President, Sr. Mary Murray, Reflects on Pope Francis' Visit to the United States and His Messages For All
There are moments in our lives when the impact of one person has the potential to change our lives forever. Such a moment may well be the visit of Pope Francis to the United States. His message of respect, reconciliation, forgiveness and dialogue with those of different ideologies, perspectives, positions and spiritual traditions to work together for the common good of all is a message that has the power to change individuals and societies. The earth is our ‘common home,’ says Pope Francis, and the time is now to insure its future by taking care of our environment and one another. We cannot leave this important work to future generations. The time is now.
He is an example we can all emulate in our personal lives and in our communities. It is my hope that this is not just an exciting moment in time, but a time in which each one of us who has heard his message will have the courage to change our lives... the courage to focus on caring for our common home and embracing our differences rather than simply tolerating them… the courage to dialogue and outreach with the most vulnerable among us- stretching beyond our own views to understand others and recognize that differences do not have to divide people. People’s good will can change division into unity.
Francis’ keen insight into the global concerns of our times has given him true moral authority that I hope and pray will influence other civil, religious and governmental leaders as well as local leaders, families and communities to embrace his messages of peace, the need for dialogue, and care for those most in need. His call to work together to enact sustainable solutions for our planet- which is an integral component of so many global concerns- reminds us that this responsibility belongs to each one of us sharing the common home we call Earth.
I found that Pope Francis‘ messages brought to mind how as Sparkill Dominicans, and members of the Dominican Family, our ministries are so much in line with what he has been preaching throughout his visit. Our congregational Land Ethic embraces much of what the Pope has been saying about the need for addressing climate change concerns.
Pope Francis’ message to reach out to others in need resonates with our mission statement: “We are joyful women of prayer and compassion who proclaim the reign of God through ministry for justice and reverence for all creation” and our Congregation’s goal, “…wherein we focus on the enablement of the poor, of the powerless, of the oppressed, and of the spiritually deprived people of our times.” Our ministries in the United States and Pakistan address the needs of young students, immigrants, the elderly and the pastoral and health care needs of many of the most vulnerable in our world today.
Pope Francis’ words are an affirmation and a challenge to both Religious and Laity to have confidence that God is truly with us in our attempts to make a difference in our world.
~ Sr. Mary Murray, OP
President, Dominican Sisters of Sparkill
September 25, 2015
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