Written on: December 14, 2016
The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart are committed to creating a compassionate world. Our ministry and advocacy reflect our passion to bring the healing presence of Jesus to those who are marginalized by society and to issues that receive little attention. Many of these are encapsulated in the term Social Justice– advancing the good of the many over the desires of the few.
“In today’s complex world, charity isn’t enough. We must also see the root causes of poverty and other forms of injustice to eliminate them. That’s the work of advocacy!” Sister Diane Bardol
Advocacy is the act of using our voices for justice, to speak for those whose voices are unheard or ignored. St. Marguerite d’Youville, foundress of the Grey Nuns stands among the strongest of advocates.
Although it was not typical for women of her time, Marguerite stood up to civil and church authorities and to individuals, courageously speaking out for the poor. To quote the late Sister Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart,
“Born in 1701, Marguerite helped to form the political conscience of Canada by clearly making the government and society aware of its responsibility to the poor, the infirm, children and elderly.”
In 2016, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, spiritual descendants of Marguerite, are still speaking for the poor, the infirm, children and elderly. Sister Rita Margraff serves as Chair of the Board for Interfaith Housing Visions. Sister Jean Liston is an activist in the movement to abolish the death penalty. Sister Sheila Stone advocates for care of the environment and the elimination of fracking. Sister Diane Bardol lobbies with a Jubilee USA delegation for legislation to end anonymous shell companies. Sisters Rose Mary Cauley and Mary McMahon attend local peace conferences and events. Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart also promote immigration reform and many other social justice issues.
“Advocacy flows from prayer,” observes Sister Diane Bardol. “Prayer changes us; it changes the way we see the world and our place in it. It gives us eyes to see others as our sisters and brothers, sacred people in whom God dwells. Knowing that, how can we not respond to inequality and injustice?”
Sister Diane affirms that advocacy belongs to the very heart of the life of women religious because it brings the message of the Gospel to life. “In today’s complex world, charity isn’t enough. We must also seek the root causes of poverty and other forms of injustice to eliminate them. That’s the work of advocacy!
“Women religious are among the most well educated and well informed groups in our society today. That privilege brings an obligation to act on behalf of social justice. Advocacy sometimes involves risk. Women religious are in a position to risk. We cannot be threatened. In a sense, we have nothing to lose. But we lose our very selves if we don’t challenge unjust systems.
“Most important,” she says, “social justice is a constitutive element of the Gospel. We cannot claim to be followers of Jesus Christ and believers in his Gospel if we do not become the Good News and do the work of justice.
“To see as Jesus sees and to love as Jesus loves requires advocacy on behalf of the poor. It is what brings the Gospel to life. As St. Francis said, ‘Preach the Gospel always, sometimes use words’.”
Please join us in advocacy! Follow us on Facebook to discover opportunities to lend your voice to causes we support. With your financial gifts you help our sisters continue their work in life-changing ministries, attend advocacy conferences, and participate in national and international organizations that make a positive difference in today’s world. Together, we all stay connected to issues that matter!
This is part of a three-part series found in our annual report to donors highlighting three pillars of religious life: Prayer, Ministry and Advocacy. Check our blog to read them all!