not causing harm to others under any circumstances. Just Peace and Gospel Nonviolence, are all rooted in LOVE.
Anti-Slavery International defines modern slavery as “when an individual is exploited by others, for personal, political, social, or commercial gain. Whether tricked, coerced, or forced, the person loses her freedom. This includes but is not limited to human trafficking, forced labor, debt bond-age.” Modern slavery takes many forms, all include control, involuntary actions, and exploita-tion. It is a global phenomenon and affects nearly 50 million people trapped in slavery world-wide, including women, children, migrants, and refugees. The climate change crisis and the new forms of slavery are related in different ways.
At the end of creation, God made/built a woman in God’s image and likeness. The inspired Author used the same Hebrew verb that appears later describing building the altar to the Lord. Pope Francis points out that, “This is a society with a strong masculine attitude, lacking in a woman’s touch. It is just that man does not bring harmony: woman brings harmony that teaches us to caress, to love tenderly, and makes of the world something beautiful. This is the future; this is what was missing.
Following Pope Francis’ lead, we SSNDs and Associates join peoples around the world to “Care for our Common Home.” We are a Laudato Si’ community. This leads us to become more and more at home with integrating our very lives and relationships as peoples who are one with all creatures. Hesitantly, yet urgently, we dare to commit ourselves to integrate our concerns for the economy, environment, culture, family and daily life.
The theme Transforming Education has two dimensions. One is education that transforms people, families, communities and ultimately our world. Second, there is the need to always be transforming education so that our efforts are meeting people where they are and bringing them toward fullness. For School Sisters of Notre Dame and all who embrace our charism, this is not new. You Are Sent Constitution 23 reminds us, “We are educators in all that we are and do. We continually choose ways of living and serving that call to growth. Responding to varying needs, we engage in a diversity of ministries, specific services through which we work for the enablement of persons.”
The Association for Living Values Education International is a collective of organizations and individuals in more than 40 countries that provides professional development workshops and curriculum resources to educators. Its mission states that people around the world share basic human values and that constructive solutions to many of the challenges facing communities today will emerge more easily when there is an emphasis on a value-based approach to life. Simplicity is among these universal values, described at livingvalues.net.
In this time of history, we SSNDs have heard the cry of the poor very deep in our hearts. This cry has always been present in our responses and actions, but much more so now with our Public Commitment as a Laudato Si’ Congregation. It is present in the heart of this encyclical, as well as in the heart of You Are Sent: “Alert to rapidly evolving conditions in a changing society, we discern which world conditions we are called to address. We try to recognize who the poor are...” (YAS, GD 37). This cry of the poor thus becomes one of the cries of Creation (Cf.
From September 1 to October 4, Christian churches celebrate the Season of Creation, during which they pray for the protection of God’s creation. They also call for all to take responsibility for God’s creation and to act. This period includes the UN International Day of Peace on September 21.
Pope Francis calls us to welcome, protect, and respect all who are forced to flee their home. Let us take time this month to consider ways we can be more welcoming and supportive of the displaced and vulnerable, while also encouraging actions to address the systemic injustices that lead to these situations.
Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The 2022 #BreakTheBias campaign is about challenging structures, that keep women and girls excluded and prevents them from risking innovative responses in playing their role in society.
“Freed and trusting, we are ready to approach others openly in dialogue, to hope against hope, to accept privations, and to welcome insecurity.” (YAS C 16) This passage from YAS may be especially relevant for us now, when we sisters are also facing the tangible reality of war.
Loving Creator God, you made all that lives in your very own image and likeness. You have given us Earth, our home (GR. oikos), a place to live. May your Spirit permeate our hearts as we contemplate our relationship with all of creation that exists in our home. Help us to be open to any ecological transformations which justice demands that we make individually and communally. This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
"The earth mourns and dries up. The world is exhausted and decayed. Heaven and earth are weakened. The earth has been defiled by the feet of its inhabitants, who overlooked the laws, violated the commandments and did not keep the eternal contract." (Isaiah 24: 4-5)
The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor reaches God’s heart and breaks open our hearts, challenging us to say “no” to violence that plagues our world and “yes” to human dignity and respect for the integrity of creation. We ought to confront our silence, complicity and indifference with a zeal for peace and nonviolence. “All of you, hear the humble appeal of the Successor of Peter who cries out: today too… peace remains possible. And if peace is possible, it is also a duty!”
With the climate emergency and ecological crisis continuing to evolve to dangerous levels, we hear an even more urgent call to unite our prayers and actions with a belief in the power of transformation. Personally and communally, we are invited to pray and act wherever we live and minister.
On July 30th, we recognize the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. More than 150 million children—one in ten, globally—are performing child labor, defined as “work that is hazardous, demands too many hours, or is performed by children who are too young.”
God, source of all wisdom and knowledge, grant us the grace to welcome and prepare children, adolescents, and young people for ecological citizenship, leading them to a dignified and quality life.
The Directional Statement and the Shalom – Focus and Commitments, 2018-2021, continue to shape the initiatives of Shalom and the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Europe and worldwide especially since the outbreak of the pandemic.
God loves and cares for everyone, but has a special concern for children who are not able to express their suffering and usually they need others’ help to get out of their difficult situations. Let us ask Mary to pray with us so that we may see and feel the sufferings of women and children and respond to their needs.
“From the beginning until now, the entire Creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22). Creation did not happen all at once, and it is not drifting toward Armageddon. Creation is in fact a process that is still happening!