“If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us. … Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: Environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” – Pope Francis, Laudato Si encyclical.
“As women religious whose mission and legacy it is to honor Divine Providence and to further God’s loving plans by devoting ourselves to works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people, we have come to see that mission as extending to interrelationships with all of creation within the entire web of life.” – SP Land Ethic, 2013
At our 2016 General Chapter meeting, in collaboration with our Providence Associates, we chose environmental justice as the primary issue we would engage for the next five years. Within that framework, it seemed imperative that the comprehensive and impending results of climate change would claim our immediate attention and effort.
“… one of the darkest and most revolting realities in the world today, (is) namely, the trafficking in human beings as sex slaves in prostitution and pornography, for forced labor and compelled participation in illegal activities, for child soldiering, for forced and sham marriages, for child brides, for illegal adoptions, for the stealing of children from pregnant women, for the removal of organs and even for human sacrifice. …” Archbishop Auza, the permanent Vatican observer to the UN. The Holy See and the Fight against Human Trafficking, Origins March 16, 2017.
The Sisters of Providence seek to end this criminal and highly profitable assault on human dignity that especially, but not exclusively, impacts women and children. Prior to the Super Bowl in 2012, we collaborated with other religious congregations to engage the hotel industry in the effort to prevent human trafficking, common at major sporting events. In collaboration with other organizations, we continue to do education and advocacy, especially through our investments and choice of hotels with which we do business.
Judicial System Reform
“With 2.3 million Americans behind bars, the criminal justice system is larger than ever … The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet incarcerates nearly a quarter of the world’s prisoners.” – The Brennan Center for Justice
“We are still a long way from the time when our conscience can be certain of having done everything possible to prevent crime and to control it effectively so that it no longer does harm and, at the same time, to offer to those who commit crimes a way of redeeming themselves and making a positive return to society.” – Pope John Paul II, July 9, 2000
The Sisters of Providence have a history of ministry to persons in prison including persons on death row. We have witnessed the injustice of racial bias and many other facets that make our current system a broken one. We advocate for a judicial system that builds safe communities and focuses on restoration and rehabilitation for the sake of both victims and perpetrators.
“While it is true that migrations often reveal failures and shortcomings on the part of States and the international community, they also point to the aspiration of humanity to enjoy a unity marked by respect for differences, by attitudes of acceptance and hospitality, which enable an equitable sharing of the world’s goods, and by the protection and the advancement of the dignity and centrality of each human being.” – Pope Francis, Aug. 5, 2013. Message on World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
The Sisters of Providence minister with immigrant families and our commitment to nonviolence makes outdated immigration policy a significant concern and a compelling call to action.
“What we seek is immigration reform that reflects the best of our values as a nation, and helps to build stronger, more welcoming communities.” – Sisters of Providence Leadership Team, 2014
Welcome the Justice Coordinating Commission!
A message from Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp
The Justice Coordinating Commission (JCC) is an “umbrella” group comprised of Sisters of Providence, Providence Associates, and others who have actively worked with the Sisters of Providence to address justice issues. The group, which builds on works of previous justice committees, is charged with focusing the justice issues for the Sisters of Providence Congregation. The group first met in September 2016 to organize its work around a focus on environmental justice in the coming five years.
After a process of social analysis at the meeting, the group felt a focus on eco-justice within the larger arena of environmental justice would enable the Congregation and justice partners to address urgent needs. It would also allow the commission to examine how critical justice issues intersect.
(The word “eco-justice” has its roots in the Latin word oikos, the home or household. Thus, eco-justice refers to caring for and attending to the “household of creation,” including people, creatures, ecosystems, economy, environment, food, water, air, and rules that facilitate the well-being of all in the home).
The group has identified four sub-focus areas in dire need of attention: Climate change, water, food supply/food security, and migrant workers. Faithful to past work of the Congregation, the JCC suggested these areas be addressed through the lens of three filters: Racism, women and children and investments.
Members of the Justice Coordinating Commission include Andrea Beyke (Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College); Providence Associates Barbara Cottrell, Ben Kite, Marsha McCarty, Jeanne Rewa and Susan Weber; and Sisters of Providence Donna Butler, Kathleen Desautels (justice promoter), Jeanne Hagelskamp (general officer liaison), Tracey Horan, Rosemary Schmalz (secretary), Barbara Sheehan and Rosemary Ward.
“This particular religious Congregation is called into being by God to participate as a community in extending the providential designs of God to all creation.”
— Constitutions of the Sisters of Providence
Here are some resources we wanted to share with you
Climate Change Action Alerts/Resources
- Women and Climate Change
- Climate Action for the Common Good: Executive Summary
- Defenders of the Earth
- Stand with women to protect the rain forest, climate and human rights
- Mother Earth is Broiling. NASA shows us why
- New York Magazine – The Uninhabitable Earth
- Food Water Watch
— Climate Change And Environment
- Catholic Climate Covenant
— Webinar: Just Transition: Shrinking our Carbon Footprint while Leaving No One Behind
- Healing Earth: International Jesuit Ecology, an excellent online textbook
- Conserve Energy Future – Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy Sources
- Ecology and Jesuits – More general eco-justice educational resources
— Guidance map for Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si
— The Community and ascetical dimensions of community
- The Nature Conservancy (United States)
— Climate Change – The Paris Agreement
- Environmental Justice/Environmental Racism
Racial Justice Action Alerts/Resources
- Teaching the hard history of American Slavery
- Southern Poverty Law Center
— Ten Ways to Fight Hate
- 8th Day Center for Justice: Statement on White Supremacy
- Environmental Justice/Environmental Racism
Immigration Action Alerts/Resources
- Justice for Immigrants: 2018 National Migration Week
- Justice for Immigrants. This website offers factual information, as well as a variety of practical resources to help promote immigration reform.
- Justice for Immigrants – Maintain DACA
- The Interfaith Immigration Coalition. A partnership of faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair and human immigration reform that reflects our mandate to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect.
— State by State action alerts
- Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants: Standing with Immigrants, an organization based in Chicago and founded by Catholic Sisters, including Sister Marilyn Kofler, SP,
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network
— Know Your Rights: A Collection of Resources (You have to create an account, but there is no charge)
Human Trafficking Action Alerts/Resources
- The Center for Civil and Human Rights, University of Notre Dame.
— Workshop on human trafficking,
— Graphics accompanying Angela Reed’s presentation
- Project IRENE Herstory. Illinois Religious Engaging in Nonviolent Endeavors.
— July 30, Day of World Prayer Against Trafficking in Persons.
- Stop Human Trafficking, The Illinois Women Religious Against Human Trafficking, an organization that Sister Rosemary Ward, Sister Barbara Sheehan, and Providence Associate Gerri Baum are all involved in.
- Sex Trafficking in Illinois and the United States – a fact sheet and hotline number (see below graphic)
Judicial System Action Alerts/Resources
- Catholic Mobilizing Network
— National Catholic Pledge to end the Death Penalty
- National Religious Campaign Against Torture
— Current Legislative Alerts
— Videos/study resources
- The 90 Million Strong Campaign Pledge
- The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops statement to repeal the death penalty in Louisiana
- The two-tiered justice system: Money bail in historical perspective
Our Land Ethic
As members of one sacred Earth community, we Sisters of Providence commit ourselves individually and communally to care for our resources and to make decisions regarding their current and future use as we seek to balance our individual and SP communal economic needs with the sustainability needs of Earth community. The following commitments will guide our decisions regarding the care and use of our resources.
Care and Use of Resources
- We will conserve natural resources and preserve species unique to an area.
- We will make every effort to use non-toxic materials that will not poison Earth community in the present or in the future.
- We will promote conservation and reduction of consumption by recycling and purchasing recycled materials.
- We will practice conservation and restoration of land through food production, management of forests and wild spaces, and healing and re-habitation of diminished areas.
- We will be advocates for ethical principles in resource use at local, state, national and global levels.
- We will explore options and possibilities as we seek both environmental and financial sustainability.
- We will research options such as: Land trusts, easements, deed restrictions and the transfer or selling of development rights, for the protection of our resources and will investigate their ramifications.
- We will provide educational opportunities and share our own lived experiences, both individually and communally, in our efforts to live in right relationship within Earth community.
Criteria to guide our decisions
The questions from the Sisters of Providence Identity Lens will guide our decision making. The standard to which will hold ourselves accountable is whether or not this choice or action concretely furthers the mission of Providence at this time.
What positive effects will this choice or action have on my/our being in right relationship?
How will this decision or action bring hope and healing to Earth community?
How does this decision or action promote justice, non-violence, peace-making?
How will this decision or action affect Earth community?
How does this decision or action offer a creative alternative?
How does this decision or action affect the common good?
What potential adverse effects might this choice or action have in any of these areas?
Implementation and Evaluation
The implementation and ongoing evaluation of this ethic is entrusted to Congregation members with the leadership of the General Officers. We will consistently engage in contemplative reflection and evaluation of this document and its use. Whenever possible, we will encourage the development of similar guidelines in the institutions with which we are associated and the dioceses in which we minister. A written evaluation of the use of the Land Ethic will be submitted as part of the preparation for each General Chapter.
Authors of this Land Ethic
Adapted from the Land Ethic of the Sisters of Charity of New York. Developed January 2011 by Sisters of Providence Jean Fuqua and Ann Sullivan, and Sister Maureen Freeman, CSJ, in preparation for the 2011 General Chapter. Revised January 2012 and again in June 2012 by the Land Ethic Committee: Sisters of Providence Rose Ann Eaton, Jean Fuqua, Ann Sullivan and Dawn Tomaszewski; Sisters of St. Joseph Mary Lou Dolan and Maureen Freeman; Pat Goodwin, SP Chief Operating Officer; and Tracy Wilson, Providence Associate.