Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Being Called "Sister"

Sister Mary Louise Stubbs, D.C.
My name is Sister Mary Louise Stubbs, D.C., but I am called "Mary Lou" by those who know me, or Hermana Maria Luisa, or often just "Sister." I think the last one describes me best because it implies the relationship I hope to be in with everyone.

I've been a Daughter of Charity for quite a while and have done a variety of ministries that may appear to be different on the surface (hospital work, community development, etc.), but are all very similar: They are ministries of service to those in the distress and panic of poverty.

My initial impression of the Daughters came as I began to explore what seemed to be a call from God--not a very clear call, but a pretty persistent one. While attempting to find out job requirements for a research position at the National Hanson's Disease Center in Louisiana, my letter ended up on a Daughter of Charity's desk and the information they sent me was a beacon in my darkness. This was one gutsy group of women doing daring and audacious service around the world!

Today my ministry, with International Project Services (IPS), is to work with our Sisters in the developing countries of the world to help them find resources they need to serve the poorest of the poor in impoverished nations. The Sisters in Bolivia, Cambodia, Poland, Tanzania or any of about 55 other countries contact our office because the people they serve need clean water, medicine, education, protection for little girls in danger of female genital mutilation, or disaster recovery, or any of multiple projects that will help people live their lives in safety and grow toward their potential. Our little ministry goes to donors and foundations and finds resources on their behalf and sends those resources to them.

This ministry is simple and direct. Those who want to be a part of mission work in a given country or for certain causes or just be a part of the service team wherever they are needed can do so. Our ministry is to facilitate the assistance and communicate the results back to the donors who are now integral to the mission. Within the past eight years, 663 ministry projects have been funded. See some of the results on our website or Facebook Page.

All I've done is listen to the voice deep in my heart and followed that invitation through a series of amazing adventures in a community of support and a relationship of prayer. I like being called "Sister" because that is who I am to all people, everywhere.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tea Maid Trade

The following information was provided by Walk Free, a website dedicated to fighting modern slavery.

You may have heard of what is being called the "Tea Maid Trade." Men and women operating as "recruiters" prey on young girls living on tea plantations in Assam, India. Thousands of girls have reportedly ended up trapped as domestic slaves in middle class homes in Delhi.

So how do these girls become trapped?

  • Tata Global Beverages (owner of Tetley Tea) is the biggest shareholder of a company called Amalgamated Plantations (APPL) which manages tea plantations in Assam.
  • Several years ago, a program was initiated that aimed to make tea plantation workers part owners in Amalgamated Plantations. In exchange for a portion of their already small wages, they would get shares in the company. Sounds good, right? Sadly, scores of workers report they were coerced to buy shares in APPL and remain confused about the details.
  • The minimum wage on the tea plantations in Assam is industry-wide and set by a tripartite agreement, but reports indicate workers are paid 94 rupees ($1.54 USD) a day, a little more than half the legal wage for an unskilled worker in Assam. There is a price for keeping wages so low, and it is paid by the workers who cannot afford to keep their daughters. The traffickers come knocking, offering to take the girls away, promising good wages and a new life--they find it hard to say "no."
  • Because of the poverty in Assam, trafficking girls is an attractive business for locals. Investigative reports indicate people in Delhi have bought girls for as little as 4,000 rupees ($65 USD).
Ask Tata Global Beverages to help fight human trafficking in Assam, India.
We're asking Tata to:

  1. Publish the Tata Global Beverages Code of Conduct. Make public a code of conduct that ensures zero tolerance for modern slavery, including measures for effective remediation when modern slavery is found.
  2. Ensure plantation workers are paid a full cash living wage and are able to opt out of investment schemes, across all plantations. Pay should be backdated accordingly.
  3. Establish an independent grievance mechanism to enable workers to report violation of their rights, both individually and collectively, as verification that the code is being implemented.
P.S. We want to be really clear: We are not accusing Tata Global Beverages of trafficking girls from Assam to be held in situations of modern slavery. We are concerned Tata Global Beverages is engaged in a labor scheme via Amalgamated Plantations in Assam that is fueling unique forms of vulnerability to modern slavery. Of all the possible players, Tata Global Beverages has the power to do the most good in this situation and that is why we are calling on them to engage.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Holy Hangout Highlights: The Vows of the Daughters of Charity

Did you miss our Holy Hangout April 6? We had a great time chatting about the vows we take as Daughters of Charity and answering your questions!

Sisters Liz and Theresa hosted the Hangout this month with discussion led by Sister Catherine Brown, Sister Louise Busby, Sister Kati Kline and Sister Roberta Treppa. These Sisters have had their share of experience as Daughters and work in different ministries all over the U.S.

There are a few ways you can catch up! Watch highlights from the Hangout here:

...or take some time to watch the whole Hangout here!

Our next Holy Hangout is set for June 1 at 8 p.m. CDT. We'll be talking about the best practices for discerning. Ask your questions here in the comments or use #HolyHangoutDC on Instagram and Twitter!

Watch our other Holy Hangouts here on our YouTube channel.

Upcoming Events:

  • April 11-12: Nun Run in Chicago, IL
  • May 23-24: Nun Run in Buffalo, NY
  • June 1: Holy Hangout on YouTube
  • June 29-July 5: Search and Serve in St. Louis, MO
  • July 13-17: Summer Online Discernment Retreat
  • Sept. 20: Nun Run in Baltimore, MD
  • Oct. 25: Discernment Retreat in Savannah, GA

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

From Prepostulant to Postulant

Jenna Gubbels became a prepostulant with the Daughters of Charity in February of 2013. She is from Canada and lived in community with the Daughters of Charity in Niagara Falls, N.Y., until fall of 2013 when she became a postulant. Now, Jenna serves in Chicago and lives with the Daughters there. Jenna shares how she came to find her place in Community with the Daughters of Charity. This post was originally published on the Archdiocese of Indianapolis website and in Faith Afire, the Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louise magazine.

From Prepostulant to Postulant
by Jenna Gubbels

When I was in university I was really involved with a local parish’s youth ministry program and I would regularly volunteer to chaperone young people to retreats. On one such retreat, the presenters put on a little skit that was basically a conversation between two high school students on the verge of graduating. One was asking the other what she intended to do when she was finished with high school and she excitedly explained how she wanted to go to art school and get an art degree. The other asked her, "And then what?" 
So she started talking about how famous she wanted her art work to become. Again the question, "And then what?" The sharing of her dreams continued with wanting to get married, have children, teach them to love art as much as she did, becoming a grandmother, etc., until finally all she had left to reply with was "Well then, I guess I die?" The lights were flicked off and there was a moment of heavy silence before the speaker came on to talk about living our lives for heaven rather than just living them for this world.
The final hesitant response of "Well then, I guess I die," really struck me that day because it seemed so empty and so pointless. That uncertain response forced me to pause and to ponder the life trajectory I had so carefully planned out for myself that involved graduating from university and then becoming a music teacher. The more I thought about the plans I had made for myself, the more I realized I would not find fulfillment in them and I felt God calling me to turn my plans over to Him, to trust and to follow.
As a child I felt a call to religious life after visiting a Carmelite community with my homeschooling group. There I was struck with the joy on the Sisters’ faces as they shared their vocation stories and I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be a nun. This call was pushed to the back of my mind and buried over time as I went through high school, but God kept putting people and circumstances in my life that would resurface the thought from time to time. My deep soul-searching in university led me to pray with the idea and I knew that I needed to take the time to really discern whether or not God was calling me to religious life.
I spent a lot of time with a number of different communities while I was trying to find answers to the questions God placed on my heart. And, in the process, I met a lot of really wonderful women who served God in a wide variety of ways and who helped me learn to listen to God’s voice in my life and to grow in my relationship with God. 
Many of the communities I spent time with during discernment did works that were very similar to those of the Daughters of Charity. While I was inspired by their service, I really struggled to see how their lives were different from my own at the time. Each of these Sisters got up in the morning, prayed on her own, went to Mass, served in her ministry during the day, and then each went home to an empty apartment where she lived alone. The only difference I could see between their lives and mine was that at the end of the day I went home to live with my family. I began to wrestle with the call I was feeling to religious life arguing with God and justifying myself saying I was already serving the church as a Coordinator of Youth Ministry and I didn't need to be a Sister to serve God.
It was at this time I had almost finished with the idea that God might be calling me to religious life, but I decided that I would visit one more community, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, because I had connected with one of the Sisters online through a course I was taking. My plans to meet the Sisters of Charity didn’t end up working out because of a combination of geography and calendar conflicts, but it was suggested to me that I should go and meet their “cousins,” the Daughters of Charity. I showed up on the doorstep of St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore four days later just before a workshop I was to attend in the area with no idea what to expect and very nervous about the idea of visiting a community that was in the United States of America! 
I had been planning to stay for just two days, but instead I ended up staying the better part of the week. My questions quickly turned from polite curiosity to deeply intentional as I tried to figure out what made these women tick and what fueled the obvious joy I saw in them for their ministries and for their life as Daughters of Charity. The thing that struck me the most was their community life and the obvious support they drew from one another through their shared life in common. It was in their easy way of relating with one another and their obvious choice to be family for one another that I found that piece that was missing for me with the other communities I had visited.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Pope Francis Effect

These young people had the great opportunity for a "selfie" with Pope Francis. I had to settle for a fake photo with Pope Francis!

Sr. Theresa Sullivan and me at NCYC
On the evening of March 18, the eve of Pope Francis' one-year anniversary, I attended the Francis Factor at Loyola University in Baltimore as part of the anniversary celebration for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Watch the video of the event here.

The keynote speaker was Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston who is also a member of the Council of Cardinals advising the pope (one of just eight). Other speakers also on the panel were Helen Alvare, Father Matt Malone SJ, Kerry Robinson and Father Thomas Rosica who also moderated the panel.

Before the keynote speaker a trailer was shown for "The Francis Effect," airing April 17.

So what was the point of the whole evening seminarians in the area were required to attend?

I think Anderson Cooper summed it up well in the trailer when he explains that Pope Francis is not changing doctrine, but changing emphasis. Mercy and compassion were words that surfaced often through the evening presentation. Helen Alvare shared her own transformation/change of emphasis inspired by Pope Francis.

Another message of the night was to go out and be with those in need. A story was shared about Pope Francis from his days working with seminarians. He would tell them he wanted them to go out and be with those living in poverty. He would check for dusty shoes when they returned to see if indeed they had gone out of their comfort zone to reach out to the needy.

St. Vincent de Paul (patron saint of charitable societies) and St. Louise de Marillac (patron saint of social workers), founders of the Daughters of Charity, emphasized going out to those in need and to serve them with great dignity, respect and kindness.
St. Vincent de Paul was involved in setting up a parish confraternity of charity for women (beginnings of the Ladies of Charity, AIC). In his written directives he wrote:

"When the person whose turn it is has received from the Treasurer whatever is needed on her day for the food of the poor persons, she will prepare the dinner and take it to the patients, greeting them cheerfully and kindly. She will set up the tray on the bed, place on it a napkin, a cup, a spoon, and some bread, wash the patient’s hands, and then say grace. She will pour the soup into a bowl, and put the meat on a plate. She will arrange everything on the bed tray, then kindly encourage the patient to eat for the love of Jesus and His holy Mother. She will do all this as lovingly as if she were serving her own son--or rather God, who considers as done to Himself the good she does for persons who are poor." (CCD 13b:13)

The importance of the way we serve and treat people is echoed in I Corinthians 13:1-5:

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury…”

So, let us look at the Jesus Effect which Pope Francis models for us: How do you treat others? As Scripture tells us, it is easy to love those who love us. What about those "other" people?

contributed by Sr. Denise LaRock