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Your Voice Can Be Heard –Current Civic Engagement

Remember in the golden past when you picked up a pen and wrote a letter about your concern or problem to a Member of Parliament, or the Sierra Club or even Green Peace? Chances are, these days if you were to hand a pen to a 20 something or younger, they would not know what to do with it. Good penmanship, I am sad to say, is considered archaic in today’s society. Many teenagers today cannot read a letter from their grandmother, even if her penmanship is beautiful.  So if you did use your finest penmanship writing to your Member of Parliament, chances are the young office administrator might not be able to read it. Scary, isn’t it!

In these days of texting and email, what is a responsible citizen to do? Young people rely heavily on Social Media as their mode of communication. They may not go to the voting booths, but their opinion is just a click away. They prefer to focus on individual issues, not a party platform that often tends to disappoint.  They have instant communication with thousands of people to get their voice heard. We can learn something here. There are many online campaigning / petition sites that are office chair friendly and easy to access.  In fact, you can create your own petition on many of these. Here are a few popular ones:

  1. Avaaz.org - One of a few that actually go to political powers to bring social or political change
  2.  Change.org - Tends to address and unite supporters, but is politically neutral so it raises public awareness, but not necessarily influences or pressures those who hold power
  3. MoveOn.org - Very involved in American politics. It calls itself, "Democracy in Action" 
  4. Meetup.com - I know what you're thinking; "I don't want a dating site". But wait a moment, this, in fact, this is for people who share interests such as spirituality, astronomy, small businesses, the environment, golf, video games, mountain biking just to name a few, and want to get together and form a local club or group.
  5. Care2.com/petitions - They offer a lot on this site so make sure you click on “Petitions”
  6. Facebook has a section called “Causes” - used to organize fundraising. Caution: some causes here are non-researched and may use naive sources. Remember that adolescents and teenagers use these sites too.
  7. Twitter has ACT.LY - users can create their own petitions with a few clicks. Use caution here or you may be "twitterpated". Again, popular with young people whose interests are media-based.

If you are interested in more, check out these web-sites.




Do you want to raise a concern that needs more public awareness?

Maria Kordas-Fraser
CSJ Associate




Heart – Home

On the occasional afternoon at 4 o’clock, I will watch an episode of “Judge Judy”.  I enjoy her wit, as well as, practical advice. The other day a defendant was explaining that she was homeless and she proclaimed it as if saying “that’s life” and I’m fine with my circumstance – sleeping on a friend’s couch or the backseat of my car. This explanation made me shutter. How have we come to this position?  “None are so blind as those who do not see.”

Living in a country that has so much, we have an overwhelming number of people who have so little. It is not the time to play the blame game – verbally or silently.  I think most of us do just that!  Not me you say! “If only they would…”  Well homelessness takes many avenues.  There are those we recognize as not having shelter and there are those that we may live with who have no inner shelter. These folks may be surrounded by many, but their inner spirit feels isolated, homeless and without companionship. I admit that I struggle at times to know what to do and how to sincerely reach out to them.

Society has fund raisers and tries to raise public awareness. Within our own families and community, we need to find other ways to give a home to the inner spirit. I find that I have to pray to be patient with myself and not give up, especially to “listening” and not “being” quick to give advice. You have to admit, it is difficult not to be always right!  So let’s put on our listening ears and listening hearts. Give a heart home to those who need us, not to build a house around them, but to light the hearth in their hearts.

Jesus said “But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’” I say “strike that match!”  And still every day we must ask “Who is my neighbour”?

Barbara Vaughan CSJ



Weekly Pause & Ponder

Life is changing constantly, but change is never random. There are always causes and conditions. The reason that living systems change is in order to survive. If their environment shifts, they adapt, figuring out what works in the context of now. They don’t do this as isolated individuals but as neighborhoods. Each individual is free to decide how it will change, but individual adaptations only work within the context of community. It’s more accurate to think of sense making and adapting as a collective activity, individual creativity within a community. And it’s a process that works well to create difference, differentiation, and coherence - billions of species living in a web of “inter-being,” as Thich Nhat Hahn describes it. This is our wondrous planet, “A world which gives birth to ever new variety and ever new manifestations of order against a background of constant change,” adapting, experimenting, discovering what works and, ultimately, surprising us with what emerges.
So Far From Home:lost and found in our brave new world,
by Margaret J. Wheatley 
p. 40.

The Lives Our Lives Prepare

The Lives Our Lives Prepare

If we will have the wisdom to survive,

To stand like slow-growing trees

On a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…

Then a long time after we are dead

The lives our lives prepare will live here.

Excerpt from Wendell Berry, “A Vision”

This short excerpt by Wendell Berry captures in poetic form the heart of evolutionary consciousness. Beyond the language of evolutionary consciousness which can feel just a few steps beyond us at times, the concept is simple and profound. It is attractive and saturated with implication in our everyday lives.

We, as humans are not destined to be stuck in the grim places that keep us at war, that separate us, that leave us living with anxious expectation. We are capable of sensing our ultimate belonging to each other. We can know that we are part of a larger whole. We do care about life beyond our own particular life span.

There it is. The invitation to accept the responsibility to engage the life that is ours personally with all its challenges.

There it is. The commitment to be part of a larger planetary community that changes the course of history.

There it is. For now and for a long time after we are dead, what is the life our lives are preparing?

Margo Ritchie, CSJ




Ah-men - Ah-women

Ah-men, Ah-men, Ah-men, we respond after the consecration at mass. My mouth responds, but strangely, some days, I find my mind singing in tune – Ah-women, Ah-women, Ah-women. As for my heart – it is doing a duet (being all inclusive).

We are coming up to the month of May – Mary’s month but it is interesting that it begins with the feast of Joseph the Worker. Ah-men, Ah-women! Together in life and death -they made quite the team.

They knew joy (birth of Jesus), hardship (flight into Egypt), and grief (the death of Joseph). Through all of these times there was Jesus, the joy of their lives. Is this not true for all of us – Jesus in good times and in bad.

We have concluded the Lenten Season and have bounded out of Easter. Jesus is risen and invites us to do the same. Here is an invitation to joy. Are we up for it? Take off those mourning clothes, colour-up your days, spread the Word, Jesus is Risen and walks among us!

Ah-Men; Ah-Women.

Join Mary, Queen of the May; Joseph, her husband Patron of Workers; Jesus their son, brother, and Saviour of us all.

Hail Holy Mary Hail!

Hail Holy Joseph Hail!

Hail Jesus Hail

Ah-men – Ah-women


Barbara Vaughan CSJ


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.