Celebrating the 9th Easter of his pontificate, Pope Francis delivered a homily at the Easter Vigil Mass, reflecting on the Easter episode of the women at the tomb. The Pope drew attention to what the angel told them. “Wonder at hearing the words: ‘Do not be afraid!” the Pope said. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen’. And a message: ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him’.”
Galilee, an outpost farthest from the ritual purity of Jerusalem, was where Jesus began His mission. There, He brought His message to “those struggling to live from day to day, the excluded, the vulnerable and the poor”. It is in such peripheries that God tirelessly seeks out those who are discouraged or lost. He goes to the “very peripheries of existence, since in His eyes no one is least, no one is excluded”. Thus, the Risen Lord is asking His disciples to go to the settings of daily life, the streets we travel every day, the corners of our cities. “There the Lord goes ahead of us and makes Himself present in the lives of those around us, those who share in our day, our home, our work, our difficulties, and hopes.” The Pope said, “We will be amazed how the greatness of God is revealed in littleness, how His beauty shines forth in the poor and simple.”
In the hour of darkness when humanity is grappling with the pandemic and other ills, Christians need to take to heart the Easter message of the angel not to be afraid, assured that in Galilee where the Lord precedes them, their expectations will be fulfilled, their tears will be dried and their fears will be replaced by hope.
Sisters Home Visitors of Mary joined with sisters from other Michigan congregations in condemning the recent statements of Ron Weiser, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and Regent of the University of Michigan. On Thursday March 25, Weiser referred to Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel as three “‘witches” to be burned at the stake. And he mentioned “assassination” as a possible action while discussing Republicans who had voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Leaders of Catholic Sisters congregations throughout Michigan issued this statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 29, 2021
STATEMENT OF LEADERS OF CONGREGATIONS OF MICHIGAN CATHOLIC SISTERS CALLING FOR RON WEISER’S REMOVAL AS CHAIR OF THE MICHIGAN REPUBLICAN PARTY AND RESIGNATION AS REGENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
As women of faith whose congregations have served the people of Michigan – men and women, Republican and Democratic – for 1,084 collective years, we were deeply troubled and alarmed to hear University of Michigan Regent and Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser refer to our state’s top three elected women officials as “witches” that the GOP’s “job now is to soften up” so that “when we have good candidates to run against them that they are ready for the burning at the stake.”
This language is not only abhorrent on its face, it poses a real and present danger to the three elected leaders and to all women in Michigan, giving bullies and abusers public license to vent their anger and vitriol on the bodies of real women in our cities, neighborhoods, and State Capitol. One in three Michigan families are already impacted by domestic violence and over 100 domestic violence-related murders occur in Michigan every year, according to Haven, a national nonprofit promoting violence-free homes and communities.
In our faith tradition, all people are made in the image of God. This kind of abusive language, displaying misogynistic contempt for women, is abominable. It has no place in our public discourse and is appalling coming from a Regent of one of our nation’s premier educational institutions. Chairman Weiser’s inflammatory aside about “other than assassination” as to how to deal with two Michigan Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump is both shocking and horrifying. No political party should associate itself with such deeply disturbing remarks, much less abide them in its own leader.
We call for Ron Weiser’s resignation as Regent of the University of Michigan and for his removal as Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, urging party leaders to clearly and unequivocally condemn these dangerous and alarming comments.
The Michigan Catholic Sisters issuing this call include the elected leaders of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Monroe), Home Visitors of Mary, Servants of Jesus, Marist Sisters, Mission Sisters of the Holy Spirit, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – West Midwest and Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph who comprise Region 7 of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
Late Saturday, one day before Palm Sunday when Jesus met with the Pharisees, Weiser issued a prepared statement in apology, saying “I apologize to those I offended for the flippant analogy about three women who are elected officials and for the off-hand comments about two other leaders. I pledge to be part of a respectful political dialogue going forward.” Earlier in the day the Michigan Republican Party issued a separate tweet, “Dana Nessel should spend less time on her manufactured outrage about an animated local political meeting and more time protecting victims of Larry Nassar.”
May Life Spring Up in Us as we open ourselves to the Spirit filled with hope and peace
Ten years ago our Sisters opened LittleAngels School in Ichama, diocese of Oktupo in the southern part of Benue state. This Easter 2021 Sr. Lydia and Sr. Sylvia, Home Visitors, begin ministering at St. Joseph Parish in Korinya city in the diocese of Gboko, also in Benue state. Benue state is the heart of Tivland culture and Korinya is another small city in a rural setting. If you visited today you would want to escape the 107 temperatures by seeking the cool 103 temperatures of the shade.
St. Joseph Korinya parish happens to be the starting point of Catholicism in Tivland. The parish has a nursery, a primary school, a boys and girls high school, (day and boarding) as well as a clinic. Recently the priest added an ICTcenter to the elementary school so pupils can learn basic computer knowledge before moving to secondary school. The bishop underscores the importance of education, especially of the poor, in this growing area filled with tensions. Pray for our Sisters going forth with hope to bring peace that comes from a deep respect and love of every person – Catholics – Muslim; farmer-herder; no matter your tribe. Your donations help provide education for hundreds of youth in a poor farming area.#####
“People ask: What is the most durable power in the universe? And the fact is that Easter answers that question. You wonder about it. What is it that is the heartbeat of the moral cosmos? It’s the power of love. Easter tells us that. Sometimes it looks like the other powers are much more durable. Then we come to see that isn’t true. But the most durable lasting power in this world is the power of love.”
“Sometimes, one may hear people giving up something during Lent as a spiritual exercise, such as eating certain kinds of food, watching television, or surfing the internet daily. I think it is crucial that black churches, rather than give up something, give something, do something, or say something that speaks to the sufficient grace of God which we sorely need and desire as Christians. In this penitential season, as we give ourselves to God, we receive so much more.” Luke Powery
February 17 Ash Wednesday Resolve to repent of the sin of racism and believe the good news of God’s beloved community.
18 Thursday Birthday (1934) of Audre Lorde “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
19 Friday Share a copy of this calendar with a friend and invite them to join you on this Lenten journey.
20 Saturday Birthday (1895) of Frederick Douglas “The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.”
February 21 First Sunday of Lent. Birthday (1940) of John Lewis, “Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.” John Lewis
23 Tuesday Do a cultural audit of your home. Do you have art, music, literature, food from cultures other than your own?
24 Wednesday In prayer, list five ways in which you see white privilege operative in American society today.
25 Thursday Investigate ways in which you can purchase goods and services from minority-owned businesses.
26 Friday Murder (2012) of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. In prayer lament this senseless loss.
27 Saturday Pray for vocations to historically African American religious communities of women: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of the Holy Family, the Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary.
February 28 Second Sunday of Lent. “If my sister or brother is not at the table, we are not the flesh of Christ. If my sister’s mark of sexuality must be obscured, if my brother’s mark of race must be disguised, if my sister’s mark of culture must be repressed, then we are not the flesh of Christ. For, it is through and in Christ’s own flesh that the ‘other’ is my sister, is my brother; indeed, the ‘other’ is me…”M. Shawn Copeland
March 1 Monday This week reflect on these steps of interrupting racism when you experience racist language or behavior: Begin by breathing and grounding yourself.
2 Tuesday Name the behavior. Call out the remark, not the person.
3 Wednesday Name how the behavior makes you feel and describe the impact of the behavior.
4 Thursday Give a direction – ask the person to reconsider their remark.
5 Friday Stay – be willing to stay in relationship, in conversation with the person.
6 Saturday Share your experiences with this process with someone else.
March 7 Third Sunday of Lent. “We are called to engage in life-affirming, God-glorifying, agony-eradicating ministry. We are called to partner with Jesus in service, not pain. Pain is a consequence of discipleship. It is not a lifestyle, a life sentence, or a life goal. Pain only signals the level of opposition to ministry. It is not the measure of discipleship; ministry is.”Raquel Annette St. Clair
8 Monday As you watch/read the news this week, be conscious of how people of color are reported on or not. Bring these insights to prayer.
9 Tuesday Examine your own biases and consider where they may have originated. What messages did you receive as a child about people who are different from you?
10 Wednesday Anniversary of the death (+1913) of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, “Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
11 Thursday How much do you know about these African American Catholics? Choose one and research their life: Sr. Thea Bowman, Arthur Falls, Mother Mary Lange, Fr. Lawrence Lucas, Diane Nash, Daniel Rudd.
12 Friday Download a photograph of a lynching and place it near a crucifix in your prayer space. How do the two images illuminate each other?
13 Saturday Numerous studies have shown that Black and Hispanic communities are exposed to higher proportions of air pollution, toxic waste sites, landfills, lead poisoning, and other industrial complexes compared to white counterparts. Research environmental racism in your state.
March 14 Fourth Sunday of Lent. “Black women have not focused sufficiently on our need for contemplative spaces. We are often ‘too busy’ to find time for solitude. And yet it is in the stillness that we also learn how to be with ourselves in a spirit of acceptance and peace. Then when we re-enter community, we are able to extend this acceptance to others. Without knowing how to be alone, we cannot know how to be with others and sustain the necessary autonomy.” Bell Hooks
15 Monday International Day Against Police Brutality – Pray for people of color who have been brutalized or died at the hands of police.
16 Tuesday Try to practice active listening by listening to understand rather than listening to respond or to defend yourself.
17 Wednesday Pray for the racial and ethnic groups that have been scapegoated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
18 Thursday Donate to an organization that promotes anti-racism.
19 Friday Avoid usage of stereotypical and normalized, micro-aggressive comments. Examples include: Where are you really from? What are you? You sound white.
20 Saturday Many streaming services have excellent collections of films on racism and the experiences of people of color – watch one with a friend and discuss it.
March 21 Fifth Sunday of Lent. “What makes the Church white and racist is the pervasive belief that European aesthetics, European music, European theology, and European persons, and only these, are standard, normative, universal, and truly Catholic. In other words, when we talk about what makes something Catholic, the default is always to the products that reflect a white cultural aesthetic. Everything else is seen as Catholic by exception, or Catholic by toleration.”. Fr. Bryan Massingale
22 Monday Donate money to your local library to buy multicultural books for children.
23 Tuesday When you examine your conscience do you consider your participation in racial injustice? Have you ever mentioned racism in confession?
24 Wednesday “What does it mean to be black and Catholic? It means that I come to my church fully functioning. That doesn’t frighten you, does it? I come to my church fully functioning. I bring myself, my black self, all that I am, all that I have, all that I hope to become.” Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA
25 Thursday Feast of the Annunciation “We are told of meek obedience. No one mentions courage.” Denise Levertov/Anniversary of the Selma March (1965)
26 Friday Listen to some African American spirituals.
27 Saturday Include a message about racial justice from a person of color with the signature line of your email.
March 28 Sixth Sunday of Lent. “The gospel of Jesus is not a rational concept to be explained but a story about God’s presence in Jesus’ solidarity with the oppressed, which led to his death on the cross. What is redemptive is the faith that God snatches victory out of defeat.”James Cone
29 Monday Educate yourself on the Black Lives Matter movement to separate fact from fiction.
30 Tuesday Use the internet to find images of the Passion of Jesus from artists of color.
31 Wednesday Share with a friend what the experience has been like to use this Lenten calendar.
April 1 Holy Thursday “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.” These words uttered by an elderly African American woman, Mother Pollard, as she strode with thousands of others during the Montgomery Bus Boycott gave witness to how she was expressing her faith, speaking her theology, with her feet. As you reflect this evening on Jesus washing the feet of the disciples ask yourself, “how do I speak my theology with my feet?”
2 Good Friday In the “lynching era,” between 1880 to 1940, white Christians lynched nearly five thousand black men and women in a manner with obvious echoes of the Roman crucifixion of Jesus. Yet these “Christians” did not see the irony or contradiction in their actions. James Cone
3 Holy Saturday As part of renewing your baptismal vows tonight resolve to renounce personal and communal racism in ways that foster change.
April 4 Easter Sunday. Assassination date of Martin Luther King (1968). People are always asking, “What is the most durable power in the universe? And the fact is that Easter answers that question too. You wonder about it. What is it that is the heartbeat of the moral cosmos? What is it? It’s the power of love. Easter tells us that. Sometimes it looks like the other powers are much more durable. Then we come to see that isn’t true. But the most durable, lasting power in this world is the power to love.” Martin Luther King
Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity – Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary are saddened to inform that Janet Saponaro passed to the Lord on January 22, 2021. Janet was a faith-filled woman with a generous spirit. She led bible reflections at adult care homes along East Grand Blvd in Detroit and participated in a monthly faith gathering at the Capuchin soup kitchen for persons from these homes. Her mother Margaret was Janet’s sidekick at the Capuchin soup kitchen and at HVM teas. Janet was someone you could call on to open her home to the homeless or problem teen.
For more than ten years, Janet was an active member of the Sisters, Home visitors of Mary fundraising committee. She is known for her fancy, English bone tea cups and delicious finger sandwiches that graced the annual teas. Janet loved to check out resale shops and garage sales, especially for art work; many items made it to the Home Visitors auction table at the annual fund raiser for the Nigerian Mission. We remember Janet sitting on the floor preparing items to showcase at the auction.
Janet also helped at St. Raymond parish, her childhood parish, bringing her skills as an early childhood teacher in the Detroit public school system. She was always present in her quiet way; she gave, she cared. She lives in our hearts and with the Lord.
Obituary for Janet Saponaro
SAPONARO, JANET Age 73 January 22, 2021 Loving daughter of the late Joseph and the late Margaret Saponaro. Dear sister of Judith (Larry) Calcaterra. Also survived by her nephews; Larry (Laura), Matt (Carrie) and Mike (Stacy) and her great nieces and nephews; Amelia, Christina, Michael Jr., Caroline, Charlie, Courtney, William and Audrey. Janet was a devoted elementary school teacher for Detroit Public Schools for 33 years. Donations preferred to Sisters Home Visitors of Mary (www.sistershvm.org). Visitation Monday 2-5pm. Instate Tuesday 11:30am at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church 22415 Overlake St., St. Clair Shores, MI. until 12:00pm Mass. Share memories with the family “On-Line Guestbook” at WujekCalcaterra.com.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
Sr. Mary Finn passed to her eternal reward with the Lord and dominion of Saints on January 4, 2021.
Mary Catherine Finn was born in Detroit on September 11,1934, the oldest of three girls to Mary (O’Hara) and Frank Finn. Her mother was born and raised in Chicago and her father was raised in County Tyrone, in farm country in Northern Ireland where he was a parish catechist. Frank (aka Barney) Finn was a Detroit street car motorman. Grandpa O’Hara also lived with the family; he would bundle young Mary, Marge and Pat in their red wagon for walks through their Glenfield-Gratiot neighborhood on the East Side of Detroit. “Every neighbor, store keeper and beer garden patron met and loved Grandpa and the three little Finn girls.” Mary loved parish and school life at nearby St. David on beautiful Outer Drive. In the 7th grade, Bishop Schoenherr invited her to play and coach the CYO parish girls’ basketball and fast pitch softball teams. Mary wrote: If there had been honors and awards for girl players and coaches in those days, I would have received the best! My batting average for the four years of high school was 800!
While in high school, Bishop Schoenherr introduced three encyclicals to Mary: Mystical Body of Christ, Holy Scriptures and Divine Liturgy– the building blocks of her life. She didn’t want to be a teacher after high school so she entered the Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary in 1952.
Mary received degrees from Marygrove College, Marquette Univ. and Duquesne Univ. She served many times as retreat director and delegate for religious and ministry formation of seminarians. She loved her evenings engaged with teens at the Catholic Information Center on Oakland Avenue. Mary writes: A transforming moment for me was the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 which shook my social innocence with a great sadness about White Catholic racism. The young men who came to play pool at the center became my Life-Teachers.
Sr. Mary was precede in death by her parents, beloved grandfather, sister Patricia and brother-in-law Don Barkume; and brother-in-law Ed Stano and nephew Jim Stano. She is remembered by Marge Stano, her sister, nieces and nephews: Maureen, Dan, Brien Barkume and John and Patrick Stano along with their families and dear friend Jacqueline (John) Ahern and her religious congregation and untold number of friends and companions.
Funeral mass will be at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit on Thursday, January 7, 2021. 10:00 am viewing. 11:00 am Eucharistic liturgy. Msgr. Daniel Trapp presiding.
The Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary rejoice in the appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory. Washington, D.C., as a new Cardinal by Pope Francis on October 25. Cardinal Gregory has been actively engaged in the struggle, the life of the church, for many years. His appointment represents a joyous recognition of his vision, his character and his leadership.
Dear Bishop Gregory, It is with profound gratitude and joy that the Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary congratulate you on your elevation to the office of cardinal. These are indeed trying times in which your elevation is made, but in times like these the Holy Spirit raises up the elect of God’s own heart to lead His people. It is not a little thing that your elevation comes in a time and place in history when our world is in need of profound healing . Be assured of our prayerful support and prayers.
Sr. Elizabeth Harris, HVM.
Letter from The Leadership Conference of Women Religious:
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious rejoices over the news of the appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory as a cardinal in the Catholic Church. Over the years we have been grateful to Archbishop Gregory’s leadership within the church where he has not only been a strong pastoral presence, but also a fearless outspoken critic of injustice. His public stances on many critical matters such as the repair of the US immigration system, race relations, climate change, sexual abuse within the church, LGBTQ matters, and much more reveal his deep integrity and courage.
In making this historic appointment of the first African-American cardinal, Pope Francis is clearly giving a message about the importance of assuring racial diversity at all levels of society and within the church. We are pleased that the African-American voice will be represented in this important decision-making body.
As an organization headquartered in the Washington archdiocese, we are especially pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Archbishop Gregory. We look forward to this continuing relationship and congratulate him on this important recognition of his gifts and abilities as an outstanding leader.
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious issued a series of reflections leading up to the U.S. general election on November 3, 2020. Share their thoughts and prayers by clicking on the links shown at the bottom of this post below.
File: A Candle in the Dark commons.wikimedia.com
Prayer: God of all, in this year of election, in these days of discernment, IGNITE us with the fire of your love. ENFLAME our hearts with courage to embrace dialogue that transforms and truth that frees. KINDLE our love with kindness to heal divisions and reconcile relationships. LIGHT our imaginations with insight to envision and create a world where all are one. STIR our actions with justice and peace to engage critical concerns and cherish all of life. FIRE our lives with audacity and hope to risk all for God’s mission.