Tuesday, August 31, 2021

We Can do Something NOW about Climate Change

As you know well, human activity is warming our planet at an unprecedented rate. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that humanity only has a few years to avoid catastrophic climate change.  Solutions exist now that can help slow and even reverse this climate warming. However, we need faith-filled voices to strengthen our nation’s moral and political will to enact bold policies that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and care for the common good. 
The Catholic Climate Covenant is offering us the opportunity to take action NOW! Here are three simple and impactful actions you can take TODAY!
  1. Sign and share The Catholic Climate Action Petition for Individuals
  1. Ask authorized leaders or representatives of Catholic institutions to sign the Climate Action Letter is for Catholic Institutions.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ordaining Women: Leading to more corruption or bringing justice


Women’s Ordination Conference 45th Anniversary. Sister Dorothy Ettling, Dr. Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Sister Mary Walden, and Sister Martha Ann Kirk attended the first Women’s Ordination Conference in Detroit. Three of them have died, but Sister Martha Ann was invited to be a presenter at the anniversary celebration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b69mOzuTkbk&t=3s  

She had been the leader of dance and drama at 2015 gathering of Women’s Ordination Worldwide https://sanantonioreport.org/gender-gospel-and-global-justice/  Sister Tere Maya was a part of the gathering of major superiors in Rome a few years ago when they had invited Pope Francis to consider women in the diaconate.  An interactive platform is promoting conversations on the deaconate https://discerningdeacons.org/  Would the best thing be or dismantle any type of ordination within the Catholic Church since they seem to lead to power over rather than gospel relationships of mutuality and service.  “I no longer call you servants but friends,” echoes from John’s gospel. Discerning Deacons invites people to consider how the church might be healed.

"Deep in our hearts" we minister as people have died, as we did in the 1800's

A Dia de los muertos altar in the family home of Sr. Katty in Lima, Peru.  "Wawa"  a Quechua style bread made by her father.  

 In the middle of the 1800's when a tenth of the population of San Antonio had died, the first Incarnate Word Sisters began to minister consoling people, helping to heal wounded hearts and bodies.  During the global pandemic for Dia de los muertos, 2020, we gathered to console each other.  Read about this in Global Sisters Report “May the Communion of Saints bring us comfort!” Global Sisters Report, February 21, 2021, https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/coronavirus/column/may-communion-saints-bring-us-comfort   Listen to students in Mexico City speak of their experiences building relationships in the Incarnate Word family in three countries and four institutions. Incarnate Word Cross Cultural Contact and Compassion” https://youtu.be/izdLWuYxne8

In the city of San Antonio, we continue the ministry of consolation at "Deep in Our Hearts." 

Seated:  Mayor Ron Nirenberg,  Judge Nelson Wolf, Councilwoman Adriana Garcia Rocha

Deep in our hearts are the 3,500 people who have died since the outbreak of the pandemic in San Antonio.  All are invited to visit the memorial at E. Market and S. Alamo St. and to remember.  Relatives are invited to write the names of a loved one who died on a heart and to attach a laminated pictured if they wish.   https://www.sacrd.org/DeepInOurHearts/

Sister Martha Ann Kirk, who is active in the “City of Compassion” movement and education and Councilwoman Adriana Garcia Rocha

UIW double alumni Council Woman Adriana Garcia Rocha poignantly spoke remembering the seven members of her family and the two members of her church family who have died of COVID.  She noted the vulnerable populations of San Antonio and how important it is that all think of ourselves as one family in our city uniting for equity as we go into the future.  She brought the best skills of a UIW Communications Art major to touch the hearts and minds of Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Judge Nelson Wolf, and the crowd of citizens, many of whom had lost family members and friends.  Former Incarnate Word Justice and Peace graduate student and organizer of the event Rev. Ann Helmke began reminding us that we stand on land belonging to native peoples. The beat of a native drum  calls  us to listen to our heart beat, our hurting hearts, as we grieve those lost.  

Mayor Nirenberg spoke of youth and the future.  As the memorial opens our hearts, may this lead us to encouraging the young and creating hope.  

Learn more of seeking to promote compassion during the pandemic, "Tears Are Washing Our Eyes that we may see." https://kirk-39798.medium.com/tears-are-washing-our-eyes-that-we-may-see-teaching-in-san-antonio-tx-a-city-of-compassion-f1ccf1f19890 

Responding to a Critical Need, Alternative Energy Development.


Consider how Gregory Arroyo, Jr., contributes to this effort.  How are each of us called to use our talents or our voices in light of this critical need?  A virtual conversation was held April 6, 2021, with Mr. Arroyo who is the Chief Commercial Officer and Corporate Counsel for Eleris Energy Global, LLC, a company focused on clean energy projects in South and Southeast Asia, as well as President and founder of Texas based Limerick Consulting, LLC,  serving the electric power industry.  Mr. Arroyo’s creative thinking and sense of vocation has led him to development work with wind and solar energy in areas such as Bangladesh which has been one of the most economically  disadvantaged countries in the world. Learn of Mr. Arroyo’s assistance in bringing alternative energy  to Mexico, Central America, Peru, southeast Asia, and more. 

After Mr. Arroyo had spoken UIW student leaders commented and engaged in conversation: Miranda Van Doren of SUSTAIN, Daniel Potter, UIW Solar House Project Manager, Liza Castillo, Interior Design and Environmental Science. Then others joined including Dr. Karen Engate, UIW Environmental Science and her students. Mr. Arroyo was invited by Sister Martha Ann Kirk who shares the same south Texas hometown where for many people economic security is tied to the fossil fuel industry.  At this time in global history, economic conversion is critical.  She raises the question, “If so much job security continues to be tied to fossil fuel which is pushing climate change is humanity enslaved in a downward spiral?”   Co-sponsored by the University of the Incarnate Word Earth Month Committee, Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability; H-E-B School of Business & Administration; Incarnate Word Sisters Justice, Peace, Creation Committee; San Antonio Pax Christi;  SUSTAIN;  H-E-B School of Business & Administration;   Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Physics


Friday, August 27, 2021

Sueños de una mujer Afgana

Araceli Uranga, CCVI nos comparte estas imágenes.  Cada imagen está llena de sueños, luchas y esperanzas. Creemos que orar con ellas puede hacernos mucho bien. Extendamos la solidaridad.

"Llegaron estas imágenes. Son obras de una artista afgana que se llama Shamsia Hassani, si las compartimos, será como darle voz a ella  y a todas las mujeres afganas que están viviendo el infierno."

The Afghan Crisis - How to Help Our Neighbors

Sister Juanita Albratch, CCVI  participated in the webinar, organized by Lutheran Refugee Service, called The Afghan Crisis - How to Help Our Neighbors (August 24, 2021). Here are a few lines to help us explore collaboration and solidarity where we are. 

The conference began with a prayer and was moderated by Krigh O’Mara Vignajah. She gave a few remarks about LIRS saying that they are over 40,00 volunteers worldwide working on the worst refugee situation possible.  She said that most recent photographs of the situation in Afghanistan are heartbreaking.  We think of the people there, but think also of the families, relatives, the U.S. and other countries who see this turmoil and are deeply concerned about their families.

The moderator introduced Megan Bracy who shared on-going activities. She said they have been in touch with our allies, asking for help of whatever kind, especially in receiving, housing, feeding the refugees.  Also, in accepting money to help provide basic needs during the time of their resettlement.  “We must continue,” she said “until all are safe and have their rights protected.” The Refugee Centers can do this well.  Now support is needed in welcoming and providing housing those evacuated.  Volunteers are badly needed to provide this service….

She said that “Advocacy with evacuation of Afghanistan has been on-going since April of this year.  On July 24th LIRS asked our allies to assist with advocacy for groups, members of families, women, religious rights groups.  You have seen the photos of the evacuation of Afghanistan.  The most dangerous place in Kabul now is the airport.  Over 13,000 are still there waiting – mostly Americans. The Taliban are doing all they can to prevent targeted Afghanis from leaving. Those who have assisted the U.S. over the years must be helped. Questions we have to consider: Should LIRS workers leave? How can we leave? We are asking Congress to support our work here at the moment.

Megan said that LIRS has already resettled over 2,000 Afghanis in the U.S., principally in California, West Virginia and Washington State.  With those being evacuated now we will need assistance with providing basic needs, helping them enroll in basic aid programs for at least 90 days.  50,000 refugees arrived in the U. S. this week.  We need volunteers to support these people – who arrive with nothing.  We need lawyers, money, volunteer workers to provide guidance as the refugees insert into the culture.

Salah Ansury was introduced by the monitor:  Salah Ansury is an Afghan citizen who left  his country in 1980 sad, angry  about what was happening in the country.  He said,” What is happening now is a tragedy and is a manmade calamity. I see the people of Afghanistan facing challenges I thought I would never see again.”  I am reminded again of the brutality of the time the Russians took over my country.  At that time (46 years ago) my family relocated to Pakistan.  Now I find myself receiving daily appeals wanting help . . .all have their documents and they are well prepared, but they can’t get out.  I heard from one man with a family of 8 children.  The family want him to leave, and leave them there because he has more a chance to get out if he goes alone.  There are many stories such as this.  Unfortunately, I can’t do anything.  People can’t get to the airport and can’t get into airport if they make it that far.  The only option the people have, is to escape to Pakistan or Iran.  Turkey won’t accept refugees! I feel that there will a be a massive movement of people – all leaving Afghanistan.  We will again see Smugglers appearing, helping to smuggle people out.  A real tragedy.  I understand that the states of Washington, Oregon Are very welcoming states and refugees are being sent there at present.

After Mr. Ansury’s presentation, the Director of LIRS spoke.  
Regarding the situation of refugees in the world today she said she prayed much.  I said, “Lord do something!” God, she says, does respond.  He says, “Don’t just sit – step up and do something.” She extended an invitation to all interested to be involved. She said LIRS would be sharing a list of its resources to all interested in volunteering to assist with the grave problem we have now with refugees. As of today, she said, 30,000 volunteers have sent in applications to be volunteers to assist with all stages of resettlement: Provide welcoming and hospitality, meeting people at the airport as well as long-term assistance in teaching English, adopting a family, working with groups of families or giving money for the multitudinous needs of the refugee families (modest apartments, food, clothing, etc.) We need to protect those who put their lives on the line for us.  She announced that on August 31st an on-line prayer service will be available in which all are invited to participate – as prayer is the greatest resource we can do and offer.  Education resources and videos to better understand culture and processes for refugees are available and can be obtained from  LIRS website.
The session was closed by the moderator who shared briefly toe LIRS plans for unaccompanied children.  She encouraged all listeners to help in whatever way possible as relationships are essential for the refugees as well as staples, food, giving of airline tickets, etc. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

“STORIES OF TRUTH AND TRANSFORMATION,” “PROJECT UPLIFT,” Women’s Global Connection with the Girls Global Summit Rising

Dr. Allison Buck, UIW Education and former Women’s Global Connection leader, Yesenia Caloca Yafout, Assistant Director of the Ettling Center, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, active in the founding of WGC and the Ettling Center, Mayra Levy, Program Specialist with the Ettling Center, Dr. Joan Labay Marquez, UIW Education Department and leading the Young Women’s Leadership Project, Mary Labay Marquez, a leader in the SA to the UN gathering, Brother Patrick Tumwine, educational leader in Uganda pursuing a Ph.D. at UIW

Like spring which returns despite flowers being cut down, the spirit of Women's Global Connection with its Girls Global Summit is rising and shining. The physical office called "Women's Global Connection" closed February 2020 after hosting an extremely inspiring Girls Global Summit that month. That was the eighth annual event. (See https://saccvi.blogspot.com/2020/04/go-and-tell-my-brothers-women-called-to.html) Persistent girls such as Tatum Spriester with women friends would not let the energy die. (See https://saccvi.blogspot.com/2020/12/girls-from-girls-global-summit-and.html ) The ninth annual event was an online transition presenting in the forum with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2021.  Read about that and see all the presentations on the UIW YouTube channel. (See https://sites.google.com/view/satoun/home ) An article about this will be coming out in Global Sisters Report soon. 

Energy has been building with a presentation in "STORIES OF TRUTH AND TRANSFORMATION:  Compassion, Civic Engagement, Teaching Social Justice," August 5, 2021, and "PROJECT UPLIFT: My Motivation," August 7, 2021,   

In the presentation, August 5, "Young Women’s Global Leadership Program- Facing and changing gender inequality one girl at a time" shared by Dr. Joan Labay Marquez, Erika Haskins, Linda Gjergji, moderated by Yesenia Coloca Yafout, Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability Assistant Director, people were invited to consider roots and to look into the future. The Young Women’s Global Leadership Program and Summit is a international citizenship leadership training program that provides girls and young women the opportunity to discover how they can influence and create positive change at home and abroad. This leadership program supports the mission and ministry of the University of the Incarnate Word, by teaching our young women about the university’s strong commitment to service, the responsibilities of global citizenship and how entrepreneurship can create social change.

Dr. Joan Labay-Marquez is the Graduate Studies Coordinator for the Dreeben School of Education (DSE) and serves on the NASPA Review Board for the NASPA Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education. She is a lawyer and her teaching focuses on law and social justice in higher education. She is an inaugural fellow of the SA Compassionate Institute 2020, serves as advisor to the Compassionate Student Peer Organization at UIW and is part of a phenomenal team of faculty, administrators, community leaders, graduate students and mentors that are organizing "Young Women's Global Leadership Program San Antonio and Girls Global Leadership Summit. Read of what is developing https://sites.google.com/view/uiwywglps/home.


Erika Haskins is a UIW doctoral student and also holds a UIW Bachelor’s in Business and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies. Erika’s research focus includes women’s and girl’s leadership and leadership in early Spanish, Mexican and Texas history. Her most recent academic research, Linda Marie Pace, has been published in The Handbook of Texas Women. As the former Executive Director for the Hispanic Heritage Center of Texas, she served as principal investigator on the travel exhibition, Las Damas de Tejas: Notable Women in Texas where she presented to numerous schools and museums around the state of Texas.

She has served as a historical consultant on the History Channel and as a consultant for an official San Antonio Tricentennial project. In 2010, she worked with Sister Dorothy Ettling, Mongu, Zambia, teaching workshops. Erika presented “Youth-Led Advocacy for Gender Equality: A Model for Global Summits” at the 65th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Her current dissertation study, ”Examining High School Girls Experiences in a Mentorship Program: A Qualitative Exploratory Case Study,” examines the positive benefits of participating in young female leadership programs.

Students from Uganda, Kenya, and Kosovo are planning to be in the 2021-2022 Young Women’s Global Leadership Program with the students from Incarnate Word High School and St. Anthony’s Catholic High School.


Linda Gjergji is pursuing her PhD in Adult Education, Social Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the University of the Incarnate Word. She is currently working as a Program Specialist for PTAC Center, part of the Institute for Economic Development at UTSA, and coordinates the procurement assistance for 37 counties in San Antonio area. She has earned a Master’s in Business (MBA) from the University of Incarnate Word in 2017, and Bachelor’s degree in Banking, Finance and Accounting from University of Prishtina. She is USAID fully funded scholar for the Transformational Leadership Program in Kosovo. Her research interests are related to: Women entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship in developing countries, and Women issues in developing countries. She established a Non-Profit organization for women empowerment in Kosovo in 2017, which has enhanced the participation of woman in community engagement, in small communities in Kosovo. Linda believes that increasing women’s education, leadership and business involvement is the first step towards improving gender gaps in access to economic opportunities in developing countries.


See pictures of them and more about this at https://sites.google.com/view/stories-truth-transformation/speakers



August 7, 2021, “PROJECT UPLIFT: My Motivation," gave an opportunity for about 20 females and one male, Brother Patrick Tumwine, CSC, an educational leader from Uganda now in the Ph.D.  Program in the UIW Dreeben School of Education to gather in the UIW International Conference Center.  Dr. Allison Buck had continued our relationship with a Women's Global Connection friend. We were delighted to see Hildah (Claire) Nyongesa and girls of the Chango Secondary school which is located within Vihiga County, Kenya, near the  Majengo Market.  Lydia, Capadonna,  Millicent, Lynne, Vallary, Sentrine, Linah, Melvin, Knight, and Lavender.  

Also joining us online, through the friendship of Brother Patrick, leaders in Holy Cross Lakeview Senior Secondary School, located in Jinja District, Eastern Uganda. They are generously giving their time to mentor their girls participating in the global leadership program this year. They are Father Prosper Atukwatse-Mukama, CSC, Deputy Principle in charge of administration and Mr. Emmanuel Ijonai, Director of Studies. 

We also had some San Antonio friends and the outstanding guest speakers, Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez, San Antonio City Council Woman Shirley Gonzalez, and Michelle McWilliams. UIW graduate student Jennifer Stuart worked on the program planning with Mayra Carbajal Levy and Yesenia Yafout Caloca who spoke and gave models for young women. 

Brother Patrick wrote, It was a wonderful day to be with you all with such uplifting presentations and engaged discussions. I am honored to be part of this awesome community of friends. God bless you all. 


Mayra Carbajal Levy,  Program Specialist  the UIW Ettling Center explained a little of her rich experience work experience and the multicultural gifts she brings. She has worked with CASA  Child Advocates San Antonio “insuring every child’s voice is heard.  CASA supports children and families involved in the child welfare system. Our volunteers advocate for the best interest of a child and make informed recommendations for the child’s physical and emotional well-being to the judge.” Mayra, as both someone with Mexican-American understanding growing up in Del Rio on the Rio Grande border and someone with interfaith understanding married to an Israeli Jew, is a leader helping people listen and grow.  


Yesenia Caloca Yafout and Brother Patrick converse about Africa during a break.

 Yesenia Caloca Yafout, Assistant Director in the UIW Ettling Center holds an M.Ed. in Global Studies: International Education Administration and Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She brings understanding from growing up in southern California with family roots in the Nayarit area of Mexico, studying at a UIW sister school in Korea, and interfaith understanding married to a Moroccan Muslim. They visit family in Morocco. Previously she worked with TRIO empowering UIW students. She has served in a Women’s Global Connection trip to Peru and did some needs assessment there.


Displaying the bags made in the service project which will be given to Lemonade Circle.

Content unfolded on gratitude, knowing our government, self-reflection in light of our names, and doing a service project of re-cycling a tee-shirt to make a bag for people using public transportation.  The Lemonade Circle led by Brandi Coleman, UIW Education Department, will be given these to share.

Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez emphasized the importance of service to community.  She has devoted her career as an attorney to obtaining fairness and justice for the disenfranchised and the voiceless and continues to be committed to ensuring that women have a seat at the policy making table. She has been awarded by many groups and the PRIDE Center nominated her for the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame.        

Former Councilwoman Shirley Gonzalez just completed, the longest amount of time allowed in that position representing District 5, the West and near South sides of San Antonio. On the council, she chaired several committees for Planning and Land Development, Transportation and Mobility, and authored the City’s Equity Budget policy requiring allocations based on need. This is a process for investing in those areas of the inner city which were neglected for decades.

Sister Martha Ann Kirk reminded her of June 20, 2019, the first SA City Council session with the newly elected majority of city councilwomen. Lauren Gonzalez and Selena Casanova, ECCLS student assistants; Casey  Ogechi Iwuagwu, President of the UIW Pre-Law Society; Nicole Foy, WGC Interim Executive Director; Tamarra Mencey, WGC Director of Administration; Erin Jaques, WGC Summer Fellow from Leadership in Educational Equity; and Sister Martha Ann presented each of the female leaders a WGC Alternative Giving Certificate indicating that in her honor and in gratitude for her public service a woman in Tanzania or Kenya would receive a dozen hens to develop a family business.

Shirley Gonzalez remembered that day and her delight with that gift. She went on to speak of her experience on the council when they changed to a women majority. The women understood how it felt to be “spoken over as women.”  Though on the council they might express different points of view, they listened. They worked for the common good paying attention to different voices.

 Michelle McWilliams currently serves as the Assistant Director for Career Development at Trinity University. Using design thinking theory, she advises students who are exploring majors and interests to help them realize their career paths. She served as the president of the San Antonio Colleges and Universities Career Center Association (SACUCCA).  She motivated all at “PROJECT UPLIFT,” to think of themselves, to think of our names, to think of our potential. 


Mary and Joan Labay Marquez, Gabriella, Mary, Elizabeth and Ana Vallor.  

Dr. Ana Vallor, Chair of the UIW Biology Department who attended with her three daughters, shared reflection on her name and story. 

Dr. Joan Labay-Marquez who attended with her daughter Mary enthusiastically invited students to register for the Young Women’s Leadership Program. Learn of serving with that and with UN Generation Equality at https://sites.google.com/view/stories-truth-transformation/service-scholarship

 By Sister Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI