Here is the link to the August 2023 edition of the Justice Office Newsletter.
Here is the link to the August 2023 edition of the Justice Office Newsletter.
Here is a link to the June / July edition of Through Shadows
Pope Francis has written a letter to young people as the Church prepares for a Synod of Bishops on the theme: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”.
The Pope’s letter was published on Friday 13 January, ahead of a press conference at the Holy See Press Office to present the preparatory document for the Synod which will take place in October 2018.
Please find below the text of the Pope’s letter:
My Dear Young People,
I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.
I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.
When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?
But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).
I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher […] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.
In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, […], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).
A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master. The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).
Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).
With paternal affection,
January 13th, 2017
This is the Vocation story of Sr Margaret Kelly O.P, a Cabra Dominican Sister, who lives and works in South Africa. Sr Margaret is passionate about justice and peace issues. She has served as Mission Area Prioress of South Africa in years gone by and she has also served as a Councillor in the Generalate. She is currently the Prioress of St Dominic’s Priory in Port Elizabeth.
I was lucky enough to attend a Dominican school in Dun Laoghaire for most of my school life. I remember in the Primary school several Nuns from different Orders came to tell their stories and to invite us to join them. I remember thinking that if ever I decided to become a Nun I’d become a Dominican. I found the Sisters gentle, encouraging and friendly…they seemed to assume that if they taught us well we would respond by learning well. And they were right because they taught us above all to love and search for “Truth” – their Dominican Motto.
In High school we were treated more and more as responsible adults as we went up the ranks. We had Dominican Priests to preach our Retreats and we could pop into the Convent chapel daily where we heard the Sisters praying the Divine Office. As I moved up the school I needed to decide what I wanted to do and what subjects I needed to take. With only two years left, I realised that I wanted to become a Dominican. After some time I found a close friend of mine was also thinking of joining the Sisters. Later we discovered that another friend had also decided to join the Order. So after writing Matric and enjoying summer holidays, Dorothy Balfe, Cora McCullagh and I joined the Dominicans – and we are all still here today. The initial inspiration came from God, but through sisters who were warm, friendly, intellectually challenging and committed to prayer, love of God and others and to education, as a way of preaching the Word of God.
At school I had also been very impressed when I heard stories of the Dominican Sisters and their ministries in South Africa and so after Novitiate responded to my second calling to Mission and I set sail for Cape Town. I enjoyed my years at university both in Port Elizabeth and Pretoria even though because of Apartheid only White students were allowed there. They too soon became friends even though they had been brought up prejudiced against Catholics as well as Blacks. The search for Truth at many levels and in various ways brought us all together. I then began my teaching career and after some years became School Principal in Holy Rosary in Port Elizabeth. I had also joined the local Justice and Peace Commission and both ministries came together in 1977 when we answered the call to open the school to children of all races which was against the Apartheid Laws. There were many threats and harassments from security police but the call to Justice was much stronger and we were bravely supported by many teachers, pupils and parents. When I was called to serve on our Region Council I worked to extend the appreciation of different Races, Languages and Cultures in all our Schools.
In January 1987 I was invited to serve as Secretary to the Justice and Peace Commission of the South African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) headed by Archbishop Denis Hurley. Apartheid was at its worst and many of our workers were in prison so it was another challenging Call. In my years there I saw the bombed out headquarters of those who resisted apartheid: the Trade Unions, the Council of Churches and our own SACBC. But in spite of the brutality of the Apartheid System, it was a privilege to work with many stalwarts of the Liberation Struggle. Alas, just as Mandela took over as President and the ANC as Government in 1994 I was called to take over the Leadership of our Sisters in South Africa. Several different calls to Service and Leadership followed over the next two decades and to each I just said: “Yes Lord”.
Each day I just thank the Lord for His many different calls to me over the course of my life. The calls of the Lord meant I had a rich, fulfilling and very happy life – far greater that I could ever have asked for or imagined if my life had been determined by my own silly whims.
Sr Margaret Kelly O.P