World Water Day: What's your 'water footprint'?

posted on: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 by: renaebauer

Brickner_Sally-Ann_Sr_2012_100pxby Sister Sally Ann Brickner

I remember a line in the first TV program I ever saw when my family had purchased a TV in the 1950s. "Water, please."

Today that request might be heard from more than 750 million persons (11% of the world population) who lack reliable access to safe drinking water. About 2.5 billion people (about 35% of the world population) lack adequate sanitation, which is linked to 5,000 deaths of children each day or one every 17 seconds!

Water is a precious resource that we tend to use without much thought. A person's water consumption -- called "water footprint" -- includes much more than direct consumption (drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning, flushing, etc.) Other uses such as the production of power and irrigation must be counted as well.

2012WorldWaterDay

Food Source

Litres of Water
(4 litres = 1.057 gallon)

1 hamburger 2400
1 glass of milk 200
1 egg 135
1 apple 70
1 slice of bread 40
1 potato 25

This year, the Food and Agriculture Organization is focusing on Water for Food (30-second video). For example, the chart here shows the number of litres of water it takes to produce common foods in our American diets.

As more of the world's population adds meat to its daily diet, more water is drawn from the world's aquifers. In fact, freshwater withdrawals have tripled over the last 50 years due to population growth, dietary changes, the production of biofuels, and demands for energy.

On World Water Day I invite you to reflect on the precious gift of water and ways that you can provide water to the thirsty. Chapter 4 of John's gospel reveals Jesus' simple request of the Samaritan woman, "Please give me a drink." Mathew 25 reminds us that when we give water to those who thirst we are giving it to Jesus just as the Samaritan woman did. In return, we receive the life-giving water that Jesus promised.

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Who shall find a valiant woman?

posted on: Tuesday, March 06, 2012 by: renaebauer

Brickner_Sally-Ann_Sr_2012_100px

"Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her." -- Proverbs 31: 10

by Sister Sally Ann Brickner

This verse from Sacred Scripture always reminds me of the note I received from Mother Ambrose when I asked to be received into my community's novitiate. "It (religious life) is for valiant women only," she stated. Undaunted by that daring proclamation I entered the community, and gradually learned why life as a religious IS only for the valiant.

Over the years I have come to appreciate the verse from Proverbs in new ways. I think of the virtuous wife and mother that the author of Proverbs praised. But equally valiant are the countless women in history who worked for justice and peace. On International Women's Day (March 8) and during Women's History Month let us awaken sacred memories and praise God for valiant women in so many walks of life who have contributed to creating a better world.

  • Jane Adams, founder of Hull House
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Susan B. Anthony, suffragist
  • Dorothy Day, journalist, pacifist, advocate for the poor and vulnerable
  • Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, and Maya Angelou , poets
  • Rachel Carson, environmentalist
  • Grandma Moses, rural life artist

The list includes but a few famous and valiant women. Added could be many others, including women religious in U.S. history. They founded and staffed health care and educational institutions that contributed to the development of our country. Their story has been chronicled in the traveling exhibit, Women & Spirit. A DVD of the same name captures the essence of the story and is available for purchase from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Whose name would you add to a list of valiant women?

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World Day of Peace connected to teaching justice

posted on: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 by: rbauer

Brickner_Sally-Ann_Sr_2012_100pxby Sr. Sally Ann Brickner

Happy New Year!

In the Church, we begin the new year with the Feast of Mary Mother of God, also known as the World Day of Prayer for Peace. Each year Pope Benedict delivers a message for this day. This year his message focuses on "Educating young people in justice and peace." Youth are often filled with enthusiasm and idealism, and so can offer new hope to the world, says our Holy Father. But in order for this to happen, they need to have a sound education in justice and peace.

Our Holy Father's message reminded me of the vision of Fr. Edward Daems and our founding Sisters. Within days of arriving in Green Bay, Sister Pius was teaching youth their catechism in preparation for receiving the Sacraments. Thus, our Community's earliest commission was the education of youth in the three "Rs" and also in peace and justice.

For over 130 years our Sisters have provided youth with a sound education. Many Sisters did so directly through their ministry as teachers or administrators in elementary or high schools or in religious education programs. Other Sisters served indirectly through their work as homemakers.

Our Sisters saw their educational ministry as a partnership with parents who are the primary educators of their children. Hence, offering faith formation for parents is another way to promote the education of youth. A good example is the "Early Morning Catechism" that Holy Spirit Parish in Darboy and Kimberly now provides via the World Wide Web. Congratulations to you, Sister Elise, and to your faith formation staff who offer this weekly lesson in faith! You are helping parents understand and fulfill their responsibility as primary educators.

In his message for the World Day of Peace, our Holy Father states that "Peace for all is the fruit of justice for all, and no one can shirk this essential task of promoting justice, according to one's particular areas of competence and responsibility." As we begin the New Year, we might do well to reflect on the ways we contribute to the sound education of youth, helping them learn to uphold human dignity, pursue peace, and promote Gospel justice.

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Faith expressed in human rights document

posted on: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 by: rbauer

Brickner_Sally-Ann_Sr_2012_100pxby Sister Sally Ann Brickner
Justice and Peace Coordinator

Have you ever felt upset, even angry, that someone violated or infringed on one of your "rights"? Perhaps a friend (or foe) told a lie about you, violating your right to your good name. Or someone posted something about you on the Internet, affecting your right to privacy. Maybe a doctor gave a wrong diagnosis resulting in a life-threatening illness. An uninsured drunken driver crashed into and totaled your car causing loss of property. These are but a few examples of violations of human rights.

Persons often take rights for granted, not thinking about them until they are violated. Sometimes legislators argue that a right needs to be enshrined in a law, such as the Concealed Carry Law in Wisconsin that was based on a Constitutional "right to bear arms."

An important statement about human rights is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was developed after World War II by the countries that belonged to the United Nations. It was signed on December 10, 1948. The basic rights and fundamental freedoms named therein are inherent to human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to every person. They are considered universal because they exist across time and space, in every country and culture.

Catholics have special reason to celebrate and promote human rights not only on December 10 but every day. Why? Because throughout the centuries, the Catholic Church has taught that all rights derive from the dignity of each person who is created by God and whose destiny is union with God. Catholics, together with other Christians and many religions, recognize that rights do not come from the State or the United Nations. They come from God alone, and it is the duty of each person, of organizations, and every government to uphold individual rights.

  • What right is of special importance to you? Why?
  • What actions have you taken to preserve that right not only for yourself but for others?
  • When have you experienced a conflict between two rights? What guided you in your choice of action?

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Now Thank we All our God

posted on: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 by: rbauer

by Sister Sally Ann Brickner

As we gathered around our festive tables on Thanksgiving Day, we probably offered thanks to God for the many blessings we have received during the past year. One person might have had a near-death experience and is grateful for the gift of life. Another might give thanks for having found employment after many months without work. Someone might have been "under water" with his mortgage and found a government program that enabled him to refinance and thus keep his home. Whether our blessings are large or small, we offer God abundant thanks, ever mindful that God cares for us at all times and in all places.

Thanksgiving is also a time when we might ponder the growing gap between those who are rich and those who are poor, those who are economically secure and those who lack the resources to meet their basic needs. Brown County's recently released Leading Indicators for Excellence, or LIFE, study reports that 11% of the population lives in poverty. The study also finds that more people are burdened with housing costs, homelessness is increasing, and more people struggle financially. Imagine what these families experience as Thanksgiving approaches.

2011ThanksgivingMealCostFor 25 years, the American Farm Bureau Federation has tracked the average cost of serving Thanksgiving dinner to ten persons. This year's cost is 13% higher than last year, in part because of the increased demand for turkey worldwide.

Thanksgiving is very much a family holiday, a time to share with loved ones. When food prices rise it becomes especially difficult for some families to provide a festive, traditional holiday meal.

Conscious of this, many area churches in Green Bay - and throughout Northeast Wisconsin - are serving a free holiday dinner. The Christian Outreach Ecumenical Thanksgiving Ministry, Inc, will again have a dinner in the Atrium at Lambeau Field. For the fourth consecutive year, Crossroads Church on Oakland Ave. is sponsoring a free dinner. Many people, including our local Bishop and some of our Sisters will assist in serving those who come for the Thanksgiving meal in the Atrium. Charity, direct service among those experiencing poverty, is a necessary response to those in need.

Another dimension of justice calls us to ask why there is more hunger and homelessness in our community. People may suffer increased poverty because of unwise personal decisions. But it may also derive from structural conditions such as higher unemployment, increased medical costs, escalating costs of child care, etc. It may also be due to the vanishing social safety net as all levels of government cut services that have the greatest impact on those who live below the poverty line.

•    What are your thoughts about how to help reduce the number of people living in poverty?
•    What are some of the things you do to help those who suffer poverty?

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Happy birthday, 7 billionth person!

posted on: Monday, October 31, 2011 by: rbauer

Brickner_Sally-Ann_Sr_2012_100pxby Sister Sally Ann Brickner
Justice and Peace Coordinator

On October 31, 2011, the world marks the birth of its 7 billionth person, according to the United Nations. Though the exact time and location of the birth will remain unknown, the event should cause much reflection. What is the child likely to experience during his or her life?

As the figure to the left shows, the world's population growth is the highest in developing countries. Population in both China and India exceeds 1 billion, and their rapidly growing economies continue to expand the number of consumers.

But consider the disparities in global consumption. About 12 percent of the world's population lives in North America and Western Europe. But this 12% consumes approximately 60 percent of global resources. At the same time, more than one billion people lack reasonable access to safe drinking water. Also, the World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that over a billion people live in chronic hunger. Furthermore, the rising price of food throughout the world will probably increase the number of those who suffer chronic hunger.

2011WorldPopulatnBecause the seven billionth person was most likely born in the developing world, it is more likely to suffer from chronic hunger and lack access to potable water. Most likely, s/he will have less access to education and employment opportunities.

We in the more developed world have great responsibility for global inequalities. We promote consumption (locally and globally) as the engine for economic growth. But we have only ONE planet, which cannot sustain the lifestyles that we have come to expect and to enjoy.

The Worldwatch Institute offers a sobering message about human consumption:

Problems in Paradise
"If the levels of consumption that...the most affluent people enjoy today were replicated across even half of the roughly 9 billion people projected to be on the planet in 2050, the impact on our water supply, air quality, forests, climate, biological diversity, and human health would be severe."

If we desire every person on the planet to live a life of dignity (as they have a right to do), we who live in affluent societies need to live more sustainably. We need to consume less so that the seventh billion child - as well as all those yet to be born - can have his or her basic needs met.

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Peace -- God's Gift

posted on: Friday, September 16, 2011 by: rbauer

Brickner_Sally-Ann_Sr_2012_100pxby Sister Sally Ann Brickner
Justice and Peace Coordinator

Peace! Salaam! Shalom!

In 1982 the United Nations declared that each year all countries commemorate the International Day of Peace on September 21. It is a day for a global cease-fire, for respectful dialogue, for nonviolence, for peace. And if we live in peace for ONE day, we can hope to extend it beyond 24 hours.

What does peace mean? Is it the absence of violence? Is it inner serenity? Is it a state of harmony? Is it living in right relationship with God and others? Peace is this and much more. It is wholeness and holiness. It is a GIFT that comes from God.

We can choose accept that gift of peace and live nonviolently, maintain inner serenity, promote harmony, live in right relationships with others. Second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour we can choose to be peace.

Make the prayer attributed to St. Francis your daily prayer: "Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace."

What will you do to live more peacefully on September 21 and each day after?

For more information, visit the International Day of Peace website.

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Labor Day

posted on: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 by: rbauer

By Sister Sally Ann BricknerBrickner_Sally-Ann_Sr_2012_100px

Often seen as the end of summer in the northern hemisphere, this holiday recognizes the dignity of workers and their rights. It was established as a federal holiday in 1894 and is usually marked by parades that include labor unions and other organizations committed to workers' rights.

Work is a good thing for humans -- a good thing for humanity -- because through work humans transform nature and also achieve fulfillment as human beings. In a sense, they become "more a human being". For this reason, it is vital that those who are able to work have opportunities to do so and that we work toward a policy of full employment. The high rate of unemployment in our country and in many countries of the world is a grave scandal and violation of human dignity.

Work is a valued human activity. But it is not to be valued above the workers who perform the labor in order to provide for their basic needs, for their families, and for the whole of society.

The Catholic Church has always upheld the dignity and rights of those who work. At the present time "there is a need for ever new movements of solidarity of the workers and with the workers" (Pope John Paul II, Laborem exercens). In the state of Wisconsin, in the USA and throughout the world, workers experience exploitation through unjust wages, inhumane working conditions, and denial of the right to organize. This, too, is a scandal that calls for remedy.

We are called to celebrate the dignity of workers and their work not only on Labor Day but every day. One way is to be aware of the service that workers provide. Make it a habit to recognize and affirm them with your smile and an expression of appreciation.

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