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Stepping into justice: Sister Barbara Battista

In June, Sister Barbara Battista, the new social justice promoter for the Sisters of Providence, helps lead a “Keep families together” rally on the courthouse sidewalk in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“There is urgency in what is going on nationally, in the church and in society. There is such a need for women religious, and for other persons of faith, to really be leaders in this work towards justice,” said Sister Barbara Battista, SP, the new social justice promoter for the Sisters of Providence.

Responding to needs

“We Sisters of Providence have always tried to respond to critical unmet needs,” General Officer Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp, SP, said. “Certainly, as a Congregation, we have always tried to address justice concerns. Given the many justice issues that need our attention, both in our country and around the globe, the General Council felt that our responses could be more timely and better coordinated if we dedicated someone full-time to the work.”

“The spirit was calling for us to get smarter, more efficient and really focus our justice work,” Sister Barbara said. She stepped into the ministry this fall.

“I’m not the expert on all the issues,” Sister Barbara said. “I’m just here helping to coordinate our efforts. I think this is vital. It’s essential.

“Everyone is of value. Earth is of value. That’s really what the work of justice is.

“Our hope is that I can be an active resource for the Leadership Team, for the public, for our sisters and our associates, to the people we minister with … wherever I can do some of the research, suggest actions and suggest where we can partner.”

Sister Barbara will also serve on the Justice Coordinating Commission, identifying emerging critical issues and bringing them to the attention of the commission. She will work with the Leadership Team regarding Congregational statements and more.

On the shoulders of her sisters

Sister Barbara said she is up to the task. She is off the ground and running, organizing vigils in the area and more.

“So many of our sisters have worked for justice in our ministries,” Sister Barbara said. “We have been involved in other justice work as well. It’s just that now, we’re focusing it a bit more. We’re trying to be more efficient.”

Sister Barbara said when she learned the position was being created, “it just felt like a good place to center my energies. I feel like I have passion for the work and some abilities,” Sister Barbara said.

Prior to becoming the Congregation’s social justice promoter, Sister Barbara ministered as a physician assistant at Union Hospital in Terre Haute. She will continue this ministry in some capacity. She also teaches a bioethics class at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

(Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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