31 01, 2024

‘Through Shadows’ January 2024

2024-01-31T11:29:45+00:00January 31, 2024|Dominican News, Justice, Latin America, South Africa|

January 2024 ‘Through Shadows’

Link to English Edition  https://mailchi.mp/dominicansisters/january2024-through-shadows-justice-newsletter-8864220

Link to Spanish Edition https://mailchi.mp/dominicansisters/enero-de-2024-boletn-de-justicia-a-travs-de-las-sombras


14 12, 2023

December 2023 – Through Shadows

2024-01-31T10:27:00+00:00December 14, 2023|Ireland, Justice, Latin America, News, Our Regions, South Africa, Uncategorized|

1 12, 2023

October 2023 ‘Through Shadows’

2023-12-01T15:19:40+00:00December 1, 2023|Justice, Uncategorized|

Welcome to the October 2023 edition of Through Shadows, the newsletter of the Congregation Justice Office.

In this edition I’ll be bringing you news of the 25th anniversary celebrations in An Tairseach organic farm and ecology centre in Wicklow Town, an update on an event attended by Sisters, staff and Young Mothers’ Network members on UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and information on Pope Francis’s latest writings on climate change, Laudate Deum. The newsletter also features an article on the topic of Human Trafficking.

But first, to the news story that has dominated the front pages for more than a fortnight, the story of a conflict that has been by turn simmering and raging for more than seven decades – the Israel-Palestine crisis. This most recent phase of the crisis erupted with a sudden and brutal indiscriminate attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas militants from Gaza, with men, women and children murdered and taken hostage into Gaza. Israel’s reaction was swift and has included indiscriminate bombing of the densely populated Gaza Strip, and attacks against the Palestinian civilian population and infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. Gaza is one of the world’s most densely populated pieces of land, with more than 2 million people crammed into 140 square miles, less than half the size of Co. Louth.

On Monday 23rd October, Pope Francis said: “We must not become accustomed to war, to any war. We must not allow our hearts and minds to be anaesthetized at the repetition of these extremely serious horrors against God and humankind.”

Here is a link to a Trócaire petition on this issue that you are invited to sign, with further details below.

I visited Gaza with Trócaire in 2006, alongside the late Rev Dr Eoin Cassidy, then Chair of the International sub-committee of the Irish Commission for Justice & Social Affairs, researching a paper titled “Palestine/Israel – Principles for a Just Peace”. This was at the start of the blockade of Gaza which has now been going on for sixteen years. Even then, conditions in the territory were bleak, basic goods were scarce and hope was in short supply. But the hope that we did find was in the resilience of local people, in the courage of the aid workers and local groups running hospitals, children’s projects, and schools for the deaf. Sixteen years of crushing blockade later, nearly 80% of Gazans now rely on humanitarian assistance while more than half of Gaza’s just over 2 million people live in poverty.

In 2006 I had the pleasure of meeting local Palestinian NGOs such as the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza working for peace and justice, while in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the West Bank I also met Israeli peace and human rights groups who campaign against the occupation of East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank by Israel, and who speak out against human rights abuses. These Palestinian and Israeli peace activists continue to raise their voices, against the odds and against the tide. One such organisation is the Jerusalem-based Israeli NGO B’Tselem, whose name comes from Genesis 1:27, which states that all mankind was created “b’tselem elohim” (in the image of God). They aim to document human rights abuses in the occupied territories and foster a human rights culture in Israel. They have said of Israeli’s retaliation against the whole population of Gaza that “suffering does not justify suffering and, one injustice does not justify another and one crime does not warrant another”

A unique Israeli organisation is Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers now trying to tell the Israeli public about the reality of daily life for Palestinians in the occupied territories and to bring about an end to the occupation. In an open letter, Breaking the Silence has said: “Having always opposed the harming of innocent civilians, it remains our duty in these terrible times – as we count our dead on the Israeli side and worry about wounded, missing, and abducted loved ones, and as bombs are being dropped on residential neighbourhoods in Gaza, wiping out entire families with no possibility of burying the dead – to raise our voices loud and clear against the harming of all innocent civilians, both in Israel and Gaza. We call for the immediate release of all hostages and an end to the bombardment of civilians in Israel and in Gaza. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach civilian populations, medical facilities and places of refuge must not be harmed, and vital resources such as water and electricity must not be cut off. The killing of additional civilians will not bring back those who were lost. Indiscriminate destruction and a siege harming innocents will not bring relief, justice, or calm.

I wanted to share these organisations with you because they are important voices for hope and justice, and particularly for those Israeli organisations campaigning against the occupation, they are speaking often unpopular truths, as shown in a recent article on a clampdown on free speech and protest inside Israel. And as the conflict spills out beyond Israel and Palestine, there has been a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic attacks, with the BBC reporting a quadrupling of attacks in the UK in the last two weeks.

Closer to home, Trócaire has echoed calls from the United Nations and other international and humanitarian bodies for the following to be implemented immediately:

  • An immediate end to hostilities and violations of international law and human rights.
  • The creation of humanitarian corridors to allow the safe passage of humanitarian personnel and relief items to Gaza.
  • The agreement of a ceasefire.
  • The immediate release and return of hostages and those arbitrarily detained.
  • The holding to account of those deemed to have committed war crimes under international law.

Trócaire is asking its supporters to sign a petition calling on all political parties in Ireland to demand that the EU take greater action for the protection of civilians in Gaza.

“Peace, peace to the distant and the close” – Isaiah 57:19

Human Trafficking

Now, we turn to the difficult subject that is Human Trafficking. Ruhama, the NGO that offers support to women impacted by prostitution and sex trafficking, published its annual report last week, in which it reported a 35% increase in demand for its services. Of the 497 individuals supported by Ruhama over the last year, 147 were victims of human trafficking.

Some of the survivors of trafficking who spoke to Ruhama described being recruited for domestic work overseas by someone known to them in their town or village, often a woman. Once abroad, and with their passport in the hands of their ‘recruiter’, the women who shared their stories spoke of finding themselves forced into sex work in an unknown UK town, paying off an ever-increasing debt for travel and living expenses to their captor. Some spent years in captivity. For one woman, escape came through the help of one of her ‘clients’ while for another the chance to flee came when she was brought to a beauty salon by her captor and was able to ask for help without being heard.

As well as offering individual support, both practical and psychological, to victims of trafficking and those impacted by prostitution, Ruhama delivers training on the sex industry in Ireland for a wide variety of audiences and on trauma informed care for health and social care professionals.

This disturbing campaign graphic comes from APT – Act to Prevent Trafficking. an organisation working to keep human trafficking on the agenda and in the public consciousness. APT asks, among other campaign actions, that we:
– Keep the issue alive among public representatives and when appropriate take part in lobbying around legislation, safe housing and the way survivors of trafficking are treated;
– Watch out for properties that have been offered for rent, observe if there is any suspicious activity going on and if so report it in confidence to Crimestoppers at 1800 25 00 25 or to Garda Confidential at 1800 666 111;
– Be aware that a woman or child of foreign nationality may need help, or encouragement to go to the Gardaí;
– Pray for trafficked people;

The idea that human trafficking could be in our midst in our residential areas and that anyone could become a trafficked person is difficult. Sometimes it is the telling of real stories that breaks through our disbelief.

This short film, Anyone: Deceived, tells the stories of a man and woman trafficked into Ireland under false pretences.

Every Five Miles in a powerful original Irish drama, shining a light on human trafficking in Ireland. In a small town, a young petrol station attendant is drawn into the harsh world of a trafficked immigrant car washer. It is an amazing watch. With thanks to Sr Lydia Slattery for the recommendation. Chillingly, the film’s title comes from the statistic that you are only ever about five miles from somebody in effective slavery in Ireland, according to Oonagh Buckley, Director General of the Workplace Relations Commission.

“I can’t believe I’m alive … I thought I’d be dead next year” – the words of a trafficking survivor, featured in a seven minute clip on RTE’s Morning Ireland last week, reporting on the Ruhama annual report.

For more information, see the APT website.

Twenty Five years of ecological education, conservation and organic farming in An Tairseach

There was a celebratory atmosphere at the An Tairseach Organic Farm and Ecology Centre on Thursday of last week, as twenty-five years of ecological education, organic farming, and conservation were marked. The gathering included members of the Dominican Congregation, the An Tairseach sisters themselves, farm staff, friends, and esteemed guests, including Stephen Matthews TD, Jennifer Whitmore TD, and Counsellor Mary Kavanagh.

A centrepiece of the celebrations was the unveiling and blessing of the new permanent outdoor labyrinth feature in the An Tairseach garden, the design of which is based on the labyrinth at Chartre Cathedral, a world heritage site in France.

The Irish words An Tairseach mean ‘the threshold’, and the anniversary celebrations emphasised that to visit An Tairseach is to cross a threshold, and to enter into a unique place, a place which represents a longstanding and ambitious response by the Dominican Sisters of Wicklow Town to the threats posed by such things as climate change, global food insecurity, and the loss of biodiversity.

Laudate Deum – an exhortation to “all people of good will”

Published on 4th October, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum is addressed to all people of good will, and is composed of six Chapters, which are summarised below. This short video shares the main messages of the publication, while this useful infographic from the Laudato Si’ Movement highlights key quotes.

In the first Chapter, “The Global Climate Crisis,” Pope Francis warns that climate change is undeniable, and its effects are becoming increasingly evident “despite some attempts to minimize or ridicule them” He expresses regret that the main cause of this problem is human activity and adds that, while we cannot correct such damage, we can still take steps to prevent even more serious damage in the future.

In the second Chapter, Pope Francis addresses the “technocratic paradigm” and stresses that nature is not a resource to be exploited without end and urges us to recognize that unbridled ambition is not ethically sustainable.

In the third Chapter, Pope Francis refers to “the weakness of international politics” and stresses the urgent need for global cooperation through new multilateral agreements between States because current and past approaches are insufficient.

In the fourth Chapter, the Pope reflects on “climate conferences: progress and failures” and encourages to overcome the selfish positions of countries for the benefit of the global common good and in the fifth Chapter to reflect on “what is expected from COP28 in Dubai?” (30th November to 12th December 2023) if we do not want to doom humanity.

In the last chapter, “Spiritual Motivations,” Pope Francis calls upon people of all religious confessions to respond. He also reminds Catholics that in the light of faith there is a responsibility to care for God’s creation and that this implies respect for the laws of nature and recognition of the beauty and richness of God’s creation.

“Let us join this path of reconciliation with the world that shelters us.”     Laudate Deum 69.

Photo shows candles lighting in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Prayer for peace in Israel and Gaza

Let us pray for the many people whose lives have been torn apart by conflict in Gaza and Israel.

We remember especially those who have died, those who are grieving, the injured and those now without food, shelter or medical supplies.

We pray also for those who have the power to bring peace. May they be touched by a spirit of compassion and kindness.

Lord hear us.

(Prayer with thanks to Cafod)

UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty marked in Dublin

Sr Veronica Rafferty, lay Dominican and volunteer Anne Keating, Sr Marie McHugh, Roselin and Beauty from the Young Mothers’ Network, Marie Williams from the Justice Office Ireland, marking October 17th, UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty, at an event at the Famine Memorial in Dublin.

The event included testimonies based on lived experiences of poverty and socio-economic discrimination, speeches, music and songs, and was an important moment to listen to the words and expertise of those with an experience of poverty.

The theme of the gathering was “Let Dignity be Our Compass”, and speakers highlighted key areas which are important for respecting the dignity of all, with specific demands for:
– Zero discrimination
– Affordable accommodation
– A minimum standard of income
– Dignified work and opportunities to participate

Read more about the 17th October Committee and their work.

Podcast on the impact of climate change in Africa

Missionary Voices is a podcast series which speaks to OLA Sisters and SMA Fathers from around Africa on the impact of climate change in the communities in which they work.

The first episode in the current series features Nigerian-born, Botswana-based OLA Sister Cynthia Nwadike. Botswana is relatively politically and economically stable, but Sr Cynthia talks of weather changes attributed to climate change, with shorter rainy seasons, harsher winters and longer droughts. Farmers are suffering because of the shorter rains, sudden rains after drought are causing flooding and hurricanes and tornadoes have hit.

You can listen to the full podcast here.

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29 11, 2023

Who Pays for Christmas – Webinar December 6th 2023

2023-12-01T15:04:15+00:00November 29, 2023|Dominican News, Justice|

Who Pays for Christmas?

The Dominican Sisters Cabra have been working with the Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network Ireland (AEFJN) to bring you this timely webinar on ethical consumerism, on Wednesday 6th December, 7.00-8.30pm Irish time. Join us as we consider the human and environmental cost of consumerism at Christmas. You can register for the webinar here: https://mailchi.mp/96be102bc371/advent2023
Who Pays for Christmas - Advent Webinar
Who Pays for Christmas – Advent Webinar
17 10, 2023

UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty

2023-12-01T15:18:58+00:00October 17, 2023|Justice, News|

Sr Veronica Rafferty, lay Dominican and volunteer Anne Keating, Sr Marie McHugh, Roselin and Beauty from the Young Mothers’ Network, Marie Williams from the Justice Office Ireland and Lara Kelly from the Congregation Justice Office, marking October 17th, UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty, at an event at the Famine Memorial in Dublin.
The event included testimonies based on lived experiences of poverty and socio-economic discrimination, speeches, music and songs, and was an important moment to listen to the words and expertise of those with an experience of poverty.
The theme of the gathering was “Let Dignity be Our Compass”, and speakers highlighted key areas which are important for respecting the dignity of all, with specific demands for:
– Zero discrimination
– Affordable accommodation
– A minimum standard of income
– Dignified work and opportunities to participate
1 07, 2023

Blessing the Cosmic Garden in Mary Bellew House

2023-12-01T15:22:32+00:00July 1, 2023|Events, Ireland, Justice, News|

On June 30th Sisters from various communities gathered to mark the completion of the first stage of the upgrade to the cosmic garden in Mary Bellew House.  Sr Colette gave a brief history of the beginning of the project, Sr Honor read one of her own poems, and Sr Odhran blessed the area.  The project is carried out by retired teachers from St Dominic’s Cabra and other friends.

3 02, 2017

“Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment”

2023-12-01T14:34:55+00:00February 3, 2017|Justice, Preaching the Word|

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

22 07, 2015

Sr. Margaret Kelly OP

2023-12-01T14:38:06+00:00July 22, 2015|Ireland, Justice, My Vocation Story, News, South Africa, Stories|

My Vocation Story

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 Dominics 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


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